In the United States, faith-based abstinence-only programs in schools have received $ 1.3 Billion in government funding between 1982-2008. This “save yourself until marriage” agenda has a 90% failure rate. Rationalizing this kind of spending on an essentially faith-based agenda – as opposed to comprehensive sex education, which teaches students about birth control, such as condoms, as well as abstinence – in a country that has a supposed buffer (yeah, right) between church and state begs any thoughtful, sex-loving or even moderately literate human being to ask WTF?
And that is exactly what bubbly blonde actress-turned-filmmaker Cassie Jaye of Jaye Bird Productions wanted to explore in her Cannes Film Festival award winning documentary Daddy I Do.
She says, “When 95% of young people have sex before marriage, it should be a crime to withhold the information on how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STDs. Even more terrifying is that abstinence-only programs are spewing misinformation about condoms and contraceptives, to the point of telling young people ‘don’t bother using a condom because it doesn’t protect you.'”
I had a one-on-one with 24-year old Oklahoma native Jaye, who now graces the Bay Area with her production company, which is a family operation. The one-time supporter of these “chastity is king” programs, Jaye is now dipping in the honey pot like the rest of us sinners – and thus offers a unique ‘all-sides’ perspective.
But, Daddy I Do not only delves into the Religious Right’s drop kick on kid’s minds’ sometime between algebra and P.E., but also explores the rationale behind something called a “purity ball.” A ceremony that has been adopted in 48 states and 17 countries, this ill-name-fated event forays young girls anywhere from 6 to 16 to pledge their virginity to their fathers. (The now salvia-puffing Miley Cyrus once pledged virginity until marriage, even donning a silver ring to nail down the proclamation.) Daddy then cargos the goods along to her husband-to-be to receive on sacred wedding day. (P.S. When a woman’s sexual power is hers exactly is not explained, or is incidental, or worse, non-existent. Vagina shmagina.) (P.P.S. 90% of these girls break their vow. I say, blame the boys and their delicious meat sticks.)
From frat boys to teen moms to recovering Christians, Daddy I Do contains many must-see moments and learning ops for people on all sides of the Kinsey scale. Not just big fat skinny liberals like me, who are constantly reminded (even in 2011) that being a woman and enjoying the dirty drippy nasty is still a radical act.
Enough from me. Here’s what Cassie Jaye had to say:
Darrah de jour: What was your main motivation for producing Daddy I Do?
Cassie Jaye: I used to be a large supporter and promoter of abstinence-only programs as a teenager because it was all I was ever taught. After I graduated high school and started living on my own, meeting new people from different backgrounds, I realized that sexual choices were not so black and white. I wanted to help others see both sides of the issue of sex education in America and the effects of misinformation.
DDJ: How did you find the specific prospects to interview and locations to highlight purity balls, abstinence education and teen motherhood?
CJ: Luckily, since I was raised in the abstinence movement, I knew their talking points and I could relate to them. I found the purity ball family (The McCalls) off of the father’s blog who had written about his experiences taking his 6-year-old and 8-year-old girls to purity balls. Right when we started filming, Amy Catherine Flynn appeared on American Idol preaching about abstinence, and so we contacted her right away. I contacted The Silver Ring Thing [one of the leading abstinence-only programs] founder, Denny Pattyn, and he enthusiastically agreed to let us shadow their tour, preaching abstinence at different high schools around the country.
DDJ: What did you learn in the process, and how has your mind perhaps changed along the way?
CJ: My views and perspectives changed drastically. Most people are either on one side of the issue or the other. The more you research both sides, the more the line becomes blurry. Most comprehensive sex educators will say that it is best to wait until you are much older before you engage in sexual activity, and that is the same agenda of the abstinence-only side, however “much older” means “marriage.” The intentions are good, but you have to look at the facts and statistics of what works, what arms kids with the resources to make the right choices. The abstinence-only side stems from religious faith, and many people will operate based on their religion before taking statistics into account.
DDJ: What was your most joyous moment during filming? The most treacherous?
CJ: The most joyous moment during filming Daddy I Do was the amount of time I spent with my mom, who filmed and produced Daddy I Do with me. I had been living on my own for a couple years, and when I decided to make Daddy I Do, I asked my mom, who was a still photographer at the time, if she’d be willing to take this road trip journey with me. It was the first time in my life that my mom and I were coming together as two adults sharing our different views. I specifically remember leaving the interview with Penny, the young girl who had the abortion, and my mom and I were so moved by her story that we really started to open up to each other.
DDJ: How long did it take from start to finish and how did you get funding for the film?
CJ: The entire film (before our premiere) took about 2 years. We funded the film entirely out-of-pocket. Every penny I made went into the camera equipment and traveling for filming. I couldn’t afford an editor, so I learned how to edit in Final Cut Pro and did all of the post-production in my bedroom.
DDJ: What were your goals, emotionally, politically and cinematically, and have they been met?
CJ: The main goal of the film was to create conversation around this issue. Since we had no outside funding, I felt like I could really experiment with the direction of the film and the message. That freedom allowed me to make a film that I would want to see, and that was my driving force. I was not thinking about what audiences would like, or what would be marketable, I just wanted to make a film that was my own personal voice.
DDJ: You’ve won many awards for your work – congratulations! What are your plans for the future? What are you working on currently?
CJ: Currently I’m working on another feature documentary called The Right to Love: An American Family which follows the issue of same-sex marriage in America, the battle for equal rights, and religious views on the issue.
Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America.
Visit JayeBirdProductions.com/ to learn more about Daddy I Do.