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Last week I came across a link about a trend in Colorado called “The Purity Ball”. I was, as I so often am, distracted and I pre-judged based solely on the words of the title. If the journalists of 2014 need to change anything, it’s to use clearer titles for your articles. If you have to shock us into reading, then how can you really rate your writing talent?
So the title was this: “Purity Balls Have Daughters Pledge Virginity to Fathers”.
Sounds creepy, eh? I said I didn’t have room in my head for that silliness, until my wonderful friend Sandra showed me her perspective on the purity ball. In similar words, she said that it’s a way for daughters to feel closer to their fathers in an open-for-discussion kind of way. As always, my friends’ perceptions help mold mine. From creepy, this whole thing suddenly turned sincere and overflowing with hopes of open lines of communication between parents and children.
So this got me to thinking. What if we women and young girls choose the wrong men or partners because Dads don’t discuss with their daughters what to look for in a partner? Dads are most definitely expected to tell their sons what makes a man, but how’s a daughter supposed to know? And I know I’m not alone, when I say that my Dad only told me about the guys I wasn’t to hang around with. For me, that made me want them more. So this cast my memory back a bit, and I can say that when it comes to parents influencing their child’s choices in friends or boyfriends, the window of opportunity is miniscule.
Enter…the Purity Ball. This is a ceremony that by guidelines is supposed to occur just before puberty, but with puberty age all over the map these days, it can take place as young as age 6 but usually at age 12. We can all google the topic to get into the meaty parts, I’m just here to say that perhaps in theory, and with a few additions and alterations, I believe this could be a good thing Martha!
The first alteration for me, would be to remove religion and God from the whole thing. Why exclude anyone? All with a vagina may apply! The original couple who started the purity ball are Christian and throw around the ‘virginity ‘til marriage’ thing too much for my comfort level. I was raised Catholic and now am not, it’s my opinion that a mere translation error is what has molded our worldwide view of the virgin. But Catholicism gave me the First Communion ceremony and I remember it so fondly. I’ve often thought it’s a shame that young girls from families who don’t practice any religion miss out at times. This could be their ceremony. Their chance to get dolled up and have the attention all to themselves for that one day.
The other alteration is more of an addition. In addition to pledging gentle guidance and communication, with judgement-free openness, I would like to see the purity ball get into teaching our girls that they don’t really need a man or a partner to complete them. We are all hypnotized by societal norms, by entertainment, and by modern consumerism to believe that we need a mate. One is an odd number. We’re told that we need to find a partner and procreate. And that is just simply not true. I know many very happily single people. But once puberty begins, guidance becomes more difficult and that window of opportunity starts closing fast.
Enter … the endocrine system. Little girls don’t know what these pre-pubescent sexual urges are. They only know that rubbing something down there feels good. I have babysat girls who touch themselves with toys or crayons, one was allowed to and kind of encouraged to rub herself on the arm of a chair as she watched television. I remember when I first experienced that revelation for myself; the revelation that if you rub a pillow between your legs long enough, something magical happens! But I was young and very uninhibited, very much still unaffected by church dogma. I also remember almost asking my older sister if she knew about it. I wanted to share the news! It felt too friggin’ good to keep it to myself! What if she didn’t know? I didn’t want her to miss out.
Fast-forward to my early teen years and reality saw me abstaining from those bedroom activities completely. Guilt and shame were always on the surface whenever I would feel the pulse down there. You know what I mean, it’s like your clitoris suddenly has a heartbeat of its own. Nerve endings where you pee, seemingly come out of nowhere! Wow. That’s a whole-body tingle isn’t it? And for years afterwards, that tactile wonderment was intermingled with Catholic guilt and shame. Thank you Catholicism and thank you to the Nuns in school. My parents had nothing to do with this, we didn’t really discuss sex. But I was taught and influenced by nuns, and my bestie’s family were staunch Catholics. I was torn for years. I felt shame when I gave in, and I felt grumpy when I didn’t. I remember day-dreaming in grade 11 History class about masturbating, and I couldn’t for the life of me think of why I wasn’t doing it every spare chance I got! Need I say, my history teacher was hot.
It’s these early sexual urges that make little girls look at little boys. And its societal molding and religion that make little girls believe that they should abstain from discovering their own erogenous zones and should save that job for their husbands. You can very easily see how a young girl could adopt the belief that men give us pleasure; we do not give ourselves pleasure. As a young teen in a religion that teaches that masturbation is sinful, it’s not a far stretch to then think that you need to find someone else to help you get relief from the burning urges below. It’s no wonder teen pregnancy was rampant in early Catholic communities! And the risk of getting a dud is never discussed. I mean, how pissed off would you be if you abstained all of those years, only to marry a man who makes love like the directions on your shampoo bottle:
“Stroke twice. Repeat if necessary.”
Sex is important. The orgasm is important. Neurologists will tell you, the orgasm is the best antidepressant known to women. And that has nothing to do with man! What would happen if we started teaching our girls about masturbation? What if we made it not only socially acceptable, but encouraged!? Naturally, we’d teach guidelines like my sister uses for her special needs students: alone in the bedroom and bathroom only, and try to refrain from discussing it.
The things that are now such a big deal to little girls and were a big deal to me—things like the first kiss, the first dance, losing my virginity—would be so much less important in my opinion, if I knew then, what I now know in my core. That the virility of numerous body systems and the great benefit they get from an orgasm TRUMPS Catholic guilt and shame all day long. And think of the hours left to nurture that bond with Dad, step-Dad, Grand-dad, or whomever the father-figure may be.
By guidelines of the Purity Ball, a father pledges to cover his daughter as her protection in the area of purity. But he also pledges to be a good example to her by being a man of integrity and accountability for her to look up to. Someone for her to use as a template of what a good life partner is. And, who knows how it would affect the choices Dads make, if they’ve sworn to, and realize that their actions affect whom their daughters choose to love. In addition to this though, I would have all of the girls get one-on-one counselling with a sexual health professional who can teach them about their bodies and how to satisfy those urges all by themselves.
This would effectively give little girls power. Give little girls the tools they need to be their own partners, their own pleasure-givers, their own lovers until the right one comes along.
FEATURE PHOTO: Nathan Siemers via Wikipedia Commons