I saw a joke about a father’s rules for dating his daughter. Like all such jokes, the father is protective at best, proprietorial at worst.

Tony AbbottOn the same day, I read that the newly-elected Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, has given an interview to Women’s Weekly magazine. He was cast in the role of Family Man (husband, father) and was asked (why?) for his thoughts on pre-marital sex. His much-quoted response:

I would say to my daughters, if they were to ask me this question, I would say … it is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don’t give it to someone lightly, that is what I would say.

Mr Abbott’s daughters are in their late teens and early 20s. Two things are widely known about Tony Abbott’s life when he was that age.

  1. He originally studied for the priesthood.
  2. When Mr Abbott was 19, his girlfriend became pregnant and bore a son. Until 2004, Abbott believed that he was the father of the child.

Two comments:

  1. Mr Abbott is a politician, not a priest. Australia does not need its politicians to act as pseudo-priests, dishing out views on sex. (Actually, it doesn’t need priests dishing out views on sex, either, but that’s for another day.)
  2. Why is it that middle-aged fathers want for their daughters what they did not, at a younger age, want from their girlfriends? Why do middle-aged fathers condemn their daughters’ boyfriends for acting exactly as they themselves once acted? And why are there no jokes in which middle-aged fathers set out rules for dating their sons?