Natalie Dylan, a 22-year old women’s studies graduate from Sacremento, California, is auctioning off her virginity. She writes in the Daily Beast that she is preparing to enter graduate school and is “exploring my upcoming thesis project: the value of virginity”:
“It started in college, where my eyes were opened by my Women’s Studies professors and fellow classmates. I came to understand the role of “woman” spanning culture and time. At the university level, I was given permission to think differently and form a moral code of my own design. College opened my eyes.
Like most little girls, I was raised to believe that virginity is a sacred gift a woman should reserve for just the right man. But college taught me that this concept is just a tool to keep the status quo intact. Deflowering is historically oppressive—early European marriages began with a dowry, in which a father would sell his virginal daughter to the man whose family could offer the most agricultural wealth. Dads were basically their daughters’ pimps.
When I learned this, it became apparent to me that idealized virginity is just a tool to keep women in their place. But then I realized something else: if virginity is considered that valuable, what’s to stop me from benefiting from that? It is mine, after all. And the value of my chastity is one level on which men cannot compete with me. I decided to flip the equation, and turn my virginity into something that allows me to gain power and opportunity from men. I took the ancient notion that a woman’s virginity is priceless and used it as a vehicle for capitalism.”
Interested parties can bid and consummate the deal at the Bunny Ranch, a house of prostitution in Nevada that is sort of like this, but without the musical numbers. Dylan claims that bidding for the right to deflour her has reached…. US$3.8 million. The oldest profession is supposed to be recession-proof, but if you find that number a little hard to believe, you are not alone.
But the alleged principal investigator’s publicity-seeking exaggerations aside, the question she claims to be trying to answer is a real, graduate-school-appropriate question. How much is virginity worth? You’d love to see someone like this guy considering the issue: his months with a Chicago crack-dealing gang allowed him to precisely measure the degree to which drug dealing can be a remarkably low-income business for most of the people involved (but not for a very small number of people at the top of the pyramid). I suspect prostitution is a similar story.
Oh, wait a second… Dylan is apparently now reconsidering her project.