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.
Cross-posted at Yes Means Yes Blog.