Your Daddy is Your Boyfriend

If you dare:

Religion and women’s health have had a longstanding violent and bloody battle (I heard those crazy feminists were coming out of the woodwork trying to kill all men). Unfortunately, this debate has infiltrated governments, organizations, and communities globally. It is a conflict that has recently reappeared in the United States because of the Affordable Care Act, political arguments over the states’ abortion rules and most recently the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case. While each religion has the authority to determine their stance on women’s health issues (where is the debate on men’s health?) and practice what they believe, controversy arises when those beliefs are unwanted and imposed on others.

There is a fragile line between religion and women’s health. Tackling such a subject is typically a lose-lose situation. However, within the past few weeks the media has highlighted a contagious phenomenon—“purity balls”(the name ironically sounds explicit). These “balls” are father-daughter ceremonies and dances where pre-teen, typically eleven and twelve year old girls, pledge their virginity to her father, and he in return will guard it for her until she is married. The father featured in the Nightline clip states repeatedly “your father is your boyfriend”. These “events” are a plague across America, occurring in 48 states in the name of Christianity. While the daughter is taking part of the act as a sign of her religion, wanted or unwanted, it is imposing on her development as an adolescent, individual, and girl.

A List: Why Purity Balls are Destructive, Degrading and Disgusting

1. Being twelve years old is hard. Being a twelve year old girl is harder. You are telling her that her only worth is the state of her hymen at marriage. The only thing of importance about this beautiful growing intellectual human being is her virginity. She may excel in schools, sports, theater or music but it does not matter because the only thing she should be proud of is her virginity.

2. Where are the sons? Are they pledging virginity to the mothers? He is free to engage in sex before marriage? Essentially your daughter can marry a man who has had multiple sexual partners yet that is okay? This is not only a double standard and teaches your daughter that she can be used by her father and husband. (The married young male in the video was not a virgin).

3. At an age where development of self-esteem is all too important, young girls are marginalized because of their biological sex and therefore something they cannot control!

4. Even if a woman chooses to remain a virgin until marriage, you are telling her that is she not strong enough to protect it herself—that she is not capable of being independent or safeguarding her OWN BODY. It belongs to someone else.

5. Claiming “your father is your boyfriend” not only gives off an incestuous tone, it teaches her that she must always be with a man of some sort and that she can’t ever stand on her own two feet without a man there to catch her.

6. Why are twelve year olds pledging their virginity but still wearing makeup and fancy hairstyles? This is contradictory because the point of wearing make up is to make oneself more attractive.

7. Research shows that taking a virginity pledge actually less likely to use a condom when they break the pledge or get an STI screening, which increases the risk for contracting an STI.

Everyone wants to protect and lookout for children, especially their parents. Teaching girls about healthy relationships, self-esteem, and self worth can enable a girl to become her own advocate for her body and personal decisions.


4 thoughts on “Your Daddy is Your Boyfriend

  1. I couldn’t help but feel like the daughters were more excited about physically having a ring than what the ring is supposed to represent. It was also was extremely difficult to hear them talk about how girls who date before marriage are setting themselves up for divorce; it’s clear they’re just repeating what their parents have told them. Interestingly, the older sisters who are married get married at such a young age, but must we bring up the statistics about young people that get married? I agree that this is not setting a good example for young girls and where their priorities should lie.

  2. This is a really interesting concept and though the intentions are “pure”, there are many negative consequences. As you outlined, this sends the message the women are weaker than men. The fact that it solely focuses on young girls and not both genders just reinforces the notion that girls are the ones that need help. I would rather have parents talk to their kids (both females and males) about abstinence until marriage and how it ties into their religious, if that is their concern. The concept of “purity balls” and “your father is your boyfriend” is just making society regress in terms of women’s rights and independence. I hope the message changes.

  3. This is an interesting post. I agree with all the points you made, especially that these balls perpetuate the double standard in society about sexual behavior among males and females. I find it quite disturbing that the ceremony has to do with pledging virginity to their fathers – besides the fact that boys don’t participate in these events, it seems controlling. I think having these balls when girls are 11 or 12 also to implies that identity formation and puberty, and everything that comes with them, is something for girls to be ashamed of and hide from. As you mentioned, this can also lead to risky behaviors in the future, partly due to a lack of awareness and education about sex.

    I also like how you referred to the lack of freedom of choice that comes with this; that, whether or not a girl decides to remain a virgin until marriage, her body essentially belongs to someone else.

  4. I have always been bothered by these events; I know they’ve garnered a lot of attention recently, but they’ve actually been going on for years. Part of me wonders if these Purity Balls sprung out as a creepy offshoot of the slightly more innocent Father-Daughter dances that I remember seeing (but never attending) when we were younger. Wherever they came from, the double standard is sickening and quite intensely evident. Unfortunately, I don’t find things like this shocking anymore because that double standard has been alive and well for centuries. It’s just another way of trying to claim ownership over women’s bodies and convincing them from a young age that women have no right to controlling their own bodies and making their own decisions. Hopefully this will become a passe tradition quite soon.

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