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Who Is Bidding On Natalie Dylan’s Virginity?

January 26, 2009
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My co-contributor and co-blogger Cara has a post at Feministe about Natalie Dylan. Probably you’ve read the broad outlines: auctioning virginity, bidding at $3.8 million, etc. I am not interested in rehashing the same discussion that has happened elsewhere.

I am interested in the invisible man — or men (or perhaps women or even folks who reject either label, but I’m guessing men). I’m interested in the bidders. It seems that everyone wants to have a discussion about what she’s doing — she has a women’s studies degree, she says this is in part a sociology experiment to study the response. Well, the response is that everyone wants to talk about her virginity, her morality, whether she’s a good or bad feminist (which is the secular lefty version of talking about her morality), and whether she’s really a virgin. I am not going to engage any of that shit, but if that’s what she wanted to know, she has her answer.

I’m not going to wag a judgment finger at her, or even try to answer any of those questions. I want to know who offers $3.8 million to have sex with a partner who has not had sex before.

The whole notion, as many people have said on this topic and as I’ve written more generally before, is silly. Certainly, a hymen is not proxy for sexual experience, and neither is the penetration of a vagina by a penis. Someone who has given three thousand handjobs and topped widely varied BDSM scenes is sexually experienced by any reasonable definition, even without one or several particular sex acts on their resume. To maintain otherwise is like saying that vegetarians are not experienced eaters.

But getting past the silliness of defining virginity or using it as a proxy for experience, what is the benefit of a sex partner without experience? In my YMY essay, I write that if we think of sex as a performance like music, a virginity premium makes zero sense:

The commodity model … further assumes that sex earlier in her history is more valuable than sex later. If she has a lot of sex early on, what she has left will not be something people will esteem highly. But a musician’s first halting notes at age thriteen in the basement are not something of particular value. Only an obsessive completist would want a recording of a young musician’s practice before she knew what she was doing; and then only after that musician has made her mark by playing publicly, well and often. She gets better by learning, by playing with different people who are better than she is. She reaches the height of her powers in the prime of her life, as an experienced musician, confident in her style and conversant in her material. Her experience and proven talent are precisely why she is valued.

YMY at p. 38.

I don’t think the bidders are obsessive completists betting that Natalie Dylan will later be famous for her skills as a sex partner.

It seems obvious to me that the premium is all about the more traditional notions of the value of virginity — all of which have to do with control of women’s sexuality: virgins are not pregnant by another man and if controlled will not become so; the inexperienced have no basis for comparison; if virginity is a proxy for youth and innocence then it may also mean easily controlled and manipulated. These are not reasons I can respect. So the bidders, whoever they are, are pieces of shit, beneath contempt. And I wanted to say that because I want to see someone — anyone — put them back into the discussion. Just because we don’t know who they are doesn’t mean they should be exempt from the discussion.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    January 26, 2009 5:45 pm

    Thomas,

    “To maintain otherwise is like saying that vegetarians are not experienced eaters.”

    Well, they’re possibly unexperienced meat-eaters.

    “It seems obvious to me that the premium is all about the more traditional notions of the value of virginity -”

    I think that’s pretty obvious, but I’m not sure – as you apparently are – that it’s all about controlling female sexuality (as a way to control the perceived socially detrimental male sexuality). Sexuality is still considered dirty to a significant degree, far beyond people who self-identify as social conservatives.

    “So the bidders, whoever they are, are pieces of shit, beneath contempt. And I wanted to say that because I want to see someone — anyone — put them back into the discussion. Just because we don’t know who they are doesn’t mean they should be exempt from the discussion.”

    You’re so judgmental, it’s hard to believe for someone who’s self-admittedly engaged in sexual practices that not a few others would be judgmental about. I mean, why can’t you see this as a fetish like you probably could when any person were paying an absurd price to be allowed to lick Paris Hilton’s leather boots or whatever, I’m sure you can come up with more strange kinks than I can.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re right that the buyer’s are the mosre interesting story. This is utterly bizarre and I’d really like to find out more about the motivations of someone to pay 3.8 millions for likely bad sex. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to call these people “pieces of shit” because you don’t agree with what turns them on.

    This is certainly no way to start an enlightened discourse about ridding sexuality off that “dirty image” it has in today’s society. This way, you’re reinforcing it, just as you’re reinforcing the virginity myth you want to end.

  2. January 26, 2009 6:11 pm

    I don’t subscribe to the super-relativism that would require me to accept anything that anyone does just because some other people don’t accept what I do. In fact, such a philosophy is very much a fringe view. Must of us condemn some things that we think are wrong (to steal Ron Dworkin’s example, genocide) while we ourselves do things that many others think are morally wrong (such as holding religious beliefs different from theirs or using contraception). So am I held to a higher standard because the things I do that some people disagree with are more tittilating? That’s a silly position.

    I am judgmental. I think rape is wrong. I think sexism is wrong. I think misogyny is wrong. I’m not going to back off of those judgments. If we can’t say that some attitudes about sexuality are wrong and unhealthy, how in the world can we argue that they need to change?

    Seriously, shop that shit somewhere else because it’s no sale here, mister.

  3. John permalink
    January 26, 2009 7:42 pm

    Thomas,

    “If we can’t say that some attitudes about sexuality are wrong and unhealthy, how in the world can we argue that they need to change?”

    Oh, we can say that they’re wrong, but I think we should not refer to adults who want to *consensually* engage in what we may find problematic behaviour as “pieces of shit”.

    But whatever, you’re not interested in a discussion. Don’t worry about me trying to sell you anything anymore. You’ve made your point by being inappropriately rude. Not having a civilised discourse certainly is the way to make the world a better place, right mister?

  4. eghead permalink
    January 26, 2009 8:11 pm

    Ignoring the flame war I fear is about to flare up between the two of you, I have to say I agree with Thomas. “Pieces of shit” would not be my terminology, but I do think that those men, whoever they are, are ignorant at best and terrible human beings no matter what. The argument that you can’t judge anything that’s ‘consensual’ is ridiculous. Also, I have a fundamental disagreement with your definition of ‘consensual.’ Paying someone 3.8 million dollars in no way means she is emotionally or psychologically consenting to sex. She’s consenting to the use of her body for money.

  5. January 26, 2009 11:01 pm

    The bidders want to contaminate the pussy…think of it as a type of, maybe purification…pseudosalvation…washing their sins away amidst this pure, powerful being…

    On top of that, great sex is not what they are seeking…no more than a warm hole of a lubed bottle. This seeker is the nadir of sexual prowess, he has no skill, no acumen and therefore seeks not mutual pleasure. Loser is written on the forehead, instead of 666.

  6. Wendell permalink
    January 27, 2009 1:07 am

    I got a good knowing chuckle out of the vegetarian line. I may be relatively inexperienced w/r/t meat-eating (stopped it for politics/ecology, stuck with it cos I just don’t like most of it), but how many meat eaters have had linguica (one of the few meats I actively liked when I ate meat)? Or emu? Squirrel? Horse?

    Sure, the pieces of shit line was strong, but understand that this blog looks to reframe sexuality in a manner that would make rape unacceptable. In bidding on Dylan’s first PVI experience, the bidder(s) is/are quite literally buying into the commodity model of sexuality which perpetuates and condones rape culture. They may be unaware pieces of shit, but in this very specific example what they are doing is extraordinarily shitty.

  7. January 27, 2009 2:55 am

    For what it’s worth, I am also a little creeped out by the bidders here, but I haven’t fully decided what I think of what they’re doing.

    Thomas, I understand your strong feelings, but I would like to hear you address the “fetish” argument nonetheless. If we agree that fetishes are okay (and if you’re in the BDSM community, you obviously do), then do you really believe that a virginity fetish is automatically bad?

    Yes, I understand that it is arguably “collaborating” with an unhealthy culture … but so is female masochism, or male sadism … and I doubt that you come down so strongly on those.

  8. January 27, 2009 3:02 am

    @ eghead: I don’t know anything about Natalie, but I think I remember reading somewhere that she is conversing at some length with the men who are bidding on her virginity. Hypothetically, if her partner negotiates a long and satisfying sexual scene with her, and then pays her for it — do you still believe she’s not consenting to sex? And no, I am not arguing that this is definitely what will happen to her. I am just curious to know what your thoughts are if it does.

    @ rj: Let’s take the example of a dominant who wants to enact a very specific fantasy involving a partner who takes a lot of sensation, but doesn’t give back. For instance, let’s imagine that the dominant wants to tie up the partnet, go down on the partner, then have sex with the partner. This is exactly what the dominant wants and it really gets zer off to do it, but the partner isn’t “doing” much. Is that dominant the nadir of sexual prowess, etc.? And no, I am not arguing that this is definitely what will happen with Natalie. I am just curious to know what your thoughts are if it does.

  9. January 27, 2009 9:31 am

    Clarisse, first, I’m not sure we can make an “it’s a fetish” argument about an interest or attraction that is wholly within the mainstream. Is there such a thing as a fetish for PIV, a fetish for blond haired tall thin conventionally attractive cis-sexual white women? The elevated value of virginity is so much a part of the culture that I don’t think we can seriously call it a fetish.

    Second, I’m not someone who believes our kinks are reflexively off-limits to discussion. That some folks are feflexively repelled by what we do is different from having a serious discussion about what we do and why we do it. Not all kinksters agree on this and I have butted heads many times over the years with folks who do some of the same things I do, but who think that anything that turns anyone on and that can in the broadest way be called consensual (like the Goreans and other gender supremacists, etc.) should not be up for discussion. I just don’t agree with that.

    The world is a complicated place, and there could be facts that could get me to back off my assertion. If the bidder were explicitly trying to make a political point by “bidding” on the “virginity” for a sexual encounter that would challenge the notion of virginity — a person who did not intend any penile penetration, for example; a man who wanted to be the enveloping partner in anal intercourse with Dylan, or a partner interested in sexual activities that involved no penile penetration — that would, IMO, be political theater to some extent, and even if it wouldn’t be the way I’d go about it, I’d feel very differently about that.

    I’m really making a fairly straightforward assumption: that the bidders are cismen, interested in bidding on virginity for the range of reasons that virginity has typically been valued. I’ve got a real problem with that, and I’m not going to apologize for using strong words. If the anonymous bidders think that people like me have them all wrong, perhaps they can go on the same talk shows Dylan has gone on and explain how it’s really not like that.

  10. January 27, 2009 9:56 am

    Clarisse, I just realized I didn’t answer all of what you said; I went around the question of what I think of kinks that recapitulate the patriarchy.

    Basically, I have huge problems with people who want to generalize their kink to universal law, like the Goreans. Folks that think women are inherently subs can fuck right off. Which is not to discourage women from bottoming or men from topping: but those are their personal desires, not some broad rule of nature (and let’s not pretend our culture doesn’t exert an influence).

  11. eghead permalink
    January 28, 2009 1:30 am

    @Thomas:
    “Second, I’m not someone who believes our kinks are reflexively off-limits to discussion. That some folks are feflexively repelled by what we do is different from having a serious discussion about what we do and why we do it.”

    Amen to that. I struggle with my opinions on BDSM and any other expression on sexuality that’s about pain and/or domination. It’s nice to know that, because I don’t just say “hey whatever you do is fine with me” I’m not automatically a repressed asshole.

    @Clarisse

    You know, I did think about that. It does change the situation to an extent, but not so much as to negate the strange and perhaps destructive psychological atmosphere created by an exchange of money– millions of dollars, at that– for something as deeply emotional as sex– allegedly-first-time-sex, at that! I’m not saying this will necessarily be psychologically damaging to her, and I hope it’s not. I just hope she considers the possibility that it could be. Even the risk of psychological damage isn’t worth that much money to me…but, then again, I’m already a nutcase.

  12. January 28, 2009 10:48 am

    eghead, lots of kinksters have argued to me that we can’t change what is erotic to us, by way of asserting that it’s not worth examining. Crediting the premise, which I basically do, I don’t accept the logic. I think it’s worth talking about how our sexuality is impacted by the society we’re in just for the purpose of understanding it. OTOH, as a man, I don’t get shamed for sexuality in the same way women do and so it may be cheaper, psychological-cost wise, for me to spend time thinking about why my turn-ons are my turn-ons than it is for some women. I’m not ignoring that.

    In favor of BDSM, I can say that that’s the place where explicit discussion of what folks want from their sex partners and what their limits are is the most entrenched norm, and in that way the BDSM community has a lot to teach. Also, body positivity — BDSM communities do a lot less of telling people that they shouldn’t be sexual because their bodies look the wrong way.

  13. January 30, 2009 11:41 am

    @ Thomas: “Clarisse, first, I’m not sure we can make an “it’s a fetish” argument about an interest or attraction that is wholly within the mainstream. Is there such a thing as a fetish for PIV, a fetish for blond haired tall thin conventionally attractive cis-sexual white women? The elevated value of virginity is so much a part of the culture that I don’t think we can seriously call it a fetish.”

    I disagree. I think that in order to be sexually progressive, it would be helpful if we tried recasting basically all sexual desires as kinks. I consider myself to have a “monogamy kink”, for example, and I find this very helpful in conversations about polyamory / swinging / other forms of consensual non-monogamy. I don’t see how we can start a truly non-judgmental conversation otherwise.

    “Second, I’m not someone who believes our kinks are reflexively off-limits to discussion. That some folks are reflexively repelled by what we do is different from having a serious discussion about what we do and why we do.”

    I agree, but I think that critical discussion is very different from straight-up judgment. Your immediate and harsh judgment on this subject bothers me. I wouldn’t be so bothered if you weren’t using words like “pieces of shit”. By the same token, I have no problem if radical feminists want to critically examine my BDSM desires, but when they start pulling out statements that include the word “should”, or start calling my desires “unfeminist”, or start calling my lovers psychotic etc etc … that’s when I start wanting to walk away from the conversation.

    @ eghead: “I’m not saying this will necessarily be psychologically damaging to her, and I hope it’s not. I just hope she considers the possibility that it could be. Even the risk of psychological damage isn’t worth that much money to me…but, then again, I’m already a nutcase.”

    I totally agree. I think that this is my biggest worry about the situation. Basically, I just worry that Dylan might now feel like she’s “locked in” and can’t decide not to do this. I worry that she could get badly hurt and be unwilling to admit it, or reexamine her decision, or have a hard time coming to terms with it because she’s taken such public ownership of this process. But ultimately, I think those concerns are a little bit … patriarchal? controlling? … on my part. Really, the thing that bothers me most about Dylan is that I feel like her stunt is distracting attention from important issues like sex workers’ rights. I want people to be paying attention to what happens more broadly in the sex trade — both issues like trafficking, and less horrible issues such as the ones highlighted by the Sex Workers Outreach Project [ http://www.swopusa.org/ ] — rather than this particular young woman who is not actually subject to most of those problems and pressures.

    @ Thomas again: “OTOH, as a man, I don’t get shamed for sexuality in the same way women do and so it may be cheaper, psychological-cost wise, for me to spend time thinking about why my turn-ons are my turn-ons than it is for some women. I’m not ignoring that.”

    This is a really smart point. Thanks for acknowledging it.

    “In favor of BDSM, I can say that that’s the place where explicit discussion of what folks want from their sex partners and what their limits are is the most entrenched norm, and in that way the BDSM community has a lot to teach.”

    I had a great conversation about this with a woman who runs a Chicago university wellness center recently. She doesn’t want me to come talk to the students about BDSM (unfortunately), but she and I are talking about scheduling me for a vanilla workshop on sexual communication. I’m currently thinking about what kind of BDSM negotiation tactics I can put in there, and how I can rename them so my audience doesn’t figure out that I’m sneaking in a bunch of BDSM ideas :grin:. For instance, I need a new term for “safeword” — one of my friends suggested “timeout”; do you have any ideas?

    … By the way, did y’all catch Natalie Dylan’s short piece on AlterNet? [ http://www.alternet.org/sex/123185/why_i'm_selling_my_virginity/ ]

  14. January 30, 2009 11:45 am

    Argh, in my response to Eghead I said that I have two “biggest worries”. I hate it when I do that. I should avoid superlatives entirely. :grin:

  15. January 30, 2009 11:51 am

    @ Thomas: One more point. Have you talked to any Goreans? I’m just curious. I used to judge them much more harshly myself, before I spoke to one who told me all about his take on Gorean stuff.

  16. January 30, 2009 12:04 pm

    Clarisse, some people don’t like when I use strong words of condemnation. It’s not something I intend to change. Some of my opinions alienate some people. That’s not something I intend to change either.

    I think there are fundamental problems with expanding the notion of kink to include all sexual preferences. It does clearly have benefits, including the ones you lay out. It’s a tactic to get folks to see various tastes as no more strange or threatening than their own. But it also tends to gloss over that folks do, in fact, find other people’s kinks strange and even repellent. None of it is conceptually neat, of course.

    To circle back to condemnation and discourse, I don’t particularly like when people use strong words to condemn me either — but ultimately, their position is their position. Whether someone thinks I’m “fucking” evil and psychotic, of “respectfully” thinks I’m evil and psychotic is kind of a distinction without a difference. Many RadFems think what we do is in the service of patriarchy, and their word choice is not gonna ultimately matter much. Some are willing to listen and change their minds as they learn more about what we do, and some are not, and I’m not even sure that their rhetorical volume is a good proxy for that.

    “Timeout” is a good way to sneak the concept of a safeword in without obviously referencing BDSM. The harder part is dealing with negotiation and limits. The idea that people have some communication about what they want is fairly ingrained in the BDSM script, while there is such a view of non-kinky sex arising organically from “chemistry” with no conscious communication that this is a much harder concept to get across. And the things that are most important to communicate may be the hardest to communicate in isolation — like triggers from past trauma. In the course of talking about a lot of limits big and small, it may be easier to air those things out, while if there’s not a lot of talking space, putting just that one thing out there could be really nerve-racking.

  17. January 30, 2009 12:08 pm

    Also Clarisse, the Alternet piece is the same one that the Feministe post is about. Cara linked it, and I linked her discussion of it.

  18. January 30, 2009 12:24 pm

    Eek, sorry for the double link.

    “But it also tends to gloss over that folks do, in fact, find other people’s kinks strange and even repellent.”

    Honestly, I think this is something we should be glossing over. It’s okay for people to find kinks strange or repellent, and it’s important for people to talk about why that is. But I’m not sure it’s okay for us to devote a whole lot of air time to validating them.

    “To circle back to condemnation and discourse, I don’t particularly like when people use strong words to condemn me either — but ultimately, their position is their position. Whether someone thinks I’m “fucking” evil and psychotic, of “respectfully” thinks I’m evil and psychotic is kind of a distinction without a difference.”

    I don’t know about that. I think that even if you’re expressing such a harsh opinion, the words you use matter a lot. If a RedFem says, “Respectfully, I feel like your sadistic lover is psychotic,” then at least I know she’s trying to have a conversation with me, and I might be able to gently convince her of something. If she says, “Your sadistic lover is a motherfucking psychotic,” why am I going to even bother talking to her? If you don’t feel like talking to the people you’re alienating, that’s fine. But if you’re really trying to start a dialogue rather than preach to the choir, then I’m not sure your tactics are the best ones.

    “there is such a view of non-kinky sex arising organically from “chemistry” with no conscious communication that this is a much harder concept to get across. ”

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking about how to do this all day. Maybe I’ll ask the students to describe what they think “good sex” is … or talk from my own experiences about fantasies of an unspeaking white knight who knows everything I want without me telling him, and then say, “But I was so wrong, and now that I’ve let go of that image, my sex is much hotter.”

  19. January 30, 2009 1:42 pm

    I think we all work with some people where they are and can’t soft-sell our views enough to deal with others. I don’t really want to reach out to guys who want to buy a woman’s virginity. That can be someone else’s outreach project. If I’m going to alienate someone for saying what I think too bluntly, I’ll pick entitled cis het dudes.

    About the sex script: this is one place where the lowly handjob can work wonders. It’s a level of physical intimacy that lots of people are comfortable doing with partners that they don’t want to fuck or go down on, and it creates space for two people to talk explicitly about sex and what’s hot for them without killing the mood. In fact, for my spouse and I, the “talk about it during handjobs” phase is sort of a regular stage in the development of bringing things from fantasy to play. And it provides a conceptual space for establishing, “I like to talk about that, but I don’t want to do it” or “I like to talk about that but I’m nervous about doing it.” Also, the sort of self-aware “we have the lights on, we’re touching genitals, we’re using lube” atmosphere demystifies the process. Consciously using lube permissions the process of consciously using condoms or other barriers, which can be a problem with young people steeped in sex-negative environments. And it provides something of a warning system. If someone can’t interact with a partner and look a partner in the eye while getting and giving a handjob, there are issues there that need to be dealt with.

  20. Wendell permalink
    January 30, 2009 1:49 pm

    Clarisse,

    “It’s okay for people to find kinks strange or repellent, and it’s important for people to talk about why that is. But I’m not sure it’s okay for us to devote a whole lot of air time to validating them.”

    Just for my purposes, cos I’m not getting it 100%–what did you mean here by “validating”?

    I do think it’s okay for people to feel how they do about kink, and to know that this or that kink is not for them. However, it’s not okay for them to feel that this or that kink is deviant or in need of judgment because they are privileging their preferences. Like both you and Thomas have pointed out, viewing all preferences as kink can bring some people to see what works for one might not work for another. However, what it can and I think it also does is take for granted the fact that “vanilla” is the privileged, hegemonic, pervasive conceptualization of sex most of us are raised with, and could lead to some feeling shame that their sexuality is “deviant.” (Hmm, clunky sentences. Apologies if the ideas are muddy!)

  21. January 30, 2009 5:35 pm

    @ Thomas: “If I’m going to alienate someone for saying what I think too bluntly, I’ll pick entitled cis het dudes.”

    Haha. Fair enough.

    Cool idea about the handjobs. Personally I can’t imagine trying to have a conversation about my needs *while* someone’s pleasuring me, but hey, maybe I just need to try it. And this: “it provides something of a warning system” — that’s right on.

    @ Wendell: “Just for my purposes, cos I’m not getting it 100%–what did you mean here by “validating”?”

    My point is that while I think it’s cool for people to talk about what squicks them, I’m not sure we should spend a lot of time validating people who are squicked. How much power should we give people who are squicked by certain acts? How much authority should we give them? I’m okay with conversations that say things like, “Blood play squicks me. I think this is because I had some weird blood encounters in childhood.” (that’s a stereotypical and pop-psychological example, but I hope it makes my point) Those conversations are interesting and important.

    But I’m not sure I think it’s a good idea to consciously set aside space for squicking in every single conversation about sexual preferences. In other words, I think I’m probably okay with a model of discourse that intrinsically implies that various tastes are no more strange or threatening than other tastes.

    “However, what it can and I think it also does is take for granted the fact that “vanilla” is the privileged, hegemonic, pervasive conceptualization of sex most of us are raised with”

    Well … yes. It does take that for granted. Shouldn’t we take that for granted? Is your point that lots of people are raised outside that privileged, hegemonic, pervasive conceptualization of sex … and that we should make space for that? If so, I can see where you’re coming from … and it’s an interesting point. But I also feel like we have to be hammering home the existence of that “privileged, hegemonic, pervasive conceptualization of sex” as often as we can. We have to. How else do we make people aware?

  22. Wendell permalink
    January 30, 2009 9:12 pm

    Clarisse,

    Hmm, I think we speak with slightly different vocabularies (for a second, I thought “squick” meant “gets me hot n’ bothered”!) which is why I didn’t get “validating” at first. I totally agree with your “squick”-ful paragraph.

    “But I also feel like we have to be hammering home the existence of that “privileged, hegemonic, pervasive conceptualization of sex” as often as we can. We have to. How else do we make people aware?”

    Wholeheartedly agreed! Though I myself don’t see permanently redefining vanilla sex as kink as doing this. Again, I could be misunderstanding and you proposed vanilla folks temporarily reframe it as kink as a thought experiment, which I can get with. Just don’t let ‘em leave thinking they’re kinky!

    (Note to self: don’t post comments on hazy brain days! You’ll end up misreading and have to take a few comments to realize you’re both saying the same thing! :) Apologies for the OT stuff. Back to discussing Dylan’s monetary “suitors”! Or should I say “johns.”)

  23. February 1, 2009 2:32 pm

    Interesting reaction to the word “squick”. It is always useful to be reminded just how rarefied my vocabulary has gotten, and how carefully I ought to think about communicating with most people.

    In re: “don’t let ‘em leave thinking they’re kinky” — fair enough.

  24. Esme permalink
    February 7, 2009 11:45 pm

    I’m going to generally avoid commenting about the debate above, because I see the initial comment as trolling, and completely ignoring basic facts of feminist theory. A desire for female virginity isn’t a fetish, not some odd aberration in our society like the desire to masturbate to a photograph of a foot, or rub to orgasm against a car or piece of furniture, or have a ball gag placed in one’s mouth while coated head to toe in latex while someone calls you a dirty pig. Okay, apparently I lied about avoiding commenting on it. It’s complete BS. Female virginity is prized, not by a select handful of men, but by a society at large (in all parts of the world to varying degrees of scary) that still insists that women wear white on their wedding days (while people joke that the bride has no right to wear that color), that sells creams to make women tighten up and bleed during sex so a man can pretend he’s with a virgin, a society where a young woman can get 3.8 million dollars auctioning her virginity online (when a one of a kind rarity like William Shatner’s kidney stone can only fetch $25,000).

    All that said, I do question the very short list of reasons why a man would bid on a woman’s virginity. I would like to add a few.

    A virgin woman, of an adult age, is prized because she has kept her virginity. Women, the “gatekeepers” of sex, must actively guard and save their virginity, while suitors fight to seduce, cheat, or somehow achieve access to her most treasured gift, the loss of virginity which, when not given on the wedding night, soils a woman so much that she is forever used, forever a slut.

    A woman’s virginity may also be seen as valuable because, while the man “taking” it gains little, the woman “losing” it loses her chance to be a pure woman until marriage, to fit the patriarchal idea of a maiden, and to give her virginity to anyone else. A man can earn more money, but a woman can’t earn her virginity back.

    Men may also be willing to pay for the status of taking a woman’s virginity. Because women who are not virgins are seen as somehow dirtied by their contact with other men, as though the insertion of a penis somehow leaves a permanent mark on the vagina, women are taught not to go doing something as silly as losing their virginity to someone who can then leave them, despoiled. I’ve known men to brag about how many girls they’ve convinced to “give it up,” as though the ability to get a virgin into bed is a more valuable conquest, even moreso if the conquest required cajoling.

    Some men may even consider it a point of pride to have spent so much money to take a woman’s virginity, the ultimate conspicuous consumption. Oh yeah? You spent $3 mil on a house you never have time to go to? I spent more than that for one night with a woman I’ll never see again!

    Then there’s the supposed virtues to the sex act itself. While men who have actually experienced sex with a virgin woman (with experience to compare it to) may talk about a lack of enjoyment of the act (because their partner was in pain, didn’t know what she wanted, or didn’t know what to do to please him), virgins supposedly possess many qualities that men are supposed to enjoy during sex. Because they’ve never been with another man, your sex with them is automatically the best sex they’ve ever had (ignoring that it is also automatically the worst). Virgins are supposedly “tighter” than women who have engaged in sex before, who are often marked as “loose” in both vagina and character.

  25. Esme permalink
    February 7, 2009 11:47 pm

    (Note: the above list of reasons is not meant to any way dispute the author’s assessment that the bidders on this auction are anything other than human slime. Merely looking for a more expansive analysis of the “why they bid” question)

  26. February 10, 2009 12:46 am

    @ Esme: Both you and Thomas have asserted that “things that aren’t odd aberrations can’t be fetishes”. I’m looking at the Merriam-Webster definition of fetish right now and I don’t see that assertion supported. More importantly, I am not convinced that it is a socially useful assertion. I would really like to hear some arguments that might convince me that

    (a) fetishes by definition are social aberrations,
    (b) it is productive to think about them that way.

Trackbacks

  1. Questions I Want to Ask Entitled Cis Het Men, Part 3: Space for Men « Clarisse Thorn
  2. Love Bites: Clarisse Thorn | Time Out Chicago » » Porn site to do live show of virginal vaginal sex
  3. » Questions I Want to Ask Entitled Cis Het Men, Part 3: Space for Men Clarisse Thorn

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