Even in my adolescence during 1950s, the idea of a “chastity ball,” at which girls pledged to their fathers to remain virgins until marriage, would have been considered, well…. Let’s put it this way: To my knowledge, no one thought about it. And, perhaps, no one would have gone.
Of course, back then lots of folks thought chastity was a worthwhile goal for all kinds of reasons—not just religious. For better or for worse, it was part of the culture. But as unlikely as such a lavish dance would have been even then, I doubt that it would have stirred up the kind of scorn and hatred that this one did in the Chicago Tribune’s on-line Forum. For me, the response was as creepy as the posters thought the dance was.
(To see the responses go to the bottom of the on-line story; this you’ve got to read.)
For a bunch of these folks, it conjured up images of incest. Others said the whole thing was evidence that right-wing Christian screwballs still thought of girls/women as property. Others unleashed intensely personal attacks (e.g., “I would like to add that the people in the article are really sad and CREEPY!” On the ridicule and insults went: Icky, weird, nonsense, patriarchical, daddy’s little girl fantasy, depraved, sickening, gross, disturbing, disgusting, 18th century, perverse, pornographic, yucky, a bunch of crap, scary and, worst of all, offensive.
Phew, you’d think that they had been plucking out each other’s eyes, beating their grandmas or using cattle prods on puppies.
On display was the kind of bigotry that the left constantly reminds us that the right is guilty of, but as long as it’s the left’s bigotry, it’s all right. Laced through the scores of posts are vile displays of hatred of Christians, Catholics and people of faith. Hatred of people living their own lives as they choose to. For all the times that I receive mail from similar folks telling me to stay out of their private lives, I wish many of these posters had exercised the same restraint.
You can be sure, a number of posters said, that these are precisely the kinds of suppressed and controlled girls who go wild once they have discovered the joys of sex (the Catholic high school girl stereotype still persists). Others said, quite to the contrary, but in equally condemnatory language, that these are the kinds of girls who become afraid of having sex. Perhaps the most “icky” (and least demonstrable thing) said in all the posts came from Bobby Brown, from Germany: “Eventually these young girls will drift into S & M, visit the Tower of Power and take Golden Showers.”
I didn’t count, but it appeared that well over 90 percent of the posters had something bad to say about the dance. Some had good points: Why should all the responsibility be heaped on the girls? Why don’t the boys have the same kind of dance, mother-son perhaps?
Maybe they should have boyfriend-girlfriend chastity dances instead, because, after all, those are the people who are most in need of the message. If anyone would attend. I have a feeling that not a few posters would object to that too because what really has them upset is the idea of chastity itself. So ‘50s. So useless. So destructive.
Here’s what I think the story is behind the purity dance: The whole idea of virginity has gone in to such disrepute and has been attacked so viciously is some quarters, that it has spawned a backlash. It always happens when an extreme idea creeps into the culture, in this case the idea being that chastity is actually bad. Not a few people want to say they’ve had enough, and this dance is their way of showing it.
Maybe the best thing that has been said so far was posted by Mark from Elk Grove Village:
Purity is important to those who consider it important; we all live by differing values. Some young men and women consider it important to wait until marriage, others don't. Some young men and women consider their parent's council important in understanding relationships with the opposite sex. If these values are important to them, there's no fault in helping them to understand and enjoy the value of purity.