Susan Patton Said Women Should Find Husbands In College, So I Guess I Screwed Up.

Not exactly looking for my husband at that moment.
Not exactly looking for my husband at that moment.

I was munching on a batch of Skittles yesterday afternoon when I saw something about Susan Patton pop up on my timeline. I didn’t know who Susan Patton was. I didn’t think I needed to know who she was. That is until I saw that she wrote a letter in the Daily Princetonian entitled, “Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had.” (Scroll to the bottom for the full text; I couldn’t link to the Daily Princetonian because that bitch crashed the site.)

The pillar of Patton’s argument? Women should find their husbands in college. Her exact words are: Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.

I shy away from responding to mainstream media frenzies on this sacred and sarcastic space. But, after three consecutive tweets about Patton’s letter, I knew I had more to say than what I could squeeze into 140 characters.

Patton goes on to write that college is the optimal time to be exposed to the highest concentration of men who will be “worthy of you” and it will “frustrate you to be with a man who isn’t as smart as you.” As compelled as I was to initially dismiss Susan Patton’s words for the flaming pile of shit they were, I had to admit that her manure was laced with those few gems.

It is true college provides the highest concentration of men who are perched on the same wavelength of your intellectual capacity. Not the only concentration, but certainly the highest. Yes. Ask any of us who are stumbling our way through Plenty of Fish and DC nightclubs trying to snag a date; we will attest to that. It is also true that being with someone who is not as smart as you, or worse, is a witless idiot, will frustrate you. Call me a pompous ass. You wouldn’t be the first.

Now that I’ve done my writerly duty of considering this from a different angle, it’s time to light some fire on Susan Patton. Recently, I went on one of my routine panties-in-a-twist rants so you already know how I feel about women and our many choices or non-choices.

Finding a husband wasn’t on my list in undergrad. It wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t even a constellation floating around in my universe. By senior year, I was too busy teaching kids how to string together a sentence at the writing center, busting my ass to hold down at least one job and an internship simultaneously, and cramming in a weekly session of ESPN and 12am shenanigans with my then hookup. Looking for Prince Charming? The closest I got was reading Machiavelli.

Yes, I nurtured a serious relationship during my junior year. But, at 19, the concept of marriage felt faraway and fuzzy. Even now, most days it feels that way. Marriage is the roller coaster that I’m still not tall enough to ride so instead I stand in awe of the thrill seekers jumping on. For Patton to advise post adolescent women to search for a husband in college is to add a boulder to the weight already hoisted on our backs. The weight to be successful. To be smart. To be pretty. To be funny. To be demure. To be ambitious. To be subdued. To be coy. To be flirtacious. To be nurturing. And, of course, to be marriage material. To be a colorful and painfully impossible conglomeration of characteristics justified merely by what is hidden in between your thighs.

Susan Patton wrote a letter to the daughters she never had. Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief that two X chromosomes did not meet for her. Those girls would be fucked.




4 Replies to “Susan Patton Said Women Should Find Husbands In College, So I Guess I Screwed Up.”

  1. You compared marriage to a rollercoaster, which reminded me of another analogy that I once heard from the mom of the kids I babysit. I just had to share with you.

    She said: marriage shouldn’t be a rollercoaster. Yes, rollercoasters have really high highs, but they also have super low lows. They send your emotions haywire. You don’t want to marry the rollercoaster. You want to have fun with (on? hmm let’s not go there) as many as possible before hopping on board the merry-go-round. It’s very dependable. It’s stable. And it always comes back around.

    Food for thought, huh? 🙂

    1. Hannah, definitely food for thought. It’s funny you mentioned that because while I was writing, I struggled with myself on that analogy. I wanted to use the “not tall enough to ride” phrase and I thought “Hmm, but would that make sense for a more calm ride at an amusement park?” It was a toss-up for the exact reason you mentioned–marriage is about stability.

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