Daddy Dearest: How Purity Culture Can Turn Fathers into Idols
One thing I’d also like to add that is damaging about these purity balls is that
1. The parents involved with these purity balls ASSUME their daughters will grow up and marry.
What if their daughters never marry?
2. Male virginity is not taught, stressed, or supported by these groups.
I’ve yet to hear of a “Male Purity Ball,” where sons are encouraged to “pledge their virginity” to dear old mom. Why the double standard? Why are women expected to be virgins, but not the men?
- Our pledges belong to the Heavenly Father, not our earthly ones.
by Gina Dalfonzo
When we see a man and a woman holding each other tenderly, wearing fancy clothes, we think wedding, marriage, romance. It’s simply instinctive. So when looking through a series of purity ball portraits—girls in white dresses, beside loving fathers—we’re seeing something very familiar, but in a very different context. This juxtaposition strikes as jarring at best, inappropriate at worst.
The blogosphere erupted with their reactions to (Link): Swedish photographer David Magnusson’s “Purity” series. “Thoroughly f—ing weird … striking and frankly terrifying,” opined Tom Hawking at Flavorwire.
Jessica Valenti at AlterNet called the pictures “beautiful [but] disturbing.” In message boards and Facebook groups and comment sections around the Internet, words like “creepy” and “strange” were thrown around. On the flip side, there were those who said you’d have to be “perverted” to think there was anything wrong with the pictures.
… By his own account, Magnusson came to respect the people he was photographing, and had no intention of creating something creepy. So why did the series strike so many people—including some Christians—that way?
Critics suggest that the culture of purity balls introduces something into the father-daughter relationship that does not belong there. Most of us are familiar with the concept of a “daddy-daughter date,” a harmless term we often use for a father and daughter spending time together.
Purity balls, they fear, go far beyond that. Suzanne Calulu at No Longer Quivering—a site for those who have left the kind of ultra-conservative lifestyle from which purity balls came— describes the pictures as “beautiful little girls, inappropriately intimate fathers.”
… “Statistics do prove that the strong presence of a loving father in the life of a girl growing up does tend to keep that same girl from becoming sexually active at a younger age,” she writes. “But what message does it send to that same girl (to have) Daddy publicly announcing to the world in her presence that he alone controls her sexuality until marriage?”
… Maybe “control” isn’t a fair word to use in all or even most of these cases. But the abstinence pledges taken at purity balls do set up fathers as the guardians of their daughters’ purity.
We begin to see a pattern here—a pattern that helps explain why so many people are disturbed by what happens at purity balls.
Between the fancy outfits, the dances, and the vows, it almost looks as if the daughter is being encouraged to treat her father like a bridegroom.
But there’s an even deeper problem that sometimes gets overlooked: the encouragement of the fathers to be idols in their daughters’ lives.
… I took a virginity pledge myself as a teenager, but my church asked us to make our pledges directly to God. I believe that was the right way to do it.
I love my father dearly, and I do my best to honor him as the Bible commands, but before I’m answerable to him or any other human being, I’m answerable to God.
… Karen Allen Campbell quotes purity ball organizers as wanting to set up “an impregnable wall of fathers” that would, presumably, stand between young women and sexual sin. But that’s not how sin works—other people can’t block it out for us. It comes from the heart. And that’s why young women should be taught to stand against sin themselves, not to expect someone else to do it for them.
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