Sexual Purity 16 April 2006Posted by Todd in Christianity, Cultural Critique, Gender, Islam, Political Commentary, Politics, Religion, Sexuality.
On PBS's NOW this week they covered the abortion ban in South Dakota. Much of what I saw wasn't news to me and most of the rantings from the Alpha Group (an anti-abortion counseling service in Sioux Falls) were par for the course. I have heard of the "chastity pledges" that are sweeping the nation, as teenagers take vows of celibacy until marriage; but I wasn't prepared for the "Purity Ball" sponsored by the Abstinence Clearinghouse (no, that's not a joke) in Sioux Falls.
We believe and think that it's important for fathers to be the first ones to look into their daughters' eyes and tell them that her purity is special and that it's okay to wait until marriage.
—Leslie Unruh, President of Abstinence Clearinghouse
The Purity Ball perpetuates that good ol' conflation of purity with virginity, an idea which is just baffling to me. Haven't we gotten over this crazy notion that sexual acts per se sully, taint, soil, besmirch or otherwise filthify the body and soul of an individual? But as if that weren't bad enough, young women as young as 12 years old come to a formal affair with their fathers to pledge to him their chastity. At the end of the Ball, the dad puts a ring on his daughter's finger as she says these words:
I make a promise before my dad, myself and my family [voice over interrupts for a few seconds] that I will remain sexually pure until the day that I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. I know that god requires this of me, that he loves me, and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.
It's like these people want to prove Freud was right, or something, with this whole daddy-daughter "purity" pledge. Besides being sick, this is old school patriarchy, where the body of the daughter belongs to her father until marriage. But instead of it just being social convention, these young women pledge it in public and then get all mushy and weepy about it, being all terribly moved by ceding their autonomy and brains to their fathers. Just in case you didn't get it, she then pledges to "give herself as a wedding gift"? I'm embarassed that I live in a society where we are even having this conversation.
Maybe we should just forego the expense and pretense of a formal ball and just legalize honor killings in South Dakota. No family should have to bear the burden of an impure woman.
If you have the money and/or time, please support Planned Parenthood and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States in their fight against these anti-sex, anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-sex-ed, anti-contraception wingnuts around the country.