Here’s what Susan Patton, a nice, Upper East Side Jewish mom who graduated Princeton Class ’77, wants my daughters to know: when they get to the Ivy Leagues, they better snag that M.R.S. degree while they’re getting that baccalaureate because if they’re not married by graduation, they’ll spend the rest of their lives with nothing but a herd of cats to keep them warm at night—or worse, will end up in a dead-end marriage with a dumb, broke, non-Ivy League loser who’ll make life absolutely miserable until the ink on the divorce papers is dry.
Apocalyptic, right? But really, that was the takeaway from the now-infamous page-and-a-half letter to the editor Patton wrote to her alma mater’s student newspaper, the Daily Princetonian—a “find a husband not now but right now” warning addressed to the “girls” of Princeton. Patton insists that “the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry,” and it is absolutely imperative that female Ivy Leaguers get one of their brainy counterparts to put a ring on it before graduation, lest the “very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are” totally disappears. In fact, she adds, freshman women have only four classes of men to choose from—choices that dwindle with each passing semester as Princeton men start bagging incoming freshmen classes and leave the older female classmates to duke it out for the upperclassmen leftovers.