January 29, 2010


Pure cynicism: Horrors! The next prime minister of Australia might be a man who advocates virginity for young people. (Carolyn Moynihan, 29 January 2010, MercatorNet)

The nicest thing any pundit had to say about Tony Abbott, newly elected leader of the opposition (conservative) Liberal Party, was that he was too honest for his own good.

And all because, when asked during an interview with the Women’s Weekly what advice he would give his three daughters on sex before marriage, he said: “I would say to my daughters, if they were to ask me this question… it is the greatest gift you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving, and don’t give it to someone lightly.”

Okay. Every politician knows that it is death by media frenzy to voice an opinion on a moral issue. Especially if the politico is a man; especially if the issue is sex; especially if, as Abbott freely acknowledges, he has not always lived up to his own standard; and most especially if he happens, like Abbott, to be a practising Catholic. Because we all know, don’t we, that Catholics are the most benighted as well as the most pontificating and hypocritical of people on the subject of sex, if nothing else.

But this is an old script for Abbott, and his opponents. So he probably was not the least bit surprised to hear the current Prime Minister’s Deputy, Julia Gillard, warning darkly that his carefully chosen words confirmed “the worst fears of Australian women” about the would-be PM as some kind of dictator who would impose his own values on them. Nor to hear feminists preaching about double standards (because he spoke only of his daughters, though he has no sons) and “commodifying” women (something to do with speaking of virginity as a “gift” for a future spouse); nor sex education panjandrums insisting that his views on pre-marital sex were hopelessly out of date.

What is surprising is the vehemence with which Abbott’s critics reject sexual purity, not only as a practical goal in today’s circumstances but as an ideal. Their cynicism is born of minds not only closed against the idea that it is good for young people to refrain from sexual relationships and activity, but locked and bolted.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 29, 2010 7:17 AM
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