Women should work hard to find a husband, especially since they have a limited window in which they can have children, Susan Patton ’77 argues in her new book, “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding the One.”
Besides emphasizing the idea that having a family should be a priority over establishing a career, Patton underscores the importance of good appearance when looking for a husband and compared the search for a partner with the search for a new job. She also reaffirmed her support for traditional family values while directly addressing feminist critiques.
“A ticking biological clock makes all the difference and will always be an impediment to true gender equality,” Patton wrote.
Continuing the advice given in her letter, Patton advises women to use their time in college efficiently by finding a husband before graduation. Colleges offer a large concentration of men who are a woman’s intellectual equal, sowomen should take advantage of the opportunity while they can.
“You don’t have to marry a man who is as smart, capable and accomplished as you,” she wrote. “But tell the truth: Don’t you want to?”
Patton wrote that men, on the other hand, can date “dumb, mean or nasty” women who will have sex with them. She acknowledged that her advice is only meant for women. Men, she wrote, don't need dating advice and can take their time in finding a wife and having children.
The inherent inequality between men and women, she wrote, is that women only have a 25-year window in which they can bear children, while men have almost 75 years in which they can father children. She noted that while women have to carry the fetus for nine months, men have a "twenty-second sperm contribution."
Women should be the driving force in changing the hookup culture on college campuses. Because men have come to “expect free sex,” men will not start to think about having serious relationships until women stop making themselves so available to men without commitment, she wrote.
Additionally, if a woman dresses provocatively, drinks too much and then enters a male's room, whatever happens next is all on her.
"Please spare me your 'blaming the victim' outrage," Patton wrote, adding that these women have "displayed screamingly bad judgment and must bear accountability for what may happen next."
In order to find a husband, Patton explained, a woman must actively search for a husband the way she would search for a job. Additionally, Patton said a woman should be able to cook, be kind and honest, have a good temper and a clean mouth and look good.
“Look your best to attract the best potential life partners,” Patton wrote, adding that women should take care of their nails and lose excess weight. “If you’ve struggled with obesity through most of your teen years, then maybe surgical intervention is a good idea for you."
Patton directly addressed feminist critiques in the book, advising that women should reject any feminist doctrine that discourages women who embrace traditional wife and mother roles. She added that men should not be considered the enemy— "Men are wonderful!"
While Patton acknowledged that some take offense to the idea that a woman is defined by her husband, she argued that women are defined by their husbands in many ways, noting that friends and family will probably judge a woman by the man she marries.
“Here’s the most important thing … you will come to define yourself by your spouse,” Patton wrote. “If you marry a man who isn’t worthy of you, it will eventually chip away at your self-esteem and you will start to believe that this is all you are worth.”
Women should search for the best credentials in a husband, Patton wrote, including where he went to college and what his job is. She wrote that a “luxurious academic credential is a very good indicator of a man’s ambition, his record of academic achievement, and, very likely, his future success.”
Patton referred to 35-year-old women as “spinsters-in-training” and wrote that women at this age who do not have a family “live with profound disappointment” and should consider “settling smart” in order to have a child in wedlock.
“Regardless of how your marriage ends, you will love your child forever,” Patton wrote. “But if you miss your chance to be pregnant and deliver your child, then that dream is off the table forever.”
While "Marry Smart" speaks mainly to women about how they should go about planning for future happiness, Patton also encourages parents to discuss the topics of marriage and fertility with their daughters.
“Some parents of daughters who have already graduated without finding husbands have expressed harsh criticism of my advice, claiming that my opinions are insulting to girls who aspire to professional success,” Patton wrote. “It’s clear by their frustrated parents’ misdirected anger that they think that their own daughters have underperformed, missed an opportunity, or have not lived up to their parents’ expectations.”
The Princeton Triangle Club received a number of shout-outs in the book due to Patton’s involvement with the club as an undergraduate. 12 current students and a number of alumni were also recognized in the Acknowledgements section of the book.
Patton wrote that the book contains her own personal opinions, based on her experience and observation. She also shared anecdotes exemplifying the advice she shares.
“My intent is not to provoke anger, but instead to inspire a dialogue that has been too long suppressed,” Patton wrote in the introduction. “It’s just advice … take it or leave it!”
The hardcover book, published by Gallery Books, will be officially released on March 11. It is 238 pages and costs $24.99.