The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Is a Good Man Hard to Find?

Susan A. Patton, a 1977 Princeton alumna and one of the first women to attend the university, created a media firestorm last week by urging Princeton girls to lock down a husband while in college. She wrote in the Daily Princetonian,

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.

Patton’s words met with quite a scathing response. She responded in the Huffington Post:

I sincerely feel that too much focus has been placed on encouraging young women only to achieve professionally. I understand that this can be seen as retrogressive, but for those women who aspire to what used to be thought of as a traditional life with home and family, there is almost no ink addressing personal fulfillment outside of the workplace.

On this point we couldn’t agree more. For both women and men—even the over-achievers among them—happiness is about more than professional fulfillment. Education, especially at a liberal arts college, should prepare students for life as a whole, not simply provide a narrow vocational training program. Universities today offer courses on “How to Watch TV,” or “Zombies in Popular Media,” yet very few provide real guidance on those areas crucial to a meaningful and healthy life. Courses like “How to Become an Outstanding Parent,” or “How to Select an Appropriate Mate” would be unthinkable in the academy today.

Patton’s piece is peppered with a number of bold, potentially offensive assertions, but she deserves some credit for offering advice on an important subject that’s all too often neglected.

Published on April 1, 2013 1:50 pm
  • johngbarker

    Do people in the elite colleges really believe they have a monopoly on intelligence? What is the effect of SAT prep, legacy status, high school grade inflation and social class on admission to Princeton and similar institutions.

    • http://twitter.com/ExactlyBackward Nick Bidler

      As a recent History B.A. (and two years without work afterwards), I can tell you college educators and degree-holders believe they are smart, they have the test results to say so! Regrettably, their (and my own) smarts preclude them from questioning the basis of their degree: are you smart, or have you served time and coughed up the cash?

      Spoilers: I was able to get an almost-B average by speed-reading the books (they were so close to being interesting!), and writing most of my papers the week before they were due. Heck, I got a B in a course I wrote ALL my essays the day before they were due.

  • http://www.facebook.com/corlyss.drinkard Corlyss Drinkard

    Whadda snob! Doesn’t she know men don’t care about intelligence in women? They care about smarts, which is a completely different thing. Women ought to do the same.

    • Kavanna

      An important distinction, to be sure. Understanding post-modern semiotics is one thing. Knowing how to get and pay off a mortgage, say, is quite another.

  • Kavanna

    Well, we know a hard man is good to find :)

    Everything in our society today is run by the Boomers, who’ve done whatever they can to dumb down, stupidify, vulgarize, and bamboozle the next generation. How else do you explain that next generation doing something as retarded as voting for The One?

    Anyway, it would be best to end all the trends that make it so hard for teens and young adults to grow up these days. Then we can get to repairing marriage, sex, relationships, etc.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.k.munro Richard K. Munro

      And I would add a good woman (read wife) is especially hard to find. Most of the women i met in college were obsessed with feminism and careers. They were ardently pro-choice which meant sex on demand but no children. They wanted to fight over every issue such as should a man open a door for a woman and be a gentleman. I voted with my feet. I left such women far behind and married a smart and attractive high school graduate from the provinces. Big plus: zero school debt.

      • Kavanna

        The atmosphere has gotten a lot worse in the last 20 years, I know. It wasn’t as bad yet in the 80s. I married an college-educated immigrant instead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luke-Lea/579129865 Luke Lea

    Reminds me of a scene in one of Henry James’ novels. The husband arrives at dinner straight from his firm on Wall Street looking, in James’ description, like a deep sea diver who has just emerged from his suit. Today, in the Ivy League at least, all the wives are supposed to want to be deep sea divers too.

    The truth is, most careers in upper management are tedious, soul-sucking things. If you have eavesdropped in a few offices you know what I mean. Few things compare — for variety, challenge, and intrinsic satisfaction — to being an upper-middle class housewife with an estate to manage and a passel of kids.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luke-Lea/579129865 Luke Lea

    Can’t imagine there are that many “true-green” voters out there to support programs like this one. We have created a new vested interest though.

  • Jim Luebke

    I wonder which will happen first… Euro-Atlantic culture figures out how to reproduce itself at a rate of 2.1 children per woman, or its population shrinks to the point of irrelevance, overtaken by “poor benighted” cultures whose devotion to traditional family forms makes them dominant because they bother to have kids?

  • davesnothere

    “Courses like ‘How to Become an Outstanding Parent,’ or ‘How to Select an Appropriate Mate’ would be unthinkable in the academy today.” Let’s hope so. I can see it now: “Life Studies 110: Critical Marriage Theory in a Post-Modern World. This survey course deconstructs antiquated traditional notions of male dominance and white oppression in the domestic arena. Prerequisities: LS 101: Intro Penile Dominance and LS 102: Preliminary Studies in Hating Whitey.”

    • Kavanna

      They can use my masterwork, the Manual of Patriarchy, a carefully composed compilation based on millennia of wisdom :)