4.01.2013

THE PRINCETON MOM KERFUFFLE

How could I resist leaning in on Mrs. Princeton Mom? Last Friday Susan Patton (class of '77) infamously published an open letter to young Princeton women, urging them to find husbands in their freshmen year, if possible, before their "shelf lives" expired. The piece went viral, the school's website crashed, and Tigers round the world roared--many in approval. Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a tin-eared tempest. I might add that Mrs. Patton's son attends Princeton--Gee, mom, could you think of any more embarrassing way to air what might just be a bad case of Divorce Rage? Here's the start of the piece at TIME.com....

What is it about that place, anyway? Is someone there starting a Regressive Gender Issues think tank? In the most recent throwback moment, a Princeton grad (Susan Patton, class of ’77) seems just a tad hung up on the excellence of marrying her own kind.

Given my wonderful friends who are Princeton grads, I’d like to think that they aren’t as hung up on the glory of their alma mater. But I have noticed, over the decades, that Princetonians in particular and Ivy Leaguers in general suffer from a cloying self-importance and parochialism. You know who I mean—the ones who let you know, in the first ten minutes of conversation, where he or she went to school, especially if the place is Yale or…uh, Cambridge. But hey, I went to Wesleyan, which means everyone thinks I dropped acid for four years.

Read more....

19 comments:

Lorri Matusiak-Lindsay said...

heehee! Nice entry Dominique. When, oh when are women going to start interviewing their boyfriends AT LEAST as stringently as they interview a potential employer? I mean, really, the boyfriend - should he turn into a husband, is going to be around a lot longer and have far more influence over her career than any boss likely will.

slowlovelife said...

So true! We need BF Interview guides: pertinent questions; What to listen for; Reading between the lines of his answers....

warren said...

Well how WAS the acid at Wesleyan?!

Sherry said...

I don't understand this agenda that so many women have about obtaining a husband. Status anxiety is so tiresome. Substance and character don't seem to be important anymore. As my Dad often told me, "If
you marry for money, you will earn every cent."

mary said...

Love the "cloying" image--I went to a top college and rarely mention it's name as I find it very off-putting. And by the way, very insecure and self-serving. Thanks for bringing this up.
Mary

JSBB said...

Looking back from 2013, my 50th college reunion year, I see many lives lived. From where I sit, it looks like a procession of geological periods:

There was the Child Me, the Highschooler Me, the College Me, the Young Married Me, the Divorced Me, the Mourning Me (after a beloved partner died), the Recovered Me, the Remarried Me, the Older Mother Me, the Post-Childraising Me, the Career Choices Me, the Reconnecting with an Old Flame Me – countless incarnations, countless wild and wonderful memories of amazing companions and opportunities from each of those incarnations. Countless ways of understanding who I am and where I might be heading next. Having corkscrewed my way upward and onward in my life, I cannot imagine any time when I would have been able to say, “This is IT, there is no more than this…”

A friend memorably summed the arc of his life story: “a bagatelle bouncing down [or was it bounding up?] the spiky staircase of life.”

The advice of the Princeton Mom was the exact opposite of the message I always offered. It boiled down to this: “Keep your options open. You never know when you’re going to want them…”

Sheila said...

Nah, my daughter and my ex-husband went to Wesleyan. They just think you're smart.

warren said...

If one still believes that two can achieve more together than two separately, if one still believes that commitment/vows have sanctity, if one is willing to look beyond the individualistic want to have children that Ron Lesthaeghe postulates in his theory of Second Demographic Transition, then Ms. Patton's advice may not be that bad.

A March 20 NYTimes' article shows that women are graduating from college at a higher
rate than men. To the degree that a high concentration of marriageable men at
Princeton are like fish in a barrel, the pickings may be easier there then than later.

The U.S. like many other developed nations is in a steep population decline. Highly
educated people are delaying having children and then having fewer. It's the
same everywhere. Moving beyond the topic of Princeton some may enjoy reading
Jonathan Last's 'What to Expect When No One's Expecting.'

slowlovelife said...

sorry to say I was not part of the Art of Small Batch Crafting going on in the chem lab, or so the story goes....too afraid I might lose my mind!

slowlovelife said...

what a lovely comment, what a marvelous thought, that bagatelle....thank you!

Violet Cadburry said...

Loved your article! Couldn't have said it better myself and I went to Harvard...or was it Yale...

Darlene said...

So, if she could go back and do it again she'd marry a Princeton man. Cinderella and Prince(ton) Charming. And they lived happily after. Maybe.

warren said...

Me too. I think photography saved me. All that time seeing, then batching film and printing. Loved your images of the eggs/stones and the Cave show.

William said...

Now, now Dominique, have you noticed how people who went to Amherst, Williams or Wesleyan always seem to work that in before the 3rd paragraph of a piece for Time?

Anon said...

I'm in two minds about her message - I don't agree with what she said but as a married woman in my mid 30s I look around at my wonderful single women friends and I wonder when/if they'll get married/be in long term relationships. Not because as a woman that is all there is to life, but because they are sometimes lonely, and dying to share their lives with someone they love. You should absolutely marry for love, but I feel like as a younger generation than the Princeton alum, I think we have been sold down the river - I don't believe you can have it all, all at once, and I feel like this is sometimes to blame for us expecting that we could and should.

Donna Baker said...

I do think there is something to what she said. My own daughter, at 40, has no suitors nor children. I don't think she will. I see beautiful, smart women who have waited to marry and have children. They can't find anyone to date because they are too busy and don't want to date online. I had a child a 20, 25 and 33. I could keep up with my children much better in my twenties than in my thirties. Many women also have fertility problems after thirty. Guess it is good to get it out there, so young women will at least be able to discuss it..

slowlovelife said...

Very funny! Glad you caught the joke!

slowlovelife said...

I agree, Donna, that there is a problem with waiting too long -- if a person wants a partner, or children. My problem with the suggestion by Mrs. Patton was that most 19 year olds I know can barely find their classes, much less find life partners. And the idea that fellow male college classmates won't be intimidated by a young woman's brains is sadly misguided. I feel your sadness for your daughter's choices, but I'm sure she has her reasons, and her luck will turn when she wants it to, no?


You are right--it is good to open discussions. Thanks!

trudy said...

if you marry for money, you pay for it!