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Striking, Creepy Photos of Christian “Purity Balls”

America: land of the free, home of the… thoroughly fucking weird? It’s hard to know what else to say about these striking and frankly terrifying portraits by Swedish photographer David Magnusson, which capture the institution of the Purity Ball: a religious rite wherein girls pledge not to have sex until they’re married. All the photos (which we spotted at Feature Shoot) depict the girls and their fathers, who glow with pride at the thought that their little girl won’t be despoiled until someone puts a ring on her finger. It’s hard to know where to start with this: the notion of sex as “impurity,” the fact that it’s all daughters and no sons, the idea of dressing a preteen girl in something that looks awfully like a wedding dress. But as with all the best photography, these images speak for themselves — as Magnusson himself says, he hasn’t aimed “to belittle or glorify the ceremonies… the interpretation is all up to the eye of the viewer.”

(Note: the original link to David Magnusson’s website above went to the site of another photographer by the same name. You can now click through there — or here — to reach the correct Magnusson’s work!)

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

Photo credit: David Magnusson

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516 comments
LucasSawyer
LucasSawyer

This has nothing at all to do with Christianity, there is nothing in the Bible about this ritual. This is yet another sociopathic trend designed to double down on the idea that women are weak and helpless and their only strength comes from the men in their lives, because God did not give them the ability to make their own decisions. You can candy coat it all you want, that does not change anything. These fathers are the most pathetic excuses for men I have ever seen. That being said I would fight and die for their right to do what they please as American Citizens, but that doesn't mean I have to like it, support it, or refrain from criticizing it.

MichelleBach
MichelleBach

You have to wonder how many STD the he/she/it writing this has.
I think their jealous.  

beginagain
beginagain

Dad's who want their daughters to be good and sweet and have the best chance at success in life, what is so wrong with that?  The author is an idiot and probably a liberal wacko with some super gay agenda that will never have kids to understand what it means to be a responsible parent.

DBayer
DBayer

To have unprotected sex with someone is to also have sex with everyone they've had ever had unprotected sex with. Certainly to encourage a girl to be abstinent until marriage will not protect her from the many unprotected sex partners her new husband might have had before the wedding night.

All our children need protection, but the troubling truth is that our culture predominantly celebrates male sexuality while demonizing female sexuality (Viagra-using men never get called the names women who demand reasonable access to birth control do). It is quite obvious that purity balls are about attempting to control female sexuality more than anything else.I'll be convinced otherwise when I see parents encourage their boys to pledge purity in equal force and number.And when I see pictures of men cuddling their purity-ball-dressed boys just as close as I see them holding the daughters in Magnusson's pictures.

FartBox
FartBox

All of the broads commenting in this section really need to get back in the kitchen and stay off their husbands' computers.

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

what i find repugnant is that fathers are deemed "creepy" for conveying to their daughter expectations of sexual responsibility when a single mom is celebrated and never maligned for conveying to her sons expectations of sexual responsibility.  IT IS a double standard, but not the one that is getting a knee-jerk response.

BillRoberts
BillRoberts

It does seem a little creepy but it's nice to see dads trying to be a good influence on their daughters. The problem is it doesn't work!! But you can't tell a Christian that. (Facts are evil).

okidoll821
okidoll821

Google is your friend, people. There are ample websites and photos by these people that prove the  pics are not unusual. In one article a father refers to himself as his daughter's boyfriend. This is far beyond just teaching abstinence. This sort of patriarchy makes females breeding stock and her body a commodity that can lose value as soon as she has wed. These people do not hide it. Look for yourself.

There is nothing wrong with teaching your daughter AND son to have self worth and value themselves, but when you start advocating sexuality as a measure of a good person, then I believe you are setting girls and boys up for confusion in life. 

Zero-G
Zero-G

So what?

Can't these just be viewed as photographs?
I'm more interested in the backgrounds,  locations and poses for the shoots; did the photographer choose them or did the people in the pictures?
I wonder this because all of these influence the perception of the image and what, if any, message is being communicated through the art.

MikeChutney
MikeChutney

I don't see how this is creepy at all. If this is what they believe in and want to do, then good for them.

KyleHall
KyleHall

Huh. Why is this "creepy"? And why are Billy-burg heroin-injecting hipsters (and/or other assorted wanna-bes along those lines) ... NOT creepy? And creepiest of all, of course, is anyone wandering around the streets of San Francisco.

______________________________________________________________

LanceSmith
LanceSmith

Just like in the case of gay marriage: if you don't want a purity ball, then don't have one.

Seriously, I'm about as sexually liberal as they come, but it seems that American "liberalism" is becoming pretty hypocritical.

FrankBurns
FrankBurns

What's that term again analogous to the Oedipus Complex, but involving the girl and her father?

Parkerjane
Parkerjane

Freedom of thought, as long as you're snakily taking down anyone else's values which don't agree with your own. Nice trend. The whole point of Magnusson's experiment (to which the editorializer vaguely alluded at the end) was to explore an aspect of a society with which he was unfamiliar. Maybe the author of tho piece should take a leaf out of DM's book and attempt to engage in an open-minded way with customs or traditions with which he is unfamiliar. (typing as a non-virgin, non-religious, non-chastity-ball-attendee who sees the value in the right of other people to be left the hell alone.)

JayPlacemat
JayPlacemat

So these poor girls have to pledge to lose their virginity to daddy? That's a little weird, right?

RustyFartbox
RustyFartbox

@LucasSawyer Lucas is a a name parents give kids who don't really meet the criteria to be male because they act like poofters when they are young. A a result, they never learn to socialize like a man and usually suffer from low self esteem. Sorry Lucas, your life has already been laid out before you and it is a self-fulfilling prophecy of loneliness. And by the way, siding with feminist trolls won't get you laid. They will just become really good friend and end up boning your more "interesting" friends (assuming their not all like you). Here's some advice, get yourself a fat chick (before you ask; there is always a fat chick in the dorms for everyone to practice with) and don't tell anyone about it, but whatever you do, make sure you wear a rubber dude. Because they are needy creatures who will definitely keep a baby to snare you for life. Then the worst part of this fiasco will be that you'll have to admit to everyone (imaginary friends included) that you banged this fat sweaty mustachioed dorm creature, which as we all know is just plain embarrassing. Unless of course you go to Oberlin where all of the girls look this way and listen to horrible girl bands.But if your name is Lucas and you go to Oberlin, then you are most definitely a giant gaping v@gina.

RustyFartbox
RustyFartbox

@DBayer If you lost some weight and put on some make-up then you could probably find a mate. Well that might be stretching things a bit considering your lack of common sense and originality. Did you get passed over for prom? Is that why you like to ruin the fun for everyone and most likely have 5 to 10 cats? You're right, it's "their" problem; you're a real catch. At least you have your cats. Don't ever change; you're a winner.

DBayer
DBayer

@FartBox : or they could get NetDog for their husbands' computers so that their husbands will have more time to spend in the kitchen with them, sharing the cooking and cleaning responsibilities and strengthening the marriage.

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

@BillRoberts  Facts are evil  to social-engineers as well.  Strong objectivity values "feelings" over facts.

Mochipants
Mochipants

@BillRoberts How is telling their girls that sex is a horrible thing being a good influence? Why is female sexuality something we teach girls to be ashamed of, but we don't put nearly as much of an emphasis about it with boys?

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

@okidoll821  This is preposterous.  If they were breeding stock they would be taught to breed, not to abstain.  The only 'patriarchy' here is that which exists within the consensual relationship of a singular family unit - and is not even worthy of the name.  Really, if people want to raise their children to abstain from pre-marital sex, the only reason that tongue-cluckers feel like they must detract from it is because they need to see the role of the father as inherently evil or obsolete.

Cheryl Floyd
Cheryl Floyd

@okidoll821 You idiot. This is OUR purity ball and no one at THIS event is calling themselves their daughter's "boyfriend". You are a complete FOOL if you think real incest isn't going on all over Europe where this jerk-photographer crawled out of his rock  along with the putrid lizard who is prostituting this story. Fathers SHOULD be protecting their daughter's purity - CHECK HISTORY!!!

Zero-G
Zero-G

I also notice an intentional over-exposure of all the photos; again the artist is projecting a feeling and emotion of purity that would otherwise not be evident in a regular photo.

brbr2424
brbr2424

@LanceSmith  The problem with your argument is that there are children involved. We can all agree that consenting adults are free to do believe what they want. Telling girls that their worth is related to their virginity and that sex is dirty is damaging. 

brbr2424
brbr2424

@Parkerjane  What about the values of the FLDS, should they be respected. What about the values of the Boko Haram? Is that an aspect of society which we should explore. 

LanceSmith
LanceSmith

@Parkerjane Well said!

It is one thing to debate political issues (and lord knows I would really like if those debates could be more adult/civil/honest), but it is completely another to engage in the sort of culturism I see from these sorts of "authors."  It seems they believe that freedom of thought is something reserved for their own thoughts.

Ironically, they probably call themselves liberal...without really knowing what liberal means. 

(and I to write this from the perspective of a non-virgin, non-religious, non-chastity-ball-attendee who sees the value in the right of other people to be left the hell alone.)

delder
delder

@Mochipants Who says it's horrible? I think the idea is that it's beautiful...too beautiful to be made cheap.

SC2070
SC2070

@Cheryl Floyd  Hmmmm... sounds like somebody has daddy issues.  Your mother probably didn't teach you this in homeschool but tens of thousands of years ago, a close to extinction-level event (an asteroid perhaps) killed off all but perhaps +/- 15,000 humans.  Because of that, we're all very closely related.  Thus, incest amongst humans is a very bad idea. 

dave349
dave349

@Cheryl Floyd @okidoll821 If you're so concerned with incest, maybe you should take another gander at the creepy photos above. Those look like intimate wedding photos between a husband and wife, which is highly disturbing. And why is it that the dad is the one teaching the girls all this sexual stuff? If it's so important for women then why isn't the mom the one doing it? It's just another lame excuse for men to lay claim to women's vaginas. 

dave349
dave349

@Cheryl Floyd @okidoll821 If you're so concerned about incest, maybe take another gander at those creepy photos above. They look like intimate wedding pics between a husband and wife, and that is highly disturbing. Also, why is the dad the one who is teaching he's in control of his daughter's sexuality? If it's so important, why doesn't the mom teach this stuff? It's just another excuse for men to lay claim over women's vaginas. 

sydneycurls
sydneycurls

@Cheryl Floyd @okidoll821  Seriously, Cheryl Floyd?? YOU are what is wrong with the world today. Girls are not objects. SEX HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING "IMPURE". Sex is sex, that's all it is, and there's nothing wrong with teaching girls to make smart decisions in bad situations. I am 14 and I seem to have more knowledge about the world than you, an adult, possess. I'm a virgin and I plan to be until marriage. I also am an atheist and I think the idea of pledging my "virginity" (an idea that is ridiculous in itself) to my FATHER IS ABSOLUTE INSANITY. My father has authority over my life until I am independent, but he has no control over 

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

@Cheryl Floyd @okidoll821  regardless of whether I practice them or not, i totally respect your right to those values, cheryl.    hopefully all the protection that these fathers (with the support of mothers like yourself) will have to do is clearly convey their expectations of responsibility to their daughters.

okidoll821
okidoll821

@Cheryl Floyd @okidoll821  

What a completely Christian response.

Is childish name calling the best you can do? There are many things in history that are abhorrent such as slavery, women not being able to vote and women not being able to own property. 

 Is your father concerned with your brother's purity? 


As stated in my comment above, these photos are not the only photos of Purity Balls and the events. Apparently you also failed to read my complete statement where I stated, "There is nothing wrong with teaching your daughter AND son to have self worth and value themselves, but when you start advocating sexuality as a measure of a good person, then I believe you are setting girls and boys up for confusion in life. "

delder
delder

@brbr2424 Who said sex is dirty or that their worth is related to their virginity? That is not said anywhere. This is an affirmation of the life-giving wonder of sex and the fact that something so special shouldn't be spread around. I'm not religious but I recall the bible telling men not to "spread their seed" so there is really no hypocrisy here...it applies to both genders.

delder
delder

@brbr2424 Polygamy, child sex, slavery are all against the law and in no way equate with the love of parents who want to protect their daughter and share their values of true happiness in a committed relationship.

DBayer
DBayer

@delder @DBayerI'd be very impressed if you could locate a single article documenting a purity ritual involving a male child and his parent.  If it would it be odd and/or ineffective for a father to attempt to protect the chastity of his son, why wouldn't it be similarly odd and/or ineffective for fathers to attempt to protect the chastity of their daughters?  Why the double standard?

delder
delder

@DBayer How do you know they aren't? Besides, I don't think the same exact tactics would work on teenage boys...protect their chastity until they are married? That would be a little odd for a father to say to a boy.

DBayer
DBayer

@delder @Mochipants Why aren't the fathers in these photos telling their sons the same thing -- that sex is too beautiful to be made cheap?  Why aren't they hugging their sons close, pledging to them that they will protect their chastity until they are married to a woman?  That's the point Mochipants is trying to make.

okidoll821
okidoll821

@Cheryl Floyd @okidoll821   Do you really think these fathers were incapable of telling the photographer they weren't comfortable with the poses? No one fooled them or set them up. They posed in this manner, and no doubt approved of the photos. 
 
I went ahead and found many other references for you. Here ya' go. Notice many of these pics are very much in the same style as the above mentioned taken by the "jerk photographer". 


Time's article on Purity Balls. This is from 2008 so there's no conflict with the above photographer.     http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1822906_1736958,00.html       http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1823930,00.html      

Here is another link to a New York Times article including pics - http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/05/19/us/0519-PURITY_8.html

Here's an article from a Christian organization speaking out against Purity Balls. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/03/even-purity-minded-christians-can-oppose-purity-ball.html


Here's another article from The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/21/us/purity-balls-local-tradition-or-national-trend.html

 



 sex. 

delder
delder

@LeahRapp The word "purity" refers to the quality of the future marriage union and to the girl's virginity upon entering it, not to the sex act. Sex within marriage is not impure but sex without has traditionally been considered to be so and these people, in case you haven't noticed, are traditionalists. That is their right.

delder
delder

@darrenworldwide Multiplying was meant for marriage...the opposite of spreading seed around to many.

LeahRapp
LeahRapp

@delder The word "purity" literally means "freedom from adulteration or contamination". If they are having a purity ball to pledge their virginity to their father until marriage  i.e. their purity, they are saying that they will remain clean until they marry but they will still be considered clean because it is their husband. If they have sex outside of this strange little contract, they will no longer have their purity. That is the point of the whole damn thing. They said "sex is dirty". It is the balls themselves that claim this. 


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