Miss Stereotype Majors in Matrimony (with a Minor in Social Climbing)

By Erin Drushel

[avatar user=”ErinDrushel” size=”thumbnail” align=”left”]Erin Drushel[/avatar]

Don’t delay!  Make the most of your university experience!  Graduate with your M.R.S. degree today!

Ladies, did you know that you may not be making the most of your post-secondary education if you are not also husband shopping?  That was the advice of Princeton alum, Susan Patton, in an opinion letter printed in The Daily Princetonian this past weekend.

To be fair, Patton wasn’t telling the female student body to be disinterested in their educational pursuits, but rather to incorporate their search for a husband as a matter of course.  In her words, “For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”

Well that’s bleak.  Add that to her “reminder” that brains are intimidating and beauty a priority, it’s no wonder the fires of insecurity are so intense in women today.  Just be glad she’s not teaching Women’s Studies, yikes!

But, sadly, this outdated view of women doesn’t exist in a silo.

Noted Canadian rocket scientist, Yvonne Brill, passed away last week.  The leader of her obituary in the New York Times was not about her contribution to the scientific community, but rather touted her as a good cook and noted how she chased her husband from job to job.    Later the NYT changed the obituary to more immediately reflect her scientific accomplishments.  Would the obituary of a male scientist have first mentioned his ability to mow the lawn followed by a list of his contributions?  Not likely.

We live in a world of stereotypes.  And these attitudes – even when well-intentioned – just set back the ongoing struggle for equality.  Sadly, everyone struggles with some sort of imposed label…and I mean everyone.

So how do we fight the labels and stereotypes?

The ladies of Princeton made a good start of it.  With a delightfully satirical response entitled “Why Stop There,” they called out Patton’s stereotype in a humorous way to show just how ridiculous her suggestions were.  Using humour won’t always work or be appropriate, but calling out those who perpetuate stereotypes which enable inequality is a good start.

With time and persistence, attitudes will change and evolve.  As a society we’ve seen it happen…even if it happens a little more slowly than we would like.

– Erin Drushel