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.