With all the hubbub (Bub) about the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter, the words are flying fast and furious on the networks and in Blogtropolis. In a recent comment on Marc's journal, I mentioned what I see as the foolhardiness of an "abstinence only" approach in the schools, and wondered if he's heard about these "purity balls" that are all over the place now. Our pal Sheria has heard of them, and has the same reaction as I do: CREEPY.
There was an article in Time about this a while back, and that's where I first heard of them. If you haven't heard about this odd phenomenon, fathers and father figures escort their daughters, some as young as 4-years-old, to these Father-Daughter Purity Balls, in which they pledge to protect them as they become young women...including their virginity. These are formal affairs, with dancing and the exchange of vows, and often "purity rings." In the ceremony that takes place, the girls vow to their fathers that they will remain pure until marriage, the fathers vow that they will practice fidelity, shun pornography, and help their daughters navigate through a "culture of chaos."
Theoretically, this isn't a bad thing. As a daughter myself, I can tell you that I have always felt that my Dad was my protector and my advocate, and we've always had a close relationship. But I will tell you that my impression of the extensive symbolism, including the giving of a ring, strikes me as...okay, I'll say it: incestuous. I'm not implying by any means that that is what is going on, but the exchange of vows in a wedding-like setting just gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Being open, honest, and willing to discuss issues is laudable; the exchange of vows and the giving of a ring seems a little excessive. That's what you do when you get married.
The bigger issue to me is "abstinence only" education. I would have thought that everyone would have figured out something about it by now: it doesn't work! If kids are encouraged to make that choice, and do so, good for them. But the fact is that the majority of those who pledge abstinence will end up having sex before marriage, and are less likely to be prepared to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence only education conveniently forgets those pesky hormones. I would much rather see education about self-worth and self-confidence, along with plenty of information on how to prevent pregnancy and STD's. We used to see 12 and 13-year-old girls come through the lab: pregnant, and testing positive for both Chlamydia and gonorrhea. How is our society failing these young women in such a tragic way?
I have one more question about these purity balls. Why is most of the focus on the girls? Shouldn't these fathers be having the exact same discussion with their sons? Isn't this the same double standard that we've been dealing with for centuries? It's okay for the guys--in fact, good job! <wink wink> But YOU, you little whore, get back in the house!
You know, if chastity is a vow that a boy or a girl wants to make, I'm all for it. It just seems to me that it's a little...unrealistic. I just hope that they get more education about sexuality than "Just say no."