Last week I was watching CNN and I caught an interview with a woman named Susan Patton who wrote a letter to Princeton University's campus newspaper about how women should find a husband while in college. See Susan's letter here. See the CNN interview with Susan here.
In my opinion Susan was ridiculed in the interview by pseudo-feminists who were appalled at the antiquated notion that women should find a husband while still in their undergrad years, which essentially equates to women roughly between the ages of 18 - 22 years old. I have to admit that at first, without even reading the letter or hearing what Susan had to say about the intent of her letter, I too was appalled at the idea that women should step back 60+ years to a time when the most important thing a woman did in her life was find a husband, keep a home, and bear children. But then I listened to what she was really saying, and I went to read her letter. Susan says in her letter, "For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry. You will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you." I do not find her words to be anti-feminist or antiquated in any way. In fact I believe that the underlying message and spirit of her letter is truthful, and well founded.
First of all, I am not a Princeton graduate but I have been married to the same man for nearly a decade. I will openly, and willingly admit that yes, my happiness and my future is indeed linked to my husband. As an Army family the effects of his choices and career are life changing for me, and for our children. Because we choose to share our lives in marriage, we are connected. What affects him, affects me.
Secondly, we live in a society today where for some reason many women are actually devaluing themselves. We allow ourselves to become overly sexualized and objectified via television, magazines, movies, and yes, porn. Nudity, nakedness and the objectifying of women has become so common place, and most of us are so desensitized to it that we barely even notice the problem. How often do you flip through channels to see some women shaking her bikini clad butt or breasts for the camera? We've allowed pregnant teenagers to become D-list celebrities, trashy 20-somethings wearing barely there clothing spewing profanity, engaging in graphic sexual activity, and fist fighting on camera. THESE are the women we want our daughters to look up to as their "feminist" role models?
It is for this reason that I see no problem with what Ms. Patton said in her letter. If you listen to her in her interview, she says that her intent is not solely for women to get married while still in college, but to find a potential spouse during that time frame. I don't think that Susan Patton's message applies solely to Princeton University students either. I think it applies to every intelligent, goal oriented woman who has dreams not only of having a career, but of having a marriage as well. What's wrong with sending a message to women and girls to find a husband that is worthy of them? Why shouldn't we encourage our daughters to find a life partner who is their intellectual equal? Women and girls should be encouraged to find a partner who is smart, supportive, and well rounded. We should be encouraging our daughters to find someone who is going to add something to, and compliment their lives, not drag them down. We expect our girls to to start planning for their careers by the time they hit their freshman year in college by deciding on a major and studying accordingly. They are the prepared for 4 years, at the least, to enter the workforce in their chosen field. We teach them how to write a resume, how to interview for a prospective job, and more. Why should we not also encourage these women to find a good, positive partner?
Women and girls have been indoctrinated to believe that we can, "have it all". When we challenge our daughters to be active in extra curricular activities, get good grades, get into a good school, or find a great job, not to settle for the ok one that pays less, we're hailed as progressive, or feminist, or advocates for the advancement of women. But when we encourage our daughters to find a spouse who is her equal, we're pigeon-holed as being old fashioned, or anti feminist. Certainly I'm not saying that college is the only place to find such a partner. Nor am I claiming that intelligence is the highest quality a potential spouse can posses. I am saying that I believe Susan's overall message is for women NOT to settle for something less than what they deserve.