Susan Patton ruffled the feathers of many women, young and old, when she wrote a letter to the editor of her alma mater’s student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, encouraging college women to focus on looking for their life mates while in college. Her argument was straightforward: it’s where you’re going to find the highest concentration of smart men from good backgrounds, and you aren’t getting any younger. A year later, she followed it up with a piece in the Wall Street Journal previewing her new book, Marry Smart: Advice for Finding ‘The One.’ The opening of her Journal piece was a tad cruel. “Another Valentine’s Day. Another night spent ordering in sushi for one and mooning over
‘Downton Abbey’ reruns. Smarten up, ladies.” Prickly as she may be, she makes some valid points. Points that a lot of women, especially career-driven, educated women don’t want to hear. Points like, “your fertility won’t wait,” or “for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry,” or that women looking for husbands in their thirties are “competing with women in their twenties.” True, true, and true. Susan Patton addresses a real problem: many women today do not approach marriage with the same focus as they do their careers, and it hurts them in the long run. But her solution is elitist and insufficient.