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My weekly “what the hell?” moment.

Thursday, April 23, 2009
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks

Procrastinating the morning away, I happened to find this promo article on msnbc’s Today (books) section: The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity is Hurting Young Women.

The article mentions many of the things that have made me gag or do a double take in recent years, from purity pledges to ‘born again’ virgins who undergo surgery to re-attach (re construct?) their hymens. All of these topics have been discussed, either in passing or at length, in many blogs–from Michelle Buonfiglio’s Romance B(u)y the Book to the Smart Bitches and others–and, from where I sit, it seems that the consensus is that it’s all fucked up to hell and back.

The thing that stopped me in my tracks, however, was this little bit:

More than 1,400 purity balls, where young girls pledge their virginity to their fathers at a promlike event, were held in 2006 (the balls are federally funded)

Hold it right there.

Federally funded? Federally funded????

Like,  you know, with my taxes and your taxes?

What the everloving fuck?

Comprehensive sexual education has been downsized, pretty much into non-existence, in many public schools because of budget restrictions, but there is money to fund purity balls? and for schools to hold abstinence rallies?

Pardon me while I go have a cow.


  • Emmy
    April 23
    5:12 pm

    I think that I’m a little more disturbed that girls are pledging their virginity to their fathers.

    Ok, make that a LOT more disturbed.


  • Oh Emmy, for sure that’s freaky in so many levels, I’d need a few volumes to express my feelings on the matter.

    Seriously fucked up, if anyone asks me.

    But if it’s privately funded, I have no say on it–in a democratic country, at least.

    However, once federal funds are used, all bets are of, no?


  • I bet Bristol Palin went to one of these events too.


  • MB (Leah)
    April 23
    5:45 pm

    I’m with Emmy. That was the first thing that hit me about that article, that these girls are pledging virginity to their fathers. It flew my “ick and creepy” radar into high gear.

    My virginity or lack there of was the last thing I’d have ever wanted to discuss with my father. Heh.. or my mother for that matter.


  • Yeah – I have to agree with Emmy – the whole pledge thing is icky


  • Yeah those purity balls squick me out. I’m all for dads being involved with their kids, but to have your father hold your virginity like some prize he’s going to award to another man is just disgusting.

    You know, a few years back my parents wanted my sister to take a comprehensive sex ed course–and they had to pay for it! The school provided the abstinence only curriculum for free but if they wanted to take six or eight weeks of sex ed seminars, the parents had to pony up. And my parents did.

    I’m going to have to look into this federally funded business and write some letters to my reps. What a waste of money!


  • anon
    April 23
    7:36 pm

    Yes, AL. They get federal money via the “Abstinence Only Sex Education” acts that were passed during the Bush years. The ACLU tried to stop it, but since the money was being used for “education” by “Faith Based Groups” they haven’t gotten anywhere yet. I doubt there is any way to stop it the money going to these events as the evangenelical Christians have a lot of political clout.


  • i saw the purity balls on some news show. I actually saw them pledging their virginity. I’m still traumatized.


  • Oh, and I just love the way a lot of these girls end up having oral or anal sex, cause, you know, they promised Daddy they’d keep that precious little hymen.

    The whole thing makes me want to vomit…as a woman and as the mother of 3 very intelligent–very informed–teenage girls!


  • KCfla
    April 23
    10:44 pm

    I’m with Leslie.
    The whole concept is flawed to begin with. I’ve heard so many horror stories from my teenagers about how these “purity” kids get around their vows…………..

    Let’s just say I almst got physically Ill. I’ll take my educated, well balanced kids anyday!


  • Lorraine
    April 23
    11:26 pm

    Yep, pledging virginity to a father is gross…WTF?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Federal funding goes away under this administration. Obama seems like he’s got two feet firmly planted in reality and wouldn’t want to continue funding an endeavor that’s doomed to failure.

    Let’s face it, when I was a teenager eons ago, the majority of my friends were sexually active *granted we lived in liberal So Cal*. It’s difficult for me to believe that nowadays teen girls are turning down the temptation of having a good looking boy promise, “I”ll love you if you let me…” And is there such a thing as a boy who doesn’t want it? *Actually I know one who’s 24…he’s good looking, too…what a waste!*


  • willaful
    April 24
    12:17 am

    Count me in as another person almost puking over here. How disgusting is that?

    I’m glad someone has written a book though, and hope it gets tons of attention. To paraphrase one of my favorite books, The Season of the Witch, “I think virginity was invented by dirty old men so they’d have something to defile.”


  • Kylie Creel
    April 24
    12:46 am

    Purity balls are wrong on sooooo many levels. I truly think they done to placate parents…what happened to a girl’s PERSONAL choice…to herself? I waited until I was 21! Not because I had to or faith or a promise. I just didn’t feel it was the right time with the right person. When I finally lost my virginity to my then boyfriend, now husband, it was such a special, albeit painful, event and now I’m 17 weeks pregnant with his child many years later. I couldn’t ask for a better experience. And no purity ball needed… and it’s sick that it’s federally funded.


  • Teddypig: Even Bristol said abstinence only education didn’t work, and she’d know 😛

    Pledge your virginity to your dad? Cripes! What century is this?!? And the use of federal dollars to preach one side of the story? A half-assed approach from a half-assed Administration.

    I don’t know what the sex education program is like in our school district, but since I’m going to the Jr/Sr HS orientation tonight, I’ll be asking. Ultimately, of course, it’s my job to pick up any slack, no matter what. Let’s just say my 12 year old is going to be getting an ear-full very, very soon. It’ll embarrass the hell out of her, but better that than the alternative.


  • Sam
    April 24
    12:59 am

    I am so glad I am not the only one to think ‘oh hell no’. I can’t imagine doing that to my daughter. What a way to screw up sex lives forever.

    Also, wtf is so damn important about that damn membrane? Seems to me if a girl/lady/woman is intelligent, kind, caring, good with kids and dogs and an all-around good person, why the hell is she devalued because of a lack of such a thin piece of flesh/skin/membrane.

    I will never understand THAT.



  • shirley
    April 24
    3:03 am

    You can easily google the numbers on abstinence only programs. They do not work.

    On the other hand, sex ed alone doesn’t ‘work’ much better (less than a couple of percent). In fact, the best way to lower the numbers of pregnant teens and pre-marital sex: teach girls to have high self esteem. I swear to god. If we teach girls to have respect for themselves and their bodies as they were made and support them in order for girls to have strong self-confidence – teen pregnancy numbers and teen sexual activity numbers plummet. And I think it’s pretty obvious why – when we teach young women to love themselves, they don’t go trying to find someone else to love them (or give them a sense of self-value) instead.


  • Here, let me make it even more disturbing:



  • MichelleR, I might just pass on the therapy bills to you directly.



  • Shirley, you’ve hit it right on the head. Self-respect and self-value will take you far, and keep you out of most trouble.

    Michelle R.: I think I’d find that clip less disturbing if Bruce had kept the heart part himself to give to his intended, not his Dad. Ew! Dude! Parents, do your job and step aside.


  • Kylie Creel
    April 24
    3:58 am

    Shirley – Exactly! I had respect for myself and loved (still do) my body the way it was, stretch marks and all. I had the self-confidence and self-esteem. Sure, I was a bratty teenager at some point, but my mom swears I was a freak in that respect and actually did ok as a teenager.

    It used to boggle my mind why my sister-in-law wanted the birds and the bees talk from me and after explaining why I waited…she went out and did it anyways in the worst kind of circumstances. But, I soon realized she didn’t have that self-confidence and respect. Her momma was a strict “don’t ask, don’t tell” and wouldn’t entertain ANY questions from her… not only that, she constantly told her to suck in her stomach because she was fat (and my sis-in-law NEVER needed to do that). Hmm, guess that’s why she came to me. *sigh*


  • AztecLady,
    The date of the clip shows you that I’ve suffered, too. Well over a year after seeing the clip, creepy abstinence pledges are made, and I have flashbacks. The key, the hole that needs filling, the sappy love song, the worshipful gaze of daddy.

    Oh, and what Ryan does at 2:54. The kid might have went to Hollywood a virgin…

    There’s nothing wrong with a choice of abstinence, but the balls and rings, and whatever, makes it a weird fetishy thing. As Russell Brand points out, when you’re asked to imagine someone in a state of celibacy, you — contrary to the stated goals — are encouraged to think about them as sexual beings. Kinda like the “Don’t think about pink elephants” thing.

    It’s no coincidence that Britney Spears proclaimed her virginity at about the time she appeared in a schoolgirl uniform.


  • That is wrong on so many levels.

    No matter what one’s religious beliefs, promoting abstinence in this day and age is totally unrealistic.

    Many – if not most – teenagers will have sex before marriage.

    And those who wait will probably turn out to be hypocrites like Jessica Simpson. All the fuss she made about saving herself for Nick Whatshisface. Then they got divorced and Jessica dated other guys and presumably slept with them. So what’s the message here? Wait for marriage to lose your virginity, then you can do whatever you like? That’s bullshit.


  • elf
    April 24
    9:52 am

    The worst I saw – as if saying the pledge to daddy and the concept itself wasn’t bad enough – was that at some balls, they accept daddies with their five/six year olds. WTF?!
    How awesome is that… you hit 15/16, then your dad hauls out an old polaroid of you in a princess dress, and your pledge at age five to not go sexxin’ those boys, as he’s the keeper of your hymen.
    As you know, five-year-olds are able to make a reasoned choice about their sexuality.


  • Okay, I’ve got no problem with teen girls pledging abstinence. I actually think that’s a brilliant, and brave, choice, provided they mean it.

    But pledging it to their dads? Don’t like that.


  • Also, wtf is so damn important about that damn membrane? Seems to me if a girl/lady/woman is intelligent, kind, caring, good with kids and dogs and an all-around good person, why the hell is she devalued because of a lack of such a thin piece of flesh/skin/membrane.

    I don’t see it as valuing the membrane-it’s about valuing themselves. Too many teenaged girls get into sexual relationships for all the wrong reasons-because their friends are doing it, because they think it means their boyfriends will love them more, etc, etc etc. Meanwhile, teen pregnancies are also commonplace now, and there’s some very scary statistics are sexually transmitted diseases among teens.

    Shirley nailed it-if teenaged girls start valuing themselves as they should, they are much less likely to give it out like candy. If we could get that, then the health issues with teens having sex would dramatically improve, the kids would have a chance to mature a little more and by the time they do get into a sexual relationship, they are doing it for the right reasons, the right reasons being that each of the partners decided it was the right time for them.


  • Shiloh, my main problem with this whole virginity/purity thing is that it may (is) about self-respect for you, but I definitely doubt a child or a teen understand the difference.

    Particularly difficult for any individual to get the ‘self respect’ part when someone *else* holds it for you, however symbolic that pledge/promise may be.


  • Well, Shiloh, who are they supposed to pledge it to? This is not a subculture that allows females sexual agency at any age.
    Daddy and future husband are the only ones it has any value to, realistically speaking. Used to be a monetary value, but let’s not go there.


  • Kylie Creel
    April 24
    11:45 pm

    Well, AztecLady, as a teenager I understood self-respect, but I’m probably one of the few out there that did. *shrugs* I just wish that parents would take a more active role in EDUCATING their children, instead of asking for promises that obviously aren’t working. *sighs*


  • Shiloh, my main problem with this whole virginity/purity thing is that it may (is) about self-respect for you, but I definitely doubt a child or a teen understand the difference.

    And therein lies the problem…no, a child isn’t going to understand (and shouldn’t…I mean, this is sex) but if teens are taught to value themselves AS themselves, then yes, I think many teens would understand the difference. All, no. But quite a few.

    Like I said, the pledging it to their dad’s is just plain…strange, but making the promise to themselves to have sex when it is right for each individual person, that I can respect.

    Angelia, yes, themselves. I disagree that the virginity only has value to the father and the husband.

    The father shouldn’t enter the picture.

    The girl/woman/female should. Her future should. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s foolish for a woman to think of her future husband when making the choice-it is her choice and if she’s making a well-informed one, then it should be respected, regardless of whether people agree with her decision, or the reasons behind it.

    I don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to think of a future spouse, simply because I do believe sex should mean something. That’s my personal feelings on it, but aside from personal viewpoints, sex changes things and sex comes with risks.

    A girl’s future should mean something, and because her future should mean something, realistically speaking, chastity has plenty of meaning to a teenaged girl.

    Any teenaged girl that has sex runs the risk of pregnancy, so they face the hard choice of abortion or being a teenaged mom. Neither of those choices come without consequences.

    Teens involved in sex also run the risk of disease.

    Any person who’s contracted an sexually transmitted disease has a rough road, and God help them if it’s something like HIV or herpes-bacterial infections can be cured, but the viral infections can’t, so that’s a lifelong issue.

    Some reports show that one in four sexually active teens have or will contract a sexually transmitted disease. That’s absolutely terrifying to me.

    Again, if girls and boys are taught to value themselves, then giving it away just because their friends are, or because their boyfriend/girlfriend wants it is less likely to happen.


  • DeeCee
    April 27
    8:23 pm

    Ewwwww….on SO many levels. (I keep thinking of all the dirty jokes…”Call me Daddy.” )Barf.

    @ Teddypig: Snort :))

    In my neck of the woods, they have 3 levels of sex ed classes: 0-abstinence only, 1-covers absolute basics, and 2-covers STD’s and basic protection. To get into a Class 2 you must have parental permission. More often than not Class 2 won’t have many students b/c parents won’t ok it.

    It shocks me, because my state (Idaho) has one of the highest rates for unmarried teen pregnancy and STD’s among teenagers. And while I’m all in favor of sexual liberation and body rights and what not, these fed funded balls are only exacerbating the problems faced by ill prepared teens.

    Back when I was in hs they had the promise ring. Not a lot of help in the long run-it accomplished squat. Out of my 500+ graduating class I know of 4 girls that had kids while in school, 2 girls that got married while in school, and 3 girls that were pregnant at graduation. While that’s not a huge statistic, if every high school in the district is about the same (3-12 districts per county, 20+ counties per region, 4 regions…problem. Big problem.

    Now personally, I’m all for the educated route. Let them know wtf they’re up against, and try not to glamorize teen sex like Hollywood has for the last 20 years with shows like Gossip Girl and 90210. The “boys will be boys” shit wherein they are allowed or encouraged to sow their wild oats has to be stopped too. There are just WAY too many complications to sex nowadays…if not fear of pregnancy, fear of death via an STD.

    One thing I will give to Hollywood though is that they’re making the consequences more acknowledged. Having the Gardasil commercials where teen girls talk about Cervical Cancer has definitely helped the cause.


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