Daddy's little virgin

Father-daughter purity balls: Eeuw.

Published May 3, 2006 2:13PM (EDT)

Just what you've been waiting for: a story that just about out-pervs "Hot Tween Nurses." Speaking of waiting, this one made the rounds of some other blogs a short while ago, but we figured, hey, let's try not to subject our readers to a full eyeball scrub more than once a month.

But now it's May, so here goes. Some of us are fortunate to have lovely memories of growing-up milestones with Dad. Mine taught me to ride a bike, to drive, to whistle with a blade of grass. You may recall a father-daughter picnic, a father-daughter heart-to-heart.

And how about a Father-Daughter Purity Ball? This past spring brought us the fourth annual such event sponsored by Colorado Springs' Generations of Light Ministries; according to Focus on the Family, other cities and organizations are following suit.

Call these balls "Virginity Pledge: The Musical." Or "Pretty Baby," without the actual auction. Dolled up in tiaras and pearls -- or perhaps abstinence jewelry -- the girls (some of whom look young enough to wish they were home watching "Dora the Explorer") are escorted by their dads to this creepy cotillion that, as far as I can tell from the photos, includes some sort of interpretive dance, as well as "a memorable ceremony for daughters to pledge commitments to purity and their fathers to pledge commitments to protect their girls."

Here's daddy's script: "I, [daughter's name]'s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come." OK, "high priest?" Also, I'm guessing the part about "I will pay for my daughter's therapy in perpetuity" is in the fine print.

I mean, for one thing, I'd want my dad thinking hard, really hard, about my virginity even less than I'd want to think about my parents having sex.

Here's what one 11-year-old (or adult publicist) for the Ministries had to say: "The moment I put my hand in my father's, I felt like a princess. In those six precious hours, I believe I grew in relationship with my father more than I ever have. I knew it was my night, and I treasured every minute of it." I probably don't have to spell this out for you, but replace the word "father" with "boyfriend" (or, to be charitable, "new husband") and ... eeuw.

Want some more? "How can you measure the value of your eleven-year-old looking up into your eyes (as you clumsily learn the fox-trot together) with innocent, uncontainable joy, saying, 'Daddy, I'm so excited!'" wrote a dad who has taken both of his daughters to the ball. "It is impossible to convey what I have seen in their sweet spirits, their delicate, forming souls, as their daddy takes them out for their first, big dance. Their whole being absorbs my loving attention, resulting in a radiant sense of self-worth and identity. Think of it from their perspective: My daddy thinks I'm beautiful in my own unique way. My daddy is treating me with respect and honor. My daddy has taken time to be silly, and even made a fool of himself, learning how to dance. My daddy really loves me!" I don't know, I'm pretty sure my dad got that same feeling from taking me out to the yard to play badminton.

Look, I'm not a parent yet, but I've been thinking about how to have a cool and convincing "Why I recommend that you wait to have sex" conversation with my daughter -- and, I might add pointedly, my son -- for years. And surely there's some truth to the suggestion that the health of a girl's relationship with her father (or father figure, if any) can have some effect on the health of her relationship with potential boyfriends. But ... a dance? A public pledge? An, ahem, Georgia O'Keeffe-shaped canopy of white balloons? And where do the boys come in? Will these girls grow up thinking of them as predators from whom they need daddy's protection, or as peers with whom they can set boundaries together? Better these parents should teach their princesses to throw balls instead of dress for them.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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