Price tags can be found on almost anything tangible and intangible, even if the goods for sale aren’t morally aligned with society or the laws of our country. In America supply and demand rules the roost, and for Natalie Dylan a 22 year old college graduate, even virtue has a price. For some she is nothing more than a high-priced prostitute but from an economic stand point she appears only as another entrepreneur.
The free market system is a venue for all types of goods and services to be exchanged, an intangible good like virginity is ruled by supply and demand just like everything else. During most of 2009 there was a media circus surrounding Natalie Dylan when she announced to the world on the Howard Stern show in September 2008 that she decided to auction off her virginity and would be accepting bids online through the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada(. The bids began flooding in as high as 3. 7 million dollars.
It seems that after college she was placed in a difficult place when her step-father took out student loans in both her and her sister’s names and fraudulently spent the money. Her sister became a factor in her decision as an employee of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch after paying off her college education in a mere three weeks of employment. Unable to obtain funding for her Master’s degree in Family and Marriage Therapy due to her financial circumstances, she looked within herself for the answer to her money troubles. She feels that “idealized virginity is just a tool to keep women in their places.
Although she doesn’t value her virginity as sacred she takes the notion that a women’s virginity is priceless and used it as a vehicle for capitalism. Economic gain was always at the heart of a woman’s virtue and not until the 19th century did the idealized notion of women saving oneself for marriage begin to become less valued. Before this era men had always sought to claim “unspoiled property” and secure a wife in the deal, while women sought to gain economic security and in some instances jump social classes.
In 1977 Lawrence Stone argued in “Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800” that property-less urbanites had no stake in the economic value of virtue, therefore virginity became less prized as the dowry became an ancient tradition and much less practiced. Don’t like the idea of girl prostituting her virginity? Blame supply and demand. Prostitutes have always traditionally filled the high demands with their supply in the sex trades, but after the 1970’s sexual revolution and women’s rights movements more women were relaxing their morals and the market was became flooded .
Before the 1970’s at least 20% of young men had their first sexual experience with a prostitute, after the 1970’s men suddenly had a greater supply of unpaid sex as the stigmas relaxed and women started asserting equal roles and treatment. In present day only 5% of young men report losing their virginity to a prostitute. Now there are fewer prostitutes and they can set their price high as there will always be a demand for their services. A higher price tag signals higher quality and the niche of the “escort” are been ingrained in society permanently.
The internet has become a mere tool of the sex trade to reach potential clientele, much like realtors’ use the internet to connect future clients with homes for sale. There is clearly a market for high-priced virgins in this country and it is no wonder that Natalie Dylan also chose the internet to conduct her auction; it reaches far more potential clients and allows her to keep her anonymity. For a transaction to take place on the free market it requires buyer and seller to both be beneficial of the goods exchanged.
Natalie states that “we live in a capitalist society, why shouldn’t I be allowed to capitalize on my virginity? ” Even if Natalie does feel in control “ and not being taken advantage of in any way” she will be forking over 50% of her profit right off the top to the owner of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch, Dennis Hof. (Who’s the entrepreneur now? )
The IRS will also get their share at the tune of 37% for taxes. The initial winning bidder at 3. million dollars was a man from Australia who eventually had to back out of the deal after reconciling with his wife, and her second choice was an American who bid 1 million dollars. When asked why he would pay so much for a stranger’s virginity his reply was because it was “something he’s never tried before. ” Or in economic terms the cost of finding a free virgin is greater than the benefit of having one supplied for him for a large sum of money. Will the costs she will face later in life for her actions outweigh the $315,000. 00 that she gained?
After everybody’s cut is taken from that million dollar pie she will only walk away with a mere 13% of that million dollar winning bid. She may have a great master’s degree thesis on her hands, but if her true identity leaks out while she’s a practicing marriage and family therapist it could ruin her career, and ironically her marriage and family life. Although this subject can create heated philosophical and moral debates alike, virginity has always been a marketable asset for both the man as well as the woman as they both receive benefits from the exchange.
Today we primarily see this exchange occur within brothels, within highly religious cultures who still view women as property, amongst destitute families across the globe but it is also sparking a new entrepreneurial class of females who also see the value in selling their virginity for money. The internet is full of stories of women from all walks of life selling their virginity to gain money for school or to care for their families. Although the women consider themselves entrepreneurial pioneers they will have to face the costs of their choices long after the benefits have been spent.