Purity Balls

I am the last person in the free world to have heard about Father-Daughter Purity Balls? I know, I know, it sounds like something really perverted and…. actually it is.

Fathers take their daughters (usually of menstruating age or older, though some men bring much younger girls – as young as four) to these gala events – long gowns and tiaras for the gals, tuxes for the men. They take vows and exchange rings. Kinda like a wedding (berk).


The father vows to protect his daughter’s chastity at all costs.”Are you ready to war for your daughters’ purity?” is the battle cry. Daughter, in turn vow to remain chaste until their wedding day. Except at some purity balls, where the daughters don’t even get to make a vow of their own. Dad is willing to take control of her sex life all on his own.

There’s some food and some dancing and a bunch of praying and kneeling, a big cross and, believe it or not, swords. These are, of course, evangelical Christian events.


Apparently these things have been going on for over 10 years now. Sort of like debutante balls except at those families were actually thrusting their young females into society whereas with purity balls they’re trying to preventing thrusting of any kind. Some of the girls are even forbidden from kissing a male until marriage.

My mind is well and truly boggled. First, why fathers and daughters? Where are the mothers and sons?

Also, how could this possibly succeed? I would assume these poor girls are also  receiving no sex education beyond, “don’t do it.”  Recipe for disaster or what? Hmm, let’s see: 

According to a study by Peter Bearman, the Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Sociology, and Hannah Bruckner of Yale, 88 percent of those who pledge abstinence at these Purity Balls wind up breaking their pledge and having sex before marriage – and most have risky, unprotected sex to boot.

And how does this make young women feel about themselves, about their bodies, about sex? That men – first their dad, then their husbands – are in charge of their sexuality?

Are they loaded with guilt and shame if/when they do end up having pre-marital sex? What if they’re sexually assaulted in some way – can they talk to their parents about this? What about those women who maybe aren’t even interested in having sex with men – the vows are all about Dad handing over his little girl’s virginity to her husband on their wedding day.

And why such a public spectacle? Since when are personal values the stuff of fanfare and hoopla?

Excuse me, I’m feeling a little ill.


42 responses to “Purity Balls

  1. Because girls never ever lie to daddy…

    Gag. Between this and the 13 year old getting stoned in Somalia, it’s a hard world to be tween-teen in ain’t it?

  2. I recently heard about this. It is quite popular down here in ‘the belt’. Are you surprised?!? This is the place where if you teach anything besides abstinence in schools you risk loosing government money!

    I think I have your illness!

  3. This is very disturbing. No, I’ve not heard of them, and if they did exist here, my daughter would NOT be participating.

    At first, I thought you were kidding.

    I would say, “What is this world coming to!?” but that doesn’t really apply when we’re talking about something as antiquated as the controlling of women’s sexuality.


  4. I heard about these some time ago. They are archais and disgusting. It’s the old idea that girls are the property of their fathers until they becieme the property of their husbands. You notice they don’t have purity balls where sons make chastity vows to their mothers?

  5. This is the first time I have heard of this and it sickens me, too, in the same kind of way — except after a 180-degree turn — as kiddy beauty pageants.

  6. You said, “And why such a public spectacle? Since when are personal values the stuff of fanfare and hoopla?”
    Well, let me play devil’s advocate and say, “Gay Pride Parades”? Aren’t theyL a public specatacle of personal values full of fanfare and hoopla like we’ve never before witnessed?
    Then again, maybe the Evangelical Christians felt threatened by Gay Pride Parades, and this is their wrong-headed and socially retarded answer. Who knows.
    Burquas sound like they might not be too far off into the future for North American women who practice this form of so-called Christianity.
    It’s not that well-meaning people haven’t done much worse than this over time, but it’s sad to me that humanity can’t just move FORWARD. It seems there always has to be many steps backward before a bolt of lightning hits, and we finally move forward. One can only hope one of those bolts hits soon.

  7. Nat – Why do we keep confusing and messing up our youth instead of focusing on raising healthy young people?

    Kerri – Ya I first heard about them when someone at work told me about the show on TLC.

    Helen – As far as I could tell it’s pretty much an American phenomena so far. I hope it doesn’t spread.

    CP – I believe purity balls are VERY popular in Colorado. Colorado features quite prominently in all the articles on them. Watch out!

    Citizen – Really! Who do they think these girls are NOT having sex with anyway? Takes two to tango and all that.

    Bob – Two sides of the same coin – parents obsessed with their children’s sexuality

    JB – I don’t know that you can compare a fight for basic human rights (gay pride — at least I believe this is what the impetus behind the event was originally) with this perverse represssion of women’s rights. I was just saying there’s nothing wrong with trying to raise your children with values that you think are important, but that should be a day-to-day thing, leading by example, talking things over — stuff like that. Not one big flamboyant display. One of the guys in the article I was reading had 9 children by 7 different wives and here he was trotting out daughter #6 or something to a purity ball to make sure she was safe from nasty, evil men. What a farce.

  8. ah, very upsetting to say the least.

    and why the big celebration? aren’t there other ways to protect our childrens purity? like maybe telling them to protect their purity by themselves and teaching them values and integrity.

    jeesh. just one more way that we are screwing up our innocent children and degrating females.

    what do they do for the sons … throw inpurity balls where men pound their fists in the air. i can just picture it.

    good post!

  9. I think we should start planning our own party. It could be at my place: a housewarming combined with a “Welcome to Canada” party for Casual Perfectionist. No Yankee beer allowed.

  10. Sometimes learning new things is depressing.

    The girls must find this ceremony acutely embarrassing. “Yes dad, can you think about my cherry any harder?”

    Evangelicals seem to love fucked-up pageantry like this, though.

  11. Wait a minute! As much fun as a party at Newsguy Bob’s house would be, (I’m assuming…I mean, I love a good party just like the next person…), and thank you so much for the invite…but who said I was moving to Canada!?

    I visited a tiny portion of your great country many moons ago, and it was lovely, but I have no plans to uproot stakes and move any farther north…ever…farther south? Then, we’ll talk. 😉

    And, I prefer German beer… 😉

  12. Tsk Tsk Tsk. So many women, so few brains.

    1/ You cannot think for yourselves.
    2/ Your body and all its mysteries is evil and dirty.
    3/ Your body and all its mysteries are your only value.
    4/ You are property in spite of what the privy council decided some 80 yrs ago.
    5/ Your value like that of a classic car is dependent on you being “cherry” Matching serial numbers and no dents, scrapes, or any other wear and tear on the vehicle.
    6/ Now make daddy happy and tell me you won’t do anything to depreciate the value of my property before I can sell you to your husband.
    7/ Men are absolutely terrified that you will start to think, and decide you don’t like the programme we have provided for you so they must take all possible precautions against this ever happening.

  13. There is a documentary on purity balls currently airing on TLC. (I think this is the network.) I’ve seen the commercial a couple times where there’s a clip of a father sitting with his daughter, and he says to the interviewer (IN CREEPY, DULCET TONES), “How great would it be if she could say she’s only kissed one man in her whole life?”

    Holy freaking lord. Somebody help this poor girl.

  14. Wow. I wish Dad was still alive so he could be lauded for being such a progressive person. He raised my brother and me the same – always saying he didn’t believe in the “double standard.” Basically he said, “Sex is good and fun but it can eff you up if you’re not ready or with the wrong person.” He did not encourage my brother to “go for it!” while telling me to “wait for marriage.” Why do people keep sending different messages to their sons and daughters? Men need to be taught too.

  15. hmmmm, i wonder if this could this be a money generating ploy? look at the racket that weddings, baby showers, loss of first tooth have turned into. i see hallmark profiting plenty from these Purity Balls (oh just think of the clever poems they could write on this occasion!)


  16. CP – I don’t know…what will you do when all your daughter’s friends are having purity balls and she’s not? And she comes home crying because you don’t care enough to have her vagina welded shut? Eh? What will you do then???

    Raino – Ya I’m kind of wondering the same thing. And if she falls in love with some boy and they do the evil deed will she be publicly shunned and flogged in a similar ceremony?

    Bob – Stop taunting us with this imaginary party you’re never going to have — and when did CP say she was moving to Canada?

    Grumpus – Dad thinking about his 4, 8 or 10-year old’s cherry is even more perverse. It’s like from birth, the highlight of having a daughter is making sure she remains ignorant and “unsullied”.

    CP – Don’t worry, no one is trying to make you move. And Bob’s not having a party. He never has parties. He’s just having a little fantasy because he just bought a house.

    Bandobras – Ignorant virgins DO make better wives. Men can do anything with and to them and they won’t know any different. There’s a lot of pressure from modern women for men to be adequate lovers and kind and considerate and sensitive and all that other bullshit. If the guy doesn’t live up to this impossible ideal, women leave thus causing more and more divorces.Shackling a young girl who is used to a man being in charge of her sex life to a husband is the best way to maintain family values in America.

    Mary Lynn – Next step is letting Dad choose the husband as well. Why not? Actually, I think that’s already happening. These same people do advocate for “arranged marriages” as well.

    Lesely – Was this the same dad who had 9 children by 7 different wives? He was on one of those programs, ferrying one daughter after another to purity balls and making sure they remained butt ignorant.

    Geewits – Good for your Dad. That’s pretty much what I’m telling my daughter. My parents, of course, told us nothing. I guess that’s better than putting girls through shit like this, though.

    Meanie – I do believe you’re already too late. The Evangelical Church conglomorate already has the market cornered on this. But, hey – the Canadian market is wide open. Do you think you could convince parents here to go through this farce? And ya – the cards! Oh the cards! When you care enough to be obsessed with your daughter’s precious flower…. Thanks Dad for shielding me from reality…. For a daughter as pure and ignorant as a snowball…..

    Loth – Yes – swords and balls — could they BE any more Freudian??

  17. I remember talking about these “balls” (oh dear) in my sociology of sexuality class.
    So creepy. It freaked me out then, and freaks me out now. Those poor poor girls.

  18. Obviously a lot of girls are going to be damaged by this whole emphasis on “purity”. How a lack of sex got anything to do with purity has to be the greatest mess in the whole judeo/christian/muslim world.

    If you are a true believing Christian then you think your child, male or female, was born tainted by the mere fact of being human.

    If you have an inkling about what life is actually about you know they will experiment with sex.

    If you have an inkling of how to really protect your child you educate them about the ups and downs,( I was going to say in and out hee hee) of sex and stand back and help them when they get hurt and aplaud when they find joy and love.

  19. Ellie – good word

    Dr. Monkey – I’ve heard those can be painful (yet delightfully salty and crunchy)

    Lebowski – Creepy, eh?

    Kitty – I know – makes you wish you had daughters so you could absolutely NOT subject them to something like this, doesn’t it?

    Zoom – I’m glad my dad just ignored me.

    Em – What did they decide in sociology? Are the prevalent enough to make it a serious sociological topic? Gadzooks. Now I’m really scared.

    Alison – Another good word, along with Ellie’s “blech”. I was also rather fond of my “berk”. I understand the French use that word to signify hurling, vomiting, gagging, etc.. I like the sound of it.

    Jazz – I think they found something in the BIBLE that says fathers are supposed to obsessed with their little girls’ hoo-hah and that it’s their Christian duty to keep their precious flower from ever seeing the light of day.

    Bandobras – That’s easy for you to say. If you had a daughter you’d be brandishing swords and chastity rings/belts with which to save your child from knowledge and fun, too.

    UP – I only wish I were. I don’t have an imagination perverse enough for this. Sorry.

  20. I had heard about these a few years ago and sort of hoped they had gone away. It’s just very creepy, like Dad wants to be the only one in his daughter’s life. A little too involved I’d say, but the wife is probably applauding because of some warped ideas of her own.

  21. Cp – Ah-ha!! So now you’re going to be choosing her friends for her?? Eh?? Huh??? What’s next? Arranged marriage?

    Jobthingy – No I didn’t see it, but I heard about it which sent me off to investigate.

    Becky – It’s all just too perverse to even try to figure out.

  22. XUP: HA! In all honesty, I’ll probably be fielding calls from other parents wanting to know why my daughter is trying to talk their precious daughters out of going to something like that!! LOL! Plus, I said I’d help her brainstorm on how to find better friends…not that *I’d* be *choosing* them for her. 😉

    Thank goodness I have years to go before I need to even think about all this again. 🙂 And, I know, I know…the years will fly by. 😉

  23. No not particularly creepy – the whole creep factor sort of wears off after you’ve have dated a girl 20 years younger then you.

  24. I’ve heard about them a few years ago I believe. I think I would have freaked out if my father had done that to me. He was protective and we had no sexual education at home whatsoever, I had to learn from a friend about periods, but I do know that my independent streak would have rebelled at such a thing.

    Totally creepy, something about this whole thing that makes my skin crawl.

  25. Um excuse me…I’m way back here at the back of the line. WAY back of the line. I have never heard of this…or read of this…until now.

    Going back to read it again because I think I’m confused. I can’t seem to get this phrase out of my head: WTF??

  26. CP – I’m just yankin’ your chain and I don’t think “those” kind of girls will be allowed to mix with non-Christian fundamentalists like Claire anyway, so no worries

    DP – Have a nice oatmeal bath.

    Lebowski – I don’t suppose it wears off so much as it makes you the creep, so you don’t notice it so much. It’s like farting – it smells okay to you, but reeks to high heaven to everyone else.

    UA – Yes, you and most other normal people. Yeck.

    Grandy – Now you’ll be hearing about them everywhere. They’re becoming more popular every year, apparantly. And now that you have that wanton liberal government in power, parents will have to work extra hard to protect their children from wanton liberal immorality.

  27. I found it disturbing that the girls featured in the TLC special are made to lead such constricted lives. Many are home schooled. Their friends are other girls from church. They don’t know any boys. A young man who wants to, “get to know one of them better,” has to be inspected by Dad first, before he can even speak to one of these girls. If Dad approves, the young man “courts” the girl, with her parents present. How can a girl possibly find out what he’s really like, if her parents are always there?

    The girl is entirely passive in this process. She doesn’t even get a chance to really make an informed choice about who she will marry.