Sex Ed

by saacnmama

My son recently brought home a paper from school:

Your son/daughter will be receiving instruction about AIDS/HIV/STDs in the 7th grade. Because of the present lack of a medical solution to AIDS/HIV/STDs, prevention has been identified as the only viable alternative for controlling AIDS/HIV/STDs. Education is the first step to prevention.

The six areas of study will be

• Abstinence
• Facts concerning AIDS/HIV/STDs
• HIV and the immune system
• The transmission of AIDS/HIV/STDs
• Risk behaviors and preventative practices
• A general overview of other sexually transmitted diseases
• Peer pressure refusal skills

Emphasis will be placed on abstinence from sex and drugs as the most effective ways to prevent AIDS/HIV/STDs.

This unit will be taught in Science class. They are just wrapping up a unit on mitosis and meiosis, so this follows logically. Over the years, I have answered lots of questions from my son. Our approach has always been biological. Explaining that the reason sex feels good so that people and animals will do it and procreate, but they sometimes do it “extra” because of that good feeling, makes sense to me as long as he sees no other reason for it. I do not know if the state we live in (Florida) is one of the states required to focus on abstinence, but that would not surprise me. This article gives some interesting information on abstinence teaching and why it may not be most successful at reducing disease and teen pregnancy. The approach it seems to suggest would be very hard to implement as just one parent, because it involves societal values.

The days of the biological scientific approach are limited. His schoolmates apparently give him plenty of examples of sexual desire at work, and he reported that one of the principle ways girls at the first and only school dance he’s been to danced was running their hands up and down their own bodies. I am sure it will not be too long until circuits are connected and his lights and buzzers start going off. He has already begun to ask me questions about my own experiences (beyond the initial “you did that once? I know you did, to make me”). I have far more experience than I think is healthy to discuss with him. I have already mentioned that I did not do a good job picking out a husband or his father (to which he snorted and agreed), that I do not want him to follow in my footsteps, that I want him to have a long and good relationship with his partner. Right now, the system is powered down and this sounds good to him. When his questions become more detailed and insistent, my plan is to switch to “don’t kiss and tell”, including how girls’ reputation, more than boys, can be ruined by this, and that he should never discuss what or he someone else has done sexually.

All of us have been through this ourselves, “in the Dark Ages”, and many of you have guided one or more youngsters through it. What do you recall, and what recommendations can you make?

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146 thoughts on “Sex Ed

  1. I recall that my parents didn’t talk to me at all, but I remember talking about it in school. This was at the time when HIV was really scary (late 80s/early 90s) and so I think most of us were terrified of STDs and the like, which I’m not sure is even a thing now. I intend to talk to my kids, but I do realize that me talking to them is unlikely to stop them from having sex if they’re going to do it. I just hope they’re scared enough of disappointing us to be smart about it.

  2. That lists seems omit any mention of pregnancy resulting from sex. Is this because of the disease focus?

  3. Our schools have a sex ed section, but it’s taught in PE and Health, instead of science. It also includes information on contraception, along with abstinence. DH has supplemented, as needed, at home.

  4. I ‘learned’ in Health class in 9th grade. Most of it was scary information on STDs, as I recall, but they did do a contraception section. Like Atlanta, my parents didn’t talk to me at all (except to comment when people hooked up in movies that that was “bad”).

    At some point we will get books/information for the kids – we have been dealing with questions organically as they come up. Right now sex ed is limited to “don’t let other people touch your private parts”.

  5. we covered this in 9th grade health class also at my catholic school with the emphasis being on abstinence

  6. Kids were in a Christian MS, so the focus was on relationships and procreation after marriage. Still in the “boys are yucky” phase so no hands on experience with once attraction begins phase. We follow up with them each year after the discussion at school – sort of started in 2nd grade with fetal development …not getting into how the egg and the sperm got together until much later.

    The problem of getting into unwanted pregnancy is that it begins to bring up questions to which the answer gets teachers into the quick sand. Such as when does life begin, or what happens if you have an unwanted pregnancy – keep it, adoption, abortion? It is much easier to focus on disease and disease prevention – there is the possiblity of contracting X if you do Y. Since there are very few to no other ways to contract X, just don’t do Y.

  7. As a 7th grader and a boy, I think he needs to start hearing some of these messages, phrased in a way that works for you:

    Girls who are interested in having sex (or even just giving him a bj) at this age have low self esteem and are desperate to have someone love/pay attention to them, and this is the only way they know how to do it. Stay away from them.

    While he may soon be physically ready to have sex, he is not emotionally ready.

    As he gets older he is going to have to be very aware of getting a “yes” as opposed to lack of a “no”. The way that things seem to be moving make me worry that boys will soon need a signed statement affirming that a girl has said yes.

    We used the rule/guideline of “no casual or unprotected sex” for our kids.

    I would be wary of giving more than very general information about your past experiences, because that may just be tmi. You can mention the mistakes or regrets from your life when he asks about following a particular path. As someone once said, “If you can’t be a good example, you may as well be a cautionary tale.”

  8. DD started asking a lot of questions around age 6, so we read It’s Not the Stork together. Then, a year later, she needed more info so we got It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. Now, at age 8, she is a little obsessed with “getting puberty” (spoken like it’s an infectious disease) because the book says girls can start menstruating any time between age 8 – 15. I’m generally trying to stay ahead of the school’s family life education so that if she hears something contradictory to what we have already talked about, she will ask me about it. So far, so good, but I guess it will become a lot more uncomfortable in a few years.

  9. Rhett – I will have to read that whole article; it looks hilarious! The combination of eco-awareness and lavish spending – San Francisco in a nutshell!

    Saac – The “cautionary tale” quote was for all of us, sorry if it read like I just meant you!

  10. And on a related question…what do you tell other people’s kids when they ask sex ed type questions? I have been driving teenagers to various events the past few months. When it is just my daughter and a few female friends in the car, the talk often turns to detailed questions about sex, pregnancy, and other stuff…..the teenagers are 16, 17, 18 I have given what i think are clinically accurate and also in accordance my values. Does this happen to anyone else?

  11. Ssk – that comes across as a bit of slutshaming (as the kids these days say). Girls who want to have sex (or even perform oral sex) are not victims of low self esteem any more than the boys who want to receive such things.

  12. “Where is Saac, by the way?”

    I think you guys chased her away when you all shit on her for the jumping issue.

  13. you guys chased her away

    I sure hope not. I’m going with school vacation week and they are off somewhere having a good time….

  14. I hope we didn’t chase her away. I wouldn’t have said anything about the jumping thing, normally, but she (1) expressly asked for feedback from the lawyers and (2) repeated her request for feedback – in the form of being upset that not enough of us had answered. So, I answered. I didn’t want to be impolite and ignore a direct and repeated request.

    If this were a case where she had relayed information and we jumped on her gratuitously without being asked for our opinion, that would be one thing. But to ask for our opinion, then ask for it again, and then get mad that it didn’t align with hers is another.

  15. On a related note and I case it isn’t obvious from my other post, shitting on someone is a lot different, IMHO, than expressing an opinion after they’ve asked you to. I don’t think the former is a fair characterization of that day.

  16. Oh boy… Not looking forward to these days at all… and given how fast kids are growing up (or so it seems), we’ll have to deal with that when DS is in preschool…

    I went to a Catholic school which, very surprisingly, did not give abstinence only. Maybe it was the demographics of the school, but we got very explicit information in the 9th grade. The one thing “Catholic” the school did teach was anti-abortion. The Silent Scream is the *worst* thing to see ever. I vividly remember it 20 years later. I don’t know if that movie changed my values or if I would have had the same values without seeing it. I do know that it didn’t change my political leanings – I’ve always been pro-choice. Personally, I don’t think I could have an abortion, but it’s not my right to tell another woman she can’t.

    I hope this education includes pregnancy (since they learned about meiosis, they should learn how the DNA “puts itself back together” as it were). And I hope the teacher can remain clinical. I find it very easy to fall into a morals/values lesson when discussing sex ed, but that has no place in a science classroom. To me science is A + B = C; it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just science. If you have sex you can get pregnant, get a STI, or get both. Whether or not you should have sex is not a question to be tackled in science.

    I hope DH and I create a safe household where DS can talk freely and ask questions freely. And I’m so thankful there are books. I don’t remember reading any books, I just got answers from my mom and school.

  17. Risley – True. My comment was not meant to be taken very seriously.

    I’m at a different location this week and just had lunch with some new people. One guy is 25 and wants to retire as soon as humanly possible, he claims. He’s kind of funny. I introduced him to MMM.

    Another guy, older than me and claiming to be 10 years from retirement, is a total blowhard and was telling me that when he switched to a new employer, he “faced a tough decision” about whether to roll his old 401(k) into the new one, or to “go out on his own.” He said “I went with WBI Investments–you can look them up online.” And he goes on to explain how they have this proprietary strategy using ‘analysis’ so that they protect your capital because they never let it go below a certain baseline, and then your money goes up, and they reestablish the baseline.

    I started to delicately offer a little bit of the standard Bogle perspective, but he quickly dismissed that with a “that might have been true BEFORE the financial crisis.” And I was done. What’s the point?

    Here’s what I can found online:
    http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/fund/wbdnx

    Negative YTD return, negative one-year return. No expense ratio listed, but their “Absolute Return Balanced Plus Fund,” (WBPNX) which is also negative YTD and 10 points below the S&P 500 for one year, has a 2% expense ratio.

  18. Milo,

    My first guess would be that it’s some kind of ponzi scheme but then the returns are so low…

  19. Milo – yahoo finance says $37M assets. 25% cash, 47% stocks, 21% bonds, 2% other. 2% expense ratio + 12B fees.

    Good luck to that guy.

  20. Rhett – I can’t figure it out. And supposedly they’ve been doing this for 30 years, but none of the funds they list are more than three years old, and all the returns are just dreadful. Maybe they just dissolve one and open a new one every few years to hide their past performance.

    What’s scary is that this guy is not the least bit dumb in his regular professional life.

  21. Fred – Would you try to say anything to him at the end of the day, or just let it go?

  22. Milo,

    Maybe it’s similar to one of those Wolf of Wall Street penny stock scams? But, rather than using high pressure sales tactics to move worthless penny stocks they use those tactics to push worthless mutual funds?

  23. is a total blowhard

    If I were looking for marks to swindle, that’s exactly the personality is go after.

  24. What’s scary is that this guy is not the least bit dumb in his regular professional life.

    Lawyers have the same problem. You’re being well paid to offer your advice in your day job and you start to think that your opinions are golden in all areas.

  25. Milo – I would say nothing. He doesn’t want to hear it. He thinks he has bought a product with a lot of upside and 100% downside protection. We can all see that the upside is illusory, or will only materialize from blind luck, the fees are through the roof, and that if he just wanted inflation/principal protection he could have found a balanced income fund at one of the employers’ 401k’s, or an IRA with TIPs or something similar. Since my actively managed equity investments are in Dividend Growth sector (the only one of the listed funds that is not a complete disaster, but returns below inflation), I understand that particular strategy, but I expect and receive good results for my (much lower) fees. I wouldn’t call it a swindle – I am sure the investments exist.

  26. My kids have the notorious “Pono Choices” program, the windmill at which a religious conservative state representative has been continually tilting over the last few years. I asked my kids whether they are in fact being taught to have anal sex and live a homosexual lifestyle and their answer was, “Ewwww! Mom!! Nooo, they didn’t talk about that!”

  27. And supposedly they’ve been doing this for 30 years, but none of the funds they list are more than three years old,

    Not perhaps in this case but what some companies did was start 100 mutual funds. Then, in 3 years when 60% failed to beat the market those funds were shut down. Then in 5 years 50% failed to beat the market and they were shut down. Then at 10 years 50% of those didn’t beat the market and were shut down. Then they’d proclaim in all their marketing materials that our 10 funds have consistently beat the market over the past 3, 5 and 10 years. Right, because you shut down the 90% that didn’t.

  28. Thank you, L. No-bounce filing was one of the world’s greatest cultural advances.

  29. Ada – sorry if that sounded like I was just blaming the girls, I wasn’t. I was just addressing saac’s specific situation. I did mean girls in the 12-14 year old range, which I think is too young for sex. I guess the flip side could be true for boys as well.

  30. That’s unusually well-written for a pro se filing of that type. And such a gem! She monologues:

    Let me ask you-do you really think I ever believed this court would give me a fair shot? Ha No. I’m much too intelligent for that. Just know that this entire proceeding has served the purpose for which it was intended. And you played right into it, in the exact way that I intended for you to, like the dumb hoe that you are

    .

    And I also enjoyed the citizenship argument:

    I said we are Floridian-
    Americans-but our lawful State government has been overthrown by insurgent federal citizens, citizens of the United States), like you.

  31. Im just old enough to have missed the HIV crisis in HS. All of our education in Health was about the body and how contraception.

    I was in college when HIV became a known disease and suddenly everyone jumped to condoms instead of the pill. I don’t ever remember much education about STDs, but there was probably something because we had health every year.

    I think it’s really important to discuss things at home even if the school has an education program. Kids hear a lot of misinformation from their friends.

  32. HM,

    Is there some sort of diagnosis for those kinds of people? Like hoarders or agoraphobics, does that kind of crazy have a name?

  33. @honomom: Lawyers have the same problem. You’re being well paid to offer your advice in your day job and you start to think that your opinions are golden in all areas.

    This is so true of doctors as well. They all have secret schemes that are going to beat the market. Except me. I have boring collections of qqq, dia, and spy. Oh, and a little sea world stock because I wanted to commemorate leaving a job where I referred to my boss as my big blue friend. So, that is my secret scheme to get rich – my rollover into whale stock.

  34. Lauren, STDs were included in some sex-ed programs pre-AIDS. Circa 1980 we watched a horrifying sex ed film that was probably 10 years older (many bell-bottoms, groovy soundtrack) about vd. There was a part where the scene switched to a kind of fleshy-colored mystery blob, and then the camera slowly pulled back to reveal that we were looking at a man’s diseased member. Cue the class-wide gasp and “Eeewwww!!”

  35. Question- anyone here planning on going to the Olympics next year? Or have gone before?

  36. Rhett, I’m sure that medically speaking there are many different forms of crazy that can lead to that kind of pro se filing. But I’d guess based on that filing that she is the more dangerous type of pro se, the smart pro se. A smart pro se still is unlikely to ultimately prevail but they can be very cunning about working the system to cause maximum headaches for everyone else involved.

    The smart pro se is closely related to the jailhouse lawyer. You wouldn’t believe how much court time, government agency time, legislative staff time is spent dealing with the two groups.

  37. anyone here planning on going to the Olympics next year? Or have gone before?

    No and no. But, I’m so jealous! I love the Olympics and I can’t wait to hear all about your adventure.

  38. Rhett- I’ve always wanted to go and I started saving up for it. I was hoping to find someone to go with but I might just buy a package and go alone.

  39. Sorry, Rhett, I think I must have some unconscious sexist biases. When my daughter was in junior high it was easier for me to say to her something like “any boy who tries to do xyz does not care for you and he is trouble.” I was not that worried about her being tempted.

    When my son was in junior high the message would have been more what I originally posted. So, I guess I was more worried about him being tempted.

    In the end, neither of them were involved seriously with girlfriends/boyfriends at that age so it was not an issue, but I hadn’t thought about how I perceived the situations differently for my kids.

  40. I don’t count on the school sex ed to do much. I allow it, and I think they do a reasonable job on the mechanics but when it comes to navigating the social and the feelings of it all – I think that has to come from us. I’ve always given them the straight scoop about everything and answered any and all questions that have come my way – someone needs to tell young men to never ever push on a girl’s head if he’s interested in action ‘down south’ (trying to use appropriate language for the blog) or to understand what ‘I love you’ often means to a young woman, etc…. I saw this link online about this young sex educator who is making a graphic novel for boys about hooking up and thought it was really interesting because I do think that there is a dearth of advice for young men navigating the sexual landscape. Will be interested to see what he does. http://goodmenproject.com/arts/26-year-old-guy-mission-make-men-stop-acting-like-jerks-hesaid/

  41. Rhett— Several kinds of personality disorder can lead to commentary like that gem! I can’t count the number of letters I have received (or phone calls of similar content) over the years.

  42. One of the things I love about our UU church is the sex ed (though beyond sex) that they teach. Parents are involved and know what’s being taught, but kids also get the experience of asking questions to people they (and we) trust. There’s discussion of the mechanics, but more about the relationship stuff; what consent looks like, how do you know when you are ready, how do you deal with problems or situations that get beyond what you were prepared for, etc. My kids are little, but we’ve started with the “It’s Not the Stork” level as a family, and she’s done the k/1 curriculum through church that went into some mechanics, your body is your own (and telling adults about bad touching, etc.), and different ways families are formed. All very age appropriate, and it really gave us a regular entry point to talk about our values because the issues came up in some format week to week.

  43. I was not that worried about her being tempted.

    I think most guys at that age would be pretty tempted by any willing partner. But, girls would be more likely to get caught up in some emotionally overwrought crush. But, maybe that’s just me being sexist.

  44. What I have a hard time understanding is when the paradigm shifted. It used to be that the boys chased girls but now it seems that girls chase boys. The local high schools have girls sexting the boys so their pictures can be sold and traded like cards and the more your “card” goes for the higher your status. Its really weird.

  45. I think it’s unfortunate that we label “sexist” (or discriminatory, etc.) the practice of making statements that are statistically true about a given group. We should be able to say things that are generally true (it’s colder in January than in July) and consider the exceptions (but not in the southern hemisphere, and it’s nearly the same temperature at Redwood National Park all year round) as appropriate.

    We should talk about the ways in which heterosexual sex is different for men than for women. This includes risk of pregnancy for women as well as specifics around STD’s, how they are transmitted and who is most likely to catch them. We should talk about the risks of being an involuntary parent for men, such as child support. The cost-risk-benefit analysis for sex, especially for teens, is different for men than for women. And it was a fellow woman engineer (an agnostic who dated her future husband from 16-23 without having sex) who articulated that for me, so I don’t think it’s just my religious views talking there.. women engineers are the demographic group most likely to complete a cost-risk-benefit analysis before having sex. :)

  46. “But, maybe that’s just me being sexist.”

    It may be sexist, but it’s silly to pretend it’s not true. There’s a market/street value for these services that is gender-asymmetric, which would strongly suggest that, outside of a committed relationship, what can be simple and uncomplicated pleasure for guys is less so for girls. If this weren’t so, the market wouldn’t need to set a price to compensate women for their services.

  47. I agree wholeheartedly with what Ris said at 11:31. Good job, Ris!

    Sex education in my county was a hoot. Remember, this was the mid to late 60s. In 7th grade, the boys had to come (I guess it was optional) to a movie– From Boy to Man– that was shown in the All Purpose Room. We had to be accompanied by their father, presumably to ensure order but what actually served to maximize embarrassment for all. In 10th grade, we got a week of Sex Ed in our gym class. Taught by the sweaty coach, it consisted of a week of push-ups and sit-ups because somebody would always make a wise-ass comment and as punishment, the coach who didn’t want to be there anyway, had us down on the floor working out. None of us learned anything whatsoever that week, but we emerged physically fit.

    My parents didn’t say a word about sex. Back then, in my community, “nice girls didn’t have sex” and “boys had sports”, so there was no need to know. My sisters, however, who apparently were anything but “nice” taught me.

    I’ve had age appropriate books lying around the house for Junior to browse for years. There are a lot of good books. I also think that more information is far better than less information and I think that sex is kind of fun, so during our long trips to and from school each day I am not infrequently kind of chirping up about the subject. My kid knows about everything pretty much, and does ask me questions. It’s not a taboo subject around here. He also knows my values, my views on fatherhood and that I will always support him. And that under no circumstances may he be an idiot.

  48. I like how WCE and I simultaneously hit a similar point with different variations on the argument.

  49. what can be simple and uncomplicated pleasure for guys is less so for girls.

    Isn’t that why the temptation can be equally strong on both sides just for different reasons? He’s the one and if I don’t have sex with him I will lose my one chance a true love…etc.

  50. “He’s the one and if I don’t have sex with him I will lose my one chance a true love…etc.”

    Hmmm, that kind of sounds like a lack of confidence. Oh wait, we can’t suggest that! That would be slut-shaming!

  51. Rhett, I think you’re assuming women have a transactional view of sex- ideally, women don’t engage in sex in order to maintain a relationship, in my opinion.

    I thought about this a lot during my late teens, when I worked for a company that sold materials for erectile dysfunction devices. (Drugs weren’t around then.) Medical limitations to a woman’s sexuality cause relationship problems. Medical limitations to a man’s sexuality are much less likely to cause relationship problems. I don’t recall the exact statistics, but it was one of the many situations in life where knowledge of statistics doesn’t explain root cause.

  52. Hmmm, that kind of sounds like a lack of confidence

    Or naiveté and lack of perspective? We’ve discussed before how many kids that age don’t have a good sense of the world. To them “the world” consists of an unchanging bubble roughly consisting of their home and family, their peers and school.

  53. Rhett, I think you’re assuming women have a transactional view of sex- ideally, women don’t engage in sex in order to maintain a relationship, in my opinion.

    Quite the opposite, they are much more into “the relationship” than men often are.

  54. Rhett – your 3:07 comment is what I meant. Girls usually want the “love” before they would agree to sex, boys want it (sex) if they can get it. Pretty crude and simplistic, but that is how I see the broad picture for teens.

  55. Slight hijack from a very interesting discussion: Should a young male college graduate going on an job interview with a “hip” NYC media company wear a tie, or just a jacket and nice shirt/pants? The target customer for the media company is the millennial generation. None of the men in their website official staff photos are wearing ties, and only some are even wearing jackets. The opinions I’ve gotten so far is that a tie would be nice, but not necessary. IOW, you can’t go wrong with a tie. This topic has been an ongoing discussion in our family, btw. IMO an interview for major network or newspaper job calls for a tie, but for a less traditional media company maybe a tie is inappropriate. Signed, meddling mom. :)

  56. “Or naiveté and lack of perspective? We’ve discussed before how many kids that age don’t have a good sense of the world. To them “the world” consists of an unchanging bubble roughly consisting of their home and family, their peers and school.”

    All personal moral and religious values aside, you make a pretty solid argument, imo, for why they’re too young to make a decision with such potentially significant ramifications.

  57. Girls usually want the “love” before they would agree to sex, boys want it (sex) if they can get it.

    So, then one presumes she’d be tempted by some 16 yo Casanova offering an angsty teen version of love? Presumably with 61% of kids having sex by their senior year in high school it isn’t only horny boys and “bad” girls. You have good girls getting caught up in it as well.

  58. CofC,

    What kind of tie? Skinny, bow, plaid, school, etc? If it’s NYC he’s going to need to bring some personal style.

  59. Everyone knows that adolescent boys have strong physical urges that require satisfaction or sublimation. Most societies in the world consider it normal that men of all ages will engage in sexual activity often, and with more than one woman not only over a lifetime, but often with women other than the wife if only one is permitted. Societies in which the dominant religion preaches monogamy for men as well as women or restraint for young men or celibacy as a religious ideal don’t actually expect men to be able to restrain themselves – hence, two sorts of girls, the oldest profession, etc. Nobody thinks that these men have low self esteem even if their acts have a transactional or fleeting or exploitative nature – they may not adhere to the highest spiritual ideals of their society, but they are merely doing what comes naturally because they can.

    However, if a young woman enjoys or seeks intimate physical contact, she is almost certainly deemed to have low self esteem or other issues. If she engages in behavior for crass transactional reasons, she is a slut. If she engages in behavior because she likes it and asks for nothing in return, she is a slut and a fool. If she dresses up her desires as love or seeking a relationship, she is not a slut, but self deluded and probably a fool. If she has desires but restrains herself and has very few partners or only one in marriage, she has achieved the ideal. And if she doesn’t have a lot of desire, so restraint is easy, and then does the minimum required in modern relationship and marriage, she gets credit for the ideal and a faithful partner finds himself in difficulties if he finds the relationship a bit lacking.

  60. ” Should a young male college graduate going on an job interview with a “hip” NYC media company wear a tie, or just a jacket and nice shirt/pants?”

    In my view, a dress shirt, khakis and a blue blazer is always appropriate. No tie in the circumstances.

  61. Well, the only personal style that can be squeezed out of this one so far has been the basic tie/jacket/pants look. And that’s a struggle, given that his look is more nerdy engineerish.(although he’s not an engineer) with NO regard to stylish dressing. I would love to be able to convince him to have a makeover. sigh

  62. “a dress shirt, khakis and a blue blazer” That’s his look, sometimes gray pants.

  63. “That’s his look, sometimes gray pants”

    Good. He has a blue blazer. Every guy should have one. No grey pants in NY somewhere hip. The dress shirt should be clean.

  64. The company is new, about a year. The interview will be conducted by an established casual/hip firm that apparently is involved with the start-up. Nobody wears ties in the photos for both companies.

  65. The discussion is conflating early teens and late teens, but the difference between eighth grader and high school senior is pretty significant when you’re talking about interest level in sex. For girls certainly, and I don’t remember many 9th grade boys being interested enough in the possibility of sex to want to do things like actually go to prom (ours was for grades 9-12).

  66. I would not recommend khakis. 2 suggestions: 1) Suit with unbuttoned dress shirt. Tie in pocket, in case if necessary. This might be the easiest. 2) Nice, dark jeans with blazer/suit coat and dress shirt.

  67. CofC,

    You know what I always do when have a question? I ask the Google. And it says:

  68. I don’t remember many 9th grade boys being interested enough in the possibility of sex to want to do things like actually go to prom

    Suspiciously long showers on the other hand.

  69. Why not khakis? Too dorky? I really wish he would agree to get a makeover, but he’s been resistant. I’ll continue to work on it.

    Rhett, that look is appealing to my eyes, and it would be a refreshing change . . .

  70. Honolulu – yes we had chasing on both sides, but not this total sublimation that I see in girls today where they are willing to service boys or give them nude pics of themselves to be noticed. Boys used to have to work for that kind of stuff. Maybe I’m just nostalgic.

    Meme, I think you have a point but I think the reason that women who are promiscuous are looked down upon is that historically, the possible negative outcomes from any sexual encounter is greater for the woman than the man: She certainly bears most of the burden of an unwanted pregnancy, it is easier for women to get HIV through hetero sex than men, many of the outcomes from STDs are significantly more negative for women than men, so the woman who is promiscuous is also perceived to be unwise.

  71. Khakis are too casual, IMO, for an interview. They are perfect for the regular workday, as long as they are Rhett khakis and not Milo khakis.

    COC: Maybe after he gets the job, he will agree to get a few hipper items for his wardrobe.

  72. Coc – skinny pants if he can pull it off. I’ve been told that fashion is just one thing that is unexpected so maybe a pretty standard outfit, but with whimsical socks or like orange bucks. I do believe that the socks are really something these days with the youngsters! ; )

  73. I agree with Honolulu about the age conflation going on here– 12-13 years old is very different from 16-17 or even 19-20. Meme is spot on that girls/women have always been interested in sex (with individual variation, etc.), and what’s changed is how much that’s permitted by society at large and how it’s viewed.

    WCE– I don’t think anyone’s saying you absolutely can’t discuss things rooted in facts. Men can become fathers and that can lead to child support. Women can get pregnant and be forced to decide on abortion/adoption/raising a child without a partner/several other scenarios. Some STDs do have different infection rates for men and women, and of course we should discuss those. But it’s a long way from “Girls who ____ are ______ way” to things that are quantifiable.

    Milo– Re: your comment that maybe the kids shouldn’t be trusted with this decision– Because of our current stage of life this reminds me a bit of potty training (from the parenting side, not a commentary on sex, at any rate). The kid controls their body, and you don’t. So you can decide to potty train (or decide abstinence is the way to go) and the kid is going to do what they want. So you can convince, incentivize, promote, talk about consequences, etc. And we all will because we are parents, and we want to let them know what we think is important in any given situation. But the choice? That’s always going to belong to the individual involved. I can’t think of anything as a teen that would have pushed me into an activity more than someone saying, “You’re too young to make a smart decision here, so just trust me and do what I say.” And I wasn’t particularly rebellious.

  74. total sublimation that I see in girls today where they are willing to service boys or give them nude pics of themselves to be noticed.

    I can’t say I’ve seen any of that happening. Definitely not my niece and her friends (high school seniors), not my daughter and her friends (7th grade), not the way girls approach my son (9th grader — he gets texts from girls and their contact info, no nude pix, they talk about homework and school, games, shows, that kind of stuff). Is this something you’ve seen with your kids or their friends, Moxie?

  75. Of course my kids and their friends are pretty much all geeks, so there’s that.

  76. Honolulumother – the cases I have heard of are pretty few and far between:

    My nephew received a photo of a girl in her bra in 6th or 7th grade. This was a couple of years ago. I think she sent it to a bunch of boys in her class.

    A friend of mine was a guest at a bar mitzvah and came upon a situation where a young lady was entertaining young gentlemen upstairs one at a time (so 13 and 14 year olds).

  77. Yeah, if I may, I think sometimes we hear about the behavior of a few girls and generalize it to “teenage girls today”.

  78. “Of course my kids and their friends are pretty much all geeks, so there’s that.”

    As I keep saying, peer groups matter.

  79. DH is at a tech/media startup in NYC. Dressy is a pressed solid color long sleeve shirt and dark slim jeans, or black or gray flat front slim slacks. Staff does wear khaki.

    I might suggest he add a sport coat/jacket for the interview, but no tie. He can pass it off as an outdoor jacket and take it off when he gets there if everyone else is more casual.

    20 something employees wear a lot of hipster plaid shirts, slim cut pants including khakis, and trendy sneakers, but that is probably too casual for an interview.

  80. CoC, things may have changed a lot, but going back to my college days, it was pretty standard for interviewees to wear a suit and tie. At most of the places I interviewed (in my suit and tie) back then, the men interviewing me were mostly dressed in jeans or khakis and golf shirts or casual button-down shirts, although the marketeers, many managers, and a few others did wear dress pants and shirts.

    The point being that, at least back then, it was not the norm for the interviewee to try and dress to fit in. Call me out of touch, but IMO the interviewee should show some deference in dressing. I’d still expect that anyone interviewing at my current workplace would dress to outdress me, not try to dress like me.

  81. Tulip – I know, but it seems to me that the only time we hear on the Totebag “teens will do what they want” is when it relates to sex.

    We don’t let them drop off the Calculus track, we don’t really let them consider not going to college, we don’t trust them to stay home alone for a weekend. Most kids will not graduate from a four-year college, and when it comes down to it, we can’t make our kids earn a degree. But only on this topic do some want to insist “you have no control!”

    Anyway, I don’t really care to argue this, and I have to get back to mattress shopping (speaking of sex ;) )

  82. I’d still expect that anyone interviewing at my current workplace would dress to outdress me, not try to dress like me.

    Right, but if everyone is wearing t-shirts, shorts and flip flops and you come in with the full American Psyco suit, you’ll look like an idiot. Outdressing in that case might mean jeans, brown dress shoes and a button down shirt.

  83. At one point, Amazon Lab 126 had something on their “careers” page along the lines of “Q: Should I wear a suit to the interview?” “A. You can if you like, but we won’t be impressed and we’ll probably mock you.” I thought Wow! An HR page written by a 17-year-old intern, how attractive. That particular page is not there anymore. But I suspect there was some truth to the sentiment.

  84. Milo– No argument. I don’t think the two things are that different. You have a lot more control over what class your kid is enrolled in because it’s due to paperwork. You can control whether or not you leave them unsupervised for a weekend. You can’t actually force your kid into a four year college, either. Depending on peer group they are likely to want to. (And you can make remaining at home an unappealing option to skew things in your favor.) I’m not against parents trying to sway kids in the directions they see fit. But sometimes it sounds like we think there aren’t limits, but along with the good of our kids becoming autonomous adults is that… well, they become autonomous in ways we don’t like too.

  85. I dunno, Milo, my mom could force me to do my math homework, but unless she kept me locked up she didn’t have a lot of control over my dating behavior, though God knows she made her opinions known.

  86. Milo,

    Have ever experience the intoxicating allure of not doing what you are told?

  87. It is really difficult to stop your kids from doing a lot of things unless you lock them up. My friends were good kids that went to a school that was supposed to be 1000s of nerds, but they still had sex, smoked pot, did drugs, got drunk, and got pregnant. So many of them would just lie to their parents, OR they did stuff before 6Pm when their parents got home. These were really smart kids that were smart enough to know how to deceive their parents too.

  88. “my mom could force me to do my math homework”

    You were sufficiently compliant, but a different kid with the same parent could not necessarily be forced. A close, good relationship with the parents is the single best tool for persuading a kid to do what you want IMO, but even that will not always do the trick. Sure, try to keep the kid in a good peer group, but that falls apart sometimes. In the end, a teen will usually do what they want, however wonderful or misguided that may turn out to be.

  89. Interesting talk on interview outfits. This article came across my fb feed. For the record I can’t see why her outfit, other than the holey tights, is club wear. http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/programmer-denied-job-clubbing/

    I’m like Finn. I dress better than the people interviewing me. I’ve worked in holey stained clothes. That’s my lab and field jobs’ uniform. I’d never interview in that outfit. I’d suggest suit and tie. He can always ditch the tie if uncomfortable.

  90. The suit and tie just seems to formal to me, but I’m no expert. I’m leaning toward a tie now. Really, I think it would be hard to ditch a tie. When? You are in the reception area and you see guys wearing jeans and t-shirts, would you try to discreetly remove your tie if you had time?

    That candidate did look like she dressed more for clubbing than for an interview. The heavy make-up doesn’t help, along with the lacy sweater.

  91. I disagree. You can’t actually make someone do homework, you can’t make them try hard enough on Algebra II to stay on the Calc track, you can’t make them take school seriously, you can’t make them attend college classes, you can’t even keep them from dropping out of high school.

  92. Rhode, I imagine it was the combination of several things. The makeup/outfit do not look like businesswear to me, although I recognize that the standards for college students looking for programming jobs are probably more casual than those for lawyers. But hole in tights adds in that note of “I couldn’t be bothered or didn’t care,” and together with late for interview (and “I called to let them know I was running late” does not excuse that) probably gave a bad impression of how she would be as a worker. The sad thing is that the recruiter was probably trying to help her out, give her a hint for future interviews, when she gave her that explanation instead of just saying “We’ve hired someone else” or something bland. And now the recruiter has placed the company in the middle of an internet debate and the young woman herself has probably scuttled her chances in future interviews, though she clearly doesn’t realize this.

  93. She was also likely the victim of sizeism that was only enhanced by her choice of attire.

  94. Coc – I’d go for the look Rhett posted. Another look is dress shirt, slim pants and a Patagonia vest. No tie.
    If possible go to a menswear store/section – tell them the situation and get their advice on outfits.
    I’ve noticed that candidates in general are dressing more casually. Also, interviews are taking place increasingly in coffee shops instead of conference rooms….so there’s that.

  95. I will add that if a male developer shows up to an interview in inappropriate clothing that will, in many cases, makes him seem more qualified… for a developer job. A women is unfairly held to a much different standard.

  96. For women, in my workplace the standard is still a skirt suit or a pant suit. Even younger women will buy one professional looking interview outfit and wear that to all interviews. If you land the second interview tweak your one outfit or buy another. Max of two outfits.
    I was an international student so my college had did a number of what to wear, how to behave – interview workshops that were quite helpful, including pictures of what not to wear.

  97. In my opinion, she failed to dress the part of “programmer for a company in CLEVELAND that does software for NURSING HOMES”. It’s hard for a programmer to make a fashion faux pas, but she managed to pull it off. She could have worn a standard blue interview suit, she could have worn a black turtleneck with jeans- she had a broad variety of choices of “not wrong”. Even without advice from L, with a little effort, I manage to stay off the “People of Walmart” page.

    To me, the way she dressed was like wearing stilettos to a chemical plant with grated floors.

    It isn’t clear to me whether anyone in this company, ever, has to test software/interface with customers in nursing homes.

  98. Late to the party. I agree with Tulip’s larger point of ‘you can bring a horse to water…’ and shaping of teen decisions

    Trust is built over time. I once said on here that I wouldn’t trust my hs grad here for a wknd alone. Not because of him and some girl possibly getting it on in every room in the house just because they could, but because of the real world likelihood that 100ish of his closest friends would descend on the house since there was no parental presence and all kinds of havoc would be wrought. Like many things, that stage is past and everything went great when the rest of us went away for ~ a week at a time twice.

    A girl sent (sexted) full length nude pics of herself to DS1 when they were in 8th grade.

    With DS3, a 15yo sophomore who long ago fell off the calculus track, there is a lot of parenting, cajoling and carroting (preferable to sticking) to make him see the light re: benefits of doing well in school. Honestly I think his older brothers who come at this from two completely different perspectives are a huge help in both the excellent and the lousy examples they set. He can see two completely different parental approaches and decide for himself which is more to his liking.

  99. I don’t know women’s clothing, but, to me, it didn’t look that bad–she reminds me a little of Abby on NCIS, who fits the quirky programmer nerd image. To the interviewers, she obviously looked unprofessional, and she has done an excellent job since then of confirming their suspicions.

  100. I’m like Finn. I dress better than the people interviewing me. I’ve worked in holey stained clothes. That’s my lab and field jobs’ uniform. I’d never interview in that outfit. I’d suggest suit and tie. He can always ditch the tie if uncomfortable.

    This. I wear scrubs to work but I sure as heck would never wear them to an interview.

  101. On the original topic, I have talked to my son (now 13) quite a bit about sex. He asks a lot of questions, and I answer him the best I can. Sometimes he gets a bit inappropriate asking my wife and I about our relationship, but I’m glad he feels comfortable asking.

  102. Agree that suit and tie is too much. It is fine to dress a step up from your interviewers, but not three steps up. DH hasn’t worn a tie or jacket to an interview for years, even in jobs he was customer facing. We are left coast, though….. In his most recent round of interviews, one company explicitly told him to wear casual clothes, I.e. Jeans. Another large company gave no guidance and he went with fancy button down and trendy slacks. He got offers from both.

    For entry level jobs, I think it is common to ask hr what is appropriate attire. I see no reason that a quick email would hurt anything. Or mom could call?

  103. “Or mom could call?”

    Noooo … Isn’t that they type of thing employers complain about? Although, if I could get away with not revealing myself I probably would. :)

    It’s interesting how opinions diverge considerably on what to wear for an interview. I’m sure it’s geography and industry specific. Anyway, the interview is today. So not much time to do much more than go with what he has, but I do think I may have made a little progress in convincing him to consider a wardrobe makeover. (The company got back to him within a few hours of receiving his resume. To me that’s a good sign. Either they want to move quickly, are decisive, and/or they really liked what they saw.)

  104. CoC – this may be too late. No tie!!!!! Blazer only. OR skinny tie (maybe plaid), no jacket, skinny-ish BR-type khakis or dress pants (Not the Milo Special) and fancier shoes with some color.

  105. Also, just looked at the woman’s outfit. Her skirt is too short and cardigan is off, should have been a blazer or more structured cardigan (no lace!). It may be that the “all-male developer team” didn’t want to wade into a land mine of “you can’t wear that to work” >> “how dare you tell me what to wear to work, SEXUAL HARASSMENT”, etc. Given her follow-up responses, they were probably right on with that suspicion.

    That said, the hiring people should NOT have told her it was her clothes – they should have said “poor cultural fit”, which would cover a multitude of reasons. OR nothing at all!

  106. FWIW, and sorry for the multiple posts, in law firms and banks around here (and probably most places) you MUST wear a suit to your interview. Some of the big banks/asset mgmt firms even require their female employees to wear skirt to work every day!

  107. I can see where people are coming from… I do agree that she’s made a mess of the situation and now won’t get interviews elsewhere. But it’s a good “be a cautionary tale” type of lesson for kids getting towards that age. If you don’t like what someone said about you, turn the other cheek and *do not* rant about it online.

    When I dress for work – which is more corporate casual than anything – I always ask myself “if I ran into the governor and had to give her my business card, would I be embarrassed by what I’m wearing.” The answer is pretty much always no. There was the one day when the building was empty and I wore jeans/converse with a long sweater to work… but the chances of running into anyone was very low.

  108. I disagree. You can’t actually make someone do homework, you can’t make them try hard enough on Algebra II to stay on the Calc track, you can’t make them take school seriously, you can’t make them attend college classes, you can’t even keep them from dropping out of high school.

    Oh, Milo, you never met my mother. She was the Hurricane Katrina of parents. A force of nature that you could not resist — you either went in the direction she wanted or you died crushed up against a streetlamp.

    (I do take your point for normal parents, though.)

  109. RMS – I understand. My mother is the same. However, she has mellowed with age….

  110. Rhett – women in my office routinely wear what Michelle Fisher is wearing in that photo.

    The times I’ve been to the Hill (in PVD and DC), or told I’d be meeting “a high ranking official”, I do step it up. If Governor Raimondo decided to visit my office today, I wouldn’t be embarrassed by what I’m wearing… it’s certainly not a polo – too cold for that.

    RMS – “you died crushed up against a streetlamp” I read this and laughed out loud. I read it again and laughed harder.

  111. Honolulu – my kids are just before this – this information I’m getting from friends with high school aged daughters and sons. Its always funny to see how women with only sons interpret the girls behavior as opposed to the mother with a daughter or a son.

    The guy with the polo – still they told him he would meet a senior staffer and he still chose a polo?

  112. Moxie,

    They told him he was going to the in the audience during a speech by a senior official.

  113. Lagirl, my DH and I attended the Vancouver Olympics. We got tickets to 2 events via the ticket lottery and we bought tickets to another event at the Olympic Village. We tent camped at a campground as the housing prices were horrendous and most places required a week rental and we only needed 3-4 days. Let me know what questions you have.

  114. Ada – I knew that, but I think some in our crowd may be slightly Sheldon-esque re sarcasm, especially before the first latte of the morning.

  115. Yes, the RMS line re crushed up against a streetlamp is brilliant and funny (though I know it wasn’t funny living that way).

    As is Fred’s “Sheldenesque about sarcasm.”

    Love the way ppl in this group express themselves.

  116. Re: you can’t even make then finish high school — a woman who married into the same clan as I did told me she had decided to drop out and smoke dope with her boyfriend every day. Her dad, a physically imposing gentleman, told her he had spoken to the principal and would be physically accompanying her to every class until she graduated. She relented and finished in her own, but I think he would argue that you can prevent them from dropping out. (She also has a college degree now)

  117. LAgirl, I’ve never been to an Olympics, but I have been to some events that are the pinnacles of their respective sports, i.e., World Series (and NLCS), Final Four, World Cycling Championships. Those events are very different from going to a regular season game, or any other race; because so much is at stake, the atmosphere is very electric, and the excitement is palpable.

    I encourage you to go for it.

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