Mike Kueber's Blog

April 3, 2013

Susan Patton and Princeton guys

Filed under: Culture,Education — Mike Kueber @ 10:18 pm
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Susan Patton was a Princeton co-ed in the 70s.  After graduating, she met and married a non-Princeton guy who apparently was not her intellectual equal, and this disparity apparently led to their recent divorce.  Before the divorce, however, the non-Princeton guy did help her produce two sons who were smart enough to go to Princeton (the youngest is still there as a junior). 

Patton, who is currently a NYC human-resources consultant, has created a huge controversy by writing a letter to the Princeton newspaper giving marital advice to the Princeton daughters she never had.  Her advice is as follows:

  1. A Princeton woman should find a husband who matches her intellectually.  By contrast, men can often be happy with a dumber wife, provided she is attractive.
  2. When you are as smart as a Princeton woman, you are highly unlikely to find such a guy unless you find him while you still in your target-rich undergraduate days at Princeton.

Patton has acknowledged the controversy in a HuffPost article in which she concedes that many people ask her if her letter was intended as satire, to which she lamely responds, “My letter was serious.

Many critics of the letters profess that it is so flawed that they don’t know where to start.  Perhaps the most common criticism of Patton’s advice is that co-eds are typically not ready to start thinking about marriage, and that is certainly true.  But the criticism that caused Patton’s advice to go viral, I believe, was reflected in the following headline – “Princeton Grad Warns Undergraduates To Find Their Husbands Now, Because The Rest Of The World Is Too Dumb.” 

I found the following passage to best reveal Patton’s haughty attitude: 

  • It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.
  • Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them. 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.

There is an old saying that when you find that you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.  Somehow, Patton seems to have missed the Princeton class that taught common sense and good judgment, so when she tried to explain the letter in her HuffPost clarification, she actually dug the hole a little deeper:

  • The popularity of Nikki Mueller’s video (I Went to Princeton, Bitch) comically attests to the difficulty Princeton women face from men who are threatened by their academic credentials. It doesn’t address how unsatisfying it is for exceptionally well educated women to be with men who are not their intellectual equal. I am divorced. I did not marry a Princeton man. I wish I had.

There is also an old saying that there are two sides to every story; I would love to hear the ex-husband’s side.


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