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Protecting their Daughter's Precious Sexual Purity

Placing Responsibility for Women's Virginity with Fathers, Husbands

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Protecting their Daughter's Sexual Purity: Fathers' Responsible for Women's, Daugheters' Virginity

Protecting their Daughter's Precious Sexual Purity: Placing Responsibility for Women's Virginity with Fathers, Husbands

Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: Library of Congress

Religious conservatives are pushing to have fathers take charge of their daughters' sexuality and 'sexual purity.' In the past, men effectively owned their kids and controlled daughters' sexuality. This changed as women gained the right to act as autonomous human beings; religious conservatives want to roll that back. One example of this is the 'Purity Ball,' an annual event sponsored by the Generations of Light Ministries in which fathers and daughters pledge to work together to preserve her sexual purity.

Girls pledge: "I pledge to remain sexually pure... until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ...I know that God requires this of me... that he loves me and that he will reward me for my faithfulness." According to religious conservatives, girls must be virgins to enter marriage "as pure, whole persons." This is where the fathers come in, the designated protectors of their daughters' virginity.

Fathers pledge: "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."

Note that as "high priest," fathers are given the authority to decide what is and is not religiously orthodox in their homes -- wives and daughters are not allowed to challenge this and make their own religious decisions. Instead of trying to raise their daughters to be independent and autonomous human beings whom they can trust to make good choices, fathers want to raise their daughters to value virginity in a ritualistic manner and to need others' protection.

They are assuming authority over their daughters' sexuality as if it were a fetish -- as if that sexuality belonged to them, not to their daughters. The fact that the same isn't being expected of sons demonstrates that the program is misogynistic: it's not about reigning in premarital sex generally but about controlling the choices of women. Women's sexuality needs to be controlled because women need to be controlled.

This image is based on a World War I poster of Uncle Sam exhorting men to "protect the nation's honor," where the nation is depicted as a vulnerable woman. Even symbolically, the "honor" of women is something which men are expected to protect and preserve.

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