LETTER TO THE EDITOR: To the women of Princeton

BY SUSAN PATTON
Class of 1977

Now that I know I have your attention…

It seemed to me that all of the wisdom that was being offered to you focused only on your professional development. I take it as a given that you will have a successful career that puts your many talents to productive use.

The advice I offer is intended to encourage you to pursue a more holistic approach to fulfilling your life’s dreams — if those dreams include bearing children in a traditional marriage. I want to encourage you to take full advantage of everything Princeton has to offer: a world-class education, as well as a community of people who share your appreciation for academic excellence and an intellectual curiosity. You have an extraordinary opportunity to find lifelong friends, and maybe a life partner with whom to form a family and raise children. If that’s what you want, I am suggesting that you multi-task during these undergraduate years.

This thinking is neither anti-feminist nor retrogressive. It’s practical. Simply put, there is not gender equality in all matters. The window of opportunity for men to marry and have children is almost limitless. You don’t have that kind of time.

In the 1950’s, women were encouraged to find a husband early because opportunities for women in the workforce were limited. They had few options, so they married after college and spent the next ten to fifteen years having children. If after graduating, you spend the next ten to fifteen years invested only in professional development, you will find yourself in your thirties and may have nothing but your career, limited marriage prospects, and a loudly ticking biological clock. Interesting how the same advice (find a husband early) is meaningful today, but for different reasons.

Pursue all of your dreams – – not just the ones that are politically popular. And don’t be afraid to want what you want. Don’t be shouted down by those who want you to want what they want – – instead of all you want for yourselves.

To those of you who have written to me to express your thanks for my confirming what you’ve been thinking, but were afraid to say out loud, I sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness. No thanks were necessary, nor were your apologies. I understood why you messaged me privately.

Obviously, the opinions I express are my own, and as with any advice… you can take it or not. I wish you continued success and every happiness.

Keep talking.
Susan A. Patton ’77

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6 thoughts on “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: To the women of Princeton

  1. Pingback: SPECIAL SECTION: Responses to Susan Patton ’77 | The Daily Princetonian

  2. enough already! all this discussion is simply casting doubt that this university isn’t as elite (academically) as it thinks it is. this is a great school. now honor that. move on.

  3. Hey nobody is mentioning the recent studies showing that DNA mutations in sperm increase as men age, leading to an increase chance of children born with autism, ADHD, etc. Perhaps men also have biological clocks yet as it doesn’t fit our current gender narrative, we choose not to discuss it.

    Mrs. Patton, your biggest mistake failing to realize that young intelligent Ivy League women already know to marry a man who won’t resent our intelligence. It’s something we have known our entire lives. However, luckily we are also smart enough to realize these men don’t only come from Princeton. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Internet? Reunions? Ivy dating websites for the elitist likes of you?

  4. I’m only attending a lowly liberal arts school in the Midwest, so obviously I’m completely unintelligent and definitely uneducated, but Susan, you made a grammatical error in your post. It should be “1950s,” not “1950’s.”

  5. Thank you for your post, Mrs. Patton. I truly respect that you told the truth as it is, unafraid and undeterred by popular opinion. I’ll definitely take your words to heart.

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