Earning your MRS and Selling Your Milk

Recently, I chuckled as I read an article about a dating service in China advertising to women by telling them they would disappoint their Grandmothers (who could die soon!) if they didn’t stop being so picky and just settle down to get married already!  Thank goodness I live in the US, I thought with smug satisfaction, where we believe there is more to a woman’s life than being a spouse.

I shouldn’t have been so smug…  The Wall Street Journal has just published an op-ed from Princeton alumna Susan A. Patton telling college women to “smarten up and start husband hunting.”  Oh, but how can I be a smart husband hunter, you may ask?  Never fear (heterosexual) ladies!  In case Patton’s advice is confusing to you, I’ve expanded on key points from her article here, so you will know exactly how to score the “cornerstone of your future happiness:”

  • “Casual sex is irresistible to men, but the smart move is not to give it away. If you offer intimacy without commitment, the incentive to commit is eliminated. The grandmotherly message of yesterday is still true today: Men won’t buy the cow if the milk is free.”  Got it?  So, the message here is sell sex, so your future husband will buy a cow.  Or, something like that.  Since you’re in college and all, I’m sure you will figure this one out.
  • “And if you start to earn more than he does? Forget about it. Very few men have egos that can endure what they will see as a form of emasculation.”  When you negotiate your first salary, don’t go for the obvious tactic of trying to earn the highest amount possible.  Negotiate that salary down ladies — your future husband’s masculinity depends on you!  (Don’t worry about not having a husband and being underpaid, just remember the milk thing from above and you will have yourself a winner husband, for sure!)
  • “…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.”  That’s right, don’t fall for those ugly feminists who hate men and motherhood!  They are just trying to trick you by feeding you lines about how women should be supported in a variety of choices about how to live their lives.  Why would you want options (including, but not limited to: motherhood with or without a partner, not having children,having a high-powered career, having a low-powered career, staying at home with children, loving being single, being committed to a partner, or any combination of these)?

Thank goodness we have this good advice from Patton, who is busy warning college women about avoiding the bleak future of leaving college without an engagement ring. Between Patton’s words of wisdom and the advice from Chinese dating websites, you can be assured of not disappointing any dying relatives in your lack of a husband, or being bothered with focusing on your pesky intellectual development over the true goal of higher education for women, earning your MRS!

9 thoughts on “Earning your MRS and Selling Your Milk

  1. Dr.Naomi thank you for writing about this! I read this article a few years ago and it has really stuck with me-It’ts crazy to think that this was written only a few short years ago. As birthdays have passed me by and I am starting to get older, more and more of my friends are getting engaged and married. I on the other hand, am not. I am not going to be any of those things for a very very long time (and that is my choice- for those who do get married young (that is totally fine too!!). When I first read the article, I probably thought some of her view points were valid and I know it caused me to think I needed to change who I was, and to up my time table of things I wanted to accomplish. Looking at it now absolutely horrifies me! In what world do I need to be less smart or to make less money than a man so he can be happy and thinks I am “wife” material. Also, I never what to endorse that women need to go to schools to get their MRS degree. Going to college is a privilege and to waste it on something like that is not a step in the right direction for women. Oh, and to comment on the milk statement; Let women have sex! Stop with all the guilt and shame! In no way shape or form should consensual sex without commitment cause a man to not accept you.

  2. I really liked this blog because I think it actually speaks to what many young women silently hope to find when they come to college. They expect to immediately find a fiance/husband. But how do they do that? They turn to articles like Susan Patton’s to help guide them on their matrimonial endeavors. It reminds me of a story my aunt told me about a church on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. There is a specific chapel on campus that some UVA freshman girls reserve four years in advance when they will be senior, so she and her fiance can be married there. This idea that young incoming UVA students have just four years get a boyfriend committed to marrying them is unfortunate and quite worrisome for the unsuspecting man “she sells her milk to.” If you think about it, Susan Patton’s article is very sexist in saying that the only reason young women should go to college is to find “Mr. Right” and then marry him, thus graduating from college with her MRS. This article ignores the fact that we are attending college for higher education with the hopes of getting a satisfying job. Alas, she only feels that we young college women are only going to college to get our MRS.

  3. Dr. Naomi- have you ever considered a career in stand-up, gender-based comedy? I am dying at your synopsis of the articles! It’s funny to think how we live in a society (as women) so based on having a partner that is supportive and dominant in the relationship. Whether it is sacrificing your own success or right to sexuality, Patton’s article encourages young women in college to put “husband hunting” first, and school second. Now I don’t know about you, but my studies are what is keeping me in school- along with my clubs, sorority, and countless committees- and finding myself a suitable husband is the least of my desires. I believe that the most attractive quality in a woman is the ability to be confident in her goals and ambitions, as well as confident and knowing of limits in her sexuality. On the other hand however, I believe that men do need to be treated as “masculine” and support the family in a positive manner. Both of these elements combined can come up with a variety of different family dynamics- and that’s okay. Women can be the breadwinners, men can openly cry around loved ones, and these ambiguous gender roles show the support and stability of families, rather than conforming to society’s norms.

  4. I found your synopsis of this article to be very interesting and your expansion on key points very insightful. My best friend and I are roommates and both seniors and we constantly joke about needing to take weekend trips to HSC to find our husbands because we are “running out of time” before we graduate. It is not just Patton and China’s dating service advertising putting the idea of needing to find a man before it’s too late into the minds of heterosexual women but it is also their family and the social constructed idea that the best place to find a husband is in college. This letter was featured on CNN with Patton backing up her statements in an interview with Nina Bahadur having an opposing argument. My interpretation is that Patton is most concerned with women finding a husband who is intellectually equal to them. She says not to exclude finishing their education and seeking a career but states that the window of opportunity limited once they graduate college and begin their career, panic in their early thirties that they are not married and do not have children, and then settle for any slightly interested man.


  5. OMG that is horrible! The sad thing is, I’ve heard friends refer to their own degrees as MRS degrees! Sometimes they’re joking, sometimes I’m not so sure. This is a great example of how college women need to be more empowered! So many college women are so smart, driven, and on their way to being successful. I think the concept of the MRS degree comes from the idea that the man is supposed to be the breadwinner and the woman is supposed to stay home with the kids. But what’s wrong with the woman being the breadwinner and the dad staying home?

  6. I think that what Patton is saying is a little on the ridiculous side. If a woman decides that she wants to wait to have sex, earn less money than her husband, or to be a stay at home mom that is fine but I do not think it is right for Patton to say that this is the course that all women should take. I particularly found it amusing that she mentions a “bleak future” for those women who are not engaged by the time they graduate college. I am only a year away from graduation and do not even know what I want to have for dinner tonight, let alone who I want to marry. I do not believe that if I graduate single my future will be any less promising than one of an engaged woman my age. Every person wants something different out of this life and if what Patton wrote is what she wants then that is perfectly okay. However, I do not believe it is okay that she is telling women that this is the only way to a happy, successful life.

  7. Since I am a senior this year I have had a lot of friends who are getting engaged. Sometimes I do feel a little left out, even though I do have a boyfriend we are definitely not ready for that step in our lives. Then I read articles such as these and I just think that maybe I am behind and should be looking towards marriage, then I give myself a wake up call. Marriage may be right for some people this age, but I have realized it is not right for me at this point in my life. I have dreams of traveling and then getting a good job before wanting to settle down, why should I change this dream because of what articles and my friends are saying. I have always been fortunate with my parents because they were older when they got married so they tell me I should wait and live a little before making that step. My mom is the breadwinner in my family and my dad is the stay at home dad, I have been raised this way and know that I will never let a man tell me that I cannot be the breadwinner. This article does make me laugh and I am sure it has made many others laugh as well, women should have greater desires than just finding a husband while in college.

  8. After reading this article on the Daily Mail, this honestly concerns me that this woman really thinks we should be “snagging a husband before our 19th birthday.” I think that it’s also insane that she would blatantly tell us college women that one of our main goals while going to school is not to actually learn, but to find a future husband. Of course women will always be concerned about who they will end up with in the future (if they even want to end up with anyone, for that matter), but this woman is taking it way too far. I especially don’t like that she is telling us to work down our salaries so it makes the men feel better about themselves. We are in a new age where it is acceptable for women to be going off to work and becoming the breadwinners while the men stay at home taking care of the kids. It’s ridiculous for her to take away something that we would have worked hard for just to make sure our husbands feel more “masculine.” She continually says that she wants women to find a “man like her son.” Let me just say that if her son is anything like she is, there is no way I would want to be with him.

  9. I think that the “need” for women to have a husband will always be in the back of some women’s minds. I will say that the salary advice is bad; it is completely discriminating against women and telling us (as women) to support the idea that we should not be paid as much as a man. However, I do not think that the last piece of advice is all bad. The fact that it sound likes she is insinuating that all women should be wives and mothers is not right because that is not what all women want. However, because of all the rights that women have gained throughout the years there is an idea that being a stay-at-home mom is an insult to the people that fought for our rights. But being a stay-at home mom and wife is something that some women want and there is nothing wrong with that.

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