Natalie Dylan: virgin or victim?
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:
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.