Inspired by No One Reads the Copy's post about kids and teenage sex, I got to thinking about this truly bizarre and revolting ritual that is really, really common in the south, and maybe other places. I don't know.
Anyway, there are these "balls" that are dedicated to teenage abstinence. And I actually think abstinence in teenagers is a GOOD thing (not in that way that says we shouldn't hand out condoms to kids, or teach them about sex, just in a, you know, perfect world kind of way). Hell, I was abstinent until college (okay, some of that was because I didn't have a lot of boyfriends, and part of it was because of the day in Health class that they showed us the pictures of genital warts. I would be making out with my boyfriend, and BAM - thinking about genital warts. If you have never seen an image, you should Google it when you don't feel like having sex ever again). So anyway, I have no real problem with celibacy in teenagers. BUT. These "balls" are for the purpose of a GIRL to pledge her virginity to her FATHER, and she gets a ring that indicates she won't have sex until she's married, blah blah (by the way, I just thought of the episode of Family Guy where Meg takes that pledge and has ear sex, and...its not that far from the truth from what I could tell of my other "virgin" friends in highschool).
Anyway again. I find these "balls" disturbing for several reasons. They are as follows:
1. All of the responsibility is put on the girl. There is no corresponding pledge for boys to make to their mothers. Probably because no self-respecting boy is EVER going to make that kind of pact with his MOTHER. This actually leads me to point 2.
2. My father might possibly win a prize in some category of Bad Parents, and is an excellent example of what not to do. And yet. When it came to my virginity and/or lack thereof, we had a pretty simple unspoken understanding. I would assume that his stance on his daughter having sex would be: Don't have sex. He would choose to assume I was a virgin, and I would never, ever do anything that might threaten this assumption. I think this is a pretty good model. I think that had my dad expressed as much interest in my sexual activities as these fathers do, I would have called CPS to see if that wasn't maybe just a little weird.
3. I feel like this is somewhat dishonest on both parts. Teenagers are riddled with hormones (you can tell by the acne and the wild mood swings). Sometimes, things are going to happen, and no vow to your father is going to stop it from happening. What stops it from happening is a realistic understanding of sex. I feel like by doing this vow, the parents are sidestepping the mind-numbingly awful responsibility of discussing sex with their children (not entirely sarcastic, by the way. There is nothing more embarrassing to a 13 year old girl than a frank discussion of sex with her mother, and vice versa). I understand the impulse to want to avoid this conversation. On the other hand, there were a few boys I said "no" to, not because of the genital warts, but because I remembered that frank, humiliating discussion. It went something like this: Sex feels good. You should have sex at some point. But sex can result in consequences, both physical and emotional. You need to feel that you can deal with those consequences. Are you going to be able to deal with it? If not, then wait. It won't be the last time anyone ever wants to have sex with you. Truly.
4. I mentioned the Family Guy episode before. I knew a lot of "pledged virgins" who would do ANYTHING else, just not vaginal intercourse. And while there's something to be said for oral intercourse having fewer consequences in your teens, I'm pretty sure if you are letting a guy in the out door (if you know what I mean) in lieu of vaginal sex, in order to preserve your purity...I think you can see where I'm going with that.
5. Did I mention I find the whole idea creepy? And weirdly anti-feminist. Like a girl can't be in charge of her own body. She is going to give the responsibility to her father, and then to her husband. And also did I mention creepy?
6. Mostly, I think I just find the whole idea creepy and repulsive.
In conclusion: teach your kids about birth control and also teach them to make serious, serious fun of those weird kids with the abstinence ring. Seriously, let us all mock them mercilessly.