Purity Balls Aren’t So Pure

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.

The Purity Covering and Covenant pledge that fathers and daughters recite and sign at the annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball in Colorado Springs
(One of the pledge cards that fathers and daughters sign at purity balls. Photo from Rick Wilking for Reuters; Retrieved from The Atlantic.)

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.

Jamie and David Clampitt, Shreveport, Louisiana. From the series
(A father and daughter who had a purity ball photographed by David Magnusson for his book “Purity” regarding this topic. The daughter dons a white dress eerily similar to a wedding dress, while in her father’s embrace. Retrieved from Huffington Post)

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.

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