The GEM Debate:
Would You Give Your College Daughters THIS Advice? (POLL)
You may recall Susan Patton. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then her letter to the editor of The Daily Princetonian might. In March 2013, Patton wrote a letter in which she advised the female students at Princeton to find husbands while they are there, rather than risk the low-quality dating pool after graduation. Her point was that the highest concentration of men worthy of a woman’s time and talents was at Princeton and that they would be remiss not to concentrate on making one of those men her husband.
No doubt capitalizing on the national uproar she caused, Patton is back with a new book, Marry Smart: Advice for Finding the One, a full-length version of her letter.
Slightly in Patton’s defense, she says that her advice is geared toward women who want to enter into traditional marriages. I say slightly because you’d be hard-pressed to find people in 2014 America who fit the ideas that she has.
For example, she’s on shaky ground when she says that “potential buyers are unmotivated if offered free merchandise”–the old “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” proverb that has been used to encourage women to keep their knees together before marriage. Ninety-five percent of Americans have engaged in premarital sex. That’s a lot of free milk being given out and (gasp) men are still marrying those cows.
This Huffington Post article, written by a single, 25-year-old Princeton graduate discusses the “hideous sexist stereotypes that were outdated 20 years ago” and the 10 worst pieces of dating advice from Marry Smart.
The 10 pieces of advice the writer touches on are pretty laughable and impractical. One has to wonder if Patton was just released from a time capsule from the 1950s when some women did, in fact, attend college with the sole purpose of husband-hunting. But there is one piece of advice she gives to parents that I find particularly egregious and harmful:
“When she enters college, your daughter will never again be as young, as beautiful, as attractive to men, or as fertile. Encourage her to make the best use of this time.”
I would definitely encourage my daughters to make the best use of their time. I will encourage them to learn more about themselves, to travel abroad if they can, to do an internship in their field. I will remind them that they will be surrounded by lots of smart people—students, instructors, and professors—and that they should soak up all they can from them. I will encourage them to make their mark with whatever gifts they have. I will tell them that there is no better time to pursue your interests and goals.
If one of my daughters feels that the best use of her time in college is to find a husband, well, then, that’s fine. To each her own. It won’t be on my dime, but maybe I would get her a copy of Marry Smart.
How do you feel about this advice? Would you give any of this advice to the young women in your life? Share your thoughts below.
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.