Chris Uggen's Blog: purity pledges at the father-daughter dance

Monday, February 05, 2007

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.

5 Comments:

At 6:41 AM, Blogger Radio Free Newport said...

For a seriously high "ewww" quotient, check out this YouTube clip, "CareNet Presents the 3rd Annual Purity Ball" (it's safe for work):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhBSpzK203Q

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous chris said...

oh my... this is worse than i thought.

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like the classic male strategy for controlling means of reproduction. the issue of breaking virginity pledges can be averted through better social control and monetary compensation. women respond to money and need a man to think with any rational and consistent set of behaviors.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

My son just divorced his wife largely because her father, who tried to dictate her sexuality before marriage, never knew when to back off and let her relationship with her husband develop properly. "Dad" was continually involved in her life even after the marriage. I think many of these fathers are controllers who will only create problems in any marriage their daughters try to have.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Sandpiper said...

As someone who spent her last several months of her senior year in a home for unwed mothers, I say Bravo to the Dads who are involved enough to help keep their kids from messing up their entire lives! As I watch the "ewwww" commercials paid for by the pharmaceutical companies making a lifelong condition of sexually transmitted diseases sound like no big deal and watch the multitudes of teenage single moms hauling around one or several babies the state has agreed to support for the next 18 years, it reminds me how irresponsible and spontaneous we are as teenagers. Can these dads really keep their daughters from becoming sexually active? I don't know, probably not. Do all kids entering college stay there until they get a degree? No. Do all starry eyed couples end up happily married for 60 years? No. None of us can guarantee 100% success in anything. But even if a small percentage of them don't end up with more than they bargained for because their dad cared enough to recognize they need some strong support in the sexual department, I'm all for it. There are WAY to many deadbeat dads out there and you and I are paying for them so it's about time we started giving the loving, caring involved ones some credit!

 

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