There’s nothing rebellious about “purity”

puritycross.jpg I’m getting pretty sick and tired of antiquated notions of chastity and purity being touted as “revolutionary.” I’m sorry, folks–there’s nothing cutting edge about believing that girls’ moral compass resides somewhere in between her legs.
In a recent Chicago Tribune piece on purity balls, reporter Dahleen Glanton refers to girls promising their virginities to their dads and dressing “modestly” as “controversial,” a “movement” and “counterculture.”
If girls and women really want to rebel against the sexified pop culture that breeds Britney Spears and The Pussycat Dolls, purity balls aren’t the way. In fact, they’re just more of the same. Pop culture tells women that their bodies are public property and that they have to be sexual in order to be desirable and loved. Purity balls and the like tell women that their bodies are private property (though not our own of course–our bodies belong to our fathers, husbands, and the men in our life) and that they have to be virginal in order to be desirable and loved. In either case women’s sexuality belongs to everyone but women. There’s nothing counter-cultural or cutting edge about that.
Glanton puts a couple of feminist quotes in her article, but seems to really buy into the notion that purity balls are revolutionary. Hell, she doesn’t even seem to question that all of this moral tsk-tsking is directed only at women.

“Girls are going into marriage with 12 sexual relationships. That brings so much baggage and regret that it breaks down the marriage,” said Janet Hellige, a volunteer who organizes the biannual Father-Daughter Purity Ball sponsored by The Christian Center in Peoria. “Girls have a wonderful gift to give, and we don’t want them to give all of themselves away. What we want them to do is present themselves as a rose to their husband with no blemishes.”

Now if that sentiment doesn’t make you want to start a revolution, I don’t know what will! (Ugh.)
Interestingly, it seems that the purity ball folks are starting to recognize how, well…creepy people are finding these events.

Randy Wilson, who with his wife, Lisa, founded Generations of Light, the Christian ministry in Colorado Springs that held the nation’s first purity ball almost a decade ago, said he never intended to start a trend to promote abstinence, though he is pleased if girls decide to take that route on her own.
“This was birthed out of our home, not the abstinence movement,” said Wilson, who has five daughters and two sons. “It is a fatherhood event, not a virginity or abstinence event. We don’t think it’s appropriate to put that weight on the daughter’s shoulders.”

Oh really? That must be why Wilson had his adolescent daughters pledge their virginities to him and why he gives them a charm necklace with a tiny lock and key–he keeps the key until he can one day give it to his daughter’s husband. Yeah, that’s not about virginity or ownership at all.
Now, I know I’ve been accused of being anti-abstinence so I want to make something clear: I’m all for abstaining if that’s what a gal wants to do. Obviously. But if young women are not having sex because they think they’ll be damaged goods, dirty, and “blemished” otherwise–well, then that’s pretty fucking problematic.
As is purity proponents calling themselves counterculture and revolutionary. The pop culture image of women and sexuality is gross, and it is likely to have girls seeking an alternative. But an alternative that judges women just as much (if not more) on their sexuality isn’t really an option. A real rebellion would be teaching young women that their sexuality is their own, and that their ability to be a moral person is based on their compassion, kindness, ethics and judgment–not their hymen.
Pic stolen from yet another creepy purity ball site.

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