"For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you."
If you're wondering, this is not from an outtake scene of "Mona Lisa Smile"; this is from Susan A. Patton, Princeton '77, who seems to declare in a recent letter-to-the-editor for The Daily Princetonian that the most important focus of a woman while at Princeton should be finding herself a husband, for, after all, what better chance will they have at laying down that "cornerstone" of their future and happiness?
The Daily Princetonian has since taken down the letter from their site.
But she's certainly not alone in her spend-your-college-years-finding-a-man outlook on post-secondary education.
Last month, College Magazine published an online article titled "Top 10 Schools to Find a Husband", opening with this line:
"Upon entering the wonderful world of college, there is one mantra that every brilliant young woman must remember – if he like it then he shoulda put a ring on it. Take every opportunity in college as a wedding planning opportunity: Sorority sisters? Bridesmaids. Campus Jimmy John’s? Catering. Cute boy in biology class? Groom."College Magazine was kind enough to post a companion piece the year prior (to which they linked in the wife article) titled "Top 10 Colleges With the Hottest Girls". I shit you not.
A quick Google search provides an array of similar articles all written on where to find that dream guy.
I didn't find any articles on the top colleges to find a wife (then again, I didn't look far), but I did come across a rather dazzling piece waxing eloquently on "5 things your college girlfriend will do that your wife will not" or something like that.
What is the message we're sending to young people, women and men? That your legacy is tied to your husband's? That your path should alter to come across the most likely places to find a decent man?
What's next? Top 10 libraries to find a husband? Top 10 industry conferences to find a husband? Top 10 books/projects/causes to write or do to find a husband?
No, I've got it: Nobel Prize most likely to find you a husband. Or seat in the U.S. Senate most likely to find you a husband. Or what countries you should lead to find a husband. I hear the United States is ranked last because, you know, we really suck at getting women into the White House.
Incredibly, even The New York Times tripped up in a recent obituary for Yvonne Brill, a NASA jet propulsion scientist renowned for her smarts and public service to the country. She was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by the President in 2011. But here's how they started out her obit:
And that's great. Being "the world's best mom" or a good cook should be lauded, but that's not why she's being remembered by the public. This woman was a brilliant scientist, recognized for her efforts by no less than the President.
"She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. “The world’s best mom,” her son Matthew said."
Do we honestly think the obituary for a brilliant male scientist would open this way, even if he was a good father, husband, and cook?
And the line "followed her husband from job to job" is so fucking insulting, I don't even know where to begin.
But this is what do we do to women on a regular basis. As a society, we teach girls and young women that their greatest contributions to our progress is based on their physical appearance and presence in the home.
Yes, you can get your doctorate in nuclear physics as long as you make sure to pick the kids up from school and have dinner on the table by 7 pm.
I'm honestly too annoyed to write more about it, so I'll end this entry with just a few of the many women who attended Princeton as an undergrad and didn't meet their husband there. See if you recognize a few names:
Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Anne Marie-Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon
Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay and Hewlett-Packard
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation
Oh, and, you know, Michelle Obama.
Sigh, I'm done.