sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

July 23, 2012

Was The South Always Different?

Filed under: relationships — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:17 pm

A sophomore from Athens Amber Estes wrote an advice piece on how to find husband in college (via Instapundit).  The college years seem be a good time to pair up, especially when the men are conveniently pre-selected to meet certain minimum requirements, but some parents disagree.  In her cover story for The Atlantic, for instance, Katie Bolick recalled that her mother suggested that her college boyfriend break up with her daughter (many years down the road, her dad lamented that she’s unlucky in love).  A while ago, Penelope Trunk broke the mold recommending to start the husband hunt “early”, by 24.  I commented back then that’s what’s shocking about this statement is that 24 is considered early, and I think Estes might concur.

In the mid-90s, when I transferred to Berkeley in my junior year, I started out under the assumption that everyone would be looking for a spouse.  After all, this is what I knew in the Soviet Union where by the time they received their diplomas most women were married, likely had children, and possibly had already divorced.

It’s not just that I personally didn’t exactly follow Amber’s advice — I shopped for some outrageous get ups at Mars Mercantile and wasn’t too shy to parade them around campus, for instance — or that I didn’t do the Greek scene, which seems to be her thing.  I struggle to think of a single Berkeley alumni my age who married her college sweetheart — not sorority girls, not Russians, not anyone.

I found that few students were interested in romance, and that the relationships that did form on campus were often of the transient kind — one night stands, “open” relationships, or the ones that simple didn’t last long.  We were busy: the curriculum was fairly demanding, and we were on the studious side.  It’s worth noting that the atmosphere was cliquish and students didn’t talk much to each other.  Perhaps feminism played a role, and young men were unsure of themselves.  More importantly, there was the prevailing assumption that the 20s are not for childbearing.  Many of us were graduate degree-bound, and even the ones who weren’t didn’t want to be bound to a single individual at that stage.  If I mentioned wanting to have two children by the time I’m 30, other students thought it was crazytalk.  Most of them didn’t worry about such things.

They also, if you find this information relevant, didn’t think I was a motherly type.  My retort was that nearly everyone is a motherly type.  I eventually lost touch with my college friends, but I do know that at 33 I was among the first to get married, and at 34 I was among the first to give birth.  Personally, I found it very difficult to start a family in my 20s.  Perhaps I was doing it all wrong; I didn’t bake cookies for bf’s buddies as Estes suggests.  To the contrary, DH’s old bandmate called me a Zionist bitch, and I am still damn proud of it.  But I suspect that the less confrontational women fared worse than me when it comes to love, mainly because they didn’t plan for it.

I do see quite a few professional Bay Area mothers who started having kids in their late 20s.  But even within this “young mom” demo, I’m yet to meet a single woman who married a college sweetheart.  It could be sample bias, of course, but it might just be that around here we are not wired to meet our men on campus.  So either there is some kind of emerging trend for earlier marriage or the South is just different.



  1. I think if you went to a state school in Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois… maybe you’d find a different scene. Berzerkely has its own scene… as does the Bay Area and many people move to Hong Kong or NYC, etc… so marrying your college sweetheart is a longshot.

    Comment by Harrison — July 24, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

    • Yes, we all had better plans, including the kids who had no particular idea about what to do. When I was getting my Master’s a few years down the road, commencement speaker was advising graduating seniors to travel and then decide what they want to do.
      The lady I linked to was doing a Southern bell thing.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — July 24, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

      • Here’s a Southern “lady” for you:

        Love your hair… HATE your guts!

        I’m not a fan of the South… or Berzerkely.

        Comment by Harrison — July 26, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

  2. Feminism has destroyed the reason for a man to get married. Men have an instinctive need to be providers and feminism has taught women that they should all have careers. (Not that I’m opposed to women working.) Also, for a man to get married to have access to sex is pretty much gone as well, what with every women in their 20s jumping on any alpha reproductive organ she can find. And that’s must my opinion.

    Comment by Infidel de Manahatta — July 25, 2012 @ 8:05 am

  3. Yeah, I would say cultural differences b/t Berkley CA and the South (or really most of flyover country) definitely play a part in this. But I’m not sure how common marrying the college BF is nowadays, now that it’s almost 20 years behind me LOL

    Comment by nooneofanyimport — July 26, 2012 @ 8:37 am

  4. […] I had to look up Bayeux Tapestry.  Then again, I wasn’t raised in the English-speaking world.  I’m not sure too many undergads read Chomsky (grad students might scan it, if absolutely necessary).  Jean Cocteau or Henrik Ibsen: are you kidding me?  Much of the workload these days consists of Rococo Marxist takes on pop culture.  I realize the author, Susan Patton, was probably just trying to dress up her point, not comment on the substance of college kids’ conversation, and I am on record saying that the college years are a good time to look for a husband. […]

    Pingback by We Are a Part of That Statistic | sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — February 16, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

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