BY ALEXIS JONES
The controversy that has exploded over the letter written by an alumna to The Daily Princetonian encouraging girls to make time to find husbands has left me a bit in shock. Well, shock is a strong word, especially when it comes to women because I’m afraid few things shock me anymore. That being said, I’ve watched interviews and read blogs from those who sympathize with the alumna’s efforts and those who vehemently disagree with her “degrading” and “insulting” suggestion that girls seek out love while simultaneously pursing a degree.
Naturally, I was asked to comment on behalf of I AM THAT GIRL. Being on the forefront of female empowerment has its perks, but it also has its obligations and this tends to be one of them; mustering up an opinion on such a polarizing subject. So with that in mind, I may disappoint you with a politically correct answer, but I understand her perspective and I also don’t think it was necessarily communicated in the best way. Yeah, I know; I’m opting to be Switzerland here.
Do I think her 1950s throwback to women needing to find a “suitable mate” was offensive? Not really. Why? Because I can only speak about my personal experiences and I put love on the back burner, while sentencing my heart to the attic promising someday I’d let her come down and play. I spent years convincing myself that I was a smart, independent, badass girl on a mission to make the world better and ignite a movement that left very little room for dating or butterfly-inducing make out sessions.
When I recently spoke at the Harvard Business School’s 22nd Annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference, I stared into a sea of brilliant, ambitious female leaders on their way to innovate our world to a better place. My sage advice? It wasn’t about a more efficient entrepreneurial strategy, integrating an inspiring bottom line or even essential leadership characteristics necessary for success in a male-dominated world. Could I have provided even more pedantic and cerebral verbiage? Sure, but these girls have plenty of that. This isn’t a generation that needs to be reminded that they are capable because these women invent, create, imagine and dream as well as or better than their male counterparts.
In all honestly, looking back on my college, graduate school and entrepreneurial start-up days, the one thing I’d tell my past self is to “make more time for love.” I spent too many years seeking external validation, impressive degrees, public accolades and resume bullets instead of the real gold. We’re a generation of girls who have siphoned off our hearts and put feelings on the back burner because we were programmed to think emotion makes us weak.
So, do I think that alumna meant to offend the girls of Princeton University, to imply that all they’re good for is waltzing around the kitchen barefoot, baking with a baby on their hip? Of course not. I think if she has any pulse on this generation of girls, she merely wanted to add to their mental and professional pursuits a little reminder that finding the love of your life while memorizing Socrates for your upcoming philosophy exam wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I happen to agree. Girls are more capable than they have ever been, but the pendulum may have swung so far the other way that we need to remind girls to also make room and time for love. I hope girls remember that their hearts are just as valuable and important as any future job title.
Image courtesy of Inhabitat.com