Purity balls

// 30 May 2006

Purity Balls. No, not some sort of newfangled spherical chastity device to be inserted using vacuum tubes and pulleys, but rather fancy creepy dress-up rituals taking place in towns like Colorado Springs and Tucson and Zoloft Jesusville, in which Christian dads rent a bad tux while their daughters, mostly teenagers but many as young as 6 or 7, get all dolled up in gowns from JCPenny and they all drive out to the airport Marriott and prepare to, well, lose their minds.

It begins. At some point the daughter stands up, her pale arms wrapped around her daddy, and reads aloud a formal pledge that she will remain forever pure and virginal and sex-free until she is handed over, by her dad (who is actually called the “high priest” of the home), like some sort of sad hymenic gift, to her husband, who will receive her like the sanitized and overprotected and libidinously inept servant she so very much is. Praise!

Right, so not content with the patriarchal rituals of a white wedding, “the ring thing”, and probably years of less formal conditioning, right-wing, American families are carrying out creepy ceremonies in order to really bring that message home to their daughters: sex is bad. Read more over on SF Gate. Apparently, we should have heard of this before, but I guess news of these things hasn’t made it over the pond yet.

And here is an antidote to yesterday’s military propoganda: a series of photos of teenage girls in the Israel army. As someone with teenage cousins growing up in Israel, this is pretty scary. I can’t imagine much of a worse idea than plucking 18 year olds out of society and giving them a machine gun.

I realized that although I was in a vulnerable emotional state during my service and thought of ways out of it, there was a certain level of acceptance involved. The girls I encountered were so immersed in this lifestyle, in their new reality, and completely divorced from the outside world. How could I explain to them that what they are doing means nothing in the outside world, yet will affect them for the rest of their lives? They have given up who they are for now; they have put their dreams on hold; their lives for the next two years have become a wistful compromise.

Photographer Rachel Papo explains.

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