A Time article discusses the recent trend of purity events across the U.S.
For the most part these are ceremonies where daughters promise to remain pure until they are married and fathers promise to help them protect their purity.
[They]came up with a ceremony; they wrote a vow for fathers to recite, a promise "before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the areas of purity," to practice fidelity, shun pornography and walk with honor through a "culture of chaos" and by so doing guide their daughters as well.
Personally I find this a little creepy and strange. I would never feel comfortable promising my purity to my father, let alone discussing it with him. We just don't have that kind of relationship.
A section where a girl talked about a bracelet with a locket that her parents gave her, and only her father has the key. When she is married he will give the key to her husband. I know this is all symbolic, but I couldn't help think of some women in the world who have no rights and are basically chattle. They are their father's property until they are married and then ownership is passed to the husband.
And do these girls really need all of these extravagant parties and symbolism to remain abstinent?
I know first hand how ineffective these kind of abstinence programs are. When I was in the 6th grade a woman came into our classroom and told us about the "Sex Can Wait" program. She had us all take a survey talking about how far we had gone, and then she asked us all to sign a contract promising to remain abstinent until marriage.
How effective was this? Despite the fact that most of my high school class is now already married with kids, I'm fairly certain that all of them did not wait for sex.
I know the contract had little effect on me. I viewed sex as something important and special, so I treated it as such. I waited until I was a legal adult (18). But I can honestly say that I am so grateful I did not wait until marriage.
Why? Because if I had I probably would have married the sleeze I was dating back then sooner, because how long can you date someone before temptations arrise? And now I would be stuck married to an illiterate redneck who doesn't know how email works and who takes better care of his truck than me.
If you want to wait until marriage, that's up to you. But I think the most important thing parents can do is to teach their daughters to respect themselves. And please, teach them to be safe and give them the tools to do so. If temptation arises, and you have made sex completely forbidden, your child is more likely to engage in unsafe sex than someone who has been educated about it and can discuss it openly with their parents.
One of the biggest mistakes I think my parents made was to make discussion of sex kind of off-limits and embarassing. It was very unhealthy and led me to think that everything sex-related was dirty and wrong. I hope that when I have kids they can talk openly to me without fear of being judged.