If you have never heard of “purity balls,” you are not the only one. Unlike coming-of-age celebrations like quinceañeras, a purity ball is not a celebration—it is a reminder that women are constantly perceived by their sexuality. Purity balls are a religious ceremony in which fathers pledge to uphold their daughter’s virginity and the daughter vows to abstain from sex until marriage. While it is understandable that most of the fathers who participate in the balls only want to keep their daughters safe, it is questionable that by vowing to overlook their daughter’s abstinence, they essentially are controlling their daughter’s body. Abstaining from sex before marriage is an honorable religious practice for those who choose that route, but it should not be something that a father vows to protect. A woman’s body should be her own right, and it should be her decision to choose how she exercises her sexuality.
In addition, a woman should not be valued on their virginity. Many cultures ingrain the belief that women need to be pure, so losing one’s virginity connotes that the girl is “tainted or damaged.” Women need to be portrayed in a better light where our value and worth is not dependent on one’s pureness. Discussing a woman’s virginity also is something so intimate that it should only be shared with those the woman is comfortable with telling.
Being a parent and wanting to protect one’s child is understandable, but promising to protect your daughter’s virginity crosses a line. One can provide this same protection by educating one’s daughter, because in the end, the daughter in the one in control of her own body.