The girls, ages early grade school to college, had come with their fathers, stepfathers and future fathers-in-law last Friday night to the ninth annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball. The first two hours of the gala passed like any somewhat awkward night out with parents, the men doing nearly all the talking and the girls struggling to cut their chicken.
For the Wilsons and the growing number of people who have come to their balls, premarital sex is seen as inevitably destructive, especially to girls, who they say suffer more because they are more emotional than boys. Fathers, they say, play a crucial role in helping them stay pure.
Between STDs and pregnancy, it's great if a girl chooses abstinence. However, the Father-Daughter Purity Ball is saying so much more than that. It's specifically fathers and specifically daughters. If purity is so important, where are the sons? Is virginity not important for boys? If it's about encouraging virtue, why aren't the mothers there supporting their daughters?
Instead of encouraging girls to respect and value their bodies, this propagates a distorted world view in which boys are the blameless aggressors, girls are the guardians of purity, and their strong, manly fathers must protect from those silly boys. After all, boys are boys - can they really be expected to keep their d*ck in their pants? Better make that the girl's responsibility.
“Fathers, our daughters are waiting for us,” Mr. Wilson, 49, told the men. “They are desperately waiting for us in a culture that lures them into the murky waters of exploitation. They need to be rescued by you, their dad.”
Indeed, rather than encouraging a girl to choose abstinence, this promotes the idea of a girl being unable to make her own decisions about her body and needing a man to make the decisions for her. Guess who's going to make the decisions when she gets a boyfriend?
Furthermore, purity balls like this one can be counterproductive as parents are unlikely to educate their children on safe sex:
Recent studies have suggested that close relationships between fathers and daughters can reduce the risk of early sexual activity among girls and teenage pregnancy. But studies have also shown that most teenagers who say they will remain abstinent, like those at the ball, end up having sex before marriage, and they are far less likely to use condoms than their peers.
Parents: Encourage your children to wait to have sex. That's great. But encourage all of them equally - boys and girls. And, just in case the kids don't listen (as kids are known to do) teach them about condoms and safe sex. Preparing for the "what if" scenario is just common sense.