Disclaimer: I’m sure that there are male students and alumni of Princeton University who are fantastic, well-meaning, and good-looking (and I’m even extending that option to Susan Patton’s sons). To you, please accept my warmest congratulations and my apology for any offense caused.
So now that we (the female undergraduates of America) have forgotten about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out (but not about leaning down, because tropes in feminism come and go, but the “bend … and snap!” is forever) – here is what you all really need to know that nobody is telling you.
For years (decades, really) you have been bombarded with advice on professional advancement, landing the perfect job, marrying the perfect “hot but still cerebral and also willing to quit her job for the kids” woman, and making the kind of salary that enables you to have a nice house, a vacation home somewhere, send the kids to your alma mater (so save some extra for alumni donations when they’re seniors in high school: Princeton ranked first on the Forbes Top 100 Colleges list this year, didn’t you know?) and some left over for a boat or a Vespa or whatever. You can figure it out – you are Princeton men. If anyone can overcome those obstacles, it will be your brilliant, resourceful, privileged, very well-educated selves.
But here’s what nobody is telling you: Marry your college girlfriend. Yes, I said it. If you don’t marry her, you’ll regret it. The universe of women you can marry isn’t limitless. Not everyone will be willing to put up with your Ivy League credentials. Women aren’t interested in marrying men who are privileged, presumptuous, and flash their undergraduate credentials like an FBI badge. It’s amazing how forgiving women can be about a man’s lack of a fancy degree if he’s any combination of good-looking, kind, decent, funny, passionate about things, and great in bed. Smart men can’t (and shouldn’t) marry women who aren’t aware of the environment that created their inflated sense of self.
It’s not your fault! You have been told you are the sole inheritor of god’s green earth since you first set foot on campus (and, realistically, in most cases, long before that as well). As Princeton men, you have been a victim of price inflation in the dating market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of women (mostly those who attended other Ivies) who are willing to look over massive egos that are unmatched by James Franco-esque looks or Mark Zuckerberg-esque real world money making potential. You will never again be surrounded by this concentration of women who will put up with you.
Of course once you graduate you will meet women who will put up with you – just not that many of them. And, of course, you could choose to marry a woman who hates your guts (it makes you a “starter husband”, I believe.) But, ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with someone who wasn’t conditioned to think that you walk on water.
Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about: You’re not that good-looking. It isn’t your fault. But the good news is this: As you age, you get more social capital. No one’s sure why. But you will have a chance with girls, as a senior, that you would never have been able to speak to as a freshman. Take advantage of those Princeton goggles, boys! After four years the women around you have been so numbed that a relative “5” looks like an “8.” You got this!
So, no, most of you will never be my boyfriend. But I don’t think either of us really wants that, anyway.
Written by Samantha B. Jaffe
Member of the Class of 2013 (not at Princeton)
Read the original “Letter to the Editor: Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had,” published in The Daily Princetonian, which encouraged women to “Find a husband on campus before you graduate,” specifically, her son.
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Turner