Do Carls really marry Carls?


During student-led walking tours, talking with admissions staff, or just looking through Carleton’s brochure a phrase sticks out: Carls marry Carls. This phrase is used to explain the “phenomena” in which Carleton graduates, Carls, marry one another. For the prospective Carleton student, this may seem quirky, adding to Carleton’s charm, but I was confused on a number of levels. To begin where are the statistics showing me that a significant number of Carleton graduates have married one another. Who are these Carls? Where are they from? How did they meet? I have questions! Secondly, why are you advertising this irrelevant fact, to college-bound students who should be focusing on getting an education not finding their soulmate?

My third question is where do I find my Carl? As a woman of color at a predominately white institution, I often feel invisible, unable to fit my experiences into the typical Carleton narrative. I walk around with my head down, just trying to survive this place 10 weeks at a time. I must say 10 weeks feels like a lifetime when you’re struggling to be acknowledged by your peers. So dating here has been difficult, so say the least. I’m on Tinder, like every other Millennial, but Northfield has slim pickings. From the random townie that works at the Hideaway to the man whose profile is him holding a fish (aptly called “Man with fish” while swiping), or the Carleton student, my options are limited.

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The data collected in the study conducted by OkCupid adds another level of analysis to this conversation. This study was designed to find how your race affects the messages you receive. They make a note “Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Essentially every race — including other blacks — singles them out for the cold shoulder.” Furthermore, they conclude that white men respond less, in overall trends than non-white guys. This information coupled with experiences of invisibility yet hyper-visibility as a female presenting, Black woman at a majority white institution. Living outside of the dominant narrative of beauty has allowed me some space to resist norms, but the weight of society is inescapable. Especially when even young girls are force feed image of unrealistic models which reinforces these ideologies. I don’t need to marry a Carl to be happy, after all marriage is an outdated institution. I just wish I could be seen like the rest you. A Carl with hope and dreams, just trying to make it out alive.


-OkCupid stats on “How your race affects the messages you get




2 thoughts on “Do Carls really marry Carls?

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  1. This post had me cracking up because my closest friends and I recently talked about how Tinder is the last place we would go to find serious partners — yet we can sit together in conversation and casually swipe left and right after evaluating how a person’s profile meets our standards. I’m not really sure what we are looking for… most of us have found the dating scene at Carleton to be overwhelming because of the high likelihood of running into someone that we hooked up with in one of the dining halls or in class, and we’ve had too many encounters with other people of color or white folks who reminded us that our Latinidad/blackness/Asianess is an elephant in the room. Still, though, I think part of the reason we are intrigued with Tinder is because we want to read how other people market themselves, when they are limited to a few photographs and a short description. It is amazing to see what you could gather/assume from a profile that does not hold any substantial information about a person, other than what their face looks like in pictures, but I think that this is practice that is only extended through Tinder — otherwise, we do these things on a daily level, at least when we casually note other people’s attractiveness. I don’t know if people would liken this common process with searching for their Carl, but there has to be a moment when we evaluate another person and consider them interesting enough befriend, and possibly turn into something more!


  2. I liked the point you made on what place this “Carls marry Carls” fact has on an admissions tour. Marriage has historically been positioned as the “end goal” for women in place of a say a career or personal development, which are considered to be goals for men. Therefore, it seems strange that Carleton would place such a gendered statement on the tour. The rhetoric around finding a soul mate in college or getting your M.R.S. degree is neither new nor specific to Carleton. However, I think there are implications for female students on campus who are exposed to this rhetoric of setting an expectation to find your life partner while in school. That sounds like a pretty big burden to me! How am I supposed to go to class with no eyeliner and sweats if I’m expecting to find the love of my life? Surely one day my future husband will love me regardless of what I wear or how I look (hopefully), but not yet! Setting that standard of needing to keep one’s love radar on all the time puts women at a disadvantage—it encourages them to spend less time on their friends, work, or just themselves and instead engage in work surrounding preparing themselves for marriage. It also sends a message that if you don’t find a husband here, you may have failed somehow, which is absurd. This being said, women make decisions, consciously and unconsciously, all the time to accommodate for a husband they may have never met yet. I know I have, but I would hope that message wouldn’t be coming from my academic institution.


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