Susan Patton, 'Princeton Mom,' Is Back: An Academic Takedown Of Her Many Misguided Arguments

An Academic Takedown Of 'Princeton Mom's' Many Misguided Arguments

"Princeton Mom" Susan Patton burst onto the Internet last March when she wrote a letter to the Daily Princetonian urging women to "find a husband on campus before you graduate." Her letter crashed the Daily 'Prince' website and spawned a number of responses from outraged and bemused women, Princeton women, men, Princeton men and other humans all over the world. (Patton seems to group people into Ivy-League and non-Ivy League categories, so I shall do the same here.)

One year later, she's back in the Wall Street Journal with almost the same advice.

Thankfully, this time around Patton acknowledges that encouraging 22-year-olds to get married en masse is problematic, and now suggests that girls "keep in touch with the men [they] meet in college, especially the super smart ones" in order to snag them later. She also rather wisely tells women, "stop wasting time dating men who aren't good for you: bad boys, crazy guys and married men." Amen. Unfortunately, the rest of her article focuses on stereotypes and assumptions that are, academically, wrong.

Let's respond to some of Susan's questions and claims.

Claim: "You're not getting any younger, but the competition for the men you'd be interested in marrying most definitely is."
Susan says: "Those men who are as well-educated as you are often interested in younger, less challenging women."
Science says: When it comes to the age issue, it makes evolutionary sense that some men may be attracted to younger women -- but women also want to date younger men, too. As for no one wanting an intelligent woman, a long-term study from the University of Iowa found that modern men are most interested in "intelligent, educated women who are financially stable." Also, men who are married to smart women live longer.

Question: "Could you marry a man who isn't your intellectual or professional equal?"
Susan says: "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."
Science says: According to the Pew Research Center, women are marrying less intelligent men more than ever before -- and at a higher rate than men are marrying less intelligent women. And given that divorce rates are declining, it seems that many women are satisfied with their choice of partner. Women are surpassing men in IQ tests and receiving more college and graduate degrees -- so this "trend" probably won't slow down any time soon.

Claim: Having sex before marriage is a bad idea.
Susan says: "Men won't buy the cow if the milk is free."
Science says: About 95 percent of Americans had sex before they were married -- so, clearly, men are still "buying the cow" after sampling that free milk. And 70 percent of couples surveyed in a 2007 study said they'd like to live together before getting married.

Question: "Can you meet brilliant, marriageable men after college?"
Susan says: "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."
Science says: Roughly 28 percent of couples who marry attended the same college (that number is reportedly much higher for Princeton alumni, so it's unclear what Patton is so concerned about anyway), so the remaining 72 percent MUST be able to meet brilliant, marriageable partners after college. About one-third of American couples meet online and 22 percent through work. Also, studies suggest that couples who meet online have better marriages than those who meet "in the real world."

Claim: Feminists hate wives and mothers.
Susan says: "There is nothing incongruous about educated, ambitious women wanting to be wives and mothers."
Common sense/the rest of the Universe says: AGREED. Let's move on.

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