On the heels of a post about women attempting to become human Barbie dolls I suppose it should not surprise me–or you–that as I was reading more about those two women I also encountered a story about yet another woman attempting to auction off her virginity. I have to confess I sometimes forget what I have and have not addressed in this space before but it seems to me that this very subject has been the target of my commentary in the past.
I think what may have caught my attention about this particular situation, and prompted me to address it, is that this young woman claims that money is not really a motivating factor.
The woman in question is a 27-year-old medical student in the United States who is using the name Elizabeth Raine. I have no idea if that is her real name or not. She says she is a student at one of the country’s top medical schools and in order to circumvent prostitution laws in the United States she is using an agent in Australia.
Raine told EliteDaily.com, “Money is my motivation, but by no means do I need the money. I’m pretty safe and secure financially.” Why is she doing it then? “Many women are raised believing that they should hold on to their virginity and that it’s something that’s important for their marriage, for their relationship. It is a measure of how good they are as a person. I never believed that and I never even intentionally tried to stay a virgin. It just really happened this way.” In other words, Raine wants to confront the value of virginity, which she seems to think she can do simply by selling hers.
According to Raine the winning bidder will receive “a sensual 12-hour date” that will take her “from virgin to literal whore.” Oh, and she will donate 35% of her winnings to a charity that provides education from women in developing countries. That could be a considerable amount of money, I suppose, since Raine seems to have her sights set on a winning bid of at least $400,000.
Yesterday’s post brought more questions than answers as I–and we–wrestle with the idea of what beauty is, and is not, and what bizarre attempts people will make to achieve whatever they believe beauty to be. I think that discussion may be more fluid than this one. Raine says that many women are raised to hold on to their virginity because it is important to their marriage and is a measure of who they are as a person. At the risk of this being taken the wrong way, I do not think that virginity itself is what is so important to the marriage. What is important is the recognition that one’s virginity can only be given one time and the act of saving it for one’s spouse is an act of love, of respect and of commitment to the person one will ultimately give herself or himself to. I do not think I would go so far as to say that it is a measure of who anyone is as a person; I have no doubt that there are people who did not save themselves for marriage who are “better people” (whatever that means) than some people who did. Again, it is not the virginity itself that is the issue; it is but the evidence of a deeper conviction, the result of choices made after, hopefully, careful consideration. Of course sometimes one’s virginity is stolen, not given, and there is no diminishing of one’s value as a result of being a victim of such a crime.
On the contrary, I think that Raine’s choice reveals much more about herself than it does about anyone’s ideas about the value of virginity or the meaningfulness of it. She thinks that virginity is not something to be valued and yet she has quite literally put a value on it; apparently $400,000 is her idea of a fair market value. She thinks that virginity is not worth preserving for just the right person yet she “just happened” to preserve hers until her late twenties. Regardless of Raine’s flippant explanation of how she maintained her virginity until age 27 that does not “just happen.” According to the National Center for Health Statistics 85% of Americans have had sex by age 21 and only 11% of unmarried adults are virgins. So I don’t think Raine’s virginity “just happened.”
A far more realistic commentary on virginity came from Olympic athlete Lolo Jones several years ago. “It’s just something, a gift that I want to give to my husband. But please understand this journey has been hard. If there’s virgins out there, I just want to let them know, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college, has been to stay a virgin before marriage.” That is the reality. In a culture that glorifies sexuality and celebrates sexual experimentation and encourages “exploration” one does not “happen” to maintain virginity to age 27…certainly not when one is attractive, intelligent and successful, as both Raine and Jones appear to be.
Raine suggests that virginity is seen as a measure of how good someone is as a person. What then does selling one’s virginity say about a person? There’s an old, oft-repeated story about a man who asked a woman if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. She considered briefly and said yes. “Would you sleep with me for $10?” he asked. “What do you think I am?” she asked, aghast. “We’ve already established what you are,” came his reply, “now we’re just haggling over price.”
What Ms. Raine seems not to recognize is that there is nothing commendable about auctioning her virginity on the internet. Not even if she does give tens of thousands of dollars of the proceeds to support education for women in developing countries. After all, Raine’s own actions make clear that education doesn’t necessarily make someone smart.