I just did an interview for Nerve.com with 27-year-old American medical student Elizabeth Raine, who is putting her "virginity" up for auction on April 1st. Readers of this blog know I've been following this phenomenon for years, and like every other woman doing this kind of thing, she's getting a lot of sleazy, breathless tabloid coverage. I was glad to learn a bit more about her, and to talk to her about how virginity auctions affect how we value women for their sexual status, and how they perpetuate virginity myths and stereotypes.
As I say in the intro, I talked to Liz about the kind of guy who’d pay good money to be the “first penis in,” why you can’t prove a woman isn't a virgin, and how to negotiate boundaries when your first sexual experience is with a total stranger. Here's a short excerpt where we get into some of the issues, but please read the whole thing at Nerve.
Which brings me to the question of what “virginity” means to you. What are you auctioning? I think losing virginity is having heterosexual intercourse for the first time. If you are referring to another type of intercourse it needs to be clarified, for instance “I lost my oral virginity.”
So what do you think the appeal or fascination is for a guy? What do you think they think they’re buying? For some reason or another it is a sexual fantasy [to have a virgin]. In some cases, I think they want to take on the role of sexual teacher. In others, they just want to try something new. And then there are some men who are just attracted to the idea of an untouched woman.
I always assumed it was the desire for “first penis in” like planting your flag on uncharted territory or something. Men are very competitive and territorial creatures.
I sometimes think that if men are stupid enough to pay for a social construct, let them. I can't disagree with that.
I really hate the mythology virginity auctions perpetuate. As long as there hasn't been a penis inside a woman, she and her body have value. But once that happens, she has none. No one auctions off the second time they have intercourse. Well that's not necessarily true, women with all levels of sexual experience are selling sex somewhere. I'm not saying that makes it right, but I do think it is more of a continuum than you think. Men preferring less 'promiscuous' women is not a phenomenon limited to virgins.
They are, but adding the #virginity seems to increase the value exponentially. I'm not sure Natalie would have gotten much interest if she had already had intercourse and was offering the second time to a lucky bidder. Do you? I agree the value is inflated. Here is one more idea: The first time is a mystery. So, being in the position of the virgin, if you are going to lose it under these circumstances, it should pay well.