Friday, August 15, 2008

"I want to live in a van, down by the river..."




"It's my Future! I want to be an engineer. Sex can wait!"

Yes, because we all know that sex never takes place in a dorm room. What if you wanted to be a gynecologist? Would sex be okay then? I mean, I think it's only fair that we give our teenagers a list of jobs that you can't do if you don't wait to have sex. Of course, he doesn't say how long sex can wait...


Kidding aside - What the hell? I'd love to hear the rationale behind this. "Yes, Billy. It's true. Sex rots your brain and you will never be an engineer if you're a baby daddy." What's wrong with saying, "I want to be an engineer. That's why I'm going to use...*Have Trojan man crash through the side of the billboard like the Mr. Kool-Aid*!" Sorry...it's hard to be serious when there's so much stupid.


HAT TIP TO AMY

35 comments:

Milo Johnson said...

You can't have sex while you're being an engineer. You'll crash the train.


Thanks, try the veal!

Calladus said...

Speaking as an electrical engineer (as opposed to a train engineer) Sex before engineering doesn't prevent you from being an engineer.

HOWEVER - the geeky desire to grow up to be an engineer often greatly delays (or prevents entirely) getting a date and having sex.

I mean c'mon - how many girls out there will listen to a guy as he uses Maxwell's equations to explain his theory of how Klingon phasers can be used to find a cloaked Romulan Bird of Prey?

Spidergrackle said...

OK, I'm going to paint a big ol' target on my forehead, and then run away to my cottage for the weekend so I don't have to answer criticism 8-P. (you can call me Paul)

Inner city billboard. Culture that has (admittedly due to poor information), in the past poo-poohed the effectiveness of contraceptives. Culture that (on the male side) places a premium on when you lose your virginity, and how many girlfriends you have early on. Culture that starts the "he hasn't had a girlfriend: he must be a fairy" trope early.

In other words, a culture in which boys are told by their male role models that they are not manly if they haven't had sex when they're young. This billboard is not aimed at college students, it's aimed at young teens.

Now, before too many blood vessels burst here, before too many voices are raised in righteous umbrage, before anyone starts stomping around and screaming about how I just want to keep women in the kitchen or I'm trying to keep the black man down or other stereotypical bullshit, please, think: having a billboard like this does not prevent anyone from offering sex ed. It doesn't ban contraceptives, or anything else. It's a simple message that "hey, maybe I don't want to risk my future for a moment's pleasure."

I would imagine that if this message was aimed as girls, if the billboard said "It's my future! Getting married and having children can wait!", you wouldn't be so scornful. Trying to turn horny teenage boys away from bird-dogging every girl they see is not intrinsically a bad thing.

I understand that in this environment, we (myself included) have developed a reflexive cynicism about any advocacy of celibacy, because of the crowd that generally advocates celibacy. But for crap's sake: this is fairly innocent. Unless, Pmomma, there's an angle you haven't communicated. Is this billboard from Focus on the Family or something? Is there another shoe?

Spidergrackle said...

I was lying about running off. I'll be around for a bit: swing away.

Gramomster said...

What always irks the hell outta me when I see this stuff is the implication that once one is a parent, they cannot go to college! This is patently untrue. There are significant barriers, but these can be dealt with, and should, in my opinion, be much less restrictive.

That being said, the majority of my college friends were young moms (had their babies between 17 and 20) and are some of the most successful, wonderful women I know to this day.

If you have a kid, you have a motivating factor that the kids who are there because Mommy and Daddy require it, and you get a few more years to not have bills and get drunk, just simply do not have. They are, often, the best students. They know exactly why their butts are in the seats.

This is not an advocacy of young parenthood, just an observation that it is not an either/or proposition. And the inference that it is either/or just fucking pisses me off.

As an aside, spiderPaul makes a very valid point. The kids this is aimed at do come from a culture that often undervalues education and equates manhood with gettin' some, and makin' some babies. If manhood were equated with providing for those babies, maybe more young men from that cultural background (race aside, by the by) would want to be engineers.

Paul said...

I agree with Spidergrackle. This billboard is not suggesting that abstinence is the only answer. It is merely offering it as an idea to be considered. Really, are you opposed to the idea that your children might have their first sexual experience later rather than sooner? As a parent of a sexually active fourteen year old, I certainly wish he had waited longer.

Spidergrackle said...

F-ing oops. Tom, not Paul. How did I go this long without catching that mistake? Tom: Tom is the bad man. Get it right.

Enshoku said...

I must say, America needs less sex period. I don't think this billboard will get many people thinking, however. I think we need to be a bit more open to sex, as America tends to be very closed in general on the subject, and we are the country with the second largest percentage rise in population in the last 40 years. Japan is one of the most sexually open, and approving countries in the world, yet they are experiencing a massive population drop. Sex just needs to be discussed more, because I feel that many people are in the dark.

crden said...

"HOWEVER - the geeky desire to grow up to be an engineer often greatly delays (or prevents entirely) getting a date and having sex."

Ah, grasshopper, that may be true for the boys out there, but not so much for the girls. ;)

Paul said...

[silentsanta, NZ]

NPZ's bloggers are Thomas and Nancy. I hope this 'Paul' you refer to isn't me, spidergrackle?

Paul said...

[silentsanta, NZ]

* reads the rest of the thread and blushes.

Amy said...

Van down by the river...OMG ROFLMAO. I'm going to YouTube that right now!

PS: Call us soon! We want to talk to you.

Vamp said...

I have to agree with spidergrackle. It's truly aimed at inner city youth, who refuse to wear condoms.

That said, what ever happened to "Sex can wait, masterbate"?

Atheist in a mini van. said...

I posted it because I found it funny, not because I think it's entirely wrong. Consider it a bit of levity after the past week.

What I found silly about it is the attitude that once you have sex there's no possible way you can have a decent career or life. It's not the abstinence message I find silly or wrong. It's the idea that not having sex would somehow lead to better lives by default. And, maybe I'm wrong. I can accept that.

I would imagine that if this message was aimed as girls, if the billboard said "It's my future! Getting married and having children can wait!", you wouldn't be so scornful.
I didn't realize I was being scornful. But, I see your point. I'm not sure I would've taken it differentlyl if it were a girl, though. Like I said, for me it's comical because it's a false dichotomy (Don't have sex or have sex and ruin your chances at your goal). People go on to pursue educations and goals after they have children. *raises hand* And, why not promote the correct use of birth control? Abstinence education doesn't work.

I will say "good point" and "I didn't even connect that" in regard to the fact that the ad appears to be pointed at a certain age and race. I missed that. You may be right. But, how racist is that? Is there really any difference in the number of African American baby daddies as opposed to Caucasian baby daddies?

So, to sum up- I think everyone has brought up valid points. I just hope you see that I saw some humor in the message. Your mileage may vary. :) Cheers!

Atheist in a mini van. said...

. It's truly aimed at inner city youth, who refuse to wear condoms.

It's from a suburb in Kansas City. I'm asking honestly...does Kansas City have intercity youth? From what I've seen, the downtown areas are fairly nice. KC was supposed to be the "city without slums". *wink*

Holli said...

Hi! I'm new, and I'd like to get my feet wet on this one. I didn't read that having sex or babies ends your life. I took it to mean you can die (hiv, anyone?) and then you won't have any future at all. My ds at 4.5 already has a good idea how babies are made and that it's a good way to get diseases that can kill you. I intend to continue the dialogue, continuing to improve his education and make him aware of his options long before he's old enough to need them (including circumcision). I also intend to make it clear waiting is better, and the longer the better, and the fewer partners he has, the better. Granted, a billboard may not be the best way to get this message across, but since so many parents fall down on that part of the job, it's one of the few ways available to us.
Holli

Berlzebub said...

@ P-Momma:
ROTFLMAO...

You do a post on the Chinese Gymnastics Olympic team and you get trolls.

You do a post on a sex/engineering billboard and it becomes a discussion of the genetic differences between males and females.

You have the most interesting visitors.

@ Calladus:
Speaking as an electrical engineer (as opposed to a train engineer) Sex before engineering doesn't prevent you from being an engineer.

HOWEVER - the geeky desire to grow up to be an engineer often greatly delays (or prevents entirely) getting a date and having sex.

Speaking from a mechanical engineers perspective, not much changes even if you are talking about screws.

However, I did notice that once I settled into a decent job more opportunities were presented (for dating, but sex was still a little ways off).

Lexa said...

I've seen some billboards with similar reasoning: http://www.marriageworksusa.com/ These billboards pair facts such as "married people make more money" with a picture of a Young Happy Married Couple. What they seem to ignore is that correlation != causation -- I'd think it's more likely that higher socioeconomic people are more likely to get married in the first place.

idiotdogbrain said...

While I agree with spidergrackle on the reasons for the billboard, is anyone's mind likely to be changed because of a billboard. "Yeah, baby, I really want to, but, um...I saw this billboard that says we should wait". They should be getting educated about sex and masturbation in school, but talking about masturbation is what got Joycelyn Elders fired from being Surgeon General.

Erin said...

Because if you have premarital sex, you'll be followed around by those demons from the Chick tracts, which would make studying for college exams rather difficult.

Caderive said...

As a social worker, that billboard made me laugh. I wish the fundamental christians had to deal with some of the things I have to see on a day to day basis. Maybe then they will see the reality of everyday life.

Abstinence is proven to not work in our schools, and promoting abstinence (as well as denying abortion) will only lead to an upsurge of Child Protective Service/Foster cases that Social workers like me will then have to deal with!

I have been a lurker for some time, but I feel the need to inform you that if you want to get rid of NPZ, there are ways of blocking certain IP addresses from accessing your blog. I do not know how personally, but there are plenty of good guides on the internet. I also bet a couple of your readers might be able to help accomplish this as well. Rid them of their material to hate on you with and they will shrivel away.

I think your family/morals are great, don't doubt yourself!

Rachel said...

I'd agree with most of the commenters about the billboard's message. I think it's important to encourage abstinence along with education about birth control as well. I'm not sure how effective the billboard will be at reaching teenage boys, either. I realize that teenage parenthood doesn't necessarily wipe out chances for a college education or a high-paying carreer, but why NOT encourage abstinence to teenagers who are rarely mature or emotionally prepared enough to consider the life-long consequences of having sex?

"But, how racist is that? Is there really any difference in the number of African American baby daddies as opposed to Caucasian baby daddies?"

According to the study I found with a very quick search (although it's from 2002), there IS a vast difference.

http://tinyurl.com/babydaddyrace

Vamp said...

The suburban areas of south Kansas City (Ruskin, Hickman Mills, etc) are heavily black. Suburbs like Raytown and Grandview are increasingly black as well.

Sometimes the term "inner city youth" refers to, unfortunately, poor blacks, latinos, etc. They've, more than likely, moved from the city to the suburbs.

Cicero is a suburb of Chicago , but I'd still refer to the people that live there as "inner city...", even though it's a "suburb".

Harvey is a "south side" of Chicago Suburb, and very inner city.

SkeinGoddess said...

Ah, I must be a freak of nature, My DH's braininess was what really turned me on. He was an electrical engineer, scaffold builder and woodworker, firefighter and An avid Physics& StarWars geek. He now has a cushy job as a production controller for the Gov.:) Oh and we had our daughter @ 16 and 17 yrs of age. Just sayin'. That being said, we are the one percent of our classmates who got preg./married early that are successful, own our own home and/or haven't had their kid(s) taken away by CPS. I do think it was a stupid billboard, But I can see where they were trying to go with it. And they were still incorrect.

Anonomouse said...

"What always irks the hell outta me when I see this stuff is the implication that once one is a parent, they cannot go to college! "

Its very true, most likely they cannot go to college.

Young MALE out of highschool and having to pay child support and put themself through college. It's not going to happen.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

You know, the more I think about this one, the more I'm going to have to say I may disappoint some (in regard to my opinion on this).

The more I think about it, the more I think there's another message (perhaps subtle) here. What good does it do to create the false dichotomy - have a baby or get an education? I think it may actually send a worse message to those who DO get pregnant. The billboard is a tad late to help them out, but should they take the billboard to mean that their shot at a decent life is done, so might as well become a well-fare mom or dead beat dad?

Yes! Having a child complicates things. Absolutely, positively no doubt on that one. But, it's a cop out to say that your child kept you from getting an education. It really is. I had P1 and P2 during my entire college experience. I took out loans and studied like mad to get scholarships and grants. In fact, if I hadn't had children, I dob't think I would've finished school because my dad and mom's income would've been considered my income in terms of financial aid. Having two kids opened up many financial avenues that just weren't there in my years before kids. I'm not even close to saying that that's a justification to have children, but it's truth. The best situation is having a child when you're ready and secure. But, that's subjective. What is stable enough? What is "ready" enough? Those who seriously want to go to college will. It will be difficult. I not only had two kids, but as Vamp can tell ya'...P1 had more surgeries that I can count and, at times, was very close to death. Somehow, I still did it. Again...it can be done. Maybe that's why the sign struck me as funny? It seems to say to me, "You with the baby. Do not pass go." In actuality, it says "You! You having sex! Do not pass go." Is that really the right message? Disagree if you want...you all have had good points worth considering.

Gramomster said...

Anonomouse

I'm the mother of a teen mom. The daddy is paying child support, and going to college. The mommy can get zero support. Nothing. No child care assistance. Nothing.
Since Daddy doesn't have an actual BABY to deal with, his life goes on just as before, with the exception of $100/mo in support. He'll be 20 in Dec., his son is 2 and 1/2. Hasn't seen him since April, lives less than 2 miles away.

MUCH harder for the young moms, who have actual BABIES to contend with. And tremendous barriers, from being denied equal education even if they were an honors student when they got pregnant, to lack of support from colleges, to lack of support in the form of childcare.

I'm living it, and, ironically, I study it. I'm a sociologist. The type of education young women get once they get pregnant is abysmal. Again, even if they were honors students. There are some notable exceptions, but in general, young men who father children suffer no social consequences in terms of education, where young women suffer tremendous social consequences. It's as though she's the only one who choose poorly, and he's just a hapless victim in the whole sordid mess.

Really, I could rant for a really long time on what I've learned through my studies over the last several years, not to mention what I've witnessed, first with my own daughter, and subsequently, as the kids have gotten older, now with several of her friends as well. There is great consistency in the behavior of the boys, and the behavior and perceptions of others, from friends to teachers, to strangers. I'll spare everybody that, unless somebody is specifically interested. We're talking Title IV legislation, we're talking actual statistics about dropping out, all kinds of stuff.

BUT... if one is determined, one can certainly go to college. I was married with kids before I started college. My son was born on spring break of my third semester. I graduated with a 3.78.

And, if you think it's hard to do paying child support, how about paying rent on a bigger place, because you have a kid, and feeding and clothing, and daycare, and a job, and studying with a teething infant and a cranky toddler, and a kid with chicken pox... But young FEMALES do it all the time.
Why? Because it's important, and they know they can't rely on that young MALE who is 'paying child support'. Like $100/mo is significant. We pay $800/mo in daycare ALONE for our grandson.

Sorry. Really sensitive topic. Obviously.

Gramomster said...

Pmomma,

Totally with you!!! I think it does send a stronger message to those who may have a baby, and be thinking about college. Our whole society pretty much tells them, and I hear people use these exact words, that the very fact they had a baby young indicates that they are not "college material". Forget ability. Forget drive. Have a baby, you've proven yourself incompetent, thoughtless, careless, immature, etc. etc.

Also, I may have ranted about this here before, but the assumption is with teens that if she gets pregnant, they were being irresponsible and not using birth control. Would anyone make that assumption about a 25 year old? Not likely. They'd assume an intended pregnancy or a birth control failure. Yet while we accept birth control failure as possible for older women, younger women are supposed to be immune to this situation? WTF?! Young women often don't know that, say, antibiotics interfere with the PIll. Especially if they have moms who don't want to talk about sex, or maybe don't know themselves. I was probably in my 30s before I learned this. I was never on the Pill. Maybe that's why.
Condoms break. Babies get made. If you're 16, 26, or 36. Shit happens.

Gotta go run a teenager home.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Since Daddy doesn't have an actual BABY to deal with, his life goes on just as before, with the exception of $100/mo in support. He'll be 20 in Dec., his son is 2 and 1/2. Hasn't seen him since April, lives less than 2 miles away.

Yep! Isn't it lovely? I hate to be all "she-woman man hater", but...damn. I know that there are some men who would take responsibility and do the right thing. But, when they don't, it's devestating to the young woman who's now a single mother while the daddy's out dating and doing excatly what he did before the pregnancy.

Forget ability. Forget drive. Have a baby, you've proven yourself incompetent, thoughtless, careless, immature, etc. etc.

I don't think many people realize that this bias is true. When I was applying to schools for grad plans, there was an admissions person who said, "You have two children under two? Oh, sweetie, you don't want to go to school. This will be a lot of work." Think they would've said that to a husband or man? Now, I can laugh at it. But, at the time, I felt like someone punched me in the chest.

Karen said...

When I was applying to schools for grad plans, there was an admissions person who said, "You have two children under two? Oh, sweetie, you don't want to go to school. This will be a lot of work." Think they would've said that to a husband or man? Now, I can laugh at it. But, at the time, I felt like someone punched me in the chest.

It may have been a well-meaning comment, though. I'm a retread grad student at a state commuter school. The undergrad population tends to be a bit older than post-high-school, and a surprising number of them are mothers with small children. My own department tries to be extraordinarily understanding about the interruptions a small child can make in a student's life; rescheduled exams and lowest-score-drops are common, and children playing quietly in the back of the classroom during lectures or infants asleep in the corner are not unknown occurrences.
(Oddly enough, most of our department's faculty don't have children.)

But I've heard some horror stories about classes offered in other departments; some instructors assume that anyone who can't give themselves over to school 24/7 shouldn't be there. It makes life very difficult, and this certainly contributes to the low 6-year graduation rate of the school.

Of course, to be fair, things are much easier for grad students at my particular school. But where my husband studied for a Master's degree, you HAD to be out, work done, thesis signed off, in 5 years. That kind of a work schedule, plus working full time, plus taking care of a child requires superhuman abilities, I think.

Cogito said...

I do agree to a certain extent with the message of this billboard - having children tends to overwhelm your life. You can't understand how relentless parenthood is until you have your own child to care for. I can barely shower, feed myself and the kids, and take care of my daughters' needs many days. I cannot imagine trying to get to classes and do homework - and I have a very supportive husband and extended family.

That's not to say it's impossible and we should write off pregnant teens - that is truly a horrifying attitude. But I think we can all agree we want to encourage kids to avoid pregnancy so they'll have an easier time getting an education and starting a career.

BUT, I really object to the abstinence angle of the ad. Yes, I do think kids would generally do better to delay sex a bit, but I'm very leery of abstinence advice. NINETY-FIVE PERCENT of Americans have premarital sex. And that has held true since the fifties - I don't think we're going to change it. Given that this is a fact, no amount of wishful thinking or religious hysteria will prevent unplanned pregnancies. So I think every exhortation to abstinence needs to come with a corollary primer on birth control and STD prevention.

(And, less seriously, when I think about it, premarital sex resulted in my husband not being an engineer. He turned down a job at an engineering firm to move with me (his illicit lover!), and wound up going into a completely different line of work. But considering we live in a pretty rich area, have two great kids, and have been married 10 years, I think it worked out OK.)

Karen said...

In my last comment, I didn't mean that young women with young children ought not go to college, only that it is very difficult. I certainly don't agree that it OUGHT to be difficult.

But I also admit that while I'd assume a pregnant woman in her twenties was either carrying a planned-for child or the result of a birth-control failure, I'd assume a pregnant teen girl was either a victim of Abstinence-Only sex education, or didn't believe in herself enough to insist on her partner using a condom. I agree that's not necessarily correct, but that's how my mind works. Especially remembering the emotional pressures on the teenage me... and I'm old enough to have had GOOD sex education in my high school.

NotZed said...

It's funny 'cause it's true ... At least at the University campus I went to ... about 85% male over-all and 95% male in EE/Computer Engineering.

American culture is so weird that they'd even contemplate a message like this as some sort of sex-ed campaign.

Richard said...

Our whole society pretty much tells them, ... Forget ability. Forget drive. Have a baby, you've proven yourself incompetent, thoughtless, careless, immature, etc. etc.

Embarrassingly, I see too much of myself in that statement.

It is too easy to marginalize the "other".

-Richard

Flux said...

it's my future. i want to be a porn star! sex can wait...

yeah. just doesn't have the same ring to it.