“Marry smart, or too smart to marry”

Make way for a bright future in the kitchen and nursery, ladies.

Don’t worry about a career; just get a husband and have babies, or, you will be looking at an unfulfilled life of work that might actually contribute something to society. Obtaining both is out of the question; women do not have the capacity for marriage/motherhood and a career. Our bodies simply will not allow that kind of strength; leave that for our male superiors. Stick to what we were made for: complete submissiveness to men and children.

Do the above sentiments seem a little regressive? Do I even need to dignify that question with a real response?

Susan Patton, author of the recently published book “Marry Smart,” has gained a lot of negative attention with her “advice” for college women. She advocates that women should go to college with the intention of finding a husband, mostly because we will never be as pretty or as fertile while in our early 20s.

It amazes me that someone with so much education — Patton is a Princeton alum — could be so clueless and demeaning to traditional age college women. Patton’s misguided metaphors and humor are counteracted by the content. She had a few funny moments, but the laughter soon turned into tears of aggravation as Patton continued along her regressive path.

Each chapter is spelled out for the readers. She has little boxes at the end of each chapter with bullet points of her general advice, which is cool if you can’t read. Or, if you’re like me and you want to end this awful book as quickly as possible.

What kills me is that Patton actually thinks she is subverting — a fancy way of describing someone who resists domination — the feminist movement by telling young girls to aspire only to marriage and motherhood; everything else should be put on hold. Apparently it is a part of the new right movement that victimizes women who aspire to be a housewife and blames feminist rhetoric as the source of their plight. The term backward doesn’t even begin to cover this way of thinking.

According to Patton, only stupid women follow the feminist movement that has spent the last few hundred years working for women’s liberation. Please, ladies, don’t read into it more than you need to. She is an elitist, upper-class woman, who has nothing else to do in her life but give really bad counsel.

Please, skip over all references to feminism all together. She said the feminist movement over the last 150 years has included “the emasculation of men, the elimination of romantic courtship, and the conclusion that marriage and motherhood are primary obstacles to the empowerment of women.” She continues by calling this “the dark side.” That’s right! How dare feminists fight for gender equality? How dare they encourage women to think outside the confines of the kitchen and have more in life than catering to a husband? Perish the thought.

I wish Mary Shelley, author of “Frankenstein,” was still alive so she could challenge Patton to an intellectual argument on the rights of women, or at least a thumb wrestling contest. Patton obviously has no idea what the feminist movement is about or stands for. Maybe the professor covered that on a day she set aside for man hunting. Seriously, Patton, you should have paid more attention in school instead of the hunk in the back row.

A lot of her language is sexist, which shouldn’t be surprising given the content, but for some reason every time she mentioned a ticking biological clock, or our “ovarian shelf life,” I just cringed. I think she is super confused. She advocates for women to spend 75 percent of their time looking for a husband, but then says friends should be more important. She says if the guy you’re with now is bad for you, move on, but then goes on to say he could be “the one” so don’t move on so quickly; give him another chance. She says women are not defined by their husbands, but people will judge you based on whom you choose as a life partner.

Patton claims that confidence is sexy, but, if you’re not conventionally sexy, then plastic surgery is an acceptable alternative. But, make sure to get these surgeries when you’re younger, like in high school, because you’ll want time to recover and get used to your “new body.”

I agree that confidence is sexy, but beware, confidence in your plastic surgeon is not the same thing.

She said, “If you’ve struggled with obesity through most of your teen years, then maybe surgical intervention is a good idea for yourself … If cosmetic surgery can eradicate a haunting physical flaw and empower you with newfound confidence, then it’s probably well worth the risk.”

I mean, sometimes Patton writes my jokes for me. I’m not against plastic surgery; I’m against anyone advocating to teen girls that plastic surgery will make you pretty enough for a prospective mate. Patton, get some help.

She advocates for children to be educated early on that a female’s fertility is limited. She said this should be taught in sex education classes. I find this annoyingly off base. Why would we teach children about safe sex while simultaneously teaching them that there is a small fertility window? Isn’t that giving children mixed signals? It is, however, advocating the start of desperation for male affection way too early. Not to mention the fact that the teachers would be training only young girls to aspire to a life without independence which is so problematic. We should be teaching young girls that they can do anything their male peers can, not the opposite.

It’s a good thing Patton only had sons, because if she had daughters, they would have been panic alarmists who would only have the capacity to look in the mirror and look for a husband.

My favorite part is when she blames rape victims for getting raped because they might have had a few too many drinks and/or dressed too provocatively. Or, when she compares finding a husband with shopping for lipstick. She calls the girls who care more about what people think lacking in substance. This is coming from the person who just compared looking for a husband with buying lipstick.

Ladies, I am not saying that if you want to be a housewife, you are not smart. But there is something completely backwards about a woman who is telling women that marriage and motherhood should be the most important aspiration of life. You can do both; have a family and a career. Also, it is unfair to make this claim for everyone. What if staying at home isn’t an option? In this economy, most families survive by having a two-income household. Does that make middle-class women less smart?

According to Patton, the only smart thing to do in college and in life is to get married. By that standard, everyone I know is an idiot. She implores smart women to think for themselves, while simultaneously trying to convince them that marriage and motherhood are the only chances for happiness. So being smart means blindly following societal traditions? See, I can pick her argument out with ease, but I can’t seem to pick a suitable candidate for marriage so, Patton would consider me a failure.

Patton has really opened my eyes. Thanks to her I will start freezing my eggs.  She has made me realize why I am perpetually single. I actually did school work in undergrad that allowed me to follow my dreams in writing and get accepted into a master’s program. Then again, I didn’t have a husband so there was nothing else to do. And guess what? I am almost done with this degree and have no prospects. I guess it’s time for a Ph.D. I’ll just keep spending thousands of dollars until I reach my full potential and find someone who will marry me.



10 thoughts on ““Marry smart, or too smart to marry”

  1. Two disapproving thumbs down and one big, inappropriate middle finger up. I hope this visual clearly depicts the message female readers receive from this instructive, yet rather unilluminating book, Marry Smart by Susan Patton, that seems to perpetuate many archaic and conventional ideas concerning the women’s position in society, which includes laying down and being on the bottom, with the demands and conceit of expectation. Alas, gone are not the days where women are comparable to cattle and marriage is their only (and ultimate) opportunity for purpose and fulfillment. Still, we exist in a time where traditional thought does not tolerate the capacity or potential of the woman’s faculty. Women are projected as weak, inept, and second-rate. Furthermore, let’s face it: women are still perceived as belonging in the kitchen, doing the laundry, taking care of the kids (as well as their household), submitting to the standards of their entire social order, and essentially settling for a life that dwells in the unacknowledged backgrounds of our universe. With that said, am I surprised by Patton’s views? No. Slightly offended? Yes. I deem myself to be pretty open when it comes to other people’s opinions and standpoints, while too, considering certain aspects of life and experience that may affect their attitudes and ideologies. Hence, though she’s an Ivey-leaguer, and surely well to do (and likely out of touch), her “advice” seems to dismiss factors that impact different groups, in diverse communities, participating in different cultures. Unfortunately every woman doesn’t have the luxury of (1) going to school, to (2) focus on obtaining a husband so they can live happily ever after. Some women have other priorities, and dare I say-ambitions.
    But I must conclude, for I have already given Mrs. Patton’s wisdom and counsel more attention than I desire. So sure, if a woman has no personal goals and needs guidance on the best way to get a husband, have at it! But she should know that this Princeton savant of a mentor happens to be divorced, and writing recommendations she has little practice and familiarity in. So readers of her “expertise”, proceed with caution.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! I really enjoyed and agreed with all of your insights, especially the one where you state that not all women have means or inclinations to go to school in the first place. Patton is rendering under the assumption that everyone women simply has the money to go to college. It seems interesting then that she would run under this assumption given her advocation for so much tradition. I am surprised she didn’t say something like, should women even be allowed to go to school in the first place.

      I also agree with you that we are by no means living in a gender equal society. There are still archaic expectations of a women, and books likes this one, written by educated women, do nothing but perpetuate the cycle. What’s even worse is that this is a national bestseller! Unfortunately, Patton is a kook with clout.

  2. It’s hard to believe that this woman is getting so much attention for this book. Her advice is contradictory and confusing and just plain wrong in parts. Women go to school to get an education and pursue what matters to them and have a way to earn money. If they happen to find someone while in college, fantastic. But if they don’t, no one should make them feel bad about it. We all have different paths and we’re allowed to make our own choices.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I agree. This book does feel a little like bullying to those who have yet to marry, or have no intention to marry in their 20’s. Every women or man for that matter should be free to follow their own dreams no matter their biological limitations.

  3. You people obviously have not read it. I read it. I paid for my copy and read it. I have never met the author. She would not even recognize me on the street. The book is very well written and full of actual, real, helpful advice. I wish I had read this book when I was in college. Alas, I wasted years of my life with an uncommitted living together arrangement that I knew was not going to work. I heard lots of idiotic advice from women that my looks should not matter to men, therefore no good man cared what I looked like. I married late, had kids later. Every day, women in their late thirties and forties come and tell me their very sad situations of not being able to have kids or their boyfriends of five years refusing to get married — these are real, heterosexual women who wanted marriage and kids but who did not understand on a real level that time was passing by very quickly. This book does a great job for its intended audience — young heterosexual women who want to get married and have children. Though past that age myself, I have daughters and read it out of interest in the subject. If you are not a college aged woman who is heterosexual who wants to get married, then don’t read it and don’t be offended by the advice in it. It does not apply to you. I don’t look for advice books designed for a different demographic from my own, and then trash the book with bad reviews. Some women do want to get married and have kids — and they want to plan for personal happiness, not just their careers.

    1. Hi SoFreshandSoClean. I am sorry to hear about others’ horror stories about trying to have children. However, I am the intended audience of this article since I am a young heterosexual college-age women who would like to aspire to more than just marriage, so I hope you can understand when I say that I found this book to be insulting, degrading and all around detrimental for young women. I feel this book does nothing but create an environment that fosters desperation, and a sense that if a women does not have a husband by the time they graduate college there is something inherently wrong with them. However, let me be clear. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with meeting a person with whom you can have a mutual respect for and, ultimately, cultivate a partnership. But this book will not assist young women in finding such a happy relationship. I appreciate your comment, but I have to disagree.

  4. Love love love this.. this is is so true! females need to be strong dont think life is about getting married and just having kids its about you doing what you want also. If a career is your goal then do it! Women need to be stronger and not just a plastic doll to men. We need to earn respect which we have and this needs to continue ! This article is fabulous. 🙂

  5. Look advice is advice and you have a choice to do whatever you want in life but for especially for women you have great opportunities to do whatever you want in life in search for success in this current time. That should not go to waste just for searching for a husband.Plus and this is coming from a guy’s prospective not all of us is trying to get one night stands and trying to mistreat women. A lot of us are trying just to have a relationship with someone that wants to be us and can deal with the stupid things we do. We are all just being single, ready to mingle.

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