Exposed: The Gift of Virginity and Purity Balls

by Larissa Dzegar

Hats off to filmmaker Cassie Jaye for exposing the truth about abstinence-only programs, the stories of teenagers who buy into it, and its consequences, in her documentary, Daddy I Do. The film provides a range of personal accounts, from unwed young mothers to the founder of The Silver Ring Thing (faith-based abstinence), private interviews, and alarming statistics. We learn that The Purity Ball, for example, a Cinderella-like ball where young girls pledge themselves to their fathers and promise purity until marriage, received over $1.3 billion in federal funds between 1982 and 2008, yet it’s had over 90% failure rates. As is to be expected, most teenagers showered with abstinence-only lectures are, in turn, deprived of any other sex education, remaining uninformed about the changes in their bodies, how pregnancies actually occur, birth-control, STD’s, abortions, and anything that might suggest pleasure in the sexual act or that their desires are normal (let alone healthy). As the film shows, one teenage boy did not even know what the word abstinence meant, answering the question with, “I am Catholic”. 

Jaye brings us into the culture where young girls are taught that their virginity is a “gift” to be saved for one man only, and that they should expect nothing less than a fairy tale from marriage. That these beliefs set girls up for disappointment is not lost on all abstinence-advocating parents, though. One mother, raising her daughter to save herself for marriage, expressed her conflicting thoughts as she told Jaye, “When she wakes up one day and he’s not special… what happens to those women? She says, okay, I did all that for what? There’s still spousal abuse and child abuse and drug-abuse going on in these abstinent, save-yourself marriages.” One is left with the troubling understanding that not only are these young girls and boys being misled about sex and their sexuality, they are also being drastically misinformed about what to expect from love and relationships. 

Daddy I Do has already won Best Documentary awards in several festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival. A much-deserved buzz for Jaye Bird Productions, run by 23-year-old Cassie Jaye, an actress and filmmaker with a passion for social issues, along with her sister and her mother. They are dedicated to making films that unmask women’s issues, and their next documentary, “The Right to Love: An American Family”, undertakes the pressing issue of marriage equality in America. 

 The Lark Theater in Lakspur, California, will screen Daddy I Do on December 8th, 8:00pm. Check the Jaye Bird Productions website regularly for upcoming screenings and watch the trailer for this compelling, and crucial, film below. 

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 sources: and

PHOTO COURTESY OF: Jaye Bird Productions


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