Saturday, October 27, 2012

(I'd) like a virgin

This Daily Mail story about a young Brazilian woman called Catarina Migliorini auctioning off her virginity on the internet (apparently some Japanese guy snagged it for $780,000 in the end) reminded me that I'd collected a group of similar stories a couple of years back with the intention of knocking them together into a blog post, but somehow never got round to doing it. Here's the contents of my Virginity Auction File:
  • Bristol University student Rosie Reid auctioned off her virginity for £8,400 back in February 2004 to a middle-aged businessman called (or possibly not) "Tom". Her lesbian lover kept a lonely vigil in a room a few doors down the corridor.
  • A Peruvian model called Graciela put her virginity up for auction in April 2005, but changed her mind before any money changed hands.
  • Raffaela Fico, an Italian men's magazine model, put her virginity up for auction, with an ambitious reserve of 1 million euros, in September 2008. This one seems pretty definitely to have been a publicity stunt.
  • Natalie Dylan from San Diego, California appears to be the current record-holder in financial terms after attracting bids of up to £2.5 million (or, alternatively, up to one live tiger). There does seem to be some doubt over the genuineness of her, hem hem, "status", and also whether the deal was ever actually done
  • Alina Percea from Romania agreed to surrender the precious flower of her maidenhood to some Italian guy in Venice in May 2009. This one has a happy ending, though: after transacting a deal worth in the region of £8,800 for an unprotected boning the man in question wanted to see her again, presumably to cash in a few more goes for free. Ah, romance. 
  • Evelyn Duenas, 28, originally from Ecuador but lately resident in Spain, auctioned off her virginity in July 2009 to help pay for her mother's medical care. As with Natalie Dylan, although there were rumours of bids up to a dizzying £2 million, it's unclear whether the deal was ever consummated, as it were. 
  • An anonymous 16-year-old from Newry, Northern Ireland offered her virginity for sale online in January 2010, but changed her mind, very probably after becoming exasperated by various drooling newspaper hacks wasting her time. 
  • An anonymous 19-year-old from New Zealand accepted an offer in the region of £20,000 in February 2010. 
I'm sure there were probably several others, most likely back in the heady days of 2009 and 2010 when there was one of these stories cropping up every few weeks.

Now of course you can imagine the sort of unmitigated horror that is the comment thread on a Daily Mail article dealing with this sort of thing, and indeed I would urge you as a general rule never to look at a Daily Mail comment thread on any article on any subject, lest your eyes see things that can never be unseen. Those of us who aspire to a more rational outlook on life, however, can use this as a handy calibration tool to try and analyse our own reactions to these stories, both instinctive and (hopefully) more considered.

What, after all, one might say, is the problem here? As long as the women in question are not being coerced into doing this, as long as the men they end up transacting business with adhere to the specified rules, everyone tries to have a good time within the slightly odd parameters set out in the arrangement, and no-one gets hurt, then surely it's all good. There might be some legal niceties to be straightened out given that this may well be considered to be prostitution in some jurisdictions, but in general as long as you aren't soliciting on the street or giving Hugh Grant a blowjob in a car, then you're probably OK.

On the other hand, one might also say: well, that's all fine, but that blithely ignores that there is a thing called the patriarchy which infects everything everyone does, be they male or female. One could, after all, make the same argument about prostitution in a more general sense being an example of rugged entrepreneurship and business enterprise and all that crap, and in theory it could be, but you know and I know that it's mainly seedy fat blokes running strings of terrified malnourished dead-eyed underage Eastern European refugees out of a warehouse somewhere in East London: i.e. scarcely very empowering at all.

So the whole thing is a little bit problematic in terms of Knowing What To Think. On top of all that, what is this virginity fetish all about anyway? I mean, we all start out that way, and in your formative teenage years there is a pretty good chance that at least one of the involvees in any act of furtive and cack-handed fumblage will be a virgin, but as a general rule sex is like most other things (close harmony singing, yachting, canasta) in that a bit of practice and experience goes a long way. One might also formulate a rule that says any sex-based thing heavily fetishised by Islam, a religion more intensely weird about sex than most others (and, let's face it, they all are to a greater or lesser extent), should legitimately be viewed with a healthy dose of suspicion.

No comments: