Colorado Springs purity ball: Time waltzes over the issues

Colorado Springs’ legendary — and media-friendly — purity ball received a rhapsodic write-up by Time magazine last week. The ball, which takes place in the Broadmoor hotel each year, is a kind of glorified daddy-daughter dance, where girls make a ceremonial virginity pledge to their fathers. The event is laden with symbolism; girls dressed as little brides take a white rose in hand and join their fathers in prayer beneath a wooden crucifix flanked by a pair of crossed swords.

Randy Wilson, who founded the Colorado Springs purity ball, has drawn loads of criticism for his event; detractors say that it teaches women not to take responsibility for their own sexuality. And some studies show that teens who make abstinence pledges tend to break them and then don’t use condoms during intercourse.

Yet Time’s glowing account of the Colorado Springs ball barely touched on those issues.

"So what, exactly, does all this ceremony achieve?" reads the story. "Leave aside for a moment the critics who recoil at the symbols, the patriarchy, the very use of the term purity, with its shadow of stains and stigma. Whatever guests came looking for, they are likely to come away with something unexpected. The goal seems less about making judgments than about making memories."

Feministing.com had this take on the Time story:

"Are families who don’t expect their daughters to promise their virginity to their dads promoting sex for 12 year-olds? Can’t dads be engaged in the lives of their daughters without worrying about the state of their hymen? And is telling women that their moral compass lays in between their legs really setting the bar high?

"Flowery language and valorizing these days doesn’t change what purity balls are about: the ownership and fetishizing of young girls’ sexuality. Perhaps someone should remind Time of that fact."

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Naomi Zeveloff

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