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Lessons learned from 'Real Housewives'

Tania Jachens

On April 25, 2012

  • The term “ring before spring” sounds like something out of “Real Housewives.”. Courtesy of Sarah Celone


I first learned of the term "ring before spring" while at a sushi dinner with friends one evening. Upon receiving clarification of its definition, my jaw dropped and the spicy tuna roll clutched in my chopsticks fell back onto my plate. 

For those of you equally unfamiliar with this term, allow me to blow your mind. "Ring before spring" refers to female college students who need rocks on their fingers and guaranteed husbands before graduating in May. 

This idea alone sets the women's movement and unfairly maligned feminism back decades as I naively believed such archaic ideas went out of style at the same time as wearing corsets and riding side-saddle. And guys, this applies to you, too, since you're the ones being courted and cajoled into an early proposal. 

Also synonymous with "ring before spring" is the infamous MRS degree, or attending college for the sole purpose of finding a husband, which Urban Dictionary describes as going "from one's parents' home to the home of a spouse without ever achieving emotional or financial independence, or academic success."  Synonyms include trophy wife and gold digger. For once, Kanye knew what he was talking about.

A while back, someone spray-painted a stencil in the tunnel to West Campus of a girl holding a fishing rod with a heart at the end of the line. I commented on how cute it was that this little girl seemed to be looking for love, rather than a meaningless hookup, which brightened up the otherwise dank and unpleasant tunnel. 

The friend I was walking with muttered, "Or she's fishing for an MRS degree."  So was this guerrilla artwork or perhaps insightful commentary on 'Nova's larger preoccupation?

Sadly, I know many girls who joke about becoming a good housewife or marrying rich, usually when physics homework or class lectures become unbearable enough to make even a life of domestic work seem appealing. 

While women outnumber men at most universities, the statistics are fairly even at Villanova, which is a good thing for all the women here hankering for a hubby. Perhaps that cutie in your boring accounting class will be your ticket to a care-free life of privilege and leisure.

Some girls take this idea even further by attending graduate, law or medical school in order to extend their time of eligible bachelor hunting. Girls at Columbia Business School made a tongue-in-cheek video set to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" about their intention to acquire an MRS degree:  "All this talk of dual income just makes me sick, I just want a rich banker who can buy me s- - -." Frankly, I don't understand why anyone would take on extra debt, test-taking and years of academic rigor just to find a man. Aren't there easier ways,  like eHarmony?

"But wait!" the indignant MRS degree hunter will cry, "Higher education is the last time I'll ever be surrounded by so many young, single, attractive people my own age!"  False. 

Instead of sobbing into your Villanova sweatshirt that the best years of your life are over, use that beautifully pristine page of white paper called your diploma to find a job and career where you will be introduced to an entirely new pool of people. Maybe you'll have to relocate to a different city or state-an even better opportunity and excuse to get out and meet them. 

I blame this lack of female empowerment on the prevalence of shows such as "Desperate Housewives."  It started as a scripted "dramedy," but when it became known that people similar to Gabrielle and Susan actually exist, the Bravo channel recognized a cash cow when they saw one. 

Enter the "Real Housewives of (insert name of any major city/state here)," where every idle, spoiled-rotten woman who married rich is allowed to flaunt her acquired wealth and unleash her cattiness on national television. Even SNL recently did a spoof on this concept with the "Real Housewives of Disney," featuring Kristen Wiig as an alcoholic Cinderella, in addition to a bankrupt Jasmine, an untalented Belle and a sassy Snow White. 

While a life of lavish dinner parties where tables get flipped or people's hair extensions get pulled might seem appealing to some, there's an even larger percentage of women who want to establish themselves in their careers before even thinking about settling down. 

The average age for marriage is now almost 29 for men and almost 27 for women, up by more than two years in the past two decades. I can only hope that the co-eds itching for a ring to go along with their graduation caps can take a page from this vast majority of women getting married later and find validation and self-satisfaction through other means, both in their personal and professional lives. 

And keep in mind that the "ring before spring" idea goes both ways. A wise man from one of the many discussion forums covering MRS degrees posted: "In these uncertain economical times, a smart young man should be looking for his MR degree. The new trophy wife is a high earner."

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