College Hookup Sex is Built on a Troubling Ethic of Achievement at Any Cost

After reading Kate Taylor’s New York Times article on the culture of casual hookup sex at elite colleges, I had to fight the urge to call my two daughters into the room issuing dire warnings of the world that awaits them in college. The world Taylor describes, in which driven young women drink their anxieties away and have sex with young men whom they don’t necessarily even like, is one my daughters are likely to inhabit one day—a prospect that is troubling, edging toward terrifying. But it’s not the culture of rampant no-commitment sex that troubles me most (although aspects of that culture are indeed troubling). I am most disturbed, rather, by the culture of achievement at any cost that leads smart women to choose casual sex over emotionally invested relationships.

Taylor describes a world at elite universities (she focused on Princeton and Penn) in which women are hyper-focused on what they must do to become successful:

Keenly attuned to what might give them a competitive edge, especially in a time of unsure job prospects and a shaky economy, many of [the women] approach college as a race to acquire credentials: top grades, leadership positions in student organizations, sought-after internships. Their time out of class is filled with club meetings, sports practice and community-service projects. For some, the only time they truly feel off the clock is when they are drinking….

Drinking is the only way that single-minded students can get out from under the pressure to achieve. That pressure is relentless, and women perceive traditional romantic relationships—requiring time, flexibility, and compromise—as a hindrance to their school and career success, the equivalent of adding an additional class to their already packed schedules. And there is no guarantee that such an investment will pay off in the long run; the relationship might not last. For the highly driven women profiled, the benefits of a committed relationship pale in comparison to the potential havoc it could wreak on their trajectory of success.

Leaving aside for a moment the physical and emotional risks of getting drunk and hooking up, should we at least admire these young women for their focus and drive? Given that girls in some parts of the world risk their lives just to attend elementary school, we are lucky to live in a society in which women can attend elite colleges and aspire to professional careers. But when the desire to achieve leads women to drown their anxieties in alcohol and engage in risky sexual behavior, that desire ceases to be an indicator of feminist power and equality. A single-minded focus on achievement at any cost is not always smart or admirable, and doesn’t always lead to a fulfilling life. The ethic of achievement can carry steep costs, and not just for a young woman who finds herself sobering up in a dorm room with a young man who expects sex even if she’s no longer interested.

By the time they get to college, many bright young women (and their male counterparts) have spent 18 years absorbing an “achievement at any cost” ethic that pervades American culture—or at least the part of that culture inhabited by people who can afford technological and educational tools that promise to enable success, and the fulfillment that supposedly comes with it.

The “achievement at any cost” ethic is apparent, for example, in conversations around reproductive technologies such as pre-embryonic genetic screening and prenatal blood tests, which allow expectant parents to avoid giving birth to a child with a genetic condition, such as Down syndrome. While there is ample evidence that children with Down syndrome (and other conditions) can live happy and fulfilling lives, having a child with DS is still widely seen as an avoidable tragedy. The condition is perceived as tragic in part because it can cause cognitive limitations that might prevent affected people from going to college and getting professional-level jobs. Instead, the common argument goes, they will become “burdens” on their families and their communities. Many see a life in which certain types of achievements are unlikely—the educational and professional achievements that young women at Penn and Princeton strive toward—as a life not worth living. Both medical and popular culture encourages parents to use increasingly sophisticated technologies (some of them expensive and invasive, all of them fraught with troubling ethical and emotional questions) to avoid such a fate for them and their child. Achievement at any cost.

As my oldest daughter approaches high school, I am bombarded with war stories from other parents. Get ready, they say, to lose your child to the time- and energy-sucking whirlwind of our town’s highly rated public high schools. Your child, they warn, will be expected to pack her schedule with AP and honors courses, and to forgo lunch to make room for even more classes. Hiring tutors for help with rigorous AP classes is the norm, as is staying up until midnight or later to finish homework. And if your child wants to get into a good college, she will need to keep up with her music and art and sports and volunteer activities. Your child will be exhausted, of course, and you will rarely see her. While statistically, it’s not clear whether teens today are significantly busier than ever before, many bright, conscientious kids carry around hefty loads of anxiety and fatigue. Achievement at any cost.

Do the eventual fruits of achievement-oriented decisions make short-term difficulties—expensive genetic screening, overtired teenagers, alcohol-saturated hookups—worth it? Not necessarily. Having a high-powered six-figure job is no guarantee of happiness. Nor is having perfectly healthy children or a 4.0 GPA. The young women profiled in Taylor’s article don’t come across as particularly happy in the moment nor all that excited about the future that their hard work is meant to ensure. Their lives are awash in anxiety, over job prospects, the investment of emotional energy required by romantic relationships, and what they might be missing in prioritizing career over personal life. No wonder they drink so much.

Achievement, of course, doesn’t necessarily require the ruthless single-mindedness practiced by students at Princeton and Penn. And the benefits of achievement can be significant. I certainly enjoy the material comfort afforded by my husband’s professional-level job at an Ivy League university. I know firsthand that living with a genetic condition (a bone disorder that I and my oldest daughter have) can be hard, and that parents’ use of prenatal screening tools is often driven more by a compassionate desire to lessen suffering than a calculated plan to produce high achievers. My kids are lucky to have access to top-notch public schools where they can take advantage of AP classes and many extracurricular choices.

But I also know firsthand the unmatched benefits of having a solid marital relationship at the center of one’s life, of having a loving home to which spouses and children return after the hard work of the day is done, assured of a welcome that is not contingent on achievement.

Reading Taylor’s article makes me scared for my daughters, who are only 9 and 13 now but will be traipsing off to college before I know it. I want to warn them of the potential perils that await smart girls like them. I want to warn them that alcohol is not an effective antidote to anxiety in the long run. I want to warn them of the emotional and physical risks of casual hookup sex. Mostly, I want to warn them not to buy into the notion that smart girls like them must chase after achievement at any cost.

The striving women at Penn and Princeton are right about one thing: nurturing relationships is hard, time-consuming work. But the work brings returns far more valuable than fancy titles or big paychecks. Drunken one-night stands, in contrast, just lead to waking up facing the same overwhelming work load and anxiety that were there the night before, but with a hangover, and possibly a few regrets.

 

About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at http://ellenpainterdollar.com for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.

  • http://timfall.wordpress.com/ Tim

    “A welcome that is not contingent on achievement” That is a gospel saturated line, Ellen. God welcomes us even though we’ve achieved nothing. He achieved it all for us, and then allows us to live in the richness of that achievement eternally.
    Thanks for exposing the lies of the endless striving after higher goals, and for revealing where true love can be found.
    Cheers,
    Tim

  • Ellen Polzien

    I live in an economically depressed part of the country where children traditionally don’t receive a lot of support/affirmation regarding personal achievement or seeking higher education/higher-paying employment. Yet hookup culture is alive and well here too…in this local culture, I think it’s more of a temporary escape from the deprivations and frustrations of life…and of course it’s something increasingly modeled on “reality” TV and elsewhere in pop culture, where these kids develop (highly distorted) ideas about life in the world outside the community.

    • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

      In a highly sexualized culture like ours, I have no doubt that there are myriad reasons that people engage in hookups. Thanks for your interesting observation!

      • Pofarmer

        I wonder, historically, how sexualized is our culture, really? Look at all the nude statues even up through midevil times. Think of the things that most folks must have seen 1000 years ago. I sometimes think that we are just playing against some impossible ideal that never existed.

        • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

          Yes, there’s that. Actually, after I wrote the above comment I thought about going back and editing, because I don’t actually believe that we are more focused on sex than previous generations. I mean, the idea that until the 20th century, everyone remained virgins until marriage and then stayed faithful to one spouse is not rooted in actual history, but we like to talk as if that’s the way it happened. I do think that our media flaunts sexuality in a way that is different than nude statues, though, which were more about artistic admiration of the human form than promoting an ideal body type that all people (women mostly) ought to aspire to.

          • Pofarmer

            Couldn’t you argue that the modern media is artistic?

          • Pofarmer

            It just seems like when you get into the arguments of things are so much mire this or that than they were yesterday, you find out that things really aren’t all that different than they’ve ever been.

  • tanyam

    I am glad you qualified your statement about the uses of “expensive genetic testing.”
    If you are a late-age mother-to-be, your odds of giving birth to a child with Downs Syndrome are much, much higher. All of us are aware of high functioning, healthy children with Downs whom we would be delighted to call our own. But a little reading will tell you — Downs is a syndrome with a variety of outcomes. Some people are high functioning, some are not. Some have serious heart conditions, requiring frequent, expensive, and difficult surgeries. Can you really blame a family that doesn’t have unlimited financial resources, extended family, etc., for making the best decision they can with the actual information available to them? Can you blame them for worrying how they will have the resources to care for their other children (who may have special needs as well) or who wonder who will care for their adult child after they are gone? (Yes, some Downs Syndrome children grow into independent adults, but not all do.) Can you blame parents who have debiliting mental or physical conditions of their own for deciding they simply can’t cope with any more stress? All I’m asking is that we understand the real choices that face parents, and honor that not all of us are working with the same advantages. Raising a special needs child may be a beautiful, wonderful thing, and it may also be devastating to parents and siblings. Especially those who begin with fewer advantages.

    • tanyam

      Also, I would strongly encourage moms to follow the advice of their physicians, and if genetic testing is encouraged, to do so. Some treatments can begin in utero that can significantly improve the outcome of a child’s life.

    • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

      In all of my writing about prenatal testing (it’s one of my core topics, and the subject of my book–a memoir about my own screening decisions given that I have a genetic disorder) I aim to be sympathetic to the many reasons that prospective parents choose to undergo screening. In fact, my empathy for parents has earned me a fair amount of criticism from those in the disability advocacy community who see all screening as eugenic in nature, and see my empathy with parental motivations as equivalent to a eugenic mindset. That said, I’m also convinced that much of our worry and terror around Down syndrome and other conditions that affect cognition is rooted in our cultural belief that achievement/success is the primary measurement of what makes a life worth living (just as I believe that much of our terror around physical disabilities like mine is rooted in our cultural beliefs that a healthy, fit, capable body is necessary for a fulfilling life, that we ought to pursue any means necessary to achieve physical health and fight off the effects of aging, and that those whose bodies are frail or failing are either burdens whose lives have ceased to be meaningful, or have only themselves to blame). But I think it’s important to be honest about the very real pain and difficulty that can result from genetic conditions, and I don’t believe that all of that pain and difficulty stems from cultural problems. In other words, I think that many conditions would continue to be painful and difficult even if we lived in a culture that fully accommodated differences and made quality health and educational resources available to everyone who needed them. My condition causes frequent broken bones and I have severe arthritis as a result; I would still deal with daily pain and limitations even if I inhabited a physical environment that was fully accessible to me and didn’t have to put up with the stupid stuff that people say to those of us with imperfect bodies, from “Everything happens for a reason,” to “I admire you for being so brave!”

      I also think it’s important not to put too much stock in differentiating between people with particular conditions who are “high-functioning” or not, as that just plays further into our cultural attachment to achievement (the implication being that children who are “high-functioning” are more desirable than their less capable–in a purely cognitive way–peers).

      All that to say, I hear your caution about needing to understand the “real choice” that parents face, and think it’s vital to be empathetic to those choices. But I also stand by the premise of this post–that our achievement-focused culture adds a layer to those choices that is problematic.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    Something to ask the admissions office when touring campuses: Will this college deliberately attempt to debauch my child’s morals?

  • Nick Gotts

    Have you considered the possibility that some people go in for casual sex simply because they enjoy it?

    • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

      Actually, I have always assumed that enjoyment is the primary motivation for having casual sex. The women in this article, however, don’t seem to be having much fun. As one of my friends remarked on my Facebook page, after reading the NYT article, “I keep thinking that if you HAVE to be drunk to do it, you are not having fun. And if you’re not having fun, what is propelling the behavior?”

      • Nick Gotts

        But have you considered that few articles about women and sex are ever written without an agenda? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the writer was told something like: “Go write us an article on how the hookup culture is making young women miserable.” You might be interested in this alternative take on the same article, from a young woman student who’s actually been part of the “hookup culture”.

        • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

          I have no doubt that the women interviewed in the NYT article are not representative of all women. That should go without saying. I’m sure that some women at elite colleges have very different experiences. But I’m going to trust that this reporter didn’t just make shit up, and that there is a cadre (small perhaps? I don’t know) of women who do avoid relationships because they are stuck on the achievement treadmill. My understanding is that this article was commissioned because women are so often presented as unwilling participants in hookup culture, when in fact they are quite willing, for all sorts of reasons, I imagine. Some simply enjoy it. And some are convinced they don’t have time for a real relationship. That educated women are struggling to respond to all the competing agendas with which they are presented–Get a high powered career! You don’t need a man to be happy! But don’t wait too long to get married and have kids, because your fertility is a ticking time bomb!–is a documented phenomenon, and this article is one side of the story. Certainly not the only one.

          • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

            Oh, and I assume that, again unless the reporter was making stuff up, the women she interviewed were also “actually part of the hookup culture.” No one is arguing that the way things are for one group of woman is how it is for all women. That would be silly.

          • Nick Gotts

            Well, you have more trust in the mainstream media than I do!

  • Anja

    I have a lot of problems with Taylor’s article, but there is one thing that I have an even bigger problem with: the fact that people are concerned that young women are choosing to live lives this way. Who cares? I’ve lived this way, because I am an independent, ambitious 20 something who finds significantly more fulfillment in my work and intellectual pursuits than I have ever found in a romantic relationship. Some people don’t feel the same as me, plenty of other young women will choose meaningful relationships and finding a husband over their careers, that’s their prerogative, just like my prerogative is to focus my energies primarily on my job, which is working for a nonprofit. I don’t have time for a relationship, I don’t even know if I ever want to “settle down” with someone. This is my life, I get to choose how I want to live it, so, dear concerned world, let me do that, and I will let you live yours the way you’d like to without bothering you either.

    Also, these two Jezebel articles articulate perfectly my own problems with Taylor’s article:
    http://jezebel.com/the-real-problem-with-a-story-like-sex-on-campus-is-a-802861500

    http://jezebel.com/pearl-clutching-alert-ambitious-college-sluts-taking-o-790860625

  • jimoppenheimer

    Hmmm. Statistics. I need statistics. How many people are actually behaving this way? by what authority do the bean-counters arrive at their conclusions?

    This is nice to know, because if it’s, say eighty per cent of the student body, then all of your “warning” will be a waste of time. If, of the other hand, you are talking about ten per cent, then one can have hope that a solid, reasoned approach to all aspects of life before the child leaves for college will give them ammo to defend themselves from this aberration.

    And warning is pointless. You raise a child; you don’t raise them and then “warn” them. If you’ve done a good job of preparing your child for making decisions on his or her own, there’s hope. If you just “warn” them, I see no hope. Every kid has to eventually do all the heavy lifting; a parent can only attempt to give them the apparatus by which to assess their decisions, and (n. b.) trust the wisdom of the way you have taught them to make decisions.

  • sigmaalgebra

    You’ve got it right. It took me a very long time to
    gather all that information, understand it, and
    articulate it. But I came to the same conclusions
    you did.

    I did well in high end academics, and know a lot
    about business and much more in life. I can advise
    you and your daughters and all women that what you
    describe for those Penn and Princeton girls is a
    disaster for anything, including their goals of a
    good life or even just ‘success’ in a career.

    For the AP courses, the one I looked at, calculus,
    was a disaster. My Ph.D. is in applied math, and
    I’ve learned calculus, advanced calculus, and much
    more, taught calculus in college, applied calculus
    in my career, and published peer-reviewed original
    research in calculus. I understand calculus. My
    view is that the authors of the AP calculus
    materials did not understand calculus well; they
    didn’t see the forest for the trees.

    My recommendation for learning calculus would be
    just to get a highly respected college calculus book
    and dig in; study the text and examples and work the
    exercises until can easily and accurately get the
    answers in the back. Then think about the material
    and try to get a deeper ‘synthesis’.

    Prerequisites for such a calculus book would be high
    school courses in algebra, plane geometry (with
    emphasis on proofs), and trigonometry. For
    ‘pre-calculus’, drop that into the dumpster. A
    calculus book that also starts with ‘analytic
    geometry’, usually mostly the conic sections, would
    be a little better. The world has been awash in
    highly polished first calculus books for decades. A
    really good book, used in nearly perfect condition,
    a common situation, could be cheap. Of course,
    actually, as for most subjects, it’s better to get
    several books, use one or two as the main sources,
    and use the rest as alternative sources.

    For college admissions, I’d recommend doing well on
    the SATs. For the subject matter tests, study the
    subjects well and maybe get some special study
    materials, coaching, and practice tests. For the
    aptitude tests, get some coaching. I got ‘Ivy
    League’ SAT scores without any coaching or
    preparation — I didn’t even know what the tests
    were about. But actually trying to do well on the
    SATs should help. Some high school counselors may
    have some good advice, or some bad advice.

    High school that has the students stressed out and
    tired has something seriously wrong with it.
    Staying up past midnight to get the work done should
    only happen if, say, put off doing a term paper or
    preparation for a test until the last days.

    Doing well enough to guarantee to get into, say,
    Princeton is tough. About the only way to guarantee
    getting into such a school is to have your family
    write a check for, say, $10 million. Otherwise the
    guaranteed way in is to have so many accomplishments
    that it is clear are ready to start graduate school
    and don’t need college (actually not so difficult to
    do if home schooling — college usually provide much
    less academic training important for graduate school
    than might be guessed).

    I got accepted to Princeton once but only for
    graduate school in math and didn’t go — went
    elsewhere. Going to Princeton would not have been
    better.

    If one wants to have a good career, especially a
    good professional career, then one needs a good
    college education, but the college itself is not
    nearly all that’s important, not even Princeton.
    Also important, really crucial, is what else do for
    a good career, e.g., meet people. One of the best
    ways for a young person to meet people is with the
    help of their parents.

    Next, bluntly, in the US being an employee of a
    large organization is no longer a promising path to
    a good career.

    And a Ph.D. in electronic engineering, computer
    science, mathematics, etc., including from
    Princeton, can at age 35 or so find that they were
    one of the 99 out of a hundred that did not get
    promoted into management, their Ph.D. does about as
    much for their resume as a felony conviction, be
    essentially unemployable at anything above minimum
    wage, and wish they could swap their Ph.D. for an
    electrician’s license. And a Bachelor’s degree is
    not really better.

    Compared with anything from Princeton, for a good
    career, literally it is more promising to get really
    good at managing a fast food restaurant and to seek
    to own and manage 10 of those. Literally. Why?
    Unless do a really poor job, can’t be fired. Have
    no foreign competition. Are relatively immune to
    swings in the economy. Have lots of customers and
    not just a few customers, which if lost, would ruin
    the business. Have a good geographical barrier to
    entry so that if do well in a radius of 25 miles
    then can do well. Don’t need to go to Princeton to
    understand this, and Princeton, really, is not much
    able to improve on such a career. Sorry ’bout that.

    A fast food restaurant well run can generate about
    $200,000 a year more in earnings for the owner than
    most of the competition. Then with 10 such
    restaurants that’s $2 million a year in earnings
    above most. That $2 million a year permits a
    vacation home, yacht, yacht club, private schools
    for the children, and even paying full tuition at
    Princeton. And maybe a gift of a few million
    dollars would guarantee a good student a slot in the
    Princeton freshman class.

    Men differ, but as a young man I tried never to have
    anything romantically or personally to do with any
    girl who had ever been drunk even once or have ever
    had casual sex even once. Period.

    As a young man, I just would not consider sharing my
    life with such a girl or even get started on a first
    date. Period.

    For me, the first time she had casual sex or got
    drunk would have me leave her single for the rest of
    her life, and there is nearly no way a person can be
    single for life and have a really good life. Net,
    the first time she ever did any such thing, in my
    view, she became a slut and just threw away any
    chance of a good life. No one ever washed a rented
    car or cared about a slut.

    Also any instance of smoking or illegal drug use
    would be an instant disqualification.

    To be more clear, for me to share my life with her,
    one of the most important things I want from her is
    that she really, Really, REALLY loves me, and one of
    the most important ways for her to communicate that
    to me is our love making. But if she has been doing
    much the same drunk with strangers, then she just
    lost her ability to make that crucial communication
    to me. Period.

    I fact, I’d much prefer that she be a virgin;
    otherwise, since she was not married, at least once
    she made a serious mistake in her love life and,
    thus, has a bad track record and greatly reduced
    ability to communicate to me that she really,
    Really, REALLY loves me.

    I intend to give her or share with her all of my
    life, and for that I expect something good back from
    her, e.g., that she really, Really, REALLY loves me
    and is able to communicate that with full
    credibility. Period.

    I’ve drunk beer and wine, of some considerable
    variety, including some of the best wines in the
    world, but I’ve never been ‘drunk’ or tried or
    wanted to be and never will be.

    For drinking until drunk, that is a big, huge threat
    in life. Indeed, getting drunk several times in
    college is a good first step to AA and a destroyed
    life. I’ve seen enough lives, including those of
    women, ruined by alcohol. Being drunk is a fast
    path to throwing a life in the dumpster.

    You did mention the drinking and sex as a way to
    suppress anxiety. The only other place I read that
    was in E. Fromm, ‘The Art of Loving’. It sounds
    like you read Fromm. I would warmly recommend that
    you recommend to your daughters, especially the one
    13, that they read that book, especially the pages
    with the four responses — love of spouse, love of
    god, membership in groups, and orgiastic sex with
    drugs — to anxiety. We should note that Fromm did
    not mention PBK, Ph.D., an Ivy League education,
    career success, or money as one of the important
    responses to anxiety.

    Note that Fromm also explained four attributes that
    a couple should have in a good marriage — give
    knowledge of themselves to each other (intimacy
    between the ears), care about each other, respect
    each other, and respond to each other. I’d also add
    in be honest with each other and be able to trust
    each other. I warmly recommend,

    “The single most important decision you will
    ever make is with whom you share your life.”

    And I’d highly recommend taking all six of the
    attributes above very seriously.

    For an exercise, I’d suggest your daughters observe,
    just casually, from a reasonable distance, couples
    they happen to be able to observe and for each
    couple evaluate them on these four attributes from
    Fromm and my two. The results can be shocking!
    Right away will observe that a lot of people really
    have no concept or awareness of these six
    attributes. E.g., can see a wife who seems to
    believe that she is having others, including her
    husband, believe that she is being a good wife while
    she has gone for years communicating with her
    husband deliberately about nothing more important
    than the weather, that is, giving him no knowledge
    of herself and denying him crucial intimacy; she
    believes she is still being a good wife or at least
    that she is getting away being a bad wife. Only a
    small fraction of couples will do well on all six
    attributes.

    A slut will come up short on receiving caring,
    respect, and responsiveness. Instead, in a romantic
    relationship, she will likely get used and treated
    less well and discarded sooner than an old, rusty
    car. She will get treated like, say, the wife of
    character Fredo in the movie ‘The Godfather’, even
    if she went to Princeton.

    You look like you are being a good wife and mother:
    For your daughters, your example stands to be better
    for them than a Princeton education.

    Look, we must be clear about Princeton and any high
    end US research university: It’s not there to show
    your daughters how to grow up or even how to have a
    good career or meet a good husband. The faculty
    cares not at all about such things. Instead, what
    the faculty members care about are just three
    things, research, research, and research. They were
    hired due to their record or promise of doing good
    research and getting research grants and are
    promoted based on their research and grants. For
    them, the teaching is a sideline where the students
    get to observe a bright, determined, ambitious,
    accomplished person who has deep understanding of
    their subject. The only career that the professors
    can really help with is being a professor in a
    research university — for other careers, the
    professors know next to nothing about them. That’s
    what your daughters would be getting from the
    professors at Princeton; at most other schools they
    would be getting still less. For how to grow up,
    have a good life, and find a good spouse, no college
    does or even tries to do a good job there.

    Indeed, a college is not a very good place for an
    undergraduate woman to look for a husband. Why?
    Because to be a good husband he needs to have his
    career well along. If they are both in college, she
    is no doubt ahead of him in emotional,
    psychological, and social maturity, and he needs
    time to catch up (actually during their dating, she
    should help him get caught up). So, she is ready to
    be good as a wife and mother years before he is
    ready to be good as a husband and father. Unless he
    is from a family that is at least moderately wealthy
    and where his career can be just in the family
    business, he will have to be 5-15 years older than
    she is.

    “Marriage is about offspring, security, and care
    taking”.

    Extra credit for knowing the source.

    Your daughters need to know, in blunt terms, that
    they need to have a good life; for that they need to
    work at it; there is nearly no way for them to have
    a really good life without a good marriage; for a
    good marriage they should follow the description
    above; and for any other ideas about ‘two careers’
    and a wife being ‘independent, autonomous,
    self-sufficient, equal, or pursuing her own life’
    just must be avoided like toxic waste. Sorry about
    that.

    Since for a husband a young woman needs to find a
    man 5-15 years older than she is, a college is not a
    good place for her to find a husband since there are
    nearly no such men at a college except as graduate
    students or faculty members which do not have good
    promise of making enough money to be good prospects
    as husbands. To have your daughters find good
    husband prospects, take them to, say, charity
    events, political events, church, yacht clubs,
    country clubs, chamber music recitals, fourth of
    July picnics, etc. so that your daughters can meet
    men of about the right age and that have had some
    good ‘filtering’.

    That’s about the best I can do for you and your
    daughters. Good luck to all of you.


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