Considering they’ve been making the internet rounds for over a month, I did not want to write about David Magnusson‘s photographs of fathers and daughters who attend purity balls.
The pictures have been featured on the Huffington Post; they’ve been shown on Flavorwire; they’ve been on BuzzFeed and Slate — hell, Time‘s LightBox blog beat everyone and wrote about them last year.
There wasn’t anything left to say, I figured, and so I didn’t need to write about them. But see, that’s just it: there’s so much left to say, because barely anyone has said anything. In the bland, mindless reposting of Magnusson’s Purity photos, we have a prime example of the vapid virality of the internet.
Which would generally be fine if the photos weren’t also bound up with patriarchy and sexism in troubling ways that pretty much no one is interested in talking about. Let’s start with the phenomenon itself.
Purity balls are formal dances at which girls and young women pledge to abstain from sex until they’re married, while their fathers pledge to protect their purity.
The first one was organized by a couple in Colorado because (according to Wikipedia) they were concerned that fathers didn’t have enough of a place in their daughters’ lives. So, you know, logically they should become protectors of their daughters’ virginity.
Because that’s how everyone fills a family gap … with sex.
Is There Really Nothing Left to Say About Purity Ball Photos?