As you know, I’ve written many times about purity balls, and how decidedly creepy they are. There’s just something horribly wrong about asking your daughter to pledge her virginity to you until she marries someone. It’s creepy, and incestuous, and completely destructive to the idea that women are actual people with actual feelings about the world.
Purity balls are creepy, but most liberal defenders of them usually ask, “But what’s the real problem? I mean, you’re just asking your daughter to not have sex. What’s wrong with that?”
Well, what’s wrong with that is what not having sex leads to. No, not not having babies – although that’s a perfectly good reason for a woman to choose not to have sex, if that’s what she wants. No, the purity ball, pledge-yourself-to-daddy movement has as its ultimate goal that women should pledge themselves to daddy. Period.
That’s the report from Bitch‘s Gina McGalliard, who digs into the “stay-at-home daughters movement,” a movement that sees purity balls’ creep factor and then goes all-in, saying that it’s not enough for a daughter merely to forgo sex; she also must give up all trappings of an independent life. From birth to marriage, she is her father’s; from marriage to death she is her husband’s. Anything else is an affront to God.
“Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.'”
There’s a lot of talk in American mainstream media lately about the diminishing role of men – fathers, in particular. Have feminism and reproductive technology made them obsolete? Are breadwinning wives and career-oriented mothers emasculating them?
No such uncertainty exists in the mind of Doug Phillips, the man quoted above. The San Antonio minister is the founder of Vision Forum, a beachhead for what’s known as the Christian Patriarchy Movement, a branch of evangelical Christianity that takes beliefs about men as leaders and women as homemakers to anachronistic extremes. Vision Forum Ministries is, according to its Statements of Doctrine, “committed to affirming the historic faith of Biblical Christianity,” with special attention to the historical faith found in the book of Genesis, when God created Eve as a “helper” to Adam. According to Christian Patriarchy, marriage bonds man (the symbol of Christ) to woman (the symbol of the Church). It’s a model that situates husbands and fathers in a position of absolute power: If a woman disobeys her “master,” whether father or husband, she’s defying God. Thus, women in the Christian Patriarchy Movement aren’t just stay-at-home mothers – they’re stay-at-home daughters as well. And many of them wouldn’t have it any other way.
Of course, if they would have it any other way, they’d have to shut up about it. After all, in the stay-at-home daughters movement, there is no other way. There is daddy’s way, or there is Satan’s way.
Integral to Vision Forum’s belief about female submission is making sure women are not independent at any point in their lives, regardless of age; hence the organization’s enthusiasm for stay-at-home daughterhood. The most visible proponents of this belief are Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, sisters and authors of the book So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God (published by Vision Forum), and creators of the documentary film Return of the Daughters, which follows several young women staying home until marriage, and details how they spend their time serving their fathers. One woman, Melissa Keen, 25, helps put on Vision Forum’s annual Father-Daughter Retreat, an event that’s described on Vision Forum’s website in terms that are, in a word, discomfiting. (“He leads her, woos her, and wins her with a tenderness and affection unique to the bonds of father and daughter.”) Another, 23-year-old Katie Valenti, enthuses that her father “is the greatest man in my life. I believe that helping my father in his business is a better use of my youth and is helping prepare me to be a better helpmeet for my future husband, rather than indulging in selfishness and pursuing my own success and selfish ambitions.” (A video of Valenti’s 2009 wedding to Phillip Bradrick shows her father announcing into a microphone that he is “transferring my authority to you, Phillip.”)
You see, women have to be protected from the outside world. If they’re allowed to go off to college, they might, you know, learn that there’s a possibility for women to have their own goals, their own desires, and their own lives.
The number of these blogs and their followers may be surprising to mainstream women, who would likely find the tenets the bloggers live by disturbingly retrograde, if not just plain disturbing. For instance, stay-at-home daughterhood means, among other things, subsuming one’s own identity into the family unit. The Botkin sisters write in So Much More that loving your parents means agreeing with all their opinions. “When your parents have your heart you will truly ‘delight in their ways,'” write the sisters in one blog post. “You will love what they love, hate what they hate, and desire their approval and company and even ‘think thoughts after them.'”
The Botkin sisters aim to validate living a life of confinement with staunch, if unfounded, opinions and beliefs regarding college. “College campuses have become dangerous places of anxiety, wasted years, mental defilement and moral derangement,” they write. Although neither of the sisters has attended college, they also claim universities are hotbeds of Marxism that forbid a free exchange of ideas and seek to indoctrinate students in leftist thinking. Elsewhere, they quote a document from the pro-patriarchy website Fathers for Life that states that the “prime purposes of feminism are to establish a lesbian-socialist republic and to dismantle the family unit,” echoing Pat Robertson’s notorious statement that feminism is a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”
The read the whole thing quotient on this article is high, and indeed, it’s important that you do so. The sad fact is that the stay-at-home daughters movement is, in its own bizarre way, truly about recreating a vision of femininity that dominated the west for most of its history, and dominates far too many places on Earth yet today. It is, quite simply, a vision of women as chattel, as objects, as things that belong to their fathers, until they’re dealt to someone who can breed them for boys, and for more chattel to be sold. What these women want is as irrelevant as what a toaster wants; their role is to serve the men who they belong to, full stop. And their own desires matter not a whit.
This is why the purity balls have always discomfited me. Because when you say your sexuality belongs to your father, until it belongs to your husband – well, then it never belongs to you. If a stay-at-home daughter marries a man who wants sex constantly from her, she must submit to him. If she dislikes it, she is defying God Himself. There is no such thing as marital rape in a purity ball world; just women submitting meekly to their husbands, and to nobody else, lest they destroy their resale value.
That is the vision of the world that the truly retrograde embrace, and the vision of the world that those who pine for the “good old days” are pining for. That it is horrific to all by the fringe right – for now – is one of the great gifts of feminism. Thank goodness my daughter will grow up to think her own thoughts, make her own decisions, go off to college and come back telling me how I’m wrong about everything. Indeed, she already tells me I’m wrong not to be a vegetarian, as she is; I disagree with her, but I support her in her ability to disagree with me. And I love that she’s willing to do so at eight years old.
Her ability to live a life that is her own is a far greater gift to me than her loving what I love and hating what I hate. She isn’t a pale echo of me. She’s her own person. And thank God for that.