No hope for privacy now

13th November 1998 at 00:00
I THOUGHT that Government ministers had finally started setting an example.

Hooray for Ron Davies, I cried. At last someone in the public eye who - for whatever reason - is not willing to discuss his sex life with a BBC reporter. And then what happens? Nick Brown, the little-known Minister for Ambridge, pops up on TV and admits he's gay.

What kind of effect is all this openness having on our children? They already see far too much daytime TV with its conveyor belt of ordinary folk frankly revealing their sex lives to voracious women like Oprah, Esther and Vanessa. Any child who has more than a few days off school emerges from her sick bed convinced that we save our virginity only for the cameras.

And school is oppressively liberal too. Ever since a group of boys accused my 12-year-old of being a "lezzy" just because she didn't want to go out with their friend, Sarah has felt under pressure to let it be known she does fancy the opposite sex. She fell upon Ron Davies like the proverbial ton. "If he won't talk about it he must be a pervy," my daughter sagely told the TV set.

But whatever has happened to good old-fashioned inhibition? When I was Sarah's age the only discussion that my dad and I had about homosexuality consisted of his telling me that if I was ever worried about anything I could always talk to him. And my saying that I would. And both of us feeling very relieved that the subject would never be mentioned again.

Today's fathers suffer at the hands of a teaching profession that seems to believe that openness and empowerment is vital if we are ever going to have a healthy attitude to sex. My own view is that very little is gained by empowering 12-year-olds to ask their fathers "Have you ever kissed a pervy, dad?" Because when people like me try to strike a blow for privacy we just sound as if we're not man enough to deny the accusation. In our 1960s crusade against prudery we chopped down all the trees behind which our parents hid. But in doing so we dealt a mortal axe-blow to privacy too.

My refusal to answer Sarah's question was not recognised as one small stand for individual human rights. "Wow, dad's a pervy too," Sarah told her sister.

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