Saturday, November 11, 2006

"Purity Balls"; Dobson, Daddy, and Disgust

How I missed this, I'll never know. Paragon shares this video of Purity Balls, and Feministing adds that this gets federal funding.

Here's what the clip shows: Girls apparently between 2 and 17 go to this Prom-of-sorts with their fathers. It says they get dressed up and some arrive in limos. There's a voice-over by James Dobson (Ted Haggard's "scared straight" coach.) He tells the story of a 17 year old girl who says that she doesn't desire boys the way all her friends do. According to Dobson, this is because she is sitting on her father's lap, and therefore HE is fulfilling "every girls desire for the affection of boys" or something like that.

Then the video shows the dads and daughters reciting and signing these covenants, in which the dads vaguely promise integrity, while the daughters promise to abstain from sex until marriage, so as to give yourself as a wedding gift to her spouse.


I sit here wanting to give commentary to this troubling culture, but I simply can't get my head around it.

I've lived in the South all my life, and I grew up in a church where Dobson's writings were always readily distributed. But I've never in my life heard of anything like this.

I can vaguely recall a couple of "youth revivals" when I was in high school or college when the evangelists asked us to promise God we would abstain until marriage. I don't recall whether I ever made that promise or not, but I don't think I did. Not to give myself too much credit, but I think I was bright enough to realize that I didn't know what the future held, nor what my ability might be to fight off the power of the small brain. (See toward the end of this story to get an idea of how that turned out.

In all seriousness I do know what a noose guilt can be to a young person. It was implied to me, if not outright stated, that guilt was a good and healthy thing. Well, I can maybe see how it got the desired behavior out of me from time to time...but then again, I really believe that when I did the "right thing", it was mainly for very practical reasons.

I don't want my kids to be saddled with guilt. At 41 I generally behave within the bounds of socially accepted norms, and that behavior is no longer driven by guilt, but by understanding the reasons behind these behaviors being wise. What parents are generally saying, then, is that kids aren't capable of wisdom, so let's strap em down with guilt.

Kids ARE capable. But like me and all adults, they are also capable of screwing up. And when they do, I don't want THEM to be screwed up because of it.

I hope to do a better job of blogging this particular story, but tonight I'm just too blown away by the ramifications of this video.

I'm also greatly troubled as to how sex has somehow become the end-all, be-all sin for all time, while most of us have many other planks in our eyes. These other planks may not cause nearly the guilt, but they cause people to go hungry, they cause the earth to exhaust her resources, and they cause division among the peoples of the earth.

Personally, I think sex is the most talked about subject, to be so rarely experienced in the lives of most people. Hey, not that I wouldn't like it to be more of a factor in my life (ok, a factor at all), but at least I won't raise my kids to believe its dirty and filthy. Having a spouse who has been the victim of that upbringing, I know what it does to rob two people of intimacy.

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