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April 18, 2006

Will I Need a Tux?

My lord, how deeply, deeply deranged. These father-daughter purity balls, where the fathers take their pre-teen daughters to a sort of prom and pledge to protect their hymens till they make a baton-like handoff to the kid's future husbands, are beyond creepy. Hell, they've left creepy sobbing quietly in a corner somewhere, moving on to harass "strange," "pseudo-incestuous," and "chilling."

At least debutante balls, with their innate patriarchy and glorification of everything superficial and useless (even beauty pageants have an interview portion!), don't explicitly hand over control of the child's virginity to the father. They're held to mark the community's judgment that the girl is ready to lose her virginity to a nice boy of corresponding class. Purity balls, in contrast, feature young girls, far too inexperienced (and prepubescent) to know what they're giving up, promising abstinence while their fathers pledge guardianship of that abstinence. The sexual contract, previously confined to the daughter, her partners, and God, is extended to the father, ensuring that any independent sexual decisions of the daughter will entail the overt rejection of a parent. What an excellent way to promote family values, open communication, and healthy self images.

April 18, 2006 | Permalink


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This belongs on pandagon.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 18, 2006 4:09:24 PM

But it fits so well here. Maybe I should start having Amanda crosspost sometimes?

Posted by: Ezra | Apr 18, 2006 4:24:24 PM

Given that this is Ezra's blog and not yours Fred, I think it's up to him whether he wants to talk about something as deeply disturbing as this.

I think the analogy of the baton pass is very fitting for something like this...

Posted by: NoVA liberal | Apr 18, 2006 4:25:56 PM

Maybe I should start having Amanda crosspost sometimes?

Sure...your blog. Perhaps you could have her write a piece for your magazine, eh? Not really. I just wanted to put the whole suggestion into proper perspective...

Posted by: Fred Jones | Apr 18, 2006 4:41:05 PM

Only the good die young.

Posted by: TigerHawk | Apr 18, 2006 4:47:50 PM

Actually, I have invited Amanda to pitch for my magazine, and explicitly included her in a recent forum we set up. In no way do I find that a strange or worrying prospect.

Posted by: Ezra | Apr 18, 2006 4:49:21 PM

One of the things I like most about Ezra's blog, Ezra's work, and Ezra generally is that it (he) is (usually) an oasis of serious, thoughtful discourse. I enjoy this oasis, despite the fact that I myself am inclined in a rowdier direction. And my regard for Ezra and his blog are why I wonder why Fred Jones continues to be allowed to post here. Just what, precisely, is his contribution?

Posted by: Farinata X | Apr 18, 2006 5:22:53 PM

You mentioned this briefly, but I'm seriously worried about the aspect of "handing the baton" over to another man at some point.

Insofar as my daughter is 4 years old, I guess it is possible to think of my wife and I as "protectors" of her virginity. Of course, we make a lot of her decisions for her. As she gets older, there are more areas of her life in which she is able to make her own choices. She's picking out her own outfits and getting dressed "all by herself!" now. We even take her shopping and let her take part in choosing what we get for her at the store. There will come a time, of course, when she is completely autonomous in this regard. Just as I am not going to "hand over" the decision making power regarding her clothing to her husband, I am in no position to "hand over" her virginity to anyone. It's hers, not mine, not my wife's and certainly not the property of whatever worthless loser she decides to have a sexual relationship with.

I'm not handling the whole "someday there will be other men in her life" thing very well. Stupid boys.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 18, 2006 5:37:24 PM

We should instead look to the example of those peace-loving Muslims, who keep their women locked up and hidden, beat them for not wearing the right clothes and kill them when they believe that they have been made "impure" out of wedlock. Such a wonderful liberal ideal!

Posted by: shoelimpy™ | Apr 18, 2006 5:46:25 PM

Shoe, the only Muslims here are the ones in your head.

And thanks for making the connection between American religious fanaticism and Muslim religious fanaticism for us. Why do you think we call these folks the American Taliban?

Posted by: Kylroy | Apr 18, 2006 5:58:22 PM

Ummmmmm, there is no radical religious right in the United States that even comes close to that in existence in the Middle East. And liberals love Muslims, that is why they spend their time defending them. We are facing an Iran that is coming dangerously close to developing nuclear weapons, and you are saying "no problem, Iranians! Nuke Israel, we don't care!"

And then you are going to complain about something like this? You have your priorities greatly confused.

Posted by: shoelimpy™ | Apr 18, 2006 6:56:59 PM

Its so obvious that I feel silly even mentioning it, but somehow I suspect that there are no male purity balls.

Posted by: Dan | Apr 18, 2006 7:00:31 PM

Hey, the religious taliban aren't just protecting the virginity of under-legal-age females. They want all people to sweat to complete sexual abstinance unless married in a male/female pair. Not married? No sex.

The sickness of this 'purity balls' thing, which surely reeks of father-daughter incest (and marriage)aspects, is just one aspect of this overall drive to make sex somehow dirty or unnatural except in marriage. I'm sure these talibani's have views on what is permitted for sex in marriage too, yet to be disclosed publicly. What do they advocate, for both men and women, teens or adults, regarding masturbation? Are we heading back to the 'it will make you blind' era?

Worth a note: these religious extremeists don't sponsor Mother/Son Virginity Balls. Why is that? Men don't need to be controlled but women do? Why is it vital that females be virginal but not males?

All this is another aspect of the right-wing totalitarian drive: they want the state to control your behavior, public and private.

As the evidence seems to increaae that making enemies also means that you change to resemble your enemies, perhaps we should ask that the US religious fanatics spend several years living in their nirvana world: Afghanistan. Then lets see what they say when they return.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 18, 2006 7:15:48 PM

(damned small size serif fonts): my comment above should be:

They want all people to swear to complete sexual abstinance

although sweat may work too LOL

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 18, 2006 7:18:07 PM


While Amanda and Pandagon definitely have a point of view she is fairly focused in her subject matter and this topic likely would fit nicely there.

When you first left Pandagon and Jesse and went out on your own I was slow to migrate along -- habitual typing if nothing else -- but it wasn't long before it became apparent that your scope of interests and the things that you posted on was much wider and interesting than what Pandagon had to offer.

Perhaps there are lots of folks on this blog that have been around long enough to have appreciated your transition but the topic combined with how well it would fit on Pandagon is kind of eerie.


Posted by: m | Apr 18, 2006 7:22:46 PM

This is just really weird & kinky.

Posted by: Dustin | Apr 18, 2006 7:51:06 PM

Humbert Humbert would have dug it.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Apr 18, 2006 8:22:39 PM

literally the first day after Ezra left Pandagon my old laptop finally died, and poverty kept me offline until two months ago. Upon my return I was pretty surprised at the huge changes at Pandagon, but it fast became one of my favorite blogs. Ezra is great for policy and diPandagon is great for intelligent/mischievous wedge-issue-radical fun (amadna is a sharp and prolific writer, besides attracting some excellent commenters and the consistently most impressive friday random tens of any lefty site that gets down on that tip ;) ). If the left-blogosphere is college, Ezra is my favorite class (in a totally fun way, btw, Ezra) and Pandagon is my favorite bar. Both are totally necessary to the experience. Yeah. Big ups to Ezra and big ups to Pandagon.

Indeed. If "purity" means no sex, the very linguistic construct of male purity balls dies a quick and painless death by contradiction. Logic, it seems, has no ideology, and this time it falls on the side of the fundies.

Anyway, they do the Spring-Rage Testosterone-Soak for the boys, don't they? Something about dominance, the caste system, and lacrosse parties, I think...? Something about becoming a high priest?

Good luck to all these psychos. All I know is I'm not sleeping with any fundamentalists from South Dakota, because who knows what kind of icky diseases they got by HAVING SEX ANYWAY, and doing so UNPROTECTED BECAUSE OF SHIT LIKE THIS.
Think about it:
The only person in recorded history who successfully bent legions of teenagers to his dogmatic will was Mao Zedong, and the only way HE did it was by exploiting their urge to hurt authority figures.

sorry for the long, senseless, and disconnected post

i love you all

Posted by: petomai | Apr 18, 2006 8:45:39 PM

Nice to see that father/daughter purity balls made everyone think of me. Unfortunately, my dad was more interested in treating me like a kid than a china doll and would have sooner died than do this to me.

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Apr 18, 2006 11:43:12 PM


I think you're forgetting that feminists all have dysfunctional relationships with their fathers.

Please try to remember these things in the future.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 19, 2006 12:28:49 AM

This fits in the same catagory as a Fundamentalist Christian Halloween haunted house I heard about a few years ago--seems they thought regular Halloween was evil--ghosts and devils and all--so they made a haunted house with scenes of drunk driving accidents...which to me was an even worse evil by turning a serious topic into pornography to gawk at. For crying out loud let kids be kids.

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Apr 19, 2006 12:35:29 AM

I'm surprised the usual apologists haven't started arguing "But this doesn't represent REAL conservative Christians' views!"

Posted by: Chris | Apr 19, 2006 2:58:14 AM

iirc, some schools have had father-daughter dances, mainly, i believe, so they can have some time together.

but this ... is creepy.

p.s. please ignore trolls in the future, folks! your comments only encourage them. snub them for the fools they are.

Posted by: harry near indy | Apr 19, 2006 5:08:15 AM

I want to ignore the trolls but I think the main troll point is, as always, utterly bizarre. Its worth pointing out that they persist in thinking that a subject that includes women is *not worthy* of a post by a male blogger. Its not just that they insist that amanda at pandagon is too narrowly focused on "women's issues" its that they think anything at all to do with women is too trivial for "real men." The fact that half the participants in these perverse purity balls are men, that the implications of this paternalist fantasy clearly fan out widely in the community and affect mothers, sons, brothers, etc... is absolutely beyond them. Not only do they refuse to recognize that when it comes to sex the "personal is the political" hell, they even refuse to recognize that when it comes to what they otherwise insist on calling the building block of society (the family) the political is the political.

But in re thse father/daughter balls. I just spent the weekend with a very distressed woman in her forties. I'd say that her relationship with both her parents was perfectly captured in this fantasy that the father totally controlls the daughter until she is passed on to an appropriate male. I'll just say for the record that she is, twenty years into marriage with the appropriate male, utterly divorced from her own sexuality, and even from her own desires. Unable to figure out what to do next and pracitcally suicidal. I, on the other hand, who had a warm and supportive, non judgemental and "modern" relationship with my father, am happilly married and not suicidal. Go figure. But many thanks to my father for always listening and never judging or putting his judgement in for mine.


Posted by: aimai | Apr 19, 2006 9:23:18 AM

I find father/daughter dances, whether it be in the form of an organized ball or that annoyingly obligatory wedding ritual, creepy in general. And the "purity" aspect in this case just adds a heaping dose of ICK.

Then again, maybe shoelimpy's (trademark) right and I have my "priorities greatly confused". Well, gotta run - kinda busy today - what with "justify honor killings", "support nuking Israel", and "pickup smokes" still on today's "must do list".

Posted by: shingles | Apr 19, 2006 10:31:27 AM

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