A few weeks ago I came across an article in Slate magazine about a Princeton mom Susan Patton admonishing girls in college about "hooking up" & not seeking a husband. When I first read it I was hit viscerally by the thought that we are returning to my mom's generation--go to college to pick up the MRS, not the BA or BS. 'Cuz that's what women back then did. And my thought was--wow, glad my generation isn't like that, although there were plenty of my sorority sisters back in '89 who did--with huge ceremonies after our meetings when they were pinned, lavaliered, etc. Such still giving huge credence to the MRS culture in college. But, even so, most of us left college without a husband or a prospect of one & went off to our "adult" lives to eventually marry someone. And now, 24 years after I graduated from college, the "hook up" culture is where it's at. And Ms. Patton feels that these college women are missing out on the good guys by not looking for a husband amongst the eligible men of Princeton. And you know something? I think she's spot on...sorta. A lot of the advice was pretty offensive but I do think she has a point.
Here's what I believe. Yes, she's a snob because she is assuming that the elite intellectuals are only available at these schools. Technically, although I didn't go to an Ivy League school, I did happen to go to one of the US News & World Report's top 15 schools so I do think that my alma mater counts. And, is everyone out there searching for the smart guys? What's your first criteria for a potential keeper? Actually, one of my top 10's was being smart. So yeah, truth be told--I was looking for someone who could keep up with me intellectually. There are a lot of other quite nearsighted statements on her part that I'm sure you can find out in the ether but I contend, looking back almost 25 years that mebbe I should have been a little more serious about who I dated in college than just playing around for 4 years because frankly, it took me almost 20 years to actually find the right guy. Some of you may find this just as offensive as Ms. Patton's statements, but in some ways I wasted a lot of time, caused my self some real hardships (divorce, eg.), & some serious heartache. And, by my senior year of college I was living with a doozy. Stoopid. Inappropriate. And he was not my intellectual equal, plain & simple. And I allowed him to make me less intellectual as a result. Because, he was older & thereby an "adult" & I was not & I was easily influenced back then. So here's one flaw in Ms. Patton's logic--I was nowhere ready to be married at 23 right out of school. But who says that you have to marry the guy you're dating right out of college? You don't. But mebbe you can marry him a few years down the road. That's more realistic. And you met him in school. Because really, the men at my college really were the most appropriate for me. There's a laundry list of qualifications that I could list but know, two of the biggest (in retrospect) were a certain level of intelligence & similar interests. And what's wrong with that? But here's the rub, I didn't understand that then. So Patton has motherly advice with 30+ years' worth of experience:
" Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.
I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again—you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you."
"This concentration of men who are worthy of you". Indeed. Her message is to support these young women's futures--to help them realize that they are worth more than a "hook-up" or the "bad-boy", or "the cool-hipster dudes". Flawed, because not everyone wants to marry, or for that matter, even marry a man. So she is speaking to a specific population--my younger self. I spent how many years with unworthy men. Of course I am happy to have a wonderful child with my ex-husband, but he was unworthy. It took me 20 some-odd years to find Xing Fu after the fact & when I review his worth--he is really my match and having gone to another top 15 school--well, there it is--chances are, we might have met had we gone to the same schools. He is very bright & intellectually stimulating, we definitely have much in common with interests (sailing anyone?), & our values & backgrounds are very much the same. That is what Ms. Patton means. And she is right. In this day & age, the ability to meet men gets harder & harder as you age--at least the appropriate ones. I think about my friend who has been struggling for years--she is a couple years younger than I am & keeps getting involved with the most inappropriate guys. All she wants is the guy for the rest of her life. As women age, the pool of eligible men diminishes. Reference to Sex And The City:
"And, as you move from age box to age box and the contestants get fewer and fewer, are your chances of finding your soul mate less and less?"
Yeah, it sucks & yeah, the pool gets smaller. And yes, Ms. Patton is a snob--but you know what? So am I & I make no apologies. It is who I am & where I came from (elitist private girls' school) and there are lots of us snobs around--including where my son goes to high school. And you know what? Wouldn't change a thing because he will go to an elite school & get a top-notch education too. Would I have written to The Princetonian? No frickin' way! But the girl's got balls....In fact, here's a good article that says just what I think too: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hard-get/201304/what-susan-patton-princeton-snob-gets-right
So, full circle. It took me a really long time to find the right guy--Xing Fu. And he is sailing--something that I desperately want to be doing right now instead of writing this post. But just imagine if I'd met him when we were younger--he probably would have been the right guy for me then too. But I'm one of the lucky ones--I did eventually find him.