Susan Patton, also known as “The Princeton Mom,” wrote a “concerned parent” letter to The Daily Princetonian last year advising female students that they needed to focus less on their studies and more on catching a future husband — before they got too old.
While this very old-fashioned advice delighted conservatives of the Phyllis Schlafly genre, it did not go over too well with the very women Patton was ardently trying to save from a life of lonely spinsterhood.
Fact is, notes Salon writer Sara Eckel, Susan Patton ignores the facts. Waiting to get married after 25 is statistically a good idea, because people who marry later in life stay married longer.
Despite her numerous interviews and appearances in TV, Susan Patton was never challenged with hardboiled facts until a panel discussion recently at Princeton. And despite the fact that she is clearly wrong — about a lot of things — Susan Patton continues to dish out advice that could have come straight from a 1950s copy of Good Housekeeping.
I’ll give Susan Patton this: she’s a tough cookie. She was outnumbered on the panel and, with the possible exception of her son and her dog, was in a room that was almost entirely against her. Her “two-pronged” approach statement got her applause, and some students approached her to chat after the talk was over, but no one spoke out in her defense. Nevertheless, Patton was energetic and gregarious when we stepped down from the platform. We shook hands before we left, and she told me she enjoyed talking to me even if she didn’t always agree with me.
I honestly don’t have a problem with Patton herself. I think she sincerely believes her advice is beneficial to women. And like the kooky aunt at the wedding, she has the right to say what she likes.
My problem is with a culture that gives a megaphone to a woman with nothing to offer but retrograde opinions and no facts to support them. My problem is with national newspapersthat treat the statement “men won’t buy the cow if the milk is free” as an argument worthy of its op-ed page. My problem is with television news producers who can’t be bothered to do a quick Google search before inviting an anti-feminist boogie-woman on the air.