Susan Patton, the mother who seared herself into our nightmares last March when she wrote a letter in the Daily Princetonian urging women to collect that MRS degree, stat, is back. This time she has taken her retrograde loonery to the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Her Valentine-themed opinion piece, about how college women need to "smarten up and start husband-hunting," is full of the absurd generalizing, medieval gender roles, Ivy League snobbery, and general wrongheadedness you might expect. (There is also a delightfully cuckoo line about Noam Chomsky and the Bayeux tapestry.) But the question arises: Is Patton’s latest effort more insulting to men or to women? Below, a brief accounting:
Another Valentine's Day. Another night spent ordering in sushi for one and mooning over "Downton Abbey" reruns. Smarten up, ladies.
Apparently sushi and Downton Abbey are not a winning combo, and women need to "smarten up" to the fact that we are huge miserable failures unless we spend Feb. 14 feeding our Yale-educated husbands lobster on an enormous bed of pearls. (He murmurs something romantic in Latin. You reply in ancient Greek. His personal assistants, also Yalies, dim the lights. Scene.) More insulting to: women.
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.
Yes, Patton is again implying that women cannot be happy without a certain kind of husband. And she suggests that we, unlike guys, molt charm and value as we age (presumably because our worth resides in our looks, not those dumb professional accomplishments we keep chasing). But dudes, on the other hand, are not only shallow enough to agree with her, but difficult enough that preparing to wed them requires the same kind of time investment as furthering our careers. Must we devote eight hours a day to figuring out how to apportion closet space? Do we need special training to unscramble the meaning of “let's order Chinese?” Just how dim and/or belligerent are these guys? More insulting to: men.
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.
Ladies, while we can take it for granted that you are smart and ambitious, the men are a different story. Loserville, amirite? And the few good ones out there want bimbos. More insulting to: men.
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.
As if we would judge someone for looking less than enthralled when we brought up the Bayeux tapestry. We are probably bringing up the Bayeux tapestry for the express purpose of ending the conversation. We actually want you to fall asleep, so we can get away faster. More insulting to: women.
But also: men. In 2013, a Match.com survey of more than 5,000 singles nationwide found that most guys are willing to date women they perceive as intellectual superiors. Turns out a lot of males actually enjoy their partners’ minds as well as their bodies. According to the survey, men also had no problem dating women who outearned them. Anyway, back to Princeton Mom:
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.
Beyond the ivory tower, apparently, men are disgusting. More insulting to: men.
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.
Women have absolutely nothing to offer besides sex. At least the men, though dick-swinging Neanderthals, know the ABCs of dairy farming. More insulting to: women.
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.
More insulting to: men.
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.
Wise women are manipulative and grasping; their overtures of friendship are shams. They measure “desirability” by income and prestige. More insulting to: women.
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.
Women are idiots who have fallen prey to feminist brainwashing and need a straight-talking, Princetonian fairy godmother to remind them of what they truly want. (Of course, some women really do want a husband and kids! But they probably already know that.) More insulting to: women.
Now, the final tally: It's a tie! Ladies and gentlemen, consider yourselves equally justified in feeling insulted by this ridiculous article. If you are ever so unfortunate as to run into Susan Patton at the yacht club, I would recommend bringing up that Ibsen play you have to catch and going home to binge-watch Downton Abbey in your Big Ten sweatshirt.