I hate to break this news for all the folks writing this story, but Purity Balls aren’t new. This isn’t some fancy modern trend like hipsters or fondu. It’s something right wing girls and their weird-ass families have concocted to glamorize controlling the sexuality of women and fetishizing the idea of women as little girls.
The first ever official Purity Ball was in the late 1990′s out of Colorado Springs. Before that, there have been beautiful ceremonies from aristocratic traditions presenting debutant daughters to “society.” Freemasons have a charity and community service focused club and event/ball for it’s International Order of the Rainbow for girls. And I suppose there are always Bat Mitzvahs, celebrating the transition of girls into womanhood with bad DJ’s and enough teenage drama to make Romeo and Juliet want to kill themselves … again.
But unlike all of these coming of age traditions, a Purity Ball is the only one that attempts to repress girls by taking all of those padded bras, the red lipstick and lady-part desires and shoving them deep down where they belong. All of this, an effort to remind girls that until Daddy gives you away, you’re owned by him. Daddy symbolizes this with a ring for his little girl wear to show her purity for him. His little girl pledges that she’ll never go on a date, kiss a boy, or hold his dirty, sweaty awkward hand. Oh and his little girl gets a pretty frilly white dress to dance in with Daddy. One such Daddy named Ron told his little girl as he placed the ring on her finger:
“This is just a reminder that keeping yourself pure is important. So you keep this on your finger and from this point you are married to the Lord, and your father is your boyfriend.”
Now if you’re a grown ass woman and this is your fetish of choice, then rock on with your bad self. If, however, you’re one of the girls portrayed in the new book by Swedish photographer David Magnusson (as seen in the top right), something ain’t right.
Women, regardless of their age, aren’t owned by men, even their fathers. This kind of thinking is a throwback to the days when having a daughter was devalued over a son. Yes, there was once an era when girls were seen as property and “given away” by their fathers at their weddings for a price the family paid (dowry). Women were essentially sold to husbands. As well-intentioned as these misguided fathers might be, claiming that these girls are “owned” by men teaches daughters they are only “things.” By focusing on sex being “sacred,” they’re teaching girls that when they turn out to be like the 95% of the rest of the world that has sex before marriage, that they are now impure and dirty… worthless… and that they have broken a vow with their father… like they cheated on him or something.
That doesn’t make a father loving, compassionate, cautious or over caring. It’s emotional manipulation. And it’s wrong. This breaking news might be hurtful to some, but a man’s penis isn’t that powerful or that important. A man’s penis can’t devalue anyone, in fact no one can devalue you. And if a man chooses to devalue a woman for being powerful enough to own herself, it makes the man nothing more than what he wishes he had – a giant prick.
Sarah Burris is the Digital Editor at BNR. Sarah is a pioneer of social media and expert on the Millennial generation with a decade of experience in politics. You can find her on twitter: @SarahBurris