Sunday, July 20, 2008

Something rather vile about this "purity"

For some time in the US, there has been a strong campaign by the Christian right to promote sexual abstinence among young people. Naturally, each to their own, and certainly abstinence is an option and choice.

However this report in Time has some rather disturbing overtones, overtones that at best smack of a pre-modern patriarchal ownership of daughter's bodies by their fathers, at worst a suppressed form of incestual slavery.

The Father-Daughter Purity Ball has girls as young as 4 engaging in dinner, dancing and testimony about the "pure life". 4??? What sort of psychological abuse is this that a little girl has to promise to her daddy to be a good girl?

The story of Kylie Miraldi, now 18, tells much of what this is all about:

"When Kylie was 13, her parents took her on a hike in Lake Tahoe, Calif. "We discussed what it means to be a teenager in today's world," she says. They gave her a charm for her bracelet--a lock in the shape of a heart. Her father has the key. "On my wedding day, he'll give it to my husband," she explains. "It's a symbol of my father giving up the covering of my heart, protecting me, since it means my husband is now the protector. He becomes like the shield to my heart, to love me as I'm supposed to be loved.""

So her heart is protected by her father (not mother no, and she can't be trusted herself can she?) until he decides it is ok to give it to her husband. Feminism anywhere? No. Like a piece of property this girl passes from father to husband.

Now I'm never going to decry the importance of fathers for daughters, or mothers for sons and vice versa. That is something sometimes ignored. However, for fathers to promise "before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the areas of purity,"raises many questions:

What if your daughter prefers girls?
What do you do if she disobeys?
Where does she go if dad disobeys?

Yes it is one thing for girls to grow up safe, secure, confident and happy, but another to do so only in the shadow of a parent who implicitly owns their body until authorising it to be offered to another man.


Matt Nolan said...

Great post - I completely agree with you

Anonymous said...

Scott, these Purity balls have been in existence for a while. Saw a doco on it. Not my cup of tea at all, but if teenage girls want to express their ideals, well, at least they're old enough to know what it's about.

But when I saw little girls including pre-schoolers (pre-schoolers!) lining up with Dad to presumably pronounce their "purity" to all & sundry, my stomach turned.

Childhood should be enjoyed. Goodness knows it's over quickly enough as it is. How repulsive to impose adolescence ten years earlier ... and a skewed view of adolescence at that.

Scary people.

Anonymous said...

Don't try to add your own words in this quote...which is what you are doing.

"So her heart is protected by her father (not mother no, and she can't be trusted herself can she?) until he decides it is ok to give it to her husband. Feminism anywhere? No. Like a piece of property this girl passes from father to husband."

Look at the article for what it really means moron, its not abbout feminism, its not about a father treatin his daughter like "property".
Its a fathers love and relationship with his daughter, just like she has with her mother. And it's about her father showing her how much he really cares about her and doesnt want to see her get hurt by anyone.
so please....dont try to put words in Kylies mouth. this family is wonderful and very loving and they dont deserve someone like you miss interpreting what has been said.

Libertyscott said...

OK BC, what if she doesn't like men, but prefers women, would her father happily undertake the same ceremony? I hardly think so.

She has a charm with a lock that her father owns, and she hands the lock to her husband? What is that about if it isn't paternalistic passing of property like some third world stone age society?

So you think it's ok for preteen girls to submit to this pledge about something they know nothing about?

Kylie is old enough to make her own decisions, (who knows of course if she was subject to pressure or taught the pros and cons of different philosophies) but why should girls be taught that they need a man to protect them? What from? Wouldn't it be better to teach them to make their own decisions, protect themselves from predators and be proud of their own bodies and the wonders of it?

Girls are not the property of parents to be handed over to the property of a man, and you're evading that BC - and well done, name calling makes your argument that bit less credible.

Tell me this, do sons go through the same ceremony with their mothers?

Of course not - gee I wonder why