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Like, a Virgin

The interwebs are a-buzzin' with talk of 22-year old Natalie Dylan and her plan to sell her virginity online
to pay for a master's degree. The bidding on the women's studies
major's "maidenhead" (and yes, Fox News called it that in all seriousness) is up to 3.7 million, and the um, transaction, is
set to take place at the Bunny Ranch in Nevada. It seems that people can't wait to ask questions about this situation like, Is this legal? Is the price too high? Can Dylan do this and still call herself a feminist? The blogs and articles go on and on.

Obviously
these are valid questions to ask of this situation. But I think that to
get to the root of this issue the question we should really be asking
ourselves is, Why do we care so much about this in the first place? Is virginity really THAT important? And why is everyone being so creepy about it?

After all, this situation could not exist unless we as a society placed an extremely high value on a woman's virginity (which clearly at least some of us do). I can't imagine Dylan getting bids for up to 3.7 million dollars for sex if she was no longer a virgin, which to me indicates that there is this weird notion floating around out there that a woman is a different person after she "gives it up." A person who is no longer worth 3.7 million in the sack (sorry, non-virgins).

Keep in mind that Natalie Dylan has been subjected to several
lie-detector tests and will undergo a physical examination to prove
that her hymen is still intact before any money changes hands.
Obviously these dudes REALLY CARE about her being a virgin.

Can you imagine if a man in the same situation decided to auction off his virginity to the highest bidder? I doubt that many women would take the multi-million dollar bait. This is clearly a gendered issue, and one that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around. As a woman, I don't personally feel that virginity loss makes someone a different, less-hot person, and I think most women would agree. (Although I also don't have millions of dollars to throw at an offer like this, so maybe I am not the one to weigh in here.) So why are certain men encouraged to care so much about it? Is it that much of a sexual turn-on? Is it a status thing? Are non-virgin women no longer sexually exciting to these bidders? 

This discussion could go on and on, especially if we take a moment to consider the cultural implications virginity has internationally. We have all heard of men committing unspeakable acts for the promise of virgins in heaven, and of women being punished for losing their virginity before marriage. What is UP with virginty? Let's discuss.

Why do you think virginity is so valuable to certain people?

What do you think might need to occur to change these people's minds?

Do you value virginity in that way? Why or why not?

What do you think these bidders should be spending their 3.7 million on instead of Natalie's virginity? The possiblities are endless!

So get to it.

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Comments

19 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Creepy!

I don't really value virginity in that way - partially because of thinking about the politics of heteronormativity in our culture and the idea that every woman, someday, is going to be penetrated. What does this say about the queer community in terms of purity and normalcy that our specific notion of virginity is such a big deal?

That aside, I feel like there's such a high premium put on virginity because of creepy gendered power dynamics and creepy "ownership" that's encouraged in romantic relationships.

I think there's an element

I think there's an element of possession with virginity--you "take" someone's virginity, there's implied coercion and force there. I think there is a type of straight man out there who is turned on by sex as a dominant and possessive act, and not in the kink-friendly no-means-yes-safeword-means-no sort of way. (Well, duh, right?) I've heard the "it feels so much better" argument, but I can't believe that it feels $3.7 million dollars "better." Also, I find that argument disturbing--people who enjoy sex so much more when they know that their partner is potentially in a great deal of pain.

We, as a culture of virginity pledges and purity balls and however many sequels to the "American Pie" movie seem to value virginity a great deal while still defining sex pretty narrowly (while there's an entire spectrum of fun besides intercourse!) We seem to think losing our virginity will be this defining moment in our lives, some sort of rite of passage.

I think she can still call herself a feminist, in the way that I believe sex workers can still define themselves as feminist. $3.7 million dollars is an insane amount of money--she could definitely be set for life if she plays her cards right. Does it make it less feminist if it wasn't to pay for her women's studies degree? If it was for $370 instead of $3.7 million?

As a virgin

personally i wouldn't sell my "purity" to the highest bidder. men willing to pay like that just creep me out. but she has every right to live her life and act on her sexuality as she wishes. to a degree that's what the women's movement has been around. at least it's going for the noble pursuit of higher education.

as a virgin i find it funny how virgins are considered "pure" and "innocent." like we don't have any sort of hands-on knowledge of sexual activities (of which sexual intercourse is only one). and i was always under the impression people weren't all that good the first time around anyway.

i really don't understand society's emphasis on it either. because in high school and college culture, to which i belong, virgins are looked down upon. Thus, we are pressured with the expectation that overall society wants us to remain "untouched" but our peers want us to "do it" as a way of saying we're somehow better than formerly because of it. and WTF are you supposed to do with that?

so i don't get it either....but it's easier to say those men are just insecure in their manhood.

i agree

I think there is something to the presumption that virgins are "pure" and "innocent" implying that they are somehow more childlike and less like adults than their sexually active counterparts. So are these men willing to pay to have sex with a woman that they view as a child?

I also think you're right about the insecurity thing, perhaps they feel like they don't have to stress about their sexual performance since she is inexperienced.

The value of

She values her virginity only monetarily. She will "give it away" for money instead of postponing her first sexual experience for love or commitment or sexual pleasure. Is there a time limit on the de-flowering act? Can she refuse a bidder? Which doctors will verify the lack of STDs and the strength of the condom? ... Honestly, I don't care if she auctions herself off. Best of luck with the movie rights.

I think the whole concept of

I think the whole concept of virginity is toxic and the word should die a well-deserved death. Honestly, there are parts of the world in which honour killings occur because a woman is not a "virgin" (ie doesn't bleed sufficiently on her wedding night). Who gets to say who is and isn't a virgin? When do lesbians lose their virginity? How many virginities to transsexuals get? What if you're raped or sexually abused? I think these men who are bidding on this auction are indulging a semi-pedophilic kink and have more money than brains.

I agree

I do agree with your statement that the obsession with "banging a virgin" sounds almost like pedophilia. It reminds me too much of the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, where you have elderly men bidding huge amounts of money over the ability to take away 15-year-old Sayuri's virginity.

As someone who is still a virgin, I've had a lot of thoughts about what I'm going to do with "my first time." I've heard from so many people that I should make sure it's someone I really like when I give it up, but I'm inclined not to go along with that. I don't want to put any more thought into it than I do with all the times after I lose my virginity that I have sex. I feel like by doing so, I'd be giving into society's idea that "virginity" is some precious, special thing. I want to be selective, but no more selective than I would be after I've lost it.

This idea that the "first time" is special is really pervasive. Even my usually-very-feminist mother has tried to tell me that I should save sex for someone I like enough to consider marrying (though she also expressly told me NOT to "wait until marriage"). I've questioned friends who aren't religious about why they believe they should abstain, and they usually don't know why because they just ate up the propaganda we were taught through school sex ed classes (and ours were not abstinence-only, they still taught us about condoms, but they tried to encourage abstinence which I think is not much better).

At least now the emphasis on virginity and your first time being "special" is spreading to guys as well (ex. the Jonas Brothers), but that's only minimal progress. Instead of that, we should be heading in the opposite direction: where both sexes are allowed to make their own decisions about sex without being judged harshly. For one, it would make being a female college student WAY easier!

This article's view and the

This article's view and the story itself really upset me. The comments, even more so.

"Why's virginity special? Why should sex be any different the first time? What's the premium on virginity/sex?"

Don't sell yourselves short. And no, I don't mean that in just the literal sense--not making a pun at the story. Just seeing things like "why should it be special the first time if it's not going to be special any other time" and "...some perverted form of ownership."

These are sad days we live in. Don't trivialize sexuality.

Trivializing some ancient,

Trivializing some ancient, mythological, magic mojo that's supposed to be forever "lost" when (and only when) a person has intercourse-sex for the first time... is not the same as trivializing sexuality as a whole.

IMO the whole notion of virginity is just bronze age barbarism, and it's time to throw it out the window already. It creates nothing but unhappiness... i.e. some girls guilt-tripping and regretting who they "gave" their virginity to and both sexes (but mainly boys) feeling massive shame over still "being" virgins after some arbitrary age X.

"Virgin" is just an imaginary thing and a silly label. It has nothing to do with who or what you are.

In her own words

This woman has done scores of interviews in the past few months, and as problematic (and obnoxious) as Tyra Banks is, she had Natalie on her show. Her guests actually included Natalie, her sister (who briefly worked as a prostitute at the Bunnyranch Brothel where Natalie's business transaction will go down), Dennis Hof (owner of the Bunnyranch), his girlfriend/employee, another prostitute "Air Force Amy" at the Bunnyranch, and... one of the men who is bidding on Natalie's virginity.

The segment was obviously a grab for ratings, but everyone got a chance to weigh in on the situation. The man who was bidding on Natalie was a 59 year old businessman who said that he was willing to pay for the act because he'd never had a virgin before, and it was basically something he wanted to do before he died... and "the experience of showing her and teaching her would be great... as an older guy." He added "I want her virginity. I want her."

That sense of ownership, of literally buying a woman, is one of the most disturbing things about this whole situation, and sexual transactions in general.

Natalie also responded by saying that she and her sister are going to open a family therapy practice together, and this whole virginity sale is a "case study" to see how "impassioned" people would be when a woman chooses to sell her body.

After everyone in the "biz" had their say, Sonia Ossorio, the president of the New York City chapter of NOW, called the situation "normalized and glamorized prostitution... what we're talking about here has nothing to do with feminism." She went on to say to Natalie, "you're beautiful, you're smart, you're articulate, I don't want to see you go out like this."

The fact that Dennis Hof will receive 50% of whatever Natalie earns off the deal came up as well, which raises huge questions about exploitation. Also, in response to an earlier anonymous poster, she can refuse a bidder, and she claims that she will not necessarily accept the highest bidder, but will choose a man she has "chemistry" with. Right.

Dennis Hof's prostitute "girlfriend" responded to this by saying that a "good prostitute" always takes the highest bidder.

It was all very interesting and I was actually impressed with the spread of opinions on the issue. My own feelings are that this is a publicity stunt which is serving to twist and contort what it means to be an empowered, financially independent woman. I am also of the opinion (which I know is probably unpopular among many individuals here) that prostitution is not feminist, but I am eager to engage in this conversation and curious to see how this whole situation ends.

You can view the show featuring Natalie Dylan and Co. on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jawfLTLRiPg

At first I thought perhaps it was a stunt, too,

one high-lighting the issue of how ridiculous the whole concept of "virginity" actually is. But then Suzanne C. posted that information and now I feel kinda...ugghhh.

I mean, I understand sex positivity and empowerment through pleasure and all that shit. But that the Bunny Ranch owner is taking half? Not a cool social experiment to get tongues wagging in a productive way.

The only part about virginity that interests me, as one who has deflowered a man (for lack of better term, yeeesh), is the whole part of experiencing a person's newfound delight in the whole realm of sex. It's super fun to teach someone firsthand, to know they are so grateful, to introduce them to the subject, as it were.

Somehow, I don't think that's the point here and it sorta makes me sad. I mean, I don't care what this woman does - and hell yeah! make money if you'd like - but she might have framed it in ways that were more innovative and illuminating than what appears to be the situation at the Bunny Ranch.

Judgment

I read this article, the comments, and then watched the Tyra show and found that Natalie seemed to be the most intelligent articulate person on the show, even considering the President of the New York chapter of NOW. For the most part, people seemed outraged and disapproved her decision, but instead of listening to what Natalie had to say and having a discussion about her choices and reasons, people passed simple judgments based on their own morals. There wasn't a real discussion about whether or not this issue is on the side of feminism because Natalie is exercising her right to chose what happens to her body, or if it opposes feminism because she is allowing society to exploit her and use her as a sexual object. As a matter of fact, no one, not even the president of the New York chapter of NOW, gave a reason why it was anti-feminist. They simply expressed disapproval and disgust. People said vague statements such as "what about being a role model" or "shouldn't your virginity be special" or "aren't there better ways to pay for college". None of these statements address the real issue: what makes selling your virginity empowering, or what makes it exploitative and why is that good/bad? Should a woman take advantage of an opportunity even though it has gender biased undertones?

In my opinion this whole

In my opinion this whole thing is a brilliant stunt to get people questioning the imaginary concept of virginity around the world. And kudos to Natalie for exploiting the stupidity of those men and american society in general.

I don't think the issue is

I don't think the issue is virginity, it's sex as a hole - errr I mean whole.

Ok - I am with a man that has never been in love with anyone except me. We've been toghether for a few years now and recently he told me he wished he never had sex with other girls and that he only did it because he didn't believe that an emotional connection changed what sex was & he wished he wouldve lost his virginity to me. It's debatable whether it changes or not but I'm going to say from my own experience, being in love with someone makes it alot funner and better. So like the other commenter before me said, what is a man's virginity? how do you measure it? I told him not to worry, as he lost his virginity to his hand, and I'm not jealous of his hand.

So in a way - it's the way we view sex, as a glorified repetitive body movement. Why isn't washing dishes so glorified? It's a cultural thing stemming from past moralistic taboos.

We should glorify healthy relationships, not sex.

Anyone can have sex. If having sex is 'cool' then my dog is the motherfuckin man, and if abstinence is cool, I'm gonna have to start hanging out with 3-year olds.

I'm mad I didn't think of it

I'm mad I didn't think of it first. Many women rely on sex work to pay for college, why not sell their virginity, if they still even have it? I find egg selling far worse as it perpetuates overpopulation and the media endorsed need to birth a child to be a mother/woman/worthy of a vag. I guess the real question is, why is education so expensive and why do we have to resort to selling our bodies and our body parts to fund it?

Well said.

Well said.

consenting adults

if 2 people are consenting...

perhaps the question might be better phrased:

"upon what will SHE spend her money in trade for something she preferred to value more?"

I think I'm more interested with the question of what would be worth the exchange in her mind?

...an education?
...a future?
...financial security?
...travel?
...medical help for a relative or stranger?
...a pile of useless, over-hyped consumer goods?

I'm really curious where that money goes: something interesting & worthwhile? something shallow & depressingly consumerist in an over-hyped selfish consumerist media culture?

or maybe she's exchanging one commodity for another to just go out & have fun....
& that's okay, too.

because if we don't have control over how we live, enjoy or prosper in our bodies... then what do we have as a human freedom?

more to the point, I'd be interested to know if it did turn out to be crap we're told we 'need to have to be happy' as we're told we'll 'never measure up to Societal Standards of External Validation'...

Perhaps the relationship of a woman to her body has become more... about what we can get with what we've got, rather than simply enjoying ourselves with those we care about?

who knows?

but a woman's choice to live & make a living within her own body is just about the single most important human right she can have.

perspective, people.

Perspective.

The Jeff Farias Show: podcast

Wait, I might have missed

Wait, I might have missed something... Since when selling your body for money isn't considered prostitution and is legal? Well, I see that this lady is showing great entrepreneur skills, but I wonder what kind of formula she had used during her "supply and demand" research? It might be at least an Arab sheikh and probably she believes that he wil marry her! Poor girl, she still haven't fallen in love with a smart cookie that is able to get her for free ;)