Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pure as the driven slush

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."

29 comments:

madcobug said...

I have not heard of this practice. I wouldn't want a daughter to go along with that since it involves the giving of a ring. The dad can protect his daughter without that kind of thing as best as he can as well as with it I would think. Helen

gen0507 said...

I agree totally about the double standard!!!!  Those little "whores" are someone's daughter!!!  As long as it's not your daughter it's okay......No it's NOT!!!  

I totally agree with abstinence, but we all must be realistic!  We have had the "talk" with our son.  We told him we had rather him wait until he's married, but if he's going to do it....be safe.  (& Mama doesn't wait to know about it)

This is a very touchy subject, but I think teenagers should wait.  Wait until you find the right one  ~ get married & then it will be very special!  

Hollie

easteeleco said...

I had not heard of these chastity or purity balls until your blog.. LOL.. of course, initially I'm thinking.. what? a ball (round thing) has replaced the rings?.... LMAO..
Anyway..  for families that want to believe they have a good "Christian" home, these promises are the big thing ( and while the balls may not include sons, the promise ring is made in a male style as well) .  In my slightly more practical home, I/we discuss that choosing to have sexual intercourse with someone is a very private decision, that the results of sex often is pregnancy and that EVEN WITH protection, pregnancy can occur. We also tell our son/daughters that each of them is responsible for their own birth control(i.e. "don't worry, I"m on the pill/using a condom" is not to be believed). We also discuss that sex can be very emotionally revealing and that the person they choose to have sex with the first time should be someone they believe they love and trust.  Thus far, they have all chosen to abstain (ages 20,17,& 15).    Estela

frankandmary said...

There is a reason sex feels good(to most of us). There is a drive to procreate. Many primate males have evolved means to bring about or encourage estrus in primate females. Does a purity ball help with this?  Should we do a field study? ~Mary

amy122389 said...

good gravy - that IS creepy.

~Amy

ggrant008 said...

I agree with the creepiness part and the boys too part!  When Miss G was just a little boy (with 4 brothers) he got pulled into the utility room with by his Daddy and told the facts of life.  "The simple fact," said Daddy G, "is that if you ever get some girl pregnant before you marry her,  it would kill your mother, and killing my wife would give me the right to beat the shit out of you.  So don't do it!"  My gentle Daddy never spoke like that,  and believe me,  none of us knocked up any "little whore" when we were boys.  We were scared to!

wwfbison said...

I watched something on tv about this some time ago and found it really creepy too.  There was just something really wierd about the people they had on that particular show representing these functions.  I SO strongly agree with you about teaching young girls self-worth and self confidence.  I cannot even stress how important this would be.  How awful for those young girls to test positive for std's.
Lisa

mpnaz58 said...

Creepy is right...I could not imagine either of my sons doing this with their daughters.  Yuck...just wrong!  
xoxo ~Myra

preciousone25 said...

I always thought that choosing to wear the purity ring was... cute.  I never once thought that it would help them abstain... I mean, that's one STRONG URGE, but if it helps them BELIEVE that it does, I high five those teens that live up to it.  They are the STRONG and determined ones.  I've never heard of a purity ball... Hmmm.... maybe if it was BOTH parents instead of just the father.... OR just make those promises in the privacy of your own home where it really MEANS something.

Joann

makemarc said...

The problem is that this psychology focuses on the chastity when the conversation needs to be about the sex. Girls who understand what they can expect from the experience if they do it one way (to please the boy) instead as an expression of true love and intimacy. are much less likely to try it.  Most of them are so afraid of even expressing curiousity about it to their parents that they they don't have that discussion, and a woeful proportion of them succumb to boy's repeated pleadings, creating exactly the scenario most feared by the parents if they'd "encouraged" her.  The girl with condoms in her purse is actually LESS likely to have sex than the girl without it. If you're confident enough to give consent, you're confident enough to withhold it.
Men/boys, always enjoy sex I'm afraid, the emotional connection is just a bonus. That's who the fathers need to be concentrating on. The moms need to talk with the daughters. Purity balls are SO icky, but the very idea of PURITY is medieval!  I may not think it likely that a girl practicing protected sex is likely to experience the sort of arousal she would when she's crazy in love, but the sex itself, if its completely consensual. is not inherently traumatic. It's the branding that does the damage.

nino0220 said...

What are those balls called when young women are introduced to "society". Sounds familiar. Thanks for coming by and introducing yourself. I really appreciate that.

buckoclown said...

We have discussed this, and I have nothing to add that has not already been said.  Yea Right.  Maybe Bristol should have gone to a Purity Ball :o)

chat2missie said...

I agree.  The talks should not only be with the daughters, but the sons also.
Missie

mjgm1954 said...

You are very wise for one so young. I would not tackle this issue for all the tea in china! lol
as the mother od 7 , six of them girls , I told my children the usual about diseases, unwanted pregnancies etc. All but one of the girls was listening.  my son is chaste at age 21. The youngest is 13 and it is a battle of monumental proportions to keep her from the influence of her peers. The 18 year old wears a promise ring and so does her fiance. She reasured me that she would wait but now she is out of my influence having gone to college.
The one who did not listen? she is the twin to my son. Right now she is "engaged" to a boy my family does not like. We all hope and pray they do not become pregnant. She will mess up chance to finish college and we do not want him to become an official member of our family. so sad.

slapinions said...

The ring is excessive, and yes, quite creepy. I generally don't subscribe to the abstinence route, simply because I spent so many years trying to 'unabstinence' myself in my teen years. However, I was taught abstinence and sex ed at the same time. I find nothing hypocritical in expecting the ideal and yet preparing for the worst.
As for why no guys at the ball. Well, it is probably a sexist practice. But I imagine it could be rationalized by saying that no boy would date outside the church and therefore the bases are covered. But come to think of it, I remember one movie that portrayed both males and females getting the rings (the movie about the woman with the vagina dentata, if you remember my stunning review).

:)

Dan

indigosunmoon said...

It is creepy, and in my opinion, just plain stupid.  I remember having this conversation with my older Sister when her son was 17 and dating.  I had gone to see her, and he was walking out the door for his date.  He hugged me and I told him to be careful and to have a good time.
When he left I casually asked said Sister if she had talked to him about safe sex. She went nutso on me.  She said "We have taught our children abstinance! You dont teach abstinance, and then teach safe sex! It's a double standard!"  I said "well, I certainly hope your right because AIDS is rampant and so are other sexually transmitted diseases, and I would hate to think that he would follow his hormones and not know about disease prevention and end up with something he can't get rid of!"
God she got so mad at me!  I ended up leaving right after that, and we never discussed it again.
I know for a fact that her son wasn't a virgin when he married, and neither was her daughter. The older son was a virgin I think, but he was VERY religous and wanted to be a preacher.  Luckily there were no unwanted pregnancies or diseases...
Connie

lv2trnscrb said...

never heard of a purity ball; I've seen abstinence work on more than one occasion and young men/women waited until they got married; but it takes a deep commitment and a deep faith and honoring of God; to those who do wait, I truly admire and respect them and know their lives will be blessed because of it; but for those who don't have a faith or belief in the God of the Bible, I can see why they don't think abstinence would/could work

interesting article and thoughts

betty

ziggy2315 said...

Gives me the creeps too. Reminds me too much of those young cult girls singing "My heart belongs to daddy". Incestuous is the right word for this. When I was a teen, there were rarely any unplanned pregnancies. We were too darned busy doing homework, doing chores around the house, out babysitting to earn spending money, belonging to groups and organizations and being involved in the community. Our parents, for the most part, were around the home. There just was no time to be out sleeping around. No idle time to take on an adult roll we were not old enough to understand. Kids these days have far too much free time on their hands, and too much unsupervised time. Failing all of that, birth control is readily available and more girls are getting pregnant than ever. And yes, it take two. The boys are just as much responsible as the girls.

Debutante balls --- those are the young girl's introduction into society...for the person that asked.

lisawesmalayna said...

I didn't know about Father-Daughter Purity ball, and I agree it is very creepy. I understand that we should care about our children, and educate them about the real world. With that being said I have child, who is a daughter, and I would never do this to her, or myself. I what to know, what kid wants to hear about their dad's porn, and why metion being faithful to your wife. When you love your spouse, isn't easy to be faithful. Thank goodness for simply talking to them,  and being honest. I feel that if we do this, and answer any question asked. Maybe she will seek my advice before any damage is done. I know a kid will do what they want, or think they need. Realisticly, I have no worries at this point in time, for she is only 17 months old.


Thanks,

Wes

sybilsybil45 said...

Here here is what I would add to your writings today....great as usual...I had heard of these Purity Balls...but hadn't realised that the  Fathers were involved...creepy...it is I think..probably the same people who I call bible bashers..certainly not Christians...now that would put the cat amongs the pidgeons if I were to stand out and say that in some areas !!!...Another wet and windy morning here...yuck...  Love  Sybil xx  Listened to the Palin speach last night (at3am !!)  stear clear I would say...

http://journals.aol.co.uk/sybilsybil45/villagelife/

eml625 said...

What kids need today is a father like I had ! I was to afraid my dad would find out and I would suffer the consequences !!!!  That was the Purity Balls of the 70's ....fear of my Italian father .
I do thinks it's a bit creepy that they are having these cerimonies to stay pure.
I think a signed contract might work well.
Be well,
Ellen

fisherkristina said...

Okay, my opinion.  Purity balls, my gut instinct - creepy.  If a girl chooses to put a "chastity till marriage" ring on her finger I say great!  If she wants to talk to her parents about sex and the trials she is having with abstaining, all the more great!  But balls do seem creepy - almost incestuous as you say.  Not sure why, just the feeling I get...  

Now, as far as abstinence only in schools, churches, etc, I'm all for it.  How can we say it doesn't work when we haven't really tried it?  What school do you know that REALLY practices abstinence only?  And if you found one (am I nuts, do they exist?, I have never found one) are not the kids inundated by sexual messages anyway, barely giving them a chance to resist sex?  To say they have been given a message of abstinence is not true.  They are being bombarded from every direction with messages that it is okay to participate in sexual acts - from adults who give them condoms and "safe sex" talks, from TV shows and ads, from movies, from their friends, etc.  

Now you know I don't believe in sex before marriage.  For the health of those involved and for moral reasons.  And for protection of the woman and her children she might produce.  If she produces children out of wedlock, the children perhaps won't be provided with everything they need and deserve - their father has an easy way out - he can merely walk away.  It is such a raw deal for the woman and her child(ren).  So you may just say - she can abort then.  I say - don't kill your child before it even has a chance to take it's first breath.  Okay, 'nuff said.

Krissy :)
http://journals.aol.com/fisherkristina/SometimesIThink        

aimer said...

I think that I read the exact same article in Time. I also watched something on one of the news show--Dateline or 20/20 about purity balls. All of the focus is on the girls; I gues that it's okay for the boys to be impure. The whole concept reminds of the middle ages when knights going off to war would lock their wives into chastity belts and take the key with them. I wonder what happened if he got killed. Perhaps, the profession of locksmith evolved out of the middle ages.

The real problem with "abstinence only" is that it's not about teaching a philisophical concept about when to choose to be sexually active, it's about refusing to provide sexually curious young people with factual information about human sexuality, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases. Budding sexual desire mixed with ignorance is a really bad combination.--Sheria

helmswondermom said...

I've never heard of those balls, but from your description I'd say "creepy" is a good word to use.  VERY creepy!
Lori

solace223 said...

I hadn't heard of that until now.  It does seem a little creepy.  Kind of I own you till you're married and your vagina too!  ;)  I've never been a fan of the "giving" away of the bride by the father.  That's probably more to do with having a crappy dad than anything.  I only know one person who has stuck to the whole no sex before marriage thing and it happens to be a guy.  He gets a LOT of flack for his decision in good fun but I try to tell him that it's a good thing and we're just messing with him so he doesn't become too insecure with his decision.  I LOVED the comment "But YOU, you little whore, get back in the house!"  LMAO
Jamie

lurkynat said...

dear Beth, hummmm!
I didn't know about this!
thank you!
interesting
natalie

queeniemart said...

Honest to Pete, i thought a purity ball was something a virgin sat on to keep boys from touching their vaginas. WTH do i know.

Incestuous is a good word...i agree. My dad and i would have to have a few drinks and then make some absurd joke out of a situation where i get all dressed up for HIM to give me a ring promising to NOT boink Bobby Jo behind the local roller rink. Give me a break.

i BELIEVE that if a parent keeps an HONEST and OPEN attitude with their preteens and lets their child know they WILL LISTEN (listening to your kids is damn hard...i mean, REAL listening and not interrupting or assuming) and not fly off the handle, they have a fighting chance to know where the kid is on drugs, sex, lying, alcohol, etc.
XOXOXO

markonit said...

... I recall hearing about this cermony somewhere ... immediately I thought back to the incestous relationships of off the path communities like the Mormon offshoot that was recently in the headlines ...

... this, is no different ...

... not to put a 'color' on it, but there was a brief time where single AA mothers were 'committing' to their sons almost in place of an adult partner ... and these chastiy balls strike me as damaging ...

oedipus and electra ... will someone please send these folk to a psych 101 course ..?

dbp2000 said...

okay ... I am new reading your journal and I can see that my conservative viewpoint may not be the norm here.  LOL  I had not heard of Chastity Balls but when my son was a teenager he CHOSE to take a Purity Pledge at our church.  I was proud of him and all the other teens that WANTED to remain pure until marriage.  It was a noble goal and, by no means did this take the place of full sexual education in our home. If people were a little more inclined to foster the abstinence only attitude, it might do a lot for changing the mentality that "everybody is doing it" and perhaps we would have a few less unwanted pregnancies. Nothing foolhardy there.  Peer pressure is so strong, why not encourage a new attitude toward abstinence?

Donna