Dispatches from the Oh for fuck's sake file: apparently "Purity Balls" are a thing. They are not popular like soccer, but more like polo – a niche interest unknown to most of us but wildly popular with a small, deeply disturbed segment of the population.

As a feminist, I found the purity balls themselves the most difficult to watch. Young women and girls are dressed in ballgowns, their hair professionally done. They pose with their fathers under white arches decorated with flowers, like prom dates. And the midst of all this revelry, they promise to remain virgins and their fathers, in turn, pledge to be the protector of that "purity." Some are given rings – it reminds me of a wedding ceremony.

Go ahead and read the whole piece, and if you're not sufficiently disturbed you can check out a recent documentary or some shorter clips on YouTube.

The insularity and the narrowness of worldview that are necessary to make this sort of thing seem normal are staggering. Examples like this one make clear why homeschooling is so popular among Evangelicals and other far-right Christian sects. Only by completely controlling (and shrinking) the world to which a child is allowed exposure can a tween girl have a pseudo-wedding to her dad for the purpose of remanding her hoo-hah into his custody until it Dad gives it away to whatever 19 year old chronic masturbator she meets on her field trip to the Creation Museum. How else does a spectacle like this unfold without someone, if not everyone, stopping in their tracks and loudly asking no one in particular what in the hell is going on. Hell, an emotionally healthy person might even veto this clusterfuck in the planning stage.

But wait, there's more! Aside from the perverse theology underpinning something like this, there's a healthy dose of good ol' American materialism involved:

That's why purity balls are so effective, not just because they rely on religious and cultural indoctrination—that would be too easy. Purity balls sell young women the idea of love. This is how your father will love you. This is the way to get a man who will love you and is worthy of your love. This is how you get God's love. It's a powerful message, one that resonates because it promises what we all want: an amazing love story.

The problem, of course, is that it's not really about love. Sitting outside of a purity ball, in black-tie attire, Lisa tears up as she explains the events aren't just about the party.

"It's a beautiful moment with their father to say, 'I care enough about you to invest in an expensive hotel and expensive meal and a lovely dress for you.' To say that you’re valued."

The number of levels on which this is twisted and demeaning can hardly be counted. In its defense, however, it is just one of a dozen different ways little girls have fake "weddings" at various points in childhood and adolescence in our society. Actually…no, scratch that. We endure some messed up rituals when we are too young to resist, but at least we don't have to marry our dads.

I don't think there's enough therapy and pharmaceuticals in the world to save any of these kids. I guess that's the advantage of filling their heads with this insanity before they're old enough to think or push back.

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69 Responses to “I LOVE YOU, DAD!”

  1. WyldPirate Says:

    @Major Kong. No problem. My humor detector doesn't work well before the morning coffee kicks in.

  2. Arslan Says:

    To answer your question, Major Kong, in the evangelical world, or as I like to call it, RTC world(RTC means "Real, True Christian", based on the implication they often wield), there are basically two choices. Save it till marriage and be virtuous, or have pre-marital sex and be a whore. There is nothing in between. For a man they can sometimes be more forgiving(but they'll claim you were "using" whatever woman you had sex with), but sometimes they aren't. The key thing is that they spend most of their time focusing on female virginity, not male. Examples do pop up from time to time though.

    If you look at the Left Behind series, the second bumbling protagonist ends up marrying the daughter of the first bumbling protagonist, who is about ten years younger than him. He was supposed to be a totally secular unbeliever who finds Jesus late in the first novel, yet later it is strongly implied that he was a virgin for 31 years. Yeah. He's also said to be totally likable and charismatic(key word "said"), but he's a 31 year old virgin. This is quite revealing because one would think that the audience(and keep in mind that the authors say this book series should be recommended to "unsaved" friends such as Catholics and atheists) would totally understand that he had pre-marital sex if he wasn't religious at all, and when he says the "magic words" and accepts Jesus, they are supposed to believe that Jesus can forgive all his sins. But the authors know their REAL audience well enough to realize that if this character had had pre-marital sex, the audience would still look down on him despite his conversion.

  3. eau Says:

    This is all very well, Ed. But what do you suggest these men do in order to control and dominate the women in their lives? Huh? We can't very well have them running around making decisions and having opinions and such, can we?

  4. just me Says:

    As if we needed any further proof that religions are the scourge of humanity or that the indoctrination of children into these supersititions is the ultimate violatation of the United Nations DHR Article 20 -2 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a20
    @bb – there's a secular American culture?? Wow! The rest of the world is quite literally dying to see it.
    and more @bb – I truly want to thank you for being here. You are the only Conservative Wrong person I have ever come across who has the moxy to make salient points to an adverse audience. That I absolutely reject your points does not in any way diminish my admiration of you personally, or your privilegde to hold such myopic views.

  5. eau Says:

    Alsotoo, "Purity Balls" is the name of my next band.

  6. hamletta Says:

    @eau: Inorite?! Purity Balls! Purity Balls! It's just so fun to say, isn't it?

    And Ed mentioned child weddings, which reminded me of "Tom Thumb" weddings, which I read about a few years ago in the NYT

  7. Sarah Says:

    and more @bb – I truly want to thank you for being here. You are the only Conservative Wrong person I have ever come across who has the moxy to make salient points to an adverse audience. That I absolutely reject your points does not in any way diminish my admiration of you personally, or your privilegde to hold such myopic views.

    I just love the way he's all "Teen pregnancy! Disease! Whoring women! We must DO SOMETHING about this!" and continue to write, and believe, along those lines even when presented with evidence that things such as "purity balls" don't do anything to decrease such behavior and may in fact be increasing it (although, to be fair, he's not the only conservatard to believe as such).

  8. Sarah Says:

    Do they think we're all having wife-swapping parties up here or something? I must be hanging out with the wrong crowd.

    Certainly wouldn't be the crowd I hang out with. I don't even drink.

  9. Elle Says:

    @Just me

    There's always been a tension, for me, in Art. 14 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It giveth with one hand, in the sense of affording children the right to religious freedom and freedom of conscience, and taketh away with the other, in respecting the "rights and duties" of parents to "provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right".

    We are a million light years away from there being a consensus that religious indoctrination of children is inimical to their enjoyment of rights.

  10. bb in GA Says:

    @just me

    thanks…I guess


    I slandered no women (Whoring women!, Disease!) You read that in because of your evident hatred and bias. You do your side no good with your lying and slander. Your liberal colleagues have allowed as much here.

    You are obviously an intelligent person – let your ideas shine brighter than your hatred (of me) and other non-liberals.

    Last time I checked, teen pregnancy required two. We have failed our young men just as much as our young women.


  11. Matt Says:

    Y'know, this sort of thing would have made a lot more sense to the Iron Age shepherds of Biblical times – after all, back then protecting chastity was *literally* an investment.

  12. eau Says:

    "I have no idea if Purity Balls are the 'way', but what we are doing in our secular American culture is working out just so fine…"

    Give yourself some credit, bb. I think you know that purity balls are not the 'way'. Unless the 'way' you refer to is the 'way… to produce generations of warped, emotionally crippled young men and women'. This certainly seems like a means to those ends, if not the definitive 'way' to get it done.

    And am I the only one thinking "Motherboy"?

  13. Tosh Says:

    This is why Purity Balls created anal sex.
    and the boys loved it too…

  14. Arslan Says:

    Google "technical virgin." I suspect there are many of them in the US.

  15. ladiesbane Says:

    Oh, "technical virgins"! Ah, high school. Religious parents would rather you were a shoplifter, a bully, or a drug addict than a non-virgin.

    So when a parent asks you if you are "having sex", the only honest answer is, "of course not!" Because if your precious virginity isn't involved (or, if already lost, no pregnancy-causing activity is involved), then you can be turned out eight ways from Sunday and still hold your head high, since you're not "having sex."

    The best liars I've ever known, I met in Sunday School. Fun, though. Nothing like an "I'm going to hell for this, I'd better make it count" attitude to carbonate the hormones. Nunya's happy, healthy California is probably the best way to have grown up, but sinning evangelicals are hell in the high grass.

  16. Southern Beale Says:

    Did, where have you been? Purity balls have been creeping decent folks out for years.

  17. Southern Beale Says:

    Er, that should have been DUDE. Sorry.

    Typing while trying to discipline dogs doesn't work.

  18. Technicalities Says:

    I was wondering when the technical virgins would enter the discussion! I grew up in a super rural, super Christian little town. What a joyful place! In high school, most of my girl friends justified the continued wearing of their purity rings by engaging only in anal sex.

    Which brings me to a logical dilemma: If sex is such a great sin, but sex can only be had by inserting a penis into a vagina, how can gay couples sin? By this logic, they are the Purest of the Pure. Just curious.

    @Arslan: Perhaps anal can account for the 30-day thing, though I enjoy the imagery of the "set piece from an episode of Law & Order."

    @eau: I am buying EVERY album put out by Purity Balls.

  19. Archery Program Says:

    I have nothing else to add to this topic other the need to further understand it. "I LOVE YOU, DAD!" – interesting title Ed. Another good post Ed.