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Abbott: beware of virgins bearing gifts

27 January, 2010

It has often been reported that Tony Abbott has a “problem with women”. Whether this is true or not, some women definitely have a problem with him. Now Abbott has made comments to the Woman’s Weekly on sex and virginity. He has said that women should regard their virginity as “a gift”, and that “gift” should not be given away lightly. He believes both sexes should avoid the temptation of sex and follow “the rules”. If one is unable to abide by “the rules”, Abbott has made the concession that contraception should be used. Perhaps it was his experience with Vatican roulette that allowed him to ignore the rules. More likely it was an endeavour not to alienate the majority of Australians who would advocate the use of contraception to avoid pregnancy or STI.

To be fair, Abbott went out of his way to point out that this was advice to his daughters, not to the “world at large”. And further:

“I was trying to honestly answer a series of questions and as the parent of teenage kids I wrestle with these things, I think all parents do. The last thing [I] would want to do is impose my views on the wider world. But in my position I think I’ve got to be honest and upfront about what my views are.

While many may applaud Abbott for his so called honesty, his recent comments are more likely to be a strategic move to gain the support of a certain lobby group. He believes this group may be important to the Liberal Party being returned to government. The following is from the postscript in the book that Abbott has been regularly spruiking, Battlelines:

…it was enough to make me the ‘Captain Catholic’ of Australian politics.

Like the other tags that have been applied to me over the years, such as ‘arch-monarchist’ and ‘Howard’s head kicker’, this one could lose currency as circumstances change. In the meantime, it might not hurt to have another senior coalition frontbencher taking Christian concerns seriously. Kevin Rudd certainly thought that a Christian vote mattered, as his first essay for The Monthly claiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer as his role model demonstrated. Electorates with a comparatively high number of church-going Christians recorded stronger-than-average swings to Labor in 2007. If the Australian Christian Lobby is right, these voters could swing back to the coalition as the Labor Party’s secular humanist instincts reassert themselves over, for instance, foreign aid for third-world abortions. Christian voters are likely to find Rudd’s ‘I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t stop it’ on this particular issue lame. As well, given some Liberals’ uncertainties about the party’s direction, it’s good that there are still senior frontbenchers who might be thought of as keepers of the conservative conscience.

[My bold]

If Abbott had only wanted to pass on some fatherly advice to his daughters, surely he could have found a more private forum. No doubt his daughters may have appreciated it. So rather than these latest comments being a “I was just being Honest Tony”, it is more likely to be a calculated political move. After all, he does believe the Liberal Party can win the next election (in the introduction of Battlelines) so it is unlikely he would be stupid enough to do or say anything he thought might jeopardise his or the Liberal’s chances.

Like a policy on climate change before parliament resumes next week…

Update.

George Brandis comments on Julia Gillard’s comment: Gillard doesn’t get virginity because she doesn’t have kids (daughters one would presume).

The Bishop chimes in.

Elsewhere.

New Matilda: Abbott pushes the conservative cultural climate further to the right.

Larvatus Prodeo: Save $6.80. Read the other things Tony said here.

First Dog on the Moon: Like a virgin.

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