Purity Balls are formal events in which a Christian teenaged girl pledges her sexual purity to her father until she takes a husband. The first time I saw a Purity Ball was during the excellent abstinence-only themed documentary, The Education of Shelby Knox. My reaction was visceral. When the tux-wearing father gave the gown wearing-daughter a purity ring, it became clear the ceremony is designed to mimic a wedding; the inference of a father marrying his teenaged daughter kicked me in the gut and repulsed me on many levels.
Eve Ensler describes Purity Balls succinctly: “When you sign a pledge to your father to preserve your virginity, your sexuality is basically being taken away from you until you sign yet another contract, a marital one…It makes you feel like you’re the least important person in the whole equation. It makes you feel invisible.”
Considering this new tradition traces its roots back to bronze-age times when women were property on the level of cows and land, I find it ironic that the only decent YouTube video on the subject comes from the al-Jazeera show Everywoman. Watch for yourself (the Purity Ball segment ends at around 6:30 into the clip):