Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Purity Belongs to Daddy

Over the past few days, the feminist blogosphere has called out Time Magazine on its fawning coverage of the abstinence movement’s “purity balls.” Nancy Gibbs’ article discusses the Father-Daughter Purity Ball, an event in which girls ranging in ages from four to late teens pledge their virginity to their fathers. That’s right - an entire ceremony dedicated to controlling girls’ sexuality, with plenty of creepy patriarchal overtones. One would think that reasonable people would shudder at the creepy thought of four years olds pledging to stay “pure” until marriage; apparently these dads think their preschooler’s virginity needs to be “protected”-- before they can even tie their shoes or use a cup without a lid.
The purpose of the event is explained by purity ball founder Randy Wilson, who wrote a pledge for fathers to make, promising “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the areas of purity.” The demure-sounding “areas of purity” message is very simple—Daddy owns his daughter’s sexuality until she marries, at which point her husband takes over.
Purity balls make it clear that girls’ self-worth and value in the eyes of other people – particularly men - depends on their sexuality. Or rather lack of sexuality.
Purity balls also include dinner, dancing, and a ceremony in which fathers and daughters kneel under crossed swords and offer a “purity blessing.”
If fathers really want to be positive influences, they should lobby against abstinence-only sex education, which has repeatedly shown that it doesn’t quite do the job of keeping teenagers chaste. It’s clear: abstinence-only education harms young people more than it protects them. Conversely, comprehensive sex education would protect these girls—protect them from making uninformed and unsafe choices about sex . Fathers need to work to ensure a positive environment for their daughters in which girls are educated, respected, and allowed to make smart, informed decisions for themselves.
These “Purity Balls” are just another way to glamorously lie to young women and girls.

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