The Fem Spot

Natalie Dylan: virgin or victim?

Posted in Feminist Theory, Politics, Pop Culture, Sexuality by femspotter on September 19, 2008
September 19, 2008
Natalie Dylan (pseudonym)

Natalie Dylan (pseudonym)

Although Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s eyewear seems to be getting more media attention than the announcement from a 22-year-old woman from California that she will sell her virginity to the highest bidder, the latter incident has not gone entirely unnoticed. Prostitution is largely illegal in the United States – it is legal in Nevada and Rhode Island, so it’s surprising that we Americans are spending more time debating abortion – which then presumptive Supreme Court Justice John Roberts said in 2005 was “settled as a precedent” – than we are about the concept of selling sex for money.

Natalie Dylan (left) has said that rather than work her way through graduate school, she’d like to auction off her virginity – she’s hoping for $1 million – in order to pay for a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Presumably, as we are living in a capitalist society which operates according to the principle of supply and demand, there is a demand out there for sex…but not just sex: sex with a virgin.

Of course, news of Ms. Dylan’s scheme has sparked speculation in the blogosphere that perhaps she is not what she says. Could it be that she is lying? Could it be that she is not a virgin, and therefore selling a used good claiming that it is new?

That seems to be the most popular angle on the debate over Dylan’s sex sale: is she or isn’t she a real virgin? What’s the difference? The penis doesn’t leave an impression behind after intercourse. It’s not like there will be grooves in a seasoned vagina that weren’t there before the…uh…seasoning. And any female who has ever used a tampon or participated in youth sports activities has broken her hymen. There will likely be no blood to prove your claim.

Guys, your dick won’t know the difference. Do men secretly want to be Captain Kirk (William Shatner), “boldly go(ing) where no man has gone before?”

If I had $1 million in spare cash just lying around, I wouldn’t pay for sex with a virgin. I’d smuggle ice cream into a secret gathering of women in Afghanistan and move all young girls slated for “circumcision” to a desert island. That way women who aren’t getting laid properly could at least enjoy the pleasure of eating forbidden food. And little girls who are being crippled so that they never have orgasms – EVER – could escape such a cruel, sexless existence.

And if there’s any money leftover, I’d buy something for me. I’m no saint. Behold:

Armadillo Striped Satin d'Orsay by Christian Louboutin - $790

Christian Louboutin $790

It’s not like Dylan will use the whole of her $1 million to pay for school. Graduate school doesn’t cost that much. I see extravagant satin shoes in her future.

But wait: even if somebody does agree to pay big bucks for sex with the big V, doesn’t the aforementioned prostitute get only half of the money that’s tendered? After all, Dylan has agreed to lose her virginity at the Moonlite BunnyRanch in Nevada, one of only a handful of legal brothels. But the location doesn’t come cheap: Dylan will have to fork over half of her earnings when the time comes. If she’s offered $1 million for her virginity, she’ll net $500,000. And BunnyRanch owner Dennis Hof will keep the remainder for…well…for having a keen business sense and the foresight to know that his 1993 $1.5 million investment in the existing brothel would pay off.

Everybody gets rich, I guess.

I had an argument about prostitution with a Marxist feminist wherein she outlined for me how prostitution exploits women. I don’t agree entirely. In the first place, exploitation would mean that a service is being provided without just compensation. In Dylan’s case, she has said up front what “just compensation” means to her. If a woman says that she will provide sex for $100, and she is subsequently paid $100 for that sex, there is no exploitation. If her customer stiffs her – in more ways than one – then there is exploitation. I am assuming that customers pay upfront in these legal brothels. How is there financial exploitation in such cases?

The hole in my argument (or, at least, the wrinkle) is that the house takes 50 percent of the working girls’ earnings. Because prostitution is only legal in these small areas of the country, women (and men where there’s demand) have very few potential employers.

Do real estate agents generally feel exploited by their real estate brokers? If they do, they can switch. Realtor X makes x percent of her commission and Realtor Y makes y percent at a different brokerage. Realtor X can make y percent if he or she changes companies. But a prostitute has few options. In our society, we consider prostitutes to be deviant; suppliers of a deviant product. (We don’t generally think about the level of deviance in the demanding population.) Therefore, we have isolated the identified deviants in small pockets of the country.

Natalie Dylan has said that in this capitalist society, she is going to capitalize on her virginity. But because her options are limited, so is her fiscal yield. It is therefore not capitalism that exploits prostitutes, as the Marxist feminist would argue, but rather moral rigidity in the law. More legal brothels would yield more competition for brothel owners and consequently higher commission splits for sex workers.

This doesn’t completely expound a platform in favor of prostitution. I believe that like most things having to do with our bodies – i.e. sexual preference and reproductive rights – prostitution should be above the law. One reason for the federal government to make abortion uniformly legal was to avoid the state border hopping that was going on prior to Roe v. Wade in 1973. Isn’t that why President George Bush and others are in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage: to avoid mass vigilante behavior across the U.S.? Until more states permit prostitution as a legal means of income, there’s very little threat of such border hopping and mass vigilantism. It’s not likely that the federal government will address the issue any time soon.

I believe there shouldn’t even be an issue. What you do with your own body should be entirely up to you so long as you don’t infringe upon other human beings’ inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


11 Responses

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  1. cheeseman said, on September 19, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    *Cough* Skank *Cough*………..

  2. gfish said, on September 19, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    First and foremost, speaking as a guy, I have much better uses for a million dollars than to try and have sex with a virgin. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I’m not accustomed to paying for sex. Oh sure, I put effort in grooming, dressing nicely and turning on the charm. But if there’s money involved in sex, I’m out.

    I also wonder if Ms. Dylan really wants her first sexual experience be with some guy who bid in an auction to paw at her rather than get to know her, charm her and generally cared about showing her a good time.

    Finally, when it comes to porn and prostitution, I agree with you. If the woman agrees to do it, signs paperwork, passes health exams and get the money she expects (not charges, expects), it’s very difficult to call it exploitation.

    Just as an afterthought… I always wondered what feminists might think of male prostitutes? Do they think they’re being exploited or are just living the dream by being a paid sex toy?

  3. nearlynormalized said, on September 19, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Maybe same Saudi Prince would pay the million, I’m with you–take care of those that need the care and get something for yourself on the side. Go friend!!!!

  4. miltonia said, on September 19, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    thats insane. im not sure if i could do that. why are people even so obsessed with money that they would sell their bodies for it. i mean… i get it if you need help. prostitutes, drug addicts. but this girl seems like a perfectly sane, and happy(?)… get a job, girlie. dont spread your legs for the highest bidder.

    but its up to her, no one else.

  5. faemom said, on September 20, 2008 at 12:44 am

    I believe we should legalize prostitution so that we can protect prostitutes from being taken advantage of as you just pointed out. Legalization would allow some goverment regulation in the health and well-being of the workers. A prostitution union!

    What’s funny to me is that some girl actually thinks deflowering a virgin is worth a cool mill. Really? Most men I know would rather not have that awkwardness again. So it’ll be interesting to see what kind of guy would fork over that kind of cash.

  6. sullentangerine said, on September 20, 2008 at 12:44 am

    When I first read this story, my instant thought was “If this was a man, no one would care.”

  7. femspotter said, on September 20, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Wow! I am grateful for all of the responses. I just wonder whether or not the Cheeseman is referring to Dylan or her future client…

    As to gfish’s question about what feminists think about exploited male prostitutes: I am certainly not the right one to ask.

    In this earlier blog, I outlined how I can’t seem to fit into any of the categories other feminists do. But, I would venture a guess that most feminists would argue that because men, historically, have had more career opportunities than women – and certainly because demand is higher for female prostitution than male – men have less right to claim exploitation than do women.

    As a woman who thinks prostitution should be legal for women, I think it should also be legal for men. And – taking away the idea of sin – if I were unmarried and a busy career gal, I might consider going to a professional for a good time.

  8. Angry Ballerina said, on September 20, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Awesome post. My first thought was,
    a) what the hell do her PARENTS think? (or was that covered?)
    b) You have to live with that for the rest of your life. No amount of awesome shoes can take away the fact that you SOLD your VIRGINITY.

    I think it just makes her look like an opportunistic, shallow, selfish bitch.

  9. Regicide said, on November 16, 2008 at 5:26 am

    That post was kind of uneven. You gravitate between being both sexist and anti-sexist. Like, really, you think she’ll spend it on shoes?

    Hell. I’ll read her thesis.

    Its above 3 million by now. I feel the attention should be on the winning bidder. What the fuck is he thinking? Virgins aren’t even very good at having sex. Remember the first time you had sex…?

    And you can pay for sex for much, much less.

    You better get something both extreme and memorable for 3 million dollars. There should be vegetables and sailor moon uniforms and funnels and magic spells involved for that price. And the goddamned first orgasm had better last an entire fucking day.

  10. femspotter said, on November 16, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you for commenting. I hope my message was clear about the fact that I think she can do whatever she wants with HER body. The stuff about the shoes was sarcasm. I need to figure out a way to reinforce that. If I were reading the post aloud, it would be clear.

    …having said that, I do love shoes…and isn’t it anybody’s right (in a capitalist system) to buy whatever they want with their money?

    Speaking of money, is she really up to $3 million?

  11. Regicide said, on November 16, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Well, Shoes are kind of boring. I have a single pair of shoes, when they are worn and faded and the grips don’t work during winter, I buy new shoes. Shoes aren’t a hobby, you should be spending your money on books or music or… well, anything else. Whatever you’re into. Something creative. Something that wasn’t sewn together by 13 year old girls in South Korea.

    I don’t think what this girl is doing should be illegal, because like you said, it’s her body. But it’s still kind of crass and disturbing. What kind of message are you sending to anyone with both debt and a hymen? The exotic sex market will soon be devalued with supposed virgins.

    I don’t understand why anyone is bidding on this. I want to know more about the person that wins. How can you be that rich and still that lonely?

    I feel bad for everyone involved in this story.

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