Sex & Love

How Pure Are Purity Balls?

Is it just me, or are purity balls really creepy? The New York Times has a crazy story this week about a big purity ball in Colorado Springs at which more than 60 girls and their fathers dressed up and … Read More

By / May 22, 2008

Is it just me, or are purity balls really creepy? The New York Times has a crazy story this week about a big purity ball in Colorado Springs at which more than 60 girls and their fathers dressed up and danced late into the night to celebrate their purity. The girls do a dance (in tutus with a huge wooden cross), the fathers stand up and recite a covenant, and then two men walk up to the cross and hold swords in an arch over their heads.

Each father and his daughter walked under the arch and knelt before the cross. Synthesized hymns played. The fathers sometimes held their daughters and whispered a short prayer, and then the girls each placed a white rose, representing purity, at the foot of the cross.

I’m all for fathers spending quality time with their daughters and being a good influence on their kids, but something about this seems a tad overzealous and inappropriate. For one thing, what about the sons? Every time I turn around I see a newspaper or magazine article about how boys these days are doomed. But I’ve never heard of any mother-son galas, and while these fathers all pledge to guard their daughters’ purity none of them seem to acknowledge that if their girls are at risk for surrendering their purity it probably has something to do with how boys are being raised as well. And it bothers me that men are the ones entrusted with these girls’ purity. Shouldn’t some of this be coming from the girls’ mothers? Aren’t they better suited to warn the girls against the perils of the ‘hook-up culture’? Why aren’t the girls being empowered to make their own good decisions about sex and purity, rather than allowing that authority to be taken over by their dads? I’ve never been crazy about the Orthodox community’s stance on relationships, but at the very least they have women talking to women, encouraging them to make good decisions, and helping them to see the values of modesty and dignity. In contrast, purity balls seem to infantilize the girls and inflate their fathers with a false sense of authority. Because what we need more of now is girls who can’t grow up, and men with oversized egos.