In Australia at the moment, there's a bit of a brouhaha going on in politics (it's pretty much over, I'm a bit slow on the uptake) - in short, the leader of the opposition and former Catholic seminarian, Tony Abbott, was interviewed by a women's magazine. Tony Abbott has daughters, and said that he wants them to remain virgins until marriage. I'm not entirely sure whether he said all women should regard their virginity as a gift, or whether it has just been misconstrued and blown out of proportion by the media. It's likely the latter. For more details, have a look here.
Here's my point of view, as a teenaged girl:
I think whilst Tony Abbott is entitled to his opinion in regards to his own daughters, I don't think it's an appropriate topic for politicians to be interviewed on. I'd really rather not know about Tony Abbott's personal views on the value of female virginity.
I think it's wrong to have differing standards for boys and girls - after all, if the girls all remain virgins until marriage, who are the boys going to have sex with? So if we're going to regard female virginity as a gift, we should regard male virginity as a gift too, shouldn't we?
There shouldn't be blanket expectations when it comes to teenagers and sex - you can't say all teenagers should become sexually active at eighteen, or all teenagers should abstain from sex until marriage.
For one thing, people mature at different rates. Teenagers are physically mature enough to reproduce a lot earlier than they are mentally or emotionally mature enough for a sexual relationship. That said, someone might be ready for a sexual relationship at sixteen, or they might be at nineteen. If sex is legal, consensual, and there's mutual respect, I really don't see the issue. If sex occurs when either or both parties are drunk, pressured by friends or the other person or otherwise reluctant, then it's probably a bad idea.
I don't see marriage or engagement as being necessary. I respect that some people have that belief, and I think they shouldn't be put down for that. A committed relationship is probably a good idea, but everyone has differing standards.
It's the job of the parents - not schools, not politicians, not friends, not the media - to instill in their children a sense of self-respect and their own moral standards.
In my mind, people regarding their virginity as a 'gift' (I'm reluctant to use that term, but that's what Tony Abbott called it) has a whole lot less to do with deliberately abstaining because your parents want you to, and a whole lot more to do with having the self-respect and self-esteem not to rush into something because you want to be liked, or loved, or feel pressured to, or because everyone else is doing it. A good parent isn't one who says, 'You must remain a virgin until marriage' but one who raises you to love yourself, and to only do things which you are comfortable with and want to do. I think that if a young person decides to remain a virgin until marriage, that should be their decision, not someone else's.
Sex - especially first sexual experiences as a teenager, because when you're young you're especially emotionally vulnerable - should be on your terms (and of course that of the other person. Or that of the other people). If you're sixteen or eighteen or thirty-five. If you're waiting until marriage or you're in a committed relationship. As I said earlier - and you may have differing standards, but this is my idea - if it's legal, consensual and there's mutual respect (and contraception), I don't see the issue. Everyone is different, okay? Don't listen to the rubbish people speak about virginity, have your own beliefs and standards.
What do you think?