This week Cutting Edge explores the controversial purity movement currently sweeping across the United States. One-in-six American girls now pledges to remain a virgin - and some even to save their first kiss - until their wedding day. But is this their decision, or their fathers'?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvALXGl9zYA (1/5)
Providing a fascinating insight into America's heartland, award-winning documentary maker Jane Treays follows a group of fathers and daughters as they prepare to attend a Purity Ball in Colorado Springs.
(Thanks again to threespeed79 for uploading the YouTube video clips. BitTorrent enabled viewers go here.)
It was fascinating to watch, not just for the fairly neutral stance that the documentary makers took with the commentary, but also for the way the film accentuated the superficial wholesomeness of the community. The fathers were upstanding, quietly reverent and sincere. The daughters were beautiful, well-spoken and articulate. The religious aspect was evident but not stressed. The whole production spoke of quality, and indeed purity. Even the background music promoted an air of idyllic magnificence.
But despite the portrayal of genuine concern for the future of young lives needing to be cherished, the many scenes with the fathers and daughters together was undeniably and disturbingly creepy. So much utter perfection on display could only, I felt (entirely without evidence), hide something horrendously putrid at its core. Maybe I'm conditioned by so many sad news reports of in-family abuse, but this impression was, for me, unavoidable.
Randy Wilson, a father, is the minister at New Life Church, Colorado Springs* (where the infamous Ted Haggard was minister until his spectacular fall from grace), and he runs the Purity Ball. His wife Lisa was asked about her reasons for promoting purity. Surprisingly she did not quote biblical texts to support her view. Rather, she pointed out the risks of sex before marriage: unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This is ironic, given that these people clearly support 'abstinence only' sex education (which means, in effect, no sex education at all).
It was telling, also, that the one son interviewed on the programme was shown wearing a tee-shirt emblazoned "Patrick Henry College", a university that was the subject of another Channel 4 documentary, God's Next Army.
(*If Randy Wilson is the minister of New Life Church, Colorado Springs, why can't I find his name listed anywhere on the church's website?)