Susan Patton, a proud Princeton University alumna, recently sent a letter to the editor of the Princeton student newspaper. The letter, which was addressed to the daughters she never had, urged young women who were attending Princeton to to be quick about finding a Princeton man. In the letter, she states that if she had a daughter, she would tell her to, “Find a husband. Start early. Ideally, in your first year at the university. And look for a man who’s at least as smart as you are.” Patton went on by saying, “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.”
The letter sparked outrage online. Feminist bloggers attacked her backwards and old-fashioned stance on marriage as the main point in a woman’s life. Many people also criticized her for hammering in the fact that women should be married to men, calling her homophobic. When Patton saw all the backlash her letter received, she quickly set the record straight, saying she is not anti-feminist and she understands that not all women want to be married to men. “Honestly, I just thought this was some good advice from a Jewish mother,” she said.
Obviously, Patton went about getting her point across the wrong way. While I can see that she was essentially urging her “daughters” to find love and happiness, I think she forgot that many women don’t need to actively look for a husband. Sometimes we need to just let go and let life play out. The entire letter, although written with good intentions, came off as condescending and offensive. This is 2013, a time where women do not need to actively be looking for a husband in order to be happy. Women can have a successful career and find happiness in themselves, without the support of a man. Her outdated views and ideals may be acceptable in her own home, but not in an Ivy league academic newspaper.
Those who were offended by Patton’s letter can find solace in knowing that she was not able to take her own advice. In an interview with New York Magazine, Patton revealed that she is finalizing her divorce after 27 years of marriage. I guess finding a man doesn’t bring a woman happiness after all.
The letter she sent to Princeton can be read here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2301415/Susan-A-Patton-wrote-Princeton-student-newspaper-urging-female-students-snag-man.html?ito=feeds-newsxml