Sunday, February 16, 2014

I don't like Daddy/Daughter dates...

Before you gear up to tell me how wrong I am about this, let me go ahead and say right off the bat that I am all for fathers spending time with their kid(s).  I think it's great when either parent is able to give individual attention to their kid(s).  I just don't like these outings referred to as "dates".  The word "date" often has a romantic overtone that I find distasteful in a parent/child relationship.  Yes, I know people make "play dates" for their kids, but hell, your child's playmates may one day grow up and date your kid.  Your child's father, I hope, won't.

This post was brought about by photos a relative posted of the "daddy/daughter" date he had with his older daughter yesterday.  My cousin is a good guy.  He's also very religious and conservative.  He posted photos of his date with his six year old daughter asking, "Isn't she stunning?"  He showed up at the door and presumably rang the bell for her, as a date would.  They had a fun outing, and I'm all for that.  But why call that a "date"?

I get that some dads are trying to teach their kids about what makes a good mate.  But honestly, while I know that a lot of people look for people like their parents to marry, sometimes that's not a good idea.  My husband is something like my dad in that they are/were both military officers named Bill.  They both love beer and have a sense of adventure.  They are both "nice"…  But my husband is not an abusive alcoholic while my father is/was.  My husband believes in God, but isn't a conservative Christian like my dad is/was.  In my case, it was good that I chose a man who wasn't patterned like my dad.  I didn't need my dad to take me on a "date" to teach me what kind of man to look for.  In fact, I think it was the pragmatism I inherited from my mother that drew me to Bill… although in all fairness, her pragmatism also led her to her Bill.  

Another trend I don't like is the whole Purity Ball thing being done by dads and daughters.  In fact, I like the Purity Ball idea much less than I do daddy/daughter dates.  These events are basically like proms.  Dads and daughters attend, exchange rings, and sign a pledge.  Dad promises to protect his daughter from randy males intent on defiling her.  Daughter pledges her virginity to her father, which basically means she will stay a virgin until she gets married.  From the Web site linked above…

A Purity Ball, now in 49 states and funded by your tax dollars, is an evangelical prom/wedding hybrid attended by young girls (starting at 4 years old) and their dates: their Dads. The girls exchange rings, take vows, and pledge their most precious gift, their virginity, to their fathers. In turn, the fathers pledge to guard this most precious gift until their daughter marries and her sexuality transfers to her husband.

Uh…  "until their daughter marries and her sexuality transfers to her husband…"?  Maybe it's just me but, eeew…  Listen, I am all for virginity.  I was a virgin until two weeks after my wedding day.  I didn't stay a virgin because my dad was in charge of my sexuality, though.  I did it because I didn't find anyone I wanted to have sex with who also wanted to have sex with me before I got married.  Bill happens to be fairly conservative about sex and didn't want to have intercourse before we married.  I was 29 when we got engaged and had already waited that long.  What was another few months?

I'm glad I waited, too.  It's not because I'm worried about morality, though.  It's because being a virgin was very practical and made my life simpler.  I'm also glad that Bill is the only man in my history.  I can't compare him to anyone else, which means that he is honestly the best lover I've ever had.  That's a good thing.

But I notice these Purity Ball thingies are for girls as young as four.  I can't imagine asking a four year old girl to pledge her virginity to her father.  How would you explain that?  And why would you want to?  Four year old children don't need to be thought of as sexual beings, even in the name of guarding her virginity.  Given how upset so many conservative folks get when anyone tries to tell them their kids should learn about sex in school, it puzzles me that they'd want to involve four year olds in a Purity Ball.  A four year old isn't likely to know what the Purity Ball is for and it really is yucky for a dad to be thinking about his little girl's sexuality when she's that young anyway.

I know a lot of people think these balls are a wholesome, positive way to keep young girls from getting pregnant out of wedlock.  But really, how wholesome is it to be discussing this sort of thing with a little girl who doesn't even know what sex is?  As she grows older, I think it makes sense to talk to her about sex and the risks that can come from it.  But I also think that boys should be taught about the risks and responsibilities that come from sex.  It doesn't take a Purity Ball to achieve that end.  You can have that discussion at your kitchen table with no pomp or circumstance.  Sex is a part of life.  Preserving one's virginity doesn't need to be turned into an "event".  The decision to have sex or not is a personal one.  I think children should be armed with facts and protection and, personally, I think they should be discouraged from having sex.  But their self-worth should not be tied to the concept of purity.  Having sex before marriage does not make someone "impure" or soiled.  And, in my opinion, it's just gross for fathers to think of their daughters in that way.  

Here's another thought.  What happens if you take your daughter to one of these Purity Balls and she ends up being sexually abused by someone?  Elizabeth Smart, to my knowledge, never attended a Purity Ball, but she was told that she needed to protect her virtue.  She was taught that if she let someone touch her before she married, she was akin to a piece of chewed up gum.  She had no control over what happened to her after she was kidnapped.  And yet, she has publicly stated that after she was raped by Brian David Mitchell, she felt worthless, like a shattered vase.  How do you reconcile with your daughter that she's still "pure" after an experience like that, when she's been asked to pledge her virginity to her dad?  

Anyway, while I think it's admirable that dads and daughters are enjoying special time together, especially given the suspicion that so many men have to endure when it comes to being with their kids, I do think it's icky to refer to dates with your daughter.  But that's just my opinion, of course.  I'm sure my cousin and his daughter had a lovely time and they will treasure the memories.  I just wish he'd refrain from "dating" her.  That's for her future boyfriends…  or girlfriends, as the case might be.



Interesting video about Purity Balls...

4 comments:

  1. I'm not a fan of the concept of Daddy/Daughter dates. I think children can model themselves best on appropriate adult behaviours like mommy/daddy dates. Thankfully I have never heard of daddy/daughter dates in Ireland. I don't think there is a purity ring movement here either.

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    1. I'm sad to say the the US has a lot of weird fundie religion that I have never noticed in Europe. Americans are also typically fond of cutesy trends, which I think the dates and balls are a part of. When I was growing up, I never heard of such things.

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  2. My mom's best friend's school held a Daddy/Daughter dinner and dance annually as a fund raiser. Staff members' families were expected to support the event. Her husband and daughter embarrassed her so much by being so obviously miserable that she never even told them when the date for it was after that.

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