I’m thinking about my next book, which I’m pretty sure will be called Purity Ball, based on the events of the same name that have popped up in the last about 20 years in the United States.
The reasons I’ve been interested by this idea are:
The US has displayed a disturbing trend—also displayed by some of our so-called political enemy states—of wanting to impose a false religious rule over everyone..on issues that don’t concern those doing the imposing. Abortion is one of these. Everyone can understand why you might want to have an abortion. Rich people get their abortions anyway—overseas and in secret. Look at the politicians in this country: They generally want to impose asinine rules like this while they themselves live by a different set of rules—and they live in hiding. The Purity Ball’s first aspect of interest for me is this: Fathers who want to preserve their daughters’ “virginity.” They want to control their daughters’ sex lives when doing that only has tangential effects on the father while potentially having massive effects on the daughter.
But that’s not entirely what a Purity Ball or purity ring and promise to remain a virgin are all about, is it?
Not at all. The girls promise their celibacy to their fathers until the daughters’ wedding night. There is language in their vows that has to do with the father approving/disapproving of the daughter’s choice in husband. That could majorly affect the daughter’s life in a culture that rarely arranges marriages.
It also subtextually reinforces the idea that these daughters will get married at all. Further still, it reinforces heterosexuality over all else.
Also: Where is the purity ball for sons? There isn’t one. Sons are allowed to go buck wild while daughters are restrained by “purity.” And I think this is not at all about the woman being the baby carrier..not at all.
But still I don’t think we’ve gotten to the bottom of what disturbs me about the Purity Ball. This third level down is contained in the pictures of fathers and daughters at these events. The fathers are kissing their daughters on the mouth. They are holding their daughters closely. The event is a “date” between many father/daughter pairs. And while the young children invited to such a ball may have no idea what is going on emotionally, their fathers certainly do. The teenage girls who go to these events (some of them) may have the same level of innocence of understanding as the kids and some of the ignorant fathers. But some of those fathers (the smarter ones) certainly do understand that these events have overtones of incestuous child sexual abuse. Certainly incest is not prevalent in this community—but they’re putting on a play that says it does.
I think my main or semi-main character will consider himself intellectually superior to his peers—and he will perceive the events with that extra layer of awareness which intelligence brings. If it’s a dual-main character thing, so will his daughter.
I think now that this is a first-person [father] POV, because this: Half the time, the girl has sex before marriage anyway. They have sex without protection more often than if they hadn’t made a purity pledge. They have oral and anal sex as alternatives. So there isn’t a purity effect on the daughters—they just enjoy a date with their dads. But for the dads there is something far more complex going on. Yes: The Purity Ball is all about the dads.
I’ve played with the idea that the whole neighborhood is in on this daughter-rape idea—that the main girl character comes to realize this (but too late).
I think this idea is well placed given the recent US Supreme Court nomination and attitudes shamelessly adopted by US politicians and religious people. The world is fighting for freedom. We are railing against secrets kept by our governments that would rapidly change life for the better for all people. And all the while, the US gov’t is fighting to take away the rights of the poor (to kill the poor). This Purity Ball idea is a provincial example of this taking away or holding back rights from the poor, by the rich, enfranchised, and famous among us.
Make the title Purity Balls? A play of sorts based on the men’s balls? I don’t think so—but consider it.
D urged me to play both sides of the satire, in my last book. I think that worked well. If the dad is the main character, have him come to feel that in helping his daughter stay safe by pledging her virginity to him, that he is right to take it himself. That it becomes right, over the course of the book, that he take her and enjoy her—that he takes the purity pledge most seriously and that he takes her “purity” from her.
Maybe start with the sentence, “Purity is one of the most dangerous concepts in our vocabulary,” (or something like that) and their obsession with purity and cleaning and resets of virginity and controlling others’ purity drenches every word.
I’ll probably write this in November. I’ve made notes and captured pictures and sites from the web.