What to expect with purity balls

A purity ball is attended by girls in formal gowns, curly hair dos and tiaras accompanied by their fathers in suits or tuxedoes with ties. They have dinner and they waltz to classical music in a ball room that it is decorated with crosses and a mannequin in a white gown. A guest speaker warns the girls about the dangers of premarital sex. The girls stand on the tables, look into the eyes of their fathers and vow that they are going to remain pure.  The father signs the pledge that he will be the protector of her daughter and that he will live a life of integrity. The daughter gives a gold key to the father and asks him to hold on to it until the day of her wedding, and then he has to hand it to the husband that she will marry. They walk down the aisle and she puts a white rose near the cross, which is meant to seal the commitment she just made.   The girls who attend devote the virginity to their fathers and to God, following their Christian beliefs.


Popularity of purity balls:

The Purity Balls are gaining popularity, especially with the increase of teen sex, friends with benefits and sex buddies. These balls are common for conservative Christians who want to teach their children about abstinence and not about condoms. According to studies, 1 in every 6 children are taking the virginity pledge, but at least 88 percent of them end up breaking the vow before they get married. Some people say that teaching the girls abstinence may only end up failing, especially since it is geared towards only the girls and not the boys.

At the Purity Ball event, the fathers vow to protect the daughters in the choice they have made to be pure.  The phenomenon is now taking place around the country in more than 48 states and in more than 17 other countries. The girls who decide to take part in the Purity Balls do so as a part of fulfilling their commitments to their Christian faith.


Advocacy of purity balls:

The people who advocate for the purity balls say that they promote spiritual, psychological and physical integrity. The co-founder says that the idea was based on modeling the relationships of the daughter from childhood to adulthood. After the ball, the father comes closer to his daughter and he answers the questions that she may be having.  He says that the virginity pledge is not the main characteristic of the ball since this puts guilt on the daughter, and if she fails, she has even more guilt.  The purity ball is to encourage the fathers to be more involved in the lives of their daughters, to provide guidance and to teach them about coping skills. However, some people criticize the purity balls and they say that it teaches the young women that their fathers are in charge of their decisions and that they do not have the freedom of doing it for themselves.


What is a Purity Ball and the history behind it?

A Purity Ball is an event which is unfamiliar to many people. It is a religious ceremony in which daughters and fathers attend a ball dressed up in fancy attire, and they spend the night dancing and dining together. Towards the end of the night, the girl vows that she will abstain from sex until the time she gets married while the father pledges to protect the purity of his daughter until her marriage. Most of the time, it is the girls who make the decision to go to the purity ball since they think that it is the right thing to do, but some fathers also encourage their daughters to go because they want to protect their honor. Sometimes the fathers may be unaware about the ball until their daughters invite them.  For the ball, the girls wear formal gowns and they also take pictures posed in the arms of their fathers in a loving embrace.

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The first ball was held in the year 1998 in Marriot. Lisa and Randy Wilson, a couple in Colorado Springs that had seven children, hosted over 100 daughters together with their fathers in the Evangelical Christian Church in their town.


Purity ball:

At a glance, the purity ball is like any high school prom or debutante ball where dinner is served and people dance in a beautiful ballroom. The place is filled with tiaras, gowns, cake, music and fathers dancing with their young girls while sharing special moments. The dance is different, though, because it has a meaning since it is used by the girls to celebrate their purity.  After the first purity ball, now over 4,700 have been held to date and they have taken place in over 48 states. The event is now popular around the world and there are different outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, the Tyra Show, and the Dr. Phil Show that have featured stories about it. Other people from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and Scotland want to find out more about it, and people from these countries have been in contact with different representatives of the movement.


What to do and what not:

Even if there is no scholarly literature about the dance, there is media coverage. The chronicles of the participant and the views of the critics are readily available.  There are people who are concerned about the purity balls and how effective they are when it comes to abstinence from sex.  The debates about the ball are based on how the purity balls are most of the time concerned about addressing the sexuality of the girls.  The ball is a type of religious ritual where authority, identity, purity and sexuality are intertwined. The balls offer insight into ritual theory in terms of the age, gender or ritual meaning that are constructed by the purity ball community, and it might differ against the ritual meaning that is constructed by the individual participants.  The way people view the balls may be different depending on their age, gender and sociological background. The ritual is more about letting the girl know that she is of a certain age and it impacts on her social identity.  The role of the father is also emphasized in the ritual.


What takes place at a purity ball?

A purity ball is a formal dance event in America that is attended by the girls and their fathers. It promotes maintaining the virginity of the teenage girls until their marriage. The daughters attend the purity balls in order to make the virginity pledge to abstain from sex until the time they get married. The fathers have to promise to protect their daughters while attending the balls.  They pledge to protect the purity of their soul, body and mind. The proponents of the event say that they encourage a deep and close relationship between the daughters and the fathers, and in this way they avoid the premarital sexual activity that allegedly results from young women who seek love from the relationships they have with other men.  The ceremony is like any other formal event that girls attend while wearing ball gowns, and the evening includes ballroom dancing, the keynote speaker, dinner and then the vows between the daughters and fathers. The event is attended by children who are from four years old to college age. The recommended age is normally once the girl is old enough to have had her first period.  There are some ceremonies that request certain age limits.

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Start of the ceremony:

The ceremony starts with a formal dinner; it is followed by the keynote speakers and then the chastity pledge. The ball is meant to celebrate the love that exists between the daughter and her father while giving the chance for the girls to promise abstinence until marriage. It is believed that a good relationship between the daughter and the father can reduce the cases of domestic violence, divorce and teen pregnancy. When the father is not involved in the relationships of his daughter, it leaves the daughter left alone to navigate her relationship without the help of anyone else.

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Exchange of gifts:

During the ceremony, remembrance gifts are exchanged to represent the oath of the father to protect his daughter and the promise of the girl for chastity.  A popular gift is a necklace or charm bracelet that it is in the shape of the heart that the father gives to the girl and the girl gives the father the key that signifies the key to her heart that should be given to the husband at her wedding.  The ceremony also is meant to show the girls the standard and the respect that they should be given by the men who are in their lives.

Fathers are encouraged to tell their daughters that they are beautiful. The participants who attend the ball are referred to as dates and some may mistake it to be a romantic date when they are not aware of what may be going on. The experts suggest that together with taking the pledge the girls should also be educated on emotional and physical risks of sexual activities no matter when it takes place. While making sure that the girls are in the right position to make the best decision, they should also be told how to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STDs.