Dads Are Talking To Their Sons About Balls—Purity Balls, That Is

I’d thought purity balls—dances when tween and teen girls pledge to their fathers that they’ll stay virgins until marriage—were paternalistic and super-creepy for the girls. But, apparently, they are equal-opportunity paternalistic and creepy. The Tennessean interviewed parents Julian and Valerie Head, of Franklin, Tennessee, who are hosting a purity ball at their home for their 9- and 6-year-old sons, where the boys will make a virginity pledge with their dad. Yeah, these poor boys are 9 and 6.

It’s never too early for parents to discuss the birds and the bees with their kids in an age-appropriate way, but that’s not what purity ball parents do—they push abstinence. Abstinence is safe and baby-free, of course. But like veganism, religion, or rooting for the Red Sox, it should be a choice, not something your parents indoctrinate you into believing is the best. It really boggles my mind that full-grown adults would actually expect older children to abide by a pledge they’d encouraged them to make as 6-year-olds. Oh, and never mind that niggling little fact that virginity pledges do not work.

Big problem I have with all this: Why are fathers charged with protecting their children’s virginity? That’s disrespectful to mothers whose kids are taught through this ritual to just not disappoint their dads by having sex before marriage. I’ve read about kids who make a virginity pledge to both their parents, but pledging to the father only seems more in line with fundamentalist beliefs about male headship of household. Blech. So many things wrong with all of this. [The Tennessean]