Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Little Valentine’s Day Straight Talk. By Susan Patton.

A Little Valentine’s Day Straight Talk. By Susan Patton. Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2014.

Advice for the Young Women of Princeton: Find a Husband. By Susan A. Patton. NJBR, April 1, 2013. With related articles, video, and audio.

Susan Patton, “Princeton Mom,” Is Back: An Academic Takedown of Her Many Misguided Arguments. By Nina Bahadur. The Huffington Post, February 14, 2014.

Dear Susan Patton, Single Women Don’t Need Your “Straight Talk.” By Emma Gray. The Huffington Post, February 14, 2014.

The End of “Marriageability?” By Robert VerBruggen. Real Clear Policy, February 14, 2014.

The 11 best quotes from Susan Patton’s new book. By Urvija Banerji and Anna Mazarakis. The Prox, March 3, 2014.

The 10 Worst Pieces of Advice From Susan Patton’s “Marry Smart.” By Claire Fallon. The Huffington Post, March 6, 2014.

14 Questions for Princeton Mom Susan Patton. By Emily Levy. Vocativ, March 7, 2014.

Susan Patton interview. By Rabbi Joseph Potasnik (her cousin) and Deacon Kevin McCormack. Audio. Religion on the Line. 77 WABC Radio, March 9, 2014. Interview starts at 77:40 in the podcast.

Elites Close Ranks Around Ivy League Intermarriage. By Walter Russell Mead. NJBR, April 7, 2013. With related articles.

Katty Kay: Marriage Is “Old Fashioned” If You Want to Have Kids. NJBR, April 18, 2013. With video.

Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too. By Kate Taylor. NJBR, July 17, 2013. With related articles.


Another Valentine's Day. Another night spent ordering in sushi for one and mooning over “Downton Abbey” reruns. Smarten up, ladies.
Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry. But chances are that you haven’t been investing nearly as much energy in planning for your personal happiness as you are planning for your next promotion at work. What are you waiting for? You’re not getting any younger, but the competition for the men you’d be interested in marrying most definitely is.
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. That's not a competition in which you’re likely to fare well. 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.
You should be spending far more time planning for your husband than for your career—and you should start doing so much sooner than you think. This is especially the case if you are a woman with exceptionally good academic credentials, aiming for corporate stardom.
An extraordinary education is the greatest gift you can give yourself. But if you are a young woman who has had that blessing, the task of finding a life partner who shares your intellectual curiosity and potential for success is difficult. Those men who are as well-educated as you are often interested in younger, less challenging women.
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. And if you start to earn more than he does? Forget about it. Very few men have egos that can endure what they will see as a form of emasculation.
So what’s a smart girl to do? Start looking early and stop wasting time dating men who aren’t good for you: bad boys, crazy guys and married men.
College is the best place to look for your mate. It is an environment teeming with like-minded, age-appropriate single men with whom you already share many things. You will never again have this concentration of exceptional men to choose from.
When you find a good man, take it slow. Casual sex is irresistible to men, but the smart move is not to give it away. If you offer intimacy without commitment, the incentive to commit is eliminated. The grandmotherly message of yesterday is still true today: Men won’t buy the cow if the milk is free.
Can you meet brilliant, marriageable men after college? Yes, but just not that many of them. Once you’re living off campus and in the real world, you’ll be stunned by how smart the men are not. You’ll no doubt meet some eligible guys in your workplace, but it’s hazardous to get romantically involved with co-workers.
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.
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. And if you fail to identify “the one” while you’re in college, don’t worry—there’s always graduate school.


It’s Valentine's Day. I’m single, I’m a college graduate, I’m 26 and I’ve spent the last four years tirelessly working to advance my career as an editor. According to “Princeton Mom,” Susan Patton, tonight I’ll probably be crying into my Seamless-ordered sushi and tomorrow I need to buck up and find a damn husband.
On behalf of the vast majority of single women that I know – who are, as Patton so quaintly put it, “not getting any younger” – I’d like to tell her: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Your so-called “straight talk” isn’t doing those in your target demographic any favors.
Of course, this is not the first time the 1977 Princeton grad has argued that “career women” are wasting their youth on caring about their jobs, that the only good men out there can exclusively be found in your undergraduate university classes, and that being deeply passionate about (and loving) your work is mutually exclusive with being deeply passionate about finding love and a life partner. She's already made this argument twice, but I suppose that a holiday dedicated to Hallmark cards, ostentatious shows of affection and overpriced prix-fixe dinners is as good a time as any for her to push out her drivel of a message once again – and shill for her upcoming book.
To the Susan Pattons of the world, I want to make the following very clear about single women in their 20s and 30s:
1. Most of us are looking for love.
As many single women can attest, there is a vast gulf between being open to love and going on dates, and actually finding a person who you mesh with, who you care about and who cares about you. The women I know put aside time out of their busy weeks to date and to push themselves into new situations where they might meet potential love interests. We sign up for Tinder and Hinge and OKCupid and JDate, half out of boredom, but, ultimately, with an air of hopefulness. With each swipe or like or match we wonder whether this will be the one that works – and often, it’s not. (The same can be said for all of the wonderful and not-so-wonderful potential partners we met during our college years. I don’t believe that the men I met when I was 20 are any more “marriage material” than the men I meet now.)
We enter relationships and end said relationships when they are not right, we endure heartbreaks and bad dates, and also have great sex and great stories. Some of us find someone we think we'd like to be with for a very long time during these years – and some of us don’t. Both are fine outcomes, and most people do not end up in one camp or the other because they did or did not try hard enough to “plan for a husband.”
2. We also are dedicating considerable time and energy to our careers – but it’s not a waste of time.
Not only do most of the single women I know love their jobs, find fulfillment in said jobs and cannot imagine leading lives that did not include a career, but also, for most of us, work is and will always be a necessity for survival. Even recognizing women who would prefer not to work after marriage, most of us will not marry a partner who can afford to take on the full financial burden of his family. As of May 2013, 4 in 10 American households with young children had female breadwinners. And single, childless women in urban centers are on their way to out-earning their male counterparts. But none of this means that these women will be forced to opt out of marriage because they’ve spent time advancing their careers and are making decent salaries. In fact, highly-educated, successful women are just as likely to get married (if not more so) than other women, they just tend to do it a few years later.
3. Having – and enjoying -- sex does not prevent us from finding true connection.

“Men won’t buy the cow if the milk is free,” Patton writes, sounding more out of touch than I thought was humanly possible. I know women who have slept with men right away thinking it would be completely casual, and ended up marrying those men years down the road. I know women who did everything “right” and by “the rules” with a potential partner and ended up dumped. I have heard (and experienced) nearly every iteration in between. Sex is complicated and means something different to every person. It absolutely can make or break a relationship, but not because you messed up and “gave it away”too early. And honestly, any man who would lose interest in me right after we slept together, is probably not a man I’d want to commit myself to legally for the rest of my life, anyway. Plus, 95 percent of American couples who make the trip down the aisle have slept together far before their wedding night.
4. We don’t devalue marriage or motherhood. And a lot of us still want those things.
Let’s be clear: being a feminist does not, as Patton implies, mean believing that there is something “incongruous about educated, ambitious women wanting to be wives and mothers.” Most of the single – and married – women I am close with identify as feminists and consider themselves to be thoroughly modern and empowered. None of them think that being a wife or a mother is a bad thing, some don’t want to be either wives or mothers, and many are single and still want both. Not spending every waking moment wishing for an MRS. degree or looking at every new man who enters our lives as a potential sperm donor, doesn’t preclude a desire to find a life partner or have a baby.
But the most important thing you need to understand, Susan Patton, is that we single women choose not to define our ultimate worth by our relationship status. Yes, we are single. Yes, we are spending Valentine’s Day without a romantic partner (probably not crying into our takeout sushi). We may or may not feel satisfied with those things. But we are also so, so much more.