April 3 2013

More on Husbandgate at Princeton

Charlotte Hays

We have already noted the feminist outrage resulting from Princeton alum Susan Patton’s letter to the Daily Princetonian.

Patton, a member of the Class of ’73 and an engineering major, had the audacity to advise women to find a husband at Princeton before graduating.

Just to be clear, we at IWF are frequently asked what we think women should do with their lives. How should they blend marriage and work?  Unlike a lot of doctrinaire feminists, our answer is that women should do whatever they want to with regard to these choices.

Thus we were able to calmly weigh Patton’s advice and conclude that Princeton women are free to accept or reject it.

We did not require valium or herbal tea after reading the column. We thought it did make one good point: it might be nice to have a mate who is one's intellectual peer.  

But the Patton letter was not received calmly. The latest to take umbrage at what Patton said is talking head Donna Brazile, who ran the Gore campaign in 2000. She wrote on CNN:   

If only the Princeton alum's advice had come out 30 years earlier when I was in college, perhaps I could have avoided the costly mistake of focusing on what makes me come alive and then pursuing it for a living. Perhaps if I'd focused instead on nailing down a man by the time I was 22, I could be going to cocktail parties and co-opting my husband and children's successes, bragging about them as if they were my own, rather than being forced to talk about the current state of politics or what we can do as a society to engage the next generation in the struggles of today.

Of course, that’s not at all what Patton was suggesting. Patton was not urging anyone to forego a profession, live only through her spouse and children, or attend endless cocktail parties. Just for the record, though, I bet somebody as well-connected as Ms. Brazile is no stranger to Washington's cocktail circuit.

Brazile also had this to say:

Choosing a life partner requires a maturity and self-awareness that I can't imagine more than a small fraction of college students have. I know I didn't. Not only that, but people change. Who you are at 22 is not who you will be at 35, and in my experience, the decade following college is the interval where the rate of change is the greatest.

Before perpetual adolescence became the norm, and “children” of 26 were deemed too young and flighty to attend to their own health insurance, the age of 22 was considered old enough to make judicious choices. But if Ms. Brazile was too immature to make a big decision at 22, we're glad she waited. Brava!

S. E. Cupp is surprised at the feminist outrage over the Patton letter:

Patton’s advice acknowledges a reality that feminists don’t seem to want to believe: We are, whether we like it or not, defined by our spouses to some extent. The federal government, the tax code, mortgage lenders, health care providers and insurance agents all take great interest in who our spouses are.

Society, too, seems keenly aware, as any number of gay-marriage advocates will tell you. Getting married is, importantly, redefining yourself as “someone’s spouse.”

Now, I admit, Ivy League educations don’t guarantee good character. I went to an Ivy League school where many of the young men I met weren’t fit to be good lab partners, let alone good husbands.

But what’s so subversive and “retro” about the idea of talented, ambitious young women finding a suitable partner from a pool of talented, ambitious — and geographically accessible — young men?

Isn’t that what we do later when we try dating someone from work, dating within our social circles or finding someone online who meets our customized criteria of height, weight, hairline and income? How is that experience any less elitist?

That the feminists decided to make the Patton letter such a huge battle says a lot about modern movement feminism.

James Taranto printed the whole letter yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

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