purity pledges at the father-daughter dance
glamour magazine reports this month on something called father-daughter purity balls. as the father of a teenage daughter, i think i speak for both of us when i say, "ewwwwww."
according to jennifer baumgardner's article, the fathers "vow to protect the girls’ chastity until they marry" and the daughters "promise to stay pure," sometimes exchanging rings to seal the deal. sociologist peter bearman of columbia is quoted on the consequences of abstinence pledges, along with some other high-powered social scientists in the 7-page article.
strangely, perhaps, issues of sexual double-standards and treating young women like sexual property were hardly mentioned. kind of hard to imagine this sort of ceremony between mothers and sons though, isn't it? (at least, i suppose, in the post-oedipal phases of the life course). maybe glamour readers aren't so sensitive to such double-standards these days.
there is some precedent for father-daughter dances, of course, but i'd never heard of coupling them with virginity pledges. esperanza and i always entered girl scout father-daughter dances with some trepidation, though we would both have a lovely time once we arrived. it was fun to dress up a bit and hang out together, bringing home a nice polaroid of the two of us in mardi gras beads or straw hats to mark the occasion. the potentially creepy date-like aspects of the dances were easily avoided too. she mostly danced with her buddies and then we'd have dinner somewhere like old country buffet -- hardly the pinnacle of romantic ambience.
girl scout dances were fine, but i can only imagine my daughter's responses to a public virginity pledge dinner with dad:
(a) "ewwwww. shut up!"
(b) "did you ask tor not to have sex until he was married?"
(c) "did you not have sex until you were married?"
(d) "okay, okay, we already had the 'healthy sexual choices' unit last quarter."
(e) "is that ring even gold? it looks kinda cheap."
the father-daughter dances were a good bonding experience, in part, because they did not involve imposing paternal controls or talking about sex. instead, these conversations have taken place in private and do not generally involve rings, tuxedos, and floor-length gowns.