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Susan Patton’s letter to Princeton female college students


Susan Patton has definitely gotten a lot of media about the letter she wrote directed to the women of her Princeton Alumna giving them the following advice: “For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you. Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”

Is this letter good advice given to young girls from an experienced woman or do you think this woman is giving information based on old fashioned thinking that having a husband is required in order for us to happy?

I have to admit that when I first read this article, I was upset so I started to do a little more research– Susan Patton’s reason for writing this letter and articles written by others critiquing this advice. So before you take a side, stop and think about it for a moment.

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you thought “if only I had been given this advice when I was younger how different my life would have been” or “I’m glad I never took the advice my parents/friends gave me when I was younger.” Have you ever given advice based on your experience to a younger friend, sister, or relative on various things like going to college, living on your own, finances, etc. We have all gotten advice from someone whether it was warranted or not. I believe this woman is doing just that giving advice to the younger generation of female students based on her experience. The only difference is that hers was done in a public forum. The best part about receiving advice is that you can either take it or leave it.

One of Patton’s points was that men have a larger and unlimited window to marry while women have a clear end point. It is because of this fact that these Princeton female students should start thinking about “snagging” a husband during their undergrad years when the pool of available smart men who are similar in interests, values, morals, etc. is full rather than wait until your 30s/40s when the pool of these type of men is slim or nonexistent. While some critiques to this advice state that college students should be focusing on their education not marriage or that individuals at this age (college age) are too young to be getting married because they have not evolved into the person they will be. There are good points to both sides. While I believe that marriage and children do not determine one’s happiness, others may feel it does. There is no right or wrong. I believe everyone has different values/beliefs and they are entitled to act however they please. As an older student, I can attest that it is difficult to find “good” partners in your late 20s, 30s and possibly even harder to find them in your 40s that are single with no excess baggage (kids and ex-wife). This isn’t saying that you will never find someone because I did. I am simply stating that the pool is smaller when you are older. Women do have a small window to bear their own children compared to men. But, this is assuming every woman wants to get married and have children. While some do, others do not. This is also assuming that women want to bear their own children and are against adoption. In this day and age, women have options. Your options also increase based on your monetary resources. So, the women who decide to wait until they are established in their career (assuming they are making the big bucks and want children) may be able to afford the more expensive options such as artificial insemination, adoption as a single mother/older couple, etc.

For example, my sister and I had the same parents and were brought up with the same morals and values. Yet, we both went about our lives in a different way. She had two children with her boyfriend, purchased a house with him and then eventually decided to get married last year (all in her 20s). As for me, I was focused on my education and career, purchased a house all on my own, traveled all over the world, married my husband in my 30s, and we’re postponing to have children until we’re done having fun (contrary to my mother’s advice). The end result is that we’re both happy even though the order of our life events was different. Is my way better than my sister’s or is my sister’s way better? The answer is my way was best for me and my sister’s way was best for her. Susan Patton made a valid point when she stated this, “If the women’s movement has done what it has supposed to do, it should enable all women to make whatever choices are appropriate for them, even if their choices are seemingly retrogressive.”

This is very true. We are in control of our own timeline and no one should decide it for us. As females, we are all different. It is these differences that make us unique. Some women want it all (career, husband/partner, and family), while others just want career and husband/partner. We all have a choice of how we want to live our life. It is also our choice to find a husband/partner in college or wait until we are ready either after we have established ourselves in our career or once we graduate from college/high school. It is our prerogative to determine when we want to incorporate these life events. I believe Susan Patton is merely trying to give advice based on her experience, which she has the right to do. She believes what she believes and just because it does not match what another woman believes doesn’t make it wrong. It is just different. I believe the Susan Pattons of the world will thank her for this great advice while others take the information for what is and decide on their own what is best for them.

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