Documentaries: The Virgin Daughters

In putting together my blog’s tabs, I’ve been trying to incorporate documentaries I’ve found useful or informative or interesting. This one, The Virgin Daughters, is a fascinating look at what I call the “purity culture,” and focuses especially on father/daughter purity balls. It’s well worth the watch!

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Feel free to share your thoughts!

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://AztecQueen2000.blogspot.com AztecQueen2000

    Is that the creepy documentary I saw where the fathers looked to be just this side of obsessed?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Yep!

    • Steve

      And just this side of being pedophiles

      • http://fruitloopfeminism.wordpress.com/ Claire

        Took the words out of my mouth!! I’m getting flashbacks of Law and Order SVU episodes in my head….

  • spott3

    It’s really weird to see these young girls parroting the “purity” catch phrases. It’s almost comical, except for the fact that they will carry this baggage through the rest if their lives only to pass it on to their children. It will be interesting to see how the statistics unfold as we can gather more data.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Oh boy, I might need a drink or 4 to get through this one…

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Curiously, I found it very easy to watch it the first time around Libby Anne linked it but I think that was because I love British accents and the narrator’s was nice XP

  • http://fruitloopfeminism.wordpress.com/ Claire

    As someone raised in the Catholic Church, the whole language of purity is something I’m unfortunately familiar with. The American pysche is very very confused when it comes to sex. On the one hand: we are obsessed. Sex, the desire to have sex, the suggestion of sex permeates nearly ever piece of content the American public consumes on a daily basis. But on the other, there is the underlying Puritanical idea of virginity (particularly for girls) as well as the push for girls to get married. All bad. All twisted.

  • http://gmail Gigi

    The sad thing is these girls are never allowed to grow up and have experiences in the real world It was creepy how the girls all parroted the same things, like talking dolls.

  • http://nickiwaters.blogspot.com/ Nicki Waters

    This was so creepy. It actually made me kind of grateful for my distant, angry father. At least he never tried to take me to a purity ball.

  • Carol

    I watched this at 3am last night during an episode of insomnia, stressing about my son’s bar mitzvah next month. I actually kind of wish we weren’t doing it, although I can’t explain why, my daughter became a bat mitzvah 2 years ago and it was just absolutely a wonderful experience.

    Anyhow, what really struck me was the former lives the men led, possibly many sex partners, meaningless sex and so forth and now those feelings of guilt or whatever are being taken out on their daughters. This fairy tale ideal (one dad’s words, not mine) when the girl is woken up from slumber with a kiss from a prince is from too much Disney. My husband (feminist that he is) pointed me to this article that I missed yesterday: http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/sex-and-violence-and-little-kids.

    The article covers a lot of things, but this is the quote that makes this whole purity thing seem so creepy, that AztecQueen mentioned:

    “Children don’t look at a nice lady in a blazer and jeans and think about all the hot-and-dirty lesbian action she gets at home. No, that’s their stupid parents whose sexual repression has completely thwarted their brains to the point where they can’t think about anything but sex, and how delicious and sinful and tempting and dirty it is. The funny thing about not believing that sex is dirty is that sex ends up being less of an obsession.”

    It’s the creepy obsession with sex, how it seems to permeate every waking moment, and is considered in part of every decision made. Like a dieter that can think of nothing but food. It seems the parents have a lot of issues from their past and are covering them up with this starry eyed ideal and promises that it will lead to a fairy tale happy ending, when really, who knows. Obviously they don’t, because that’s not how they lived and they seem to have solid marriages.

    • smrnda

      I think your right on about these men being the ones who are really obsessed with sex and not the daughters. I had a friend who went on a date with an evangelical Christian guy – she told me his life seemed to be made up of OCD rituals designed to keep him from thinking about sex, and she told me he seemed more obsessed with sex than guys who she’d just slept around with. She felt like this religious guy would really think about nothing but sex unless he did the 100 things he did to stop doing it.

      Part of it might be that these men really blame women for their own sexual pasts, and feel that it’s a woman’s job to keep the men in check, or else they see women as either pure or else prostitutes and realize that they can’t respect women unless they fit some fairy-tale ideal. It just seems that however “close” these father-daughter relationships seem the daughter is always being pushed towards being more a thing than a person.

      I think a reason why people who accept sex as normal can be less obsessed with it is that most religions basically teach you that ALL sexual feelings are sinful and evil, so you go nuts trying to stop yourself from having thoughts you can’t stop having. However, if sexual attraction is normal, it’s only a question of managing it.

      I have heard religious people kind of claim that the repression makes sex IN marriage better since it becomes an amazing relief not to have to police your thoughts all the time, but I see zero evidence to support this other than anecdotal reports of people who can’t possibly have a point of comparison.

      • Steve

        Remember that these cults also teach that masturbation is a grave sin. At the same time they teach that boys are always surrounded by temptation – be it in form of girls or the secular world. So they are basically told to sexualize everything and everyone, but have no outlet to relieve those tensions. If they were allowed to masturbate, they wouldn’t think about it all the time.

      • Carol

        “I have heard religious people kind of claim that the repression makes sex IN marriage better since it becomes an amazing relief not to have to police your thoughts all the time, but I see zero evidence to support this other than anecdotal reports of people who can’t possibly have a point of comparison.”

        Exactly! These moms and dads obviously were not raised this way, did not start believing in this claptrap until they had daughters, they have absolutely zero proof that staying pure, I mean, not even holding hands? until marriage ensures a successful marriage. I won’t even say happy because that seems beside the point. And apparently, their marriages are successful anyhow, in spite of their pasts, at least some of them. These girls are locked up in their towers because the dads are trying a “do as I say not as I did” experiment on them.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Exactly! These moms and dads obviously were not raised this way, did not start believing in this claptrap until they had daughters, they have absolutely zero proof that staying pure, I mean, not even holding hands? until marriage ensures a successful marriage. I won’t even say happy because that seems beside the point. And apparently, their marriages are successful anyhow, in spite of their pasts, at least some of them. These girls are locked up in their towers because the dads are trying a “do as I say not as I did” experiment on them.

        You said it, Carol! I might just have to blog on that. Because it’s so true! My parents didn’t follow the purity teachings, courtship, any of that! And you know what? Besides trying to fit the patriarchal roles they don’t fit into very well, they have a really, really good marriage, and given the fact that they’re obviously still totally into each other (kissing in the kitchen, etc), a really good love life. And yet they wanted my sisters and I to be raised totally differently with regards to purity, etc. You’re right – we were experimental guinea pigs.

      • Carol

        I hope so Libby Anne! I’d love to read your thoughts on this.

  • plch

    the worst part for me is that they involve girls as young as 5 in this farce… yuck!
    All what they say seems to demonstrate what you wrote about seeing the world in black and white extremes: it’s having unregulated sex as teens or this, no other alternatives are given.

    .

  • Leni

    That “giving little pieces of your heart away” line is such utter crap it really makes me angry to hear parents say this to their children.

    I think it was you Libby Anne that mentioned this with regard to your children, that you don’t “lose pieces of your heart” to each child and eventually run out. It’s such an awful thing to say, especially coming from people who claim their religion is all about love- by definition you should never be able to run out.

    And most people, in real life, don’t run out. We have the capacity to meet and love new people for all kinds of reasons, obviously not just romantic interests. Friends, coworkers, neighbors, children, love interests, pets. Even hobbies!

    It’s like saying we all have a cap on art appreciation. “Well, I guess this last museum filled my lifetime beauty quota and that’s that! Boy it sure was nice while it lasted.” What unmitigated crap!

    We all have limited social circles, but I can’t imagine life without the capacity to expand them, nor would I want to. It just sounds way too much like isolation.

  • CherryBerry

    There is another documentary about this family coming out sometime soon. It’s called Virgin Tales and is the result of a film crew living with the family for two whole years (I can’t wait – I have to say I find this particular family fascinating for so many reasons although also profoundly depressing!). From what I’ve read online its focus is the “quest” (which isn’t so much of a quest since she just has to hang around waiting for several years until the right man approaches her dad) of the oldest unmarried daughter for a husband. I think it also takes in many other issues along the way too though. The website is http://virgintales.com/en/ or there is a also a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/VIRGIN-TALES/354615714557733.

    There are mini-biographies of each family member on the website and apparently the 2nd oldest daughter got engaged to her husband 1 week after meeting him. It says “Three days after his first visit, Chad asked Randy for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Up until this point, he and Khrystian had spent only four and a half days together.” From what I’ve read they are all actually deliriously happy but you do wonder what the future holds for them.

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      That’s incredibly risky and with the added pressures of the patriarchal family you really doubt their future but I must say that sometimes people get incredibly lucky. I started dating my boyfriend (who is almost 4 years older than me) without barely knowing him just before he went off to engineering uni and we were both the first serious (or really otherwise) of the other person. Nobody thought we were going to last because of this, even ourselves but here we’re almost 10 years later sharing a flat and rejecting the jives about of if and when are we getting married (not until I’m working, that’s for sure XD).

  • Teresa Stackhouse

    Am I the only one who sees similarities between this purity movement and the treatment of Islamic women? No interaction with men who aren’t family members…Modesty? Dress your daughters in a burka and be done with it. The irony here is that the participants would vehemently deny any similarities to Islam. In terms of the Wilson family, I think this is really about Rev. Wilson’s ego, and the his need to be lauded as “awesome” in front of lots and lots of people. The purity movement strikes me as some weird, incestuous, cult of the father–a bunch of insecure men who need to lie to their daughters about love being finite in order to bolster their own pathetic sense of self.

  • Pingback: The Purity Culture’s Guinea Pigs: It’s Daughters

  • http://pslibrary.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    I’m only about 16 minutes in, and of course people have commented on how creepy it is, and how Hannah’s father dominates her in the frame and speaks for her, and how the girls use entirely different diction when asked pointed questions (as though reciting something they’ve memorized), but what’s striking me is how eerily familiar some of the situations are. My husband and I met over the internet, and that’s where much of our relationship took place. So obviously, there was no physical contact – the emphasis was put on getting to know each other intellectually. By the time we met in person and could even do so much as hold hands, we were already madly in love and committed to each other. We were virgins prior to about five minutes after our first meeting in “meat space,” although that was due to us being very young and nerdy rather than anything intentional.

    We met at a time when meeting people online was weird and we were often put in the position of having to defend ourselves (even after we’d been living together a few years, I’d still get asked “but what if he turns out to be a pedophile?”). My defensive argument was that my husband and I got to know each other through and through before we had the distraction of a physical relationship (we didn’t even share photos until we’d been talking for about three months and were both falling pretty hard for each other!).

    I’d never tell my kids to go meet people in cyberspace because it’s better, but I admit that I’ve had something of a supercilious attitude about it. So it’s really weird hearing these girls giving so many of the same arguments, but having it come from a totally different mindset. Anyways, it’s something I have to think over…


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