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a guide for people who can’t tell the 90s from the early 2000s apart
- if people are dressed in neon, it’s the 90s
if people are dressed in space age metallics, it’s the 2000s
Despite the ubiquity of “slut,” where you won’t here it is in relation to men. Men can’t be sluts. Sure, someone will occasionally call a guy “a dog,” but men simply aren’t judged like women are when it comes to sexuality. (And if they are, they’re judged in a positive way!) Men who have a lot of sexual partners are studs, Casanovas, pimps, and players. Never sluts. In fact, when I just did a Google search for “male sluts,” the first result I got was ‘She Male Sluts DVD!’ I know, should have seen that coming. The point is, there isn’t even a word - let alone a concept - to signify a male slut.
But it makes sense when you think about what the purpose of the word “slut” is: controlling women through shame and humiliation. Women’s bodies are always the ones that are being vied over for control - whether it’s rape, reproductive rights, or violence against women, it’s our bodies that are the battleground, not men’s.
And if you don’t think it’s about control, consider this little bit of weirdness. The most recent incarnation of the sexual double standard being played out in a seriously creepy way is through Purity Balls. These promlike events basically have fathers take their daughters to a big fancy dance where they promise their daddy their virginity. Likewise, the father promises to be the “keeper” of his daughter’s virginity until he decides to give it to her future husband. Where are the Purity Balls for men, you ask? Oh, they’re there, but they’re about controlling women too! Called Integrity Balls, these events focus on men not having sex because they’d be defiling someone else’s “future wife”! Not because men need to be pure or be virgins - but because they need to make sure *women* are virgins. Unbelievable, really."
"At this point, you’re married to the Lord, and your father is your boyfriend."
So says Pastor Ron Johnson to his 12-year-old daughter Caroline, before placing a ring on her left finger. Johnson and his family are the subject of a recent Nightline Prime investigation of Purity Balls, a “full-fledged national phenomenon,” which has reportedly spread across 48 states and 17 countries. Despite the thought that first popped into my head, these balls are not some ironic term for Ben Wa sex toys, but rather formal father-daughter dances during which young girls pledge to abstain from all sexual activity until marriage (this includes kissing and dating). They also symbolically entrust their fathers — the “high priest” of the home — with their maidenheads for safekeeping.
The special was filmed back in October 2013, when Nightline reporters headed to the 14th annual “Super Bowl of Purity” (only in America, folks) to document the chaste event. As the cameras rolled, 60 father-daughter couples arrived at the Grand Ballroom of Colorado’s the Broadmoor Hotel to “celebrate the beauty of [their] daughters and the glory of their fathers.”
Creeped out yet? You should be. Purity Balls might seem like a quirky, inoffensive ritual of uber-religious middle America, but they’re emblematic of some very messed up attitudes about women and their sexuality that have serious implications beyond these communities.
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