Monday, May 19, 2008

What about boys?

The New York Times reports on "purity balls" today—those father/daughter dances in which dads promise to protect their daughters' "virtue" and the teen girls “promise to God and myself and my family that I will stay pure in my thoughts and actions until I marry.”

It's such a crock. Where are the mother/son purity balls? Oh, right. Boys will be boys, but girls need to be kept on a tight leash lest they become damaged goods, sullied flesh that isn't suitable property to be handed over from father to husband. Really, could this entire concept be any creepier than it is? Look at the psychosocial ramifications: Girls are promising to let their dads keep their virginity in a lockbox so Dad can "give" a tight piece of ass to another man. It's just gross.

If the patriarchal nutjobs who endorse purity balls at least expected the same from girls and boys alike, I might buy their cover story, that it's about saving yourselves for a beautiful marriage blessed by the lord, yadda yadda. But when the movement is centered so strongly among girls and their fathers, the fact that it's about controlling female sexuality is laid bare. There's absolutely nothing wrong with celibate teenagers, but the fetishization of female virginity just gets re-e-eally creepy when Daddy gets involved.

What do you think?


Andrea said...

This is something I sit around and think about a lot, really. Men and their daughters. It's so complicated and strange to me. Most men will sit here and say that porn is great and fine and dandy. "Unless it's my daughter." Porn is fine or it's not fine. If you don't want your daughter doing it, why is it OK for someone else's daughter. That's a confusing message for women to hear.

Why not have both parents involved in this? With both genders of children, as you said? I know there is a correlation between self esteem in girls and the relationship they had with their father, but having a fancy ceremony where your father proclaims to be the protector of your virtue? That's too much for me. You can get the point across at home. Without a creepy man ball.

I married a man that was raised with the credo "You marry a virgin!" But he was raised in the typical "boys will be boys" fashion. And that irritates me. As an outsider joining that family to see the difference in how he was raised in comparison to his sister. It made me angry, quite honestly. The inequality that's instilled in some people's heads from such an early age is just so disappointing to me.

I think it also goes toward the notion that girls are delicate flowers that need to be protected from all the ills of the world by men to have this sort of ceremony as well, without the mother? Our mother's can't protect us as children? Really?

This type of things grates me on several levels, as you can tell.

Orange said...

Thanks for your perspective, Andrea—you brought so much more to the topic than I could.

Gordie said...

Aaargh! Wrong on so many levels. As well as the double-standards, the stats suggest that when teenagers who proclaim abstinence break their vows, they are more like to indulge in high-risk, unprotected activities.

Isn't it about time somebody started promoting a range of "I Heart Damaged Goods" merchandise?

Mignon said...

Our local YMCA had a father/daughter spring dance a couple months ago, and when I showed the flyer to my husband, he was all, "What, like she's my date? Uh, no." I think even this concept is strange and whatever the inverse of oedipal is. The whole purity thing makes me a little nauseous.

Jennifer said...

Oh dear. I wonder if fathers (who are men after all) know how lecherous they are, deep down inside in a tribal, grunting drag-the-cave-wife-around-by-her-hair kind of way, and that is what makes them want to guard their daughters. They KNOW what awaits them, no matter how nicely it's wrapped up in a bouquet of flowers or hidden behind a yummy box of candy, it boils down to scoring. And the daughter is the "scoree". It's easy for a girl to score. For a boy, it's a conquest.

Now I mean NO disrespect to men. I love them, I'm married to one. However, we have two daughters, 6 and 9 and gee, their father says things like "I'll greet the boyfriend at the door with a shotgun." Now mind you, he says this after smiling and nodding, with an added "oh yeah! That's so hot" while watching the Girls Gone Wild commercial sporting blurred boobies.

Uhm... honey, that could be your daughter on spring break in 9 years.

Way to give him a limpy, I know but WTF?

My girls and I have already had versions of "the talk", several times. I think it's up to the mom to arm their daughters with good solid, un-jaded information about how to handle the whole thing. Attention they are interested in. Attention they are NOT interested in and from whom. And how to respect and protect their body and emotional state of mind.

If they want to abstain until they are married, ok. But I imagine they won't. I didn't. But then I'm going to be burning in hell for lots of stuff. I'm glad I like heat.

Hey Orange - I'm trying to find Lisa. My old info for her doesn't work. :-( How is she? I would love to talk to her. Please have her e-mail me. My info is the same. Thanks.

(Domestic Goddess)

Jennifer said...

In response to Mignon...But then there is the father daughter stuff I went to with my dad for his Rotary Club or whatever. Lunches and dances and stuff and it was great. I adore my dad and time spent with him was very special. If my dad viewed the "date" with me in a traditional sense then um... ew gross. But it's not the same thing. Neither of us was planning to score at the end of the night.

Girls learn how to have good relationships, by the relationship they have with their dad. I hope your husband reconsiders taking your daughter to the dance. Or going out to lunch with just her. That's the kind of stuff she will remember when she's old, like me. :-)

E. said...

Mignon, the girl version of the Oedipal complex is the Elektra complex, so maybe that makes it "Elektric"?

Father-daughter time is great, and I think dads and their little girls should spend time together, but I admit the "daddy/daughter dance" and the (less common) "mother/son" dance both seems a bit creepy to me, simply because "dances" are such a key part of the heterosexual romance tradition in our culture. If there were more of a "hey let's have a ball" vibe for everyone, I wouldn't mind, but there just aren't many balls beyond high school for most of us.

The whole "purity balls" thing makes me want to puke. It's demeaning, sexist, and has definite creepy pedophilic undertones ("I'm protecting my daughter's hymen, boys. Keep away").

If a girl wants to wait 'til she's married to have sex, I support her 100%. But that's her biz, not her dad's.

Orange, your post is awesome. You strike an absolutely Twistyesque tone here. Brava.

By the way, I not only don't think premarital sex is wrong, I think it's important. I'll still support the girl who wants to wait, but I think she's smarter to experience sex with her intended before they make a lifetime commitment. Sex is a major element of communication in a relationship. I personally believe kids should wait 'til they're out of high school and in a committed, trusting relationship to have sex (however you define sex), but in this day and age, it's naive and counterproductive to actually ask them to wait 'til they're married. It either leads to too-early marriages, needless guilt, or bizarre forms of repression.

Krupskaya said...

I think purity balls are bizarre and disgusting. And it totally falls under the heading of "sex is terrible and gross and dirty, and you should only share it with the person you love."

Mona Buonanotte said...

Purity balls? Kidding? What's next, locking her yoni up with chains and a padlock? I mean cripes, dads, get yer hands off yer daughters' "purity" and hows about having some nice one-on-one talks about relationships in general? With the sons and the daughters?


Bored Housewife said...

LOVED the post, LOVED E's comment!!! You two are so sharp it makes me giddy.

Thanks for passing along the Domestic Goddess's inquiry! Hugs for that. And I'll have you know that Chicago was hard to give up as we changed our route from I-80 to I-70...but the good news (maybe?) is that when we drive the U-haul out in August (positive thinking; it's not set in stone) that we will take the shortest distance between two points known as I-80!! I know parking a moving van in the city would be somewhere between hellish and impossible, but I would loooove to see you then if you're around. I'll keep in touch about it. Hugs to Ben and and high five for therapy!! Isn't it grand? Although I do have such a hard time with the lack of reciprocity; it eats at me to not know if they've had a rough day or got a new car or whatever!

Jennifer said...

Thanks Orange, for hooking me up with BH. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

You said "balls".

Seriously, I have two daughters and this is the creepiest thing I've ever heard of. Do a youtube search. It's completely insane.

Narya said...

It's taken me awhile to comment, but how much comment is needed, really? You said nearly all of it. The whole thing is wrong on so very, very many levels that it's difficult to know where to start.

The Absent Minded Housewife said...

Had my Dad suggested we attend one of these functions I would have wondered if he had a fever.

Where I'm from chastity was taught equally to both sexes, but modesty was especially taught to girls. Don't be immodest, because a boy will look at you "that way" and we don't want that! It was ridiculous, bordering on the burka.

As I have sons, and no daughters, I think it's my job to get in there as Mom and tell them exactly how it is. I'm not going to raise them like beasts who have no brains when it comes to sex. I'm more than loud when it comes to the responsibilities of sex. Just because they are boys isn't enough to let them run amok with their bits out of their pants. They don't need to pledge their bodies to me though, but they will know exactly what the costs are and that I won't pay them for 'em.

If I don't think they are ready for those responsibilities when they get of dating age, they might find their dating life limited. They have all the choice in the world, and the opportunity, to learn responsible behavior.

(If they were girls, I'd take them to get a shot, but they'd pay for it out of their own pockets.)

I learned responsible behavior...I think I wrote a series of posts about that.

DoctorMama said...

Since I don't believe anyone should even consider marriage until age 25 or so, abstinence until marriage would be missing out on about a decade of getting to have sex when you're the absolute horniest. That seems like a terrible waste.

Psycho Kitty said...

I loved this quote: “It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.”

Uh. Wow. Really? Has this guy read the paper lately? I don't think we can be so sure of any such thing.

These guys could all have been my creepy perv step-father. He believed in purity. He also liked to walk around in his underwear and feel me up whenever he got the chance. Ah, good times.