Thuy Linh’s inadvertent lesson

October 28, 2007

Thuy Linh’s inadvertent lesson


Issue date: 10/24/07 Section: Opinion

  • Page 1 of 1

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As a result of this video, and the media rampage that has ensued, the TV show, “Vang Anh’s Diaries,” has been cancelled. As is relatively common with BBC stories, there is a reader’s forum, where individuals can voice their opinion of the story.

One reader drew comparisons of the plight of the star of the show, Hoang Thuy Linh, to that of Paris Hilton. Others merely expressed sympathy for the star, arguing what she does with her boyfriend isn’t particularly anyone else’s business.

At a minimum, most people seem to agree that the show shouldn’t have been canceled. The show, which was about teenagers, was enormously popular with younger viewers as well as their parents. Even before the show was canceled, parents refused to allow their younger children to watch anymore, given Thuy Linh’s unacceptable behavior off camera.

As I was reading the article, I was struck by how commonplace this seemed to be in my American mind set, but how shocking it was in Vietnam. From Bill Clinton to Paris Hilton’s infamous videotape, to me it’s refreshing that a big scandal would revolve around someone being intimate with
their own partner. The video was a five-minute clip posted from a cell phone. If a cell phone was the best someone could do, Thuy Linh and her boyfriend were probably discreet about it.

The other big factor for Vietnam is that it’s a conservative society, and although the BBC reports that it’s not all that uncommon for teenagers to engage in sexual activity, it’s still undoubtedly taboo, and any involved teenagers would thus have to be extra hush hush about their extracurricular activities.

The assumption that teenagers don’t have sex seems to be a common one. It’s even quite common in the U.S., where abstinence-only education is encouraged because clearly, if you just tell teenagers that they shouldn’t have sex, and provide them with no information about how to do it safely just in case, they’ll just sit on their hands and wait until they’re married.

I mean, I for one know that this was the case in my high school. No one ever had sex, because heck, it’s immoral. All the pregnant high school students? Immaculate conception, my friend. Maybe it’s my cynicism, but it seems that people are going to be inclined to have sex if they feel like it, regardless of what their parents, teachers and even
religion say.

And if that is the case, aren’t we doing society a disservice by keeping these youths in the dark and refusing to give them information that could help them make more informed decisions? A tried and true argument is that if people don’t want a baby, they shouldn’t have sex. But if they’re not being adequately informed about things, is it fair to assume that they’ll be able to foresee all the consequences?

Access to birth control would at least give them the opportunity to practice a little responsibility in light of the fact that teenage pregnancy and STD rates demonstrate that regardless of whether they’re told not to,teenagers who want to have sex are probably going to. Maybe the Vietnamese scandal will spark some constructive debate around the world about perceptions of teenagers and their “activities.” The world needs a discussion like that right about now.

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