Lack Of Integrity In Integrity Balls

Purity balls are all the rage. Girls pledged to their fathers that their hymens would remain intact until they married some guy who wasn’t under nearly the same pressure to remain “pure” as they were. As I have previously noted, teens who make abstinence pledges are almost as likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease as those who never made the pledge. So much for the effectiveness of purity balls and abstinence pledges.

The focus has always been on girls, of course, since religious conservatives want to control girl’s sexuality. I’ve always wondered where the purity balls for boys were, and now I have the answer. After a purity ball held in South Dakota was declared a great success, some parents said they wanted a similar event for their sons. Why the purity ball organizers didn’t come up with this winning strategy on their own doesn’t escape me – most of the focus on illicit sex revolves around girls and their sacred vaginas and hymens.

So, the organizers have arranged an event for boys. It’s not called a purity ball, though. Purity is for girls. Boys don’t need to be pure. They need integrity, so that’s why these events are being called Integrity Balls. It’s all about buying a wife. Young men subjected to integrity balls are told to abstain (or at the very least not have sex with “nice” girls) so as to not taint another man’s future property, not about keeping themselves pure until marriage. The virginity craze encourages women to view themselves as property to be bought by the highest bidder.

The notion that looking for a spouse is like a major purchase was a big hit. The old adage “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free” was present at this ball:

After the meal, Jackie Detweiller spoke to the gathering about her experiences. Detweiller is an attractive 19-year-old young woman who is practicing abstinence. She told the tale of a person who had waited a long time to buy the car of their dreams, but when the day arrived to drive it home, the dealer told them that the steering had problems, that it had a lot of mileage on it, and had been in a few wrecks. She likened this word picture to sexual purity and the hopes for a future spouse.

Detweiller made another “why buy the cow” reference for the guys in this quote below. Notice that all the focus is on these guys choosing a “pure” woman as their wives? There isn’t much said about their own behavior.

Detweiller told another story about a man and woman coming to the altar, about to be married, when another guy comes up from the audience and holds the bride’s hand as the ceremony is performed. More guys come forward, until six are holding onto the bride. When the groom asks her what is going on, she replies, “These are guys from my past. They don’t matter to me now, but I gave them a piece of my heart. What’s left of my heart is yours.

The analogies don’t escape me. Guys purchase a wife, and she’d better be a top model without any “mileage” on her.

I found it ironic that Detweiller mentioned STDs as a reason to have integrity and be pure. Since Purity Balls and abstinence pledges don’t stop teens from having sex, it’s highly unlikely that an Integrity Ball will stop guys from having sex. The article I linked to mentioned a 2004 study by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that found that “teens who make a virginity pledge are less likely to experience teen pregnancy, less likely to be sexually active, and will have fewer sexual partners.” I wonder how accurate that statement really is, in light of a 2005 study that found that “teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.”

The study mentioned adolescent boys who were virgins. They were more likely to engage in anal sex. Oral sex was also a big hit, probably because many teens don’t consider oral sex “real” sex.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.

The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found.

Data for the study was taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. An in-school questionnaire was given to a nationally representative sample of students in grades 7-12 and followed up with a series of in-home interviews roughly one, two, and six years later. It was funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Please note that the data for the study was taken from the same source the Integrity Pledge supporters claim for their own “facts” – the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. I’m more inclined to believe researchers from Yale and Columbia Universities than religious conservatives with an agenda to push. Not surprisingly, one of those conservatives takes issue with the research that contradicts her views. The article quotes Leslee Unruh, president of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., who called the study “bogus,” disputing that those involved had pledged true “abstinence.”

Teens should be made aware that sex is sex whether it’s anal, oral, or vaginal. All sex is real sex, not just vaginal intercourse. It is vitally important to stress that they use safer sex supplies to prevent both pregnancy and disease. Having sex is very enjoyable but those who do it must take responsibility. There is nothing evil or sinful about having sex outside of marriage, and teens should not be told that their desires and actions are bad. With sexual pleasure comes responsibility. Teen pregnancy rates and transmission of disease have been dropping due to teaching about proper use of contraception in schools. Those rates have risen since some school districts started teaching abstinence-only education. Abstinence-only education, purity balls, and integrity balls demean teenaged boys and especially girls. When teens have a well-rounded sex education they take the proper steps towards enjoying their sexuality and taking the proper precautions to prevent pregnancy and disease.


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