When Susan Patton's open letter in The Daily Princetonian was first shared with me, I was appalled. I could not believe it was a real thing. Then I thought, "Oh God, my video is going to be used to defend this." Last year, I self-produced "The Ivy League Hustle" (a.k.a. "I Went to Princeton, Bitch) which is about guys being intimidated by educated women. I guess the argument could be made that, if I'd married a Princeton man, I wouldn't have to mire through a swamp of Wharton tools outside of the Orange Bubble. As feared, Patton's self-defense on The Huffington Post did indeed reference me (if misspelled -- Muller, please.) I came up again on an interview with her with Megyn Kelly on Fox News. My initial response was: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" My rap was never intended as an agent for instilling fear of spinsterdom into the hearts of brilliant young women. So I'll try for a more eloquent reply:
If I had married a Princeton man as an undergrad, by now I would have divorced one. Sure, it is a decent group of "soaring intellects," but getting married before you're ready just because there's a nice selection is like overstuffing yourself at the buffet just because the food is there: nausea-inducing and will probably lead to unwanted weight gain. Kudos to anyone at Princeton who was ready for marriage and found their mate: it's probably fun to get each other's college references, and yes, you're more likely to match intelligence-wise, but that's really not reason enough for me to make a premature life decision.
I have spent most of my twenties terrified of marriage, since I don't want to make a mistake and wind up divorced. Which, judging from Patton's letter, is her primary source of regret... not necessarily the fact that she didn't marry a Princeton man, but that she married the wrong man. Due to my career path and personal pursuits, it's only within maybe the last year that I've thought I might not hate being in a lasting relationship, and I'm sure a lot of the driven women who attended Princeton are in a similar position. We need to figure out our life goals first before hitching up with a man who may or may not share those goals. (Unless our life goal is wife and mother, which is fine, but is not for everyone.) I'd like to mention Michelle Obama could have bagged a Tiger hubby, but opted for a Harvard guy, whom she mentored at their law firm. That worked out pretty well for her, no? Sometimes it pays to wait.
I am a single Princeton graduate on the cusp of prime baby making age, and I have never regretted staying single. There were other things I wanted to do in my life. It's sadly comical that, in Patton's opinion, the intelligent and capable (and, incidentally, heterosexual and monogamous) women of Princeton should wind up being helpless to find a guy who matches their smarts outside of school, and that freshman year, when they probably spent most of their time drinking too much on The Street and sleeping through precepts was their "moment." It's pretty insulting, really. I mean... has she never heard of the meet market that is Reunions? (Winky face.)
Is it hard to find a man "worthy of me"? Maybe... I've got self-esteem enough to have standards. Is it hard to find a guy who isn't intimidated by my smarts? Sure. But those guys are douches. I wouldn't want to marry them anyway.
I have never heard anyone recommending that Princeton men settle down before they figure out their life's path. Maybe that's because their ovaries don't dry up in their thirties. But I'm not going to fall prey to this gendered terrorization of women who second-guess their career choices because they're afraid of dying alone. Better to die alone with a life filled with accomplishments of which you're proud than alone, divorced and filled with regret that you didn't lead the life you truly wanted to lead. Most marriages "fail," though I personally don't believe a marriage that ends has to be categorized as a failure. I just think there needs to be more to life than just finding another person.
In conclusion, I think the best advice for young Princeton women is the same advice you'd give to Princeton men: do what you love, follow your bliss, surround yourself with intelligent people who inspire you, and maybe marry one of them when you're ready. Marrying out of fear is a surefire way to wind up unhappy. Even if he's the smartest and handsomest Lacoste-wearing Princetonian out there.
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