“Lord, give me chastity, but not yet” is graffiti that is passé. In the US — where else? — chastity has been retrieved from the cobwebbed corners of the attic, carefully dusted and repackaged in an absurd concept of ‘Purity Balls’. This is a ‘ceremony’, no less, where a father pledges that he will remain faithful to his daughter’s mother, and the little girl in turn pledges to remain a virgin until she weds. Shock and awe?
Pledges of abstinence, for what they are worth, have been in vogue in the US since the early 1990s, and it is a virtue that must be worn on the sleeve. Ok, so it’s worn on the finger in the form of a purity ring. A simple no, will-power, you-can-say-no spiel is best left to the management-types. For enterprising youngsters, a ring is enough to send out the message. While the purity ring is certainly a much classier accessory than the chastity belt, to take the practice to the levels of an occasion akin to a wedding is bizarre. Interestingly, mothers don’t have much of a say in this. Daddy ‘uncool’, it would seem, is more worried about his daughter’s ‘purity’ in the 21st century, than the mother.
For followers, the unfortunately named balls “reinforce their Christian beliefs”. Could it be that Dan Brown has had a far greater effect than the Vatican would like to accept? Conversely, this may be an equal and opposite reaction to the Britney-Beyonce-JLo trinity’s widespread influence. Whatever be the seed of doubt that this practice emerges from, there is something unnerving and desperate about this paternal desire that daughters remain as pure as the driven snow.