Princeton Alum Defends Op-Ed Piece Urging Women to Marry

The piece urging women to find husbands at college had been called elitist and anti-feminist

By An Phung
|  Friday, Apr 5, 2013  |  Updated 6:09 PM EDT
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Princeton Alum Defends Op-Ed Piece Urging Women to Marry

AP

Susan Patton wrote an op-ed for The Daily Princetonian urging female students to find a husband.

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Susan Patton, the Princeton alum whose controversial op-ed piece for The Daily Princetonian has outraged feminists, defended her words Friday and said women need to keep an "open mind."

Patton's piece urging women Princeton students to find husbands before they graduate has gained nationwide attention since it was published last week — so much so that it caused The Daily Princetonian site to crash.

The op-ed garnered strong reactions from opinion writers across the web, from the Huffington Post to Slate, prompting the alumni to speak out and defend her opinion.

"Women do aspire to having children and marriage," she said on CNN. "However, the messages that have been given to young women today are so totally focused on developing their careers, no one is saying to them, 'If addition to your career, you also want to be married and have children, you should really be thinking earlier about it.'"

Patton, who was the president of the class of 1977 and who has two sons currently attending her alma mater, had addressed her op-ed to "the daughters I never had."

"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," she wrote.

She also warned women that they would be frustrated to discover a dearth of smart men in the post-graduation world outside of Princeton.

"Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them," she wrote. "And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you."

That comment brought accusations of elitism, in addition to the charges that the piece was anti-feminist.

"This is the elitism of meritocracy: a reflexive belief that, not only are the best and brightest at the top, but outsiders are lesser and duller," Maureen O'Connor wrote in New York magazine.

The Daily Princetonian's opinion editor Sarah Schwartz solicited feedback from readers on Friday in a new post to "continue the conversation," and the response has not been pretty.

"Congratulations to Susan Patton ’77, who gets my vote for the Troll Award for 2013," wrote one reader. "As any good troll knows, the way you get attention these days in not by subtlety, but by going way over the top."

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