Every so often I read an article so outrageous I’m left unsure as to whether it was meant to be a satire of some sort, or if the author is truly that out of touch with reality.
Back during Valentine’s Day weekend, a friend sent me an article published in The Wall Street Journal titled “A Little Valentine’s Day Real Talk.” (The article has since been taken down for non-subscribers, so good thing I saved it in Word, am I right?)
In sum, Susan Patton’s piece is a plea for young college women, probably not unlike myself, to come to their senses and get serious about looking for a husband. The article opens with this gem of wisdom:
“Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry.”
I won’t deny that marriage probably will be a great source of happiness in the lives of quite a few of my current friends and acquaintances. And there’s nothing wrong with that, just like there’s nothing wrong with not wanting marriage at all.
What I take issue with is the idea that women who pursue a marriage and a family will also have to give up their professional goals. It almost seems like a Catch-22 for women— wives who are career-oriented are seen as uncaring towards their families, and stay at home moms are seen as unambitious or lazy. I’m pretty sure neither of these statements are true and it’s pretty discouraging to think society doesn’t view women as capable of being successful in her field as well as taking care of responsibilities at home.
Susan Patton certainly disagrees. In the article, she argues:
“You should be spending far more time planning for your husband than for your career—and you should start doing so much sooner than you think.”
What Patton believes is that the success of a woman is based on her ability to find a husband, and quickly. She is unable to fathom that it is in fact possible for women to have success in both her career and family (what “success” even means, it’s all so subjective). Patton is promoting the archaic view that all women even aspire to marriage, and are much less willing to give up their respective lives and education as they know it in order to find one.
What’s most jarring about Patton’s article is her admittance towards the conclusion that counters her entire argument up until that point:
“There is nothing incongruous about educated, ambitious women wanting to be wives and mothers.”
This is where Patton and I agree. It’s true wanting marriage and a career isn’t reprehensible, I actually think it’s quite admirable (although Patton asserts feminists believe the opposite). We need to stop telling women that they have to choose between one or the other and give them the freedom to make their own decisions about their future goals.
What do you all think? Is it possible to balance both a family and a career as a woman? Why is there so much pressure for women to find a husband, yet society does not have the same expectation for men?