You may have come across news related to “purity balls” in the media. If not, they basically entail a ceremony in which a young girl pledges her virginity to her father until she is married. To celebrate this pledge the girls attend a formal ball with their fathers and are often presented with some form of jewelry to symbolize their promise, like a wedding ring symbolizes marital vows.
I recently came upon an article which featured professional father-daughter photographs taken in formal wear to commemorate their attendance at their Purity Ball. The photography stated that it was his hope that the photographs would show people that this ritual is really a sign of these fathers’ deep love and care for their daughters. I couldn’t help but thinking that the fathers in these photographs looked eerily possessive, and for some the way they were posed looked inappropriately intimate. Of course that could be just me though.
I also have to wonder if girls would find this ritual so compelling if it didn’t include jewelry, pretty dresses, and a dance – basically a day feeling like a princess.
I take no issue with a parent encouraging their children to abstain from sexual activity until marriage if that is something they value. I take no issue with a young adult making the choice to delay sexual activity until marriage either.
There are several other things that I do take issue with and I find rather disturbing.
The first is that the majority of these girls are asked to make this pledge of abstinence until marriage while they are still minors. According to the law, a minor lacks the intellectual capacity and emotional maturity to consent to sexual activity. It therefore follows that they also lack the intellectual capacity and emotional maturity necessary to consent to abstain from sexual activity. It is illegal and abusive to ask a minor to consent to sex, therefore it is abusive to ask a minor to refuse to consent to sex.
I also find that the parental preoccupation with their child’s sex life at a time when it is nonexistent is somewhat bizarre. It’s causing these girls to give a great deal of thought to something they just cannot fully comprehend, and that aside from average age-appropriate curiosity, would otherwise not be on their mind to the same extent.
I do agree that sexual activity in minors should be discouraged, and prevented if and when it seems likely to occur. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with these girls. These appear to be very religious families, and it seems unlikely that these girls will be exposed to situations where they are likely to encounter sexual advances until the time that most teens do or later. It seems likely that they will be more sheltered from situations where sexual activity could occur than their average peers, so why is their such a need to extract this promise from them?
And even if you as a parent place a high value on remaining chaste until marriage, what are the risks associated with not doing so? If your child practices safe-sex with partners who treat her respectfully, and is not promiscuous, what harm does having pre-marital sex really cause? None. Most people do engage in pre-marital sex and the majority of society does not consider it a bad thing. There is no evidence that moderate, mutually respectful and safe pre-marital sex causes anyone any problems. I suppose these girls may have a problem marrying members of their specific religion if they are not “pure”, but there are plenty of religious men that would remain willing to marry them. I would guess there would be more men that do not view this as a problem than men that do.
And are their purity pledges and rituals for the boys as well? I haven’t done the research so I really can’t say. All I can say is that I haven’t come across anything in the news about it.
Lets also consider the concept of “purity”. I understand what these people think it means, because they choose to equate virginity with purity. However, there isn’t much anyone could do that would cause me to consider a person impure or somehow contaminated. Even psychopaths are simply severely mentally ill. These fathers are claiming they do this because of how much they love their daughters. What I hear them saying is: I do not love my daughter unconditionally. My love for my daughter is conditional. It’s not about what’s best for her and what she wants, its about whats best for me and what I want.
And what about what these religions really stand for? They are Christian religions and it’s not disputed that Jesus Christ died for forgiveness of sins, and suggested that we all avoid casting stones because we have all committed our own sins and made our own mistakes. Forgiveness and unconditional love should then go hand in hand. It’s my belief that asking a child to make and commit to an adult decision is a sin.