Motherhood, Marriage, Career and the Single Girl Curse


Every now and then, I run across an article that makes me question whether we are truly living in the year 2014.

Susan Patton, who’s latest op-ed ran in the Wall Street Journal last Friday, is once again concern trolling single women.

If you aren’t familiar with Susan Patton, last year she wrote the controversial Op-Ed  in Princeton University’s student newspaper urging that Ivy League university’s young women to snag a man in college while their options were still good.

She advised young co-eds to start looking for a husband their freshman year because, unlike their male counterparts, their options diminished as they got older.

The blogosphere lost its collective mind.

That hasn’t stopped Mama Patton from doling out more motherly advice to the single girls of the world.

Lest you think she’s kidding around, she opens her article with this gut punch:

Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry…You’re not getting any younger, but the competition for the men you’d be interested in marrying most definitely is.


Patton’s out to wake you up out of your single-girl revelry and give you the 411 on what real happiness is.

Awesome career?

Fabulous, uncommitted sex?

Not so fast, my lovelies.

According to Patton, it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that ring.

Now, let’s pretend for a minute that Patton’s “advice” isn’t retrograde, sexist BS.


Minute over.

What bothers the hell out of me is that she doesn’t talk at all about choices.

I thought that is what women of her generation fought for.

Young women today have more choices in life than ever.

But forget about your career, your goals, your ambitions.

According to Patton if you haven’t identified your future husband by the end of graduation, well, you are just going to be competing with younger and more eligible women.

She writes while it is possible to find smart, eligible men after college, their numbers shrink.

University is prime hunting ground and the really smart girls won’t miss their opportunity to nab the big game – a young, educated Ivy League man who will set them up for life (Okay, I added that last part.)

You snooze, you lose.

You may end up with a man who makes less money than you or, God forbid, is unable to keep up with you and your friends’ witty dialogue about Noam Chomsky.


Is this really the message we want to send to our daughters?

Do we really want to boil down the college experience to finding a husband who will be the key to our lasting happiness?

Further, Patton admonishes women not to give it up too fast when they meet Mr. Right.

Follow your Grandma’s advice, girls, and keep those legs closed until he puts a ring on it.

Aren’t we sick yet of single women being told their future depends on the ability to marry the right man?

Does anyone think that a woman who is single-mindedly focused on finding a husband won’t come off like a desperate harpy scaring away the very suitors she’s hoping to attract?

What happened to knowing yourself first and becoming a complete person so that you bring something to the table when it’s time to marry?

What’s wrong with dating and having sex with (yes, I said it) more than just the man you think you’ll marry?

Different types of relationships teach you as much about yourself as they do about the type of man you want to spend your life with.

(Side Note: Does any one really want to find out of the person they are going to spend the rest of their life with is lousy in the sack? I think not.)

Try before you buy, ladies. Guys do it all the time.

Patton wants to assure you single girls that she’s really just looking out for you.

Not all women want marriage or motherhood, but if you do, you have to start listening to your gut and avoid falling for the P.C. feminist line that has misled so many young women for years. There is nothing incongruous about educated, ambitious women wanting to be wives and mothers.

Patton is dead wrong.

It’s not about education and ambition being incongruous with motherhood or marriage.

It is about the ability to choose a career, motherhood and marriage and being fully conscious of those choices when the time is right for you – whether your age is 25, 35 or 45.

It’s your choice and it’s your responsibility to be aware of the ramifications of those choices.

Isn’t that what feminists really fought for?

Patton does offer one good piece of advice I think is worth following.

She urges young women to consider their personal lives as well as their careers. I think this is right on the money.

I’ve written here on this blog that if being married and having biological children is important to you, then you need to treat your personal life just as seriously as your career, which means not waiting until your late 30s or early 40s to try and have a family.   

Your choices will be different than if you choose to remain childless or are willing to build a family through adoption, surrogacy or foster parenting. 

Some women are lucky enough to find their life’s partner early in college.

But most of us need to get more living under our belts before we make the ultimate commitment to share our lives and settle down.

Our responsibility as women is to have clarity about what choices and tradeoffs we are willing to make.

It means having a clear vision about what personal fulfillment and career success looks like and then making the decisions to support that vision.

So go after that promotion. Have wild sex with that bad boy. Travel to Bali with your girlfriends.

And when you’re ready (and only when you are ready) find a man who might hate Noam Chomsky but doesn’t mind that you can’t cook.

Find the person who is right for you and know that if you work at it and treat your personal life as seriously as you treat your career, the right person will be there.

Do it and know the choice is yours.


 photo credit: Anne Taintor ( 


  • ObviouslyWhy

    Well this will certainly keep many of us Good Men still Single today.

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