Friday, April 28, 2006

Clarification on Purity Balls

Blogging has its share of surprises. From the kind emails somebody sends you, to the occasional acquaintance who figures out that I produce this site, to the spikes in traffic that have no apparent cause, you just never know what will happen next. But the commentary caused by EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW! ranks way up there. Due to the emotional and spiritual heat generated, I feel like I owe a little bit of clarification. If you want background, please check out the original post, and its links - especially the 'republican fundraiser" link.

1. The symbolism of the locket is just waaaaay too graphic:
The Heart to Heart™ program, created by jeweler Joe Costello, differs from other abstinence programs in some important, unique ways. [...]

First, the “key to her heart.” This beautiful heart has a smaller heart in the front. Behind that heart is a keyhole. When making the covenant with your daughter, you explain that the covenant is between her, you and God. Since God has placed her in your care as a parent, you and only you can hold the “key to her heart.”

You then explain to the child that you will hold the key to her precious heart until the day of her wedding. On that day, you will give her away like at all weddings, BUT in doing so you will also “give away” the key to her heart to her now husband. The key and lock are actually functional and your son-in-law will place the key in the heart to open it.

Inside will be a small note that had been placed in the heart on the day you made the covenant. That note can say something like, “I do not know your name or what you even look like, but this is my promise to save myself for you this day. Love, Melanie.”
If you're comfortable with the thought of holding on to the key some guy will plunge into your daughter's locket on her wedding night, and discussing the symbolism with an 11 year-old, you're a lot less squeamish than I am.

2. The obsession with your daughter's sexuality required to get involved with something like this strikes me as bizarre. Of course, you should raise her to make smart decisions in all aspects of her life. But putting this much emphasis on an 11 year-old's sexuality - taking her to a Purity Ball as her first big date - strikes me as warped. I'm not making any accusations, but I wouldn't let such a man do the family laundry . . .

3. Why would anyone want to put this much emphasis on his daughter's hymen? Why should her "radiant sense of self-worth and identity" be centered on her virginity? It's not exactly an achievement at that stage . . .

4. What happens if she, like an overwhelming majority of Americans, lets a key into her locket before the wedding night? What kind of damage to her self-esteem and parental relationship will result? How will she be able to approach or face a father who has made it clear that her worth and identity are tied to her "purity"?

5. Why does the father hold the key? Does anyone else here see a strain of medieval chattle-status and property rights here? Certainly, telling an 11 year-old that her vagina belongs to her father strikes me as hearkening back to days of yore and jus primae noctis.

6. What about the boys?

7. I asked the smartest and most admirable young woman I know about this. Her reply, via intant message, was "EW". She wasn't even mad at me for missing an opportunity to buy her a piece of jewelry.


Blogger pomegranate said...

I like your take on this.

4/28/2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger AM said...

The whole thing makes it sound like my "heart" is a piece of property to be handed from man to man. Ugh. What happens if the girl never gets married? What if she turns out to be gay? Who owns her "heart" then?

4/28/2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous Me said...

I still disagree with you, Dan, but I understand our position.

As far as the boys, speaking as the father of boys, they've gotten the same speach (though, no, we didn't hand them a key to pass a heart to their newlywood).

While it may be unusual, I don't see it as particularly "EW" factor at all. What I see is a father who is trying to instill into his daughter that he 1) cares about her, and her coming maturity 2) wants to keep her sexually safe, and wants her to commit to it 3) understands that sex is not just a physical act, it is an emotional one as well, and one best shared with just one other.

I hope this father lives up to the commitment that he makes to model that commitment daily.

What I frankly see is that your reaction is awfully judgemental on your (and especially XO's) part. Not very tolerant, are we?

4/28/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Depends on your definition of tolerance. If you mean that I should accept all legal behaviors as respectable and beyond mocking, then, no I'm not very tolerant of stuff like this. On the other hand, I'm content to let people make their own decisions, and I won't be seeking legislation banning the practice. I consider that remarkably tolerant in this day and age.

4/28/2006 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Me said...

"If you mean that I should accept all legal behaviors as respectable and beyond mocking, then, no I'm not very tolerant of stuff like this."

I suspect this is exactly the definition you'd expect of behaviors that many would strongly disagree with. But then, what is good for the goose . . . rarely seems to work both ways.

4/28/2006 4:36 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Dan, you old comment-whore! LOL! You're just looking at the 26 comments you got on the last post and wondering if you can get another 26+ out of this one!

I know the feeling.

Just kidding!

I'll post a more relevant comment later (assuming I haven't shot my complete intellectual wad on the previous post).

But The Girlfriend is coming over to take me out for dinner and I do have my priorities!

BTW, I respect all of the commentors on this post and the other one as well. The ones who disagree with me have done so respectfully and thoughtfully. They do not appear to be the sort of zealots that inspire most of my often ill-formed rants.

4/28/2006 6:35 PM  
Anonymous lj said...

First of all, I have to slap Dan on the wrist before I start. Dan you know the first rule of research: when quoting always refer to the original source. In this case I imagine it's because you would rather send others to the site spewing liberal pablum (hoping for a liberal awakening perhaps?), than to the original source and let others decide for themselves? Fear of conversion or mitigation of argument?

Ok, enough of that. My response may be a little confusing as I will respond to a few thoughts in each of the posts. I have to chuckle at some of the comments. I found XO particularly amusing in his "car" analogy. I think we have a new Socrates. I hope you found a wife/girlfriend with good recaps. I can say as someone who didn't take a test drive who married a wife the same, that the journey has been fantastic. It all depends on who you consider the dealer? I know the King of Cars, and He's not on A&E. I trusted Him with that decision, a concept lost on most. If your marriage is based on faith and communication, there should be no misunderstandings.

First, I actually agree with your stance but not your reasoning. I will teach my kids about purity (which is my job not the school system) and it will be in private. I see no reason to bring an issue like that into public. They're motives may be pure but the practice should be unnecessary if you trust your parenting.

Secondly, however, I won't let you take me down the road of stigmatizing all who don't have that pococurante attitude to purity. Haven't we learned from painting with such broad strokes? I followed a few of the links and read some on the issue and it is no more than an attempt to once again paint Christians and conservatives as backwards, repressive, uneducated, out of touch, harum-scarum schmendriks, who perfunctorily perform faith and parenting with the same attitude.

As one of those intended to be targeted, it just gets a little old. It's surprising really. One of the main cries from liberals is that sexuality is a private thing. How many times have you heard "what I do in the privacy of my home..." Of course when it's a conservative "brainwashing" their children in public, liberals feel threatened. After all, that's their arena. How dare they enter our arena with their ideas and philosophy?

Hmm, I think I just realized why this is all of a sudden such an issue.

Oh and just for the record: an ulcer is not the same as an abortion.

4/30/2006 1:08 AM  
Blogger T. Lassiter Jones said...

Parents who were really concerned about keeping their daughters (AND sons, thank you) "sexually safe" would be teaching them about biology, the reproductive system, and the importance of contraception/ safe sex, rather than having the hubris to try to improve on God's design by ignoring His gift of naturally-occuring adolescent hormones.

Not to mention the entire thing appears to be a very thinly-veiled but nasty bit of incest role-playing, which I think is what's creeing everyone out more than any illusory "Christian" context.

5/03/2006 1:22 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

The Virgin Mary is proof that the "abstinence only" approach to sex education just doesn't work.

5/03/2006 6:47 PM  

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