Susan Patton (the woman who begged Princeton girls to find a husband in college) stopped by the "rich uncle with Asperger's" of newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, to give the single ladies of America some Valentine's Day advice. As a staunch supporter of "I do what I want" women's rights, I took issue with her piece, titled: "Susan Patton: A Little Valentine's Day Straight Talk -- Young women in college need to smarten up and start husband-hunting."
I love long titles! They give you the gist of the article without spoiling the confusing, condescending points to follow.
To put it bluntly, Susan is worried about all the single ladies, all the single ladies; they're out there, living their lives, unaware of the lurking dangers of not having a husband. Susan wants those women to stop, drop and listen up:
Another Valentine's Day. Another night spent ordering in sushi for one and mooning over 'Downton Abbey' reruns. Smarten up, ladies.
You can tell by her use of the words 'Downton Abbey' and 'sushi' that Susan gets everything that young, single women are about (she doesn't, however, understand 'Downton Abbey,' as PBS is still airing first-run episodes in the States). These young, husband-less women are all about TV, fish and solitude. But, according to Susan, this self-fulfillment and independence must stop. She says:
Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry.
Honestly, I hope this is a long-game prank Susan is playing on future anthropologists. They'll be so confused as to what year this article belongs in: 1884 or 1945.
If her vague implications that your happiness is threatened didn't scare you into grabbing the first man you see and begging him to marry you, perhaps she'll change your mind with some good old-fashioned ageism:
Think about it: If you spend the first 10 years out of college focused entirely on building your career, when you finally get around to looking for a husband you'll be in your 30s, competing with women in their 20s.
No, you won't, because you, person with self-worth won't want to marry a dude who is trolling around Miami for 20-year-old co-eds wearing Girls Gone Wild trucker hats and quoting "Spring Breakers" without any irony. You won't have to settle for a guy like that, because there will be another guy out there for you who puts equal weight on his career and personal development. And when you bump into each other in the darkness of James Turell's "Dark Matters," you'll probably fall in love instantly. But even if you do fall in love with an equal, Susan thinks you might scare him off with your loud-as-f*ck baby clock:
If you want to have children, your biological clock will be ticking loud enough to ward off any potential suitors. Don't let it get to that point.
I have a friend who was 40 (yes, 40 -- nursing-home age in Susan's eyes) who was still single and wanted kids. She met a guy who also wanted kids rather badly; they got married, and she birthed a baby out of her dusty, wrinkled vagina.
If women do want to be mothers after their dead eggs have fallen out and the wind has spread their ashes like dandelion petals, they could, I dunno, rescue a kid out of the abject misery of an orphanage or foster care.
If you can't find the perfect guy to marry you before you're a totally worthless baby machine, you could marry someone dumb, but Susan doesn't recommend it.
Could you marry a man who isn't your intellectual or professional equal? Sure. But the likelihood is that it will be frustrating to be with someone who just can't keep up with you or your friends. When the conversation turns to Jean Cocteau or Henrik Ibsen, the Bayeux Tapestry or Noam Chomsky, you won't find that glazed look that comes over his face at all appealing.
I dare Susan to prove to me that she's ever discussed '20s avant-garde theater at a dinner party... that she's had the nerve to disrupt fun conversation with such pretentious topics that only prove that she's taken a college-level art history class and still remembers some shit.
Also, IRONY ALERT, if my state school knowledge is wrong, John Cocteau was a bohemian, and Susan's old-fashioned ideology is distinctly bourgeois, making them MORTAL ENEMIES.
Susan, not content to just make women feel bad, manages to insult most of the male population in one sentence:
Once you're living off campus and in the real world, you'll be stunned by how smart the men are not.
Learn to construct a sentence, person who name-drops historical tapestries. Susan's son is a senior at Princeton this year, so if he doesn't have a girlfriend he plans on marrying when he's out of school, does he fall into this "real world of dummy men" bucket, or is that a label reserved for "other men" whom you "don't know" because you're "basing this on a fever dream"?
I would argue that college is the WORST place to find a husband. If I was married to dudes I met in college, I'd either be raising children with a guy who tried to finger me during a Biology II test, a dude who taught me what the term "money shot" meant or a bro who took my car keys and left me throwing up brandy milk punch on Bourbon Street. But Susan addresses women like me:
You may not be ready for marriage in your early 20s (or maybe you are), but keep in touch with the men that you meet in college, especially the super smart ones. They'll probably do very well for themselves, and their desirability will only increase after graduation.
I feel like I'm on the phone with my financial planner. "You should invest in bonds because they'll probably do very well for themselves, and their desirability will only increase."
Susan should have just titled her essay "I'm Scared. Why Aren't You Scared? I'm Telling You About Scary Things!" because this is certainly not a convincing piece about the importance of a husband. The piece is about fear -- Susan's fear -- and the convoluted ways she's dumping her anxiety on young women and their love of period pieces. She's using a big mouthpiece like the WSJ to use the same tired ol' scare tactics of putting women in a state of panic while simultaneously undermining their ability to make the right choices. All so young women can feel the same fear Susan does.
We're all afraid of things. Last November, the hair on the right side of my head started thinning. I freaked out about it, convinced I'd have to sport a Skrillex haircut. But I took a breath, bought some hair vitamins and boom! -- luxurious, thick right-side hair. What I didn't do was go around insisting that other women be afraid of a thing they're clearly not worried about.
And for someone who is Ivy League educated, her understanding of "feminism" is certainly uniformed:
Like not all women want marriage or motherhood, but if you do, you have to start listening to your gut and avoid falling for the P.C. feminist line that has misled so many young women for years. There is nothing incongruous about educated, ambitious women wanting to be wives and mothers. Don't let anyone tell you that these traditional roles are retrograde; they are perfectly natural and even wonderful.
If Susan Patton, Ivy League educated advice-giver, can't define modern-day feminism, perhaps we should defer to Canadian "Mad Men" actress Jessica Paré. When asked by Fashion magazine if she was a feminist, Paré replied, "Of course I'm a feminist... if you're not for the equal treatment of men and women, then you're a fascist."
Zou Bisou Bisou. Drop. The. Mic.
I couldn't agree with Jessica harder, because doing so would defy all laws of physics. As someone who went to THREE junior colleges in TEXAS (bragging), there is NO REASON to make women feel bad for pursuing what they want, be it motherhood, wife-ness, WNBA superstardom, civil rights attorney-ship, ostrich farming or being a single woman eating sushi in the apartment she proudly pays for.
Women are going to make mistakes and have regrets and make bad decisions and feel lonely. But the types of people they'll become will be original and authentic and wonderful and true, and their character will not be tainted by the fear of a stranger with a word processing program and a trash dump full of baggage.