I first heard about Purity Balls when Huffington Post wrote an article on David Magnusson’s photography book on the same topic. I was completely grossed out. It made me feel like I needed a shower and a stomach pump. Fathers declaring ownership of their daughters’ vaginas, and having a party to celebrate their forbidding of their daughter to develop sexually on her own terms — and their daughter’s promise to only wear frumpy “modest” clothing so as to never wickedly cause a man to think impure thoughts… Gross, man. Weird.
I recently found myself stuck in a conversation about purity balls with a couple of evangelical Christians (who, in a related and equally disgusting coincidence, just happen to be huge fans of the Duggar cult. You know, the family with the mom that shoots out babies like a Pez dispenser, and the dad that doesn’t allow his daughters to move out of their compound until they’re married off to a husband he selects for them — those freaks) and they seemed to think that purity balls were the epitome of good parenting. I had to leave that conversation fast before I ended up stabbing my eyes out.
What’s so bad about purity balls?
What’s so wrong with wanting to protect your daughter from the dangers of sex?
Well, nothing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to protect your daughter from all the negatives that can come along with having sex too early — but that’s not what these purity freaks are doing. They’re not teaching their daughter’s to have a healthy attitude toward sex — What they are doing is treating them like sex objects.
Wait, making sure your daughter is a modestly dressed virgin is not objectifying her. Letting her wear sexy clothes would be objectifying her, right?
Wrong. The parent that allows their daughter to choose her own clothes based on her personal style are the ones teaching her that she’s not just a man’s future sexhole — she calls the shots and is in control of her own life.
Now, I realize that there is a line sometimes, I’m not saying to teach your daughter that looking tacky conveys power, the point is allowing her to make her own decisions. So if she wants to wear short shorts or a tube top, who cares? Its for her to decide what she likes — and she does not deserve to be made to feel like her body is something to be ashamed of, or that it is ok for men (or anyone else) to judge her appearance as sexy or not sexy.
Especially considering she’s just a kid. I don’t know about you, but I would never tell my 12 year old that she looks too sexy. She’s 12. Never would I ever tell her that men might find her 12 year old body sexy. That’s fucked up.
When you tell your daughter that she is not allowed to wear something because its not “modest”, what you’re doing is sending the message that her body is an object meant first and foremost to pleasure a man. Furthermore, you’re teaching her that its her fault if a boy gets the wrong idea about her based on her appearance. Boys need to be taught to respect girls no matter what, not that their respect is dependent on the girl’s outfit — and girls need to be taught that they do not deserve to be mistreated because of their appearance. Nor should they expect to be mistreated based on appearance.
Teaching your daughter that her worth is based in any way on what she wears is exactly what objectification is.
Even worse, you, the parent, are sexualizing your daughter. Why tell a 10 year old that it would be inappropriate for her to wear a short dress? What is inappropriate about a 10 year old showing her legs? She’s a little kid, not a sex object. Let her wear whatever she wants, you creep.
If I may bring up the Duggars again, I saw an episode recently (I hate watch it. So what?)where the dead-eyed robot-looking mom was talking about how she dresses even her four year old daughter modestly. A four year old! You should NEVER even think for a split second that it’s possible for a four year old to be sexually appealing. I would never in a BILLION years consider modesty when picking out clothes for a four year old. But then again, I’m not super-Christian so I can be rational.
Ok, but what’s so bad about pledging to stay a virgin?
In short: everything.
There is nothing good about forcing your daughter to pledge to keep her virginity.
A girl’s value as a human being has absolutely nothing to do with her vagina and what she does with it. And if you think it does, guess what? You’re objectifying her. You’re assigning her worth based on how desirable she would be to a future Bible-thumping suitor that shares your same primitive, patriarchal and misogynistic views of women.
What kind of freaking message is that to send to your daughter? Why would you ever want her to think that she’s less valuable if she decides she wants to have sex before marriage?
And the people that have their daughters refrain from even kissing before marriage are truly evil. You want your daughter to go from first kiss to first sex all in the same night? Was it not traumatizing enough that you forced her to refer to her dad as her boyfriend and an invisible sky-god as her husband her entire life until now?
Why do the Purity Ball freaks do it?
According to PurityBall.com (yes, that’s a real thing) their purpose statement is:
The Father-Daughter Purity Ball is a Christ-centered evening that encourages biblical values and strengthens the bond between fathers and daughters.
The evening will educate, entertain, and motivate the attendees, giving them the tools to commit to a pure life.
Well, they certainly do encourage Biblical values. The Bible is rife with instructions for women to be in subjection to their father or husband as their master, because as a woman you are not an independent person in charge of your own destiny, you are a man’s possession. And that’s just good old-fashioned values, folks!
Anyway, the Bible is a book written thousands of years ago by a bunch of assholes in the desert that thought forcing a woman marry her rapist was a great solution. I really don’t think anyone should be taking parenting advice from those guys.
So stop letting people think it’s ok to treat their daughter’s this way. It’s just plain abusive. We need to be teaching young girls to be self-assured, confidant and smart badasses — not weak, submissive victims that are nothing more than a man’s chattel.
Did I just tell you to tell people how to raise their kids? I did. And I’m ok with that. Next time you see a parent teaching their daughter to feel shame for her body, go right ahead and tell them I said that they’re a psychologically abusive asshole that needs to stop treating their daughter like a sex worker.
This has been a guest post by Jenny Del Toro. Jenny Del Toro is an Atheist mom and a jerk blogger at CrunchyChristianMommy.com.Follow her at @crunchyblogging. If you would like to be a guest blogger on godlessmom.com, click here.