In all of the spare time I had waiting for my son to be born, I had the opportunity to watch a special on The Learning Channel about “purity balls.” If you don’t know what these are, let me explain.
A group of fathers bring their daughters to a big fancy dance. The daughters get to dress up, do their hair and wear pretty tiaras. The fathers dress up as well. The girls range from grade school to high school and come from all walks of life. Once there, the fathers recite a ‘promise’ to their daughters. The gesture signals that the fathers would guard their daughters from what evangelical Christians consider a profoundly corrosive “hook-up culture.” The evening, which alternates between homemade Christian rituals and giddy dancing, is a joyous public affirmation of the girls’ sexual abstinence until they wed.
Okay, now you tell me — does a grade school girl have the maturity to pledge herself to her father and wait to be sexually active until she is married? I don’t think so. Do the parents of these children honestly believe that what they are asking their daughters to do is even relevant to these girls’ lives at the moment?
I think families that ask their children to make this large of a commitment this early in life put up barriers between themselves and their kids. Granted, I wouldn’t want my 13 year old to go out and have sex, but I also wouldn’t put the pressure of pledging her sexuality to me until she is wed. I understand having this kind of conversation with your 15 year old — but your 8 year old? The fact that these pledges are between fathers and daughters and not any other parent/child combination – why not mothers and sons? — is one of the things that makes this so creepy.
You may think differently but this Thanksgiving learning about purity balls made me thankful that my family is not very religious.
_Katelyn Rowert is a student at Anoka Ramsey Community College_