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Abstinence Dance? Are Purity Balls the Answer to Teen Sex?

In Colorado over the weekend, around 70 young women attended a debutante-style event — though they weren't announcing their eligibility. Quite the opposite. The girls and their fathers were all participating in the ninth annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball.

The event marks a commitment to remain pure and formalizes the father's role in his daughter's moral development. The dads read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

Though the event is meant to keep the girls chaste, the dads like the reminder. “It’s also good for me,” said one. “It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.”

The annual gala costs around $10,000 to throw (financed by ticket sales) and this year about 150 people attended the purity ceremony and dance. What do the girls get out of pledging their purity to their dads? One said, “something I need from dad is affirmation, being told I’m beautiful. If we don’t get it from home, we will go out to the culture and get it from them.” The silent vows include sentiments like this one: “I promise to God and myself and my family that I will stay pure in my thoughts and actions until I marry.”

Though studies show decreased condom use among those who pledge abstinence and, um slip, is the act of making the promise publicly a step in the right direction? Is it nice that the fathers are so involved in their daughters' sexuality, or does it strike you as odd? Have you been to a purity ball?

For more pics of the event, the New York Times has a pristine slideshow.


Join The Conversation
BCgirl BCgirl 8 years
I am tired of people thinking teenagers are mindless, hormone driven robots! If we gave them all the facts, and the support and encouragement to make good decisions, more would. But instead we resign ourselves to thinking that they just "can't help themselves". "Hormones trump prom dresses"- whatever! Good for these girls for the decision they have made, and good for their dad's for supporting them! By the way, did anyone ever tell you that CONDOMS don't protect against all STD's? Why do you think so many people have herpes? Get educated people, and then tell these teenagers the TRUTH!
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
On another note, fuzzles, I think this may be one of your best threads to date. I haven't laughed this hard all day.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
"Are there similar purity balls for boys or is the whole focus on the girls behavior?" - Stephley I was wondering the exact......same....thing. I thought at first the photo was teenagers of both sex. Then I realised it was dads and daughters only and felt vaguely uncomfortable. While I am all for the idea that dads are involved in their daughters lives, I really don't think I like how this smacks of patriarchal management of a woman's most intimate decisions. We have enough of that **it in government already, thank you very much. "Purity and Balls in the same title. Brilliant. I wonder what nutsack came up with THIS idea." - Fuzzles Loudest laugh of my day, thanks luvvie. :D ******** Now.. those things being said, I am not judging whether or not a young woman chooses abstinence or not before marriage. What I have a problem with is the particular one-sidedness of this event. I mean, why not a normal teenager's ball, where both sexes are allowed to dance and declare this openly, of their own accord, and hold BOTH sexes to this standard. This is not the keys to the family CAR the dad is handing off, ffs. Seriously, if they insist on doing this, then do it right, and do it for both sexes, otherwise this is just..plain..creepy. I love my dad, but seriously...what next, douche commercials where she says "Dad, I don't feel so fresh?!"
sw33tlovin sw33tlovin 8 years
i think this is crazy and sexist, but people are gonna do what they wanna do and i'm glad it's not harming anyone. i find it really amazing how one of the vows is, “I promise to God and myself and my family that I will stay pure in my thoughts and actions until I marry.” staying pure in your actions is one thing .. but your thoughts? that's unrealistic and cruel.
lingericious lingericious 8 years
Maybe such promises might be broken, but I feel it is when the girls are able to communicate with their parents that will help in their abstinence, not just a dance. All the dance might be able to help is that some girls, once they have made their promises, they would not want to break it. I am thinking that mostly who go to such proms already have a good relationship with their families since young, as in they can talk very freely about any topics. Thus, those who really need to have good talks with their family, might not even want to join them, when they are already teenagers. These are just some of my thoughts.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Other-it's weird and creepy.
Satia Satia 8 years
"Are there similar purity balls for boys or is the whole focus on the girls behavior?" That was the very first thing that I thought when I read this. Pardon my assumption here... but assuming the girls are straight, I'm not exactly sure how they would be "impure" all by themselves (you know what I mean). When they have similar events for their sons, it won't bother me as much. And for the record, I chose not to have sex until I was married, but that was because it was the sensible thing for me, not for anyone else. My husband didn't make that same decision, and he regrets it. Neither my choice, nor his regret is due to religious beliefs either.
wifflebatt wifflebatt 8 years
As a teenager who is waiting, I think the government as failed the youth of today. Kids will have sex inenevitable. But kids that are going to make that choice should be prepared by knowing the right percautions and ect. Its not fair that kids arnt given a choice because if given the chance 75% of kids WOULD make the right choice. We should be given a chance to make our own decisions. otherwise america is breeding a new gerneration that will make terrible choices regarding everything. And to remind all that are reading I am a teenager. I see what is wrong and understand our government is ignorant
QuinnAngel00 QuinnAngel00 8 years
I voted it was a good idea. Mostly because I don't really care. It's at least good to see parents who are involved in their children's life, though talking about "purity" and what not...Well it's good to see they can be open. I mean, if the girls are having problems with something they will probably be more apt to actually talk to their parents about it. I hope my kids will too, though I'm not going to any purity balls. I'd like to know where the boys are though? Where is their purity ball? Whether this has to do with being church related or not, I think they are at least attempting for a connection to be built between children and parents. I think that's great, though a purity ball wouldn't be my first vote. I don't do church, and while I think some churche's ideas are insane (Harry Potter is evil? Wow can you kill your kid's childhood and imagination anymore? Then Santa must be evil too, flying around in the sky and whatnot), it's not all of them. I think some sort of measures are needed to teach kids more about sex, even abstinence, and I think it involves them being able to talk to their parents. It might be uncomfortable or whatever, but it has been done. I think a purity ball doesn't do any harm. And if they break the vow? I doubt they will be smited, and they will probably keep it a secret from their parents like a normal teen anyway. You just hope they are informed and keep it safe. Being informed is the key.
akalam21 akalam21 8 years
I've read some of the comments about this topic and I agree with alot of what's already been said. Let me just add I do find it odd that a father would be so outwardly involved with his daughter's purity and having both a husband and a teenage daughter I know that this abstinence ball would not be a route either of them would want to take. My husband and I have always been open and up front with our teenagers about sex and the ramifications of sexual activity. Regardless of what you teach them in your home, they have lives outside of your presence and sometimes they will make decisions that you will not agree with. You teach them what you can, being as clear and relavent as possible and hope that they make good healthy choices. You do all of this with the understanding that if they choose to have sex after all of the information you've provided, that they atleast use protection. Above all you want your children safe. Our kids understand that sex is a natural and (given the right circumstances) beautiful thing, but that at 15 and 16 years of age they simple aren't psychologically developed enough for the responsibilities, potential hazards, and physical and emotional developments that occur between a couple after having sex. So, we've talked to them about all of this and have come to the understanding with them that while we hope that they choose to wait until they are older and more prepared we understand what is to be a teenager. And we hope that in choosing to make the decision to have sex that they are responsible enough to protect themselves and the person they have sex with by using a condom. We don't know for sure if they will decide to wait or decide that they don't want to wait, but we arm them with good information and respect for themselves to make at least an informed decision. And we believe that they feel comfortable enough to come to us if they are ever in a situation that they need help with. I always want to know, that at the end of the day my children trust us enough to have faith that we won't judge, but will help.
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
Two questions: why is this only about young girls? Why is there such a double standard in our society about it being ok and normal for young men to have sex but not the other way around? Why does religion always have to be the reason for abstinece? Sorry, but sex is human nature, and if someone wants to do it, they will. It's that simple. I am tired of girls being made to feel ashamed and that they must repress their sexuality. It is not healthy. I am sorry, but sex is a personal choice, it is nothing to do with religion or your parents! You cannot force or guilt your daughter into not having sex, but you can inform her of the consequences and how to protect herself from STD's and that it is better to be intimate with someone you are in love with. That is all we can do. I am from Canada, and unlike the states, we have honest and practical sex education courses in all of our schools. And hey, guess what? Are teen pregnancy rates are much, much lower than in the U.S.
chelles chelles 9 years
Ok after reading some comments, it's nice to know i'm not the only one a little creeped out by this. A fancy ball isn't going to make a teen abstain from sex. I know there are different ways of doing things but come on!
LoraEOraL LoraEOraL 9 years
it sounds like a cult of something
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
1. As stated in a previous comment why are there not balls(LOL) for boys.
Because girls get pregnant by themselves, don't you know? No boys involved in the process.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
You're correct ilanac. You have to expect that your teens are going to make the right choice, and as a parent, you have to remind them what the right choice is.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that it's a nice sentiment, but in my opinion, it's just that. a nice sentiment. i think taht in 'today's era' - you have to do more than host a great event to sway teens against typical behaviors.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Just as some people go and elope, some people like the celebratory nature of a grand wedding to make a statement. Do kids need a graduation ceremony, do Brownies need to cross a bridge to become girl scouts? sometimes a dance, or a celebration or gesture is a way of showing unity to the community (that rhymed) it might be someones cup of tea and not others. we dont have to lock our children up to keep them from harm, you just have to lead by example and be thier parents not thier buddies.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
Well said, Stephley.
stephley stephley 9 years
If you're spiritual and you've been loving, kind, supportive and encourging of your daughter every day you've had together, this purity pledge wouldn't be necessary. You say to your daughter "You know what I've tried to teach you as I helped you grow. I believe in you, and that you'll make the right choices for you when the time comes. I want you to know that whatever choice you make, whether it is what I would do or not, I will still love you. Nothing you do will take that away." That's what your children need from you.
brownchica brownchica 9 years
1. As stated in a previous comment why are there not balls(LOL) for boys. Girls don't do the deed alone. 2. When do these girls take ownership of their own sexuality and bodies? This seems to be something that is passed from one man to another. When the girls get hold of it they dont know how tho handle it and that is where the problems arise. 3. Fathers who are invloved with their daughters lives ALL OF THE TIME dont have to hold balls to protect their chastity...its on lock down. If many of these men were real role models in the home this would be the type of boys the girls would most likely date. How you treat the woman in your life is how you teach your daughter to demand she be treated. I think this is yet another way for WEAK men to try to control women. It's also LAME and Kinda CREEPY!!!!!
camlette camlette 9 years
What does purity have to do with sexuality and vice versa? We are all sexual. We are all capable of purity. My question is, why do some people believe you can't have both simultaneously?
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
runningesq: good point. cant believe i overlooked that.
runningesq runningesq 9 years
Engaged? Oh no no no, MARRIED. If they and their raging unchecked hormones get to each other during their engagement ... well, straight to hell with them.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
id like to see us lock our daughters and sons up in cages until they are engaged.
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