You might’ve recently stumbled upon Swedish photographer David Magnusson’s photo series on father-daughter purity balls on Fusion's Open Source and asked yourself, “Why am I creeped out by these pictures?” It’s just a dad and his daughter posing dramatically in a desert, right? Eh, sort of.
The photos symbolize the conservative ritual that has become popular in 48 states since 2008: purity balls, or where a daughter pledges to stay pure until she’s married and her dad pledges to protect her v-card like it’s Area 51.
Magnusson has since said that his opinion of purity balls has changed, stating that “Purity is a project about trying to understand how we are shaped by the society we grow up in and how we interpret the world through the values we incorporate as our own.” Although Magnusson is being very objective about the balls, and his photographs are hauntingly beautiful, we’re not so OK with how these societies are shaping their daughters.
There are a couple of arguments to be made defending purity balls, like that there’s “nothing implicitly wrong with daughters promising their fathers that they will remain virgins until marriage.” And that might be true. But creating a big prom/wedding-like production out of it is strange. It’s so strange that we’re listing the 5 things we find wrong with purity balls.
1. If a young woman is going to make a personal choice about her sexuality and body, it should be private.
If she chooses to tell her mom or dad, then good for them because that probably means they have a cool relationship. But young women, even young religious conservative women, should not have to attend an event handing over their personal choice to their fathers.
2. Why do they have to promise their dads?
Why can’t they promise their moms? A mother can relate to her daughter’s awkward pubescent and confused adolescence, while a dad (for the most part) doesn’t know the difference between a pantiliner and a pad.
3.Why are we holding father-daughter balls for young women to promise they’ll keep their panties on?
Why aren’t we holding father-daughter balls for young women to promise to take at least 5 AP classes before graduating, and AP English doesn’t count?
4. These big events are telling girls that the most important thing about them to their dads is their virginity.
To go off of #3, and off of what several critics have already said, purity balls emphasize that young women are property to their fathers, who need to guard their virginities in order to pass them off to eligible husbands. Guys, what century are we in?
5. The double standard.
If girls are asked to wait to have sex until marriage for religious reasons, wouldn't boys fall under the same religious standards? One organization was obviously harassed about the double standard because they started inviting sons to the balls. But don’t get too excited because the sons are invited to “attend the Ball to watch the way their fathers treat young women” not to take a pledge. So yes, it is still total bull.
Romina Puga is a pop culture reporter and producer for Fusion. You can find her on "Fusion Now," Fusion's daily TV updates, going over new movies, music, apps, and why D'Angelo is still sexy.