A quite controversial and unusual movement for this day and age has been picking up some speed and spreading throughout America at quite an alarming rate. This movement in question is known as “the purity pledge” or in some cases “the innocence project”. This movement is quite self explanatory in that it involves young girls, some as old as five, pledging to their fathers to save their first kiss until their wedding day. But this is only the backbone of the movement and there is a whole underlying theory behind this movement that quite frankly is a little hard to swallow.
I first became aware of this movement after watching a documentary called ‘The Virgin Daughters’, which even now still leaves me quite perplexed on the matter. At some points during the documentary Im not sure weather I felt completely disturbed or wether I felt angry towards these illusive and overprotective fathers holding there daughters back from living a fulfilling and independent life.
During this documentary it follows different families and characters from all walks of life who decide to take part in this purity movement. It follows Minister Randy Wilson, his wife and his daughters on their journey to the purity ball. The Wilson’s are the founders of the most theatrical and grandest purity ball in the state of Colorado. They have been organising their purity ball for over 10 years and from the documentary it is clear that they try to get it as close to a fairy tale as they possibly can – a royal dinner in Buckingham Palace springs to mind.
The main idea or driving force behind this movement is a close father-daughter relationship or bond. The fathers must make their daughters feel valued and worthy, and if they don’t -consequently their daughters will seek validations from young men instead. A close father-daughter relationship is also seen as crucial for choosing the right husband! Randy claims that the route society has taken with the over sexualisation of girls from a young age has resulted from a lack of a strong relationship with their father. Of course we all can realise that these fathers are coming from a good place but there is a very weird and vouyeristic aura that emanates from the interviews of the fathers. At some points during the documentary I found it almost hard to watch when the fathers and daughters would stare lovingly into each others eyes. It would send a shiver down anyones spine. It was just plain creepy.
Randy Wilson’s second in command is Kevin Moore, a divorced single parent with three daughters. He too has embedded the ideals of the purity pledge into his three daughters. His eldest daughter is 17 and has very narrow minded views about teenage dating. His eldest claims how she would never want to be apart of the drama of teenage dating – the break-ups or the make-ups, stating it seems like a real pain and effort. But isn’t teenage dating and hanging around with the opposite sex all what growing up is about. I don’t know what decade these fathers are living in? They assume girls and boys cant be friends because they will just want to rip each others clothes off. One interviewee claims she feels at least six years behind her peers when she decided to leave the purity movement at 19. I really do believe that this sheltered lifestyle will have serious consequences for these young women down the road. How are these young women going to be independent when they are constantly controlled by their fathers in all situations in their lives – what to wear, who to marry or who to be friends with. Then they marry someone who their father chooses and then they evidently are controlled by their husbands. In my opinion i feel like this is a huge step backward for equality between men and women. Unfortunately the purity movement is too young to examine the effects of divorce among its participants.
This documentary also investigates the downside to this purity movement and the negative impact it had on a young girls life. We are introduced to Jessica and her side of the story about the purity movement. When Jessica was 19 her father had agreed that she could have her first boyfriend, who was also heavily involved in the purity movement himself. Evidently Jessica fell pregnant at 19 due to her lack of knowledge and education about sex. Jessica’s family were heavily involved in the Church so as one could assume this brought huge shame over her family. Ever since Jessica told her family the news her relationship with them has become irreparable. Jessica says her mother looks at her as a lesser person compared to other people in their community.
The purity ball itself really focuses in on the princess/fairy-tale aspect of the movement and as one could assume maybe seems like the most appealing part to a young five year old girl. The father figures in this documentary really emphasise how cruel boys can be and the only male that can make their daughter happy is someone who is just like their father. I really do feel like this is overprotective fathers taking things a step too far, no one can be shield away from the real world their whole lives. It is totally understandable for people to wait until marriage but in this scenario any physical touch like holding hands is not condoned. During the purity ball the daughters serenade their fathers with loving speeches – almost like wedding vows. Then the fathers and daughters sign the ‘The Purity Covering and Covenant’ and call out an oath to pledge to stay pure until marriage.
This could be seen as yet another way that society is pressuring these young girls to be perfect. It seems as though there is always pressure for young girls to be perfect and if they choose not to stay pure they are either robbed of something precious or are not worthy as they once were.
What do you think? Do you think this is a step backward for equality between men and women or do you think it is the way forward?
Watch the documentary and see it for yourself,