Virgins Wanted: Man and Woman Sell Their Virginity for Documentary
20-year-old Catarina Migliorini and 21-year-old Alexander Stepanov are both virgins, but not for much longer – both have auctioned off their virginity on VirginsWanted.com.au.
The virginity auction was dreamed up by filmmaker Justin Sisely, who’s making a documentary about the process of the virginity auction and the emotions experienced by the participants throughout. According to the Daily Dot, Sisely said that the film’s objective is to, “create a discourse that questions the repressive religious, political and social mechanisms that limit the ways that we can understand and act upon our individual sexual natures.”
Catarina and Alexander were promoted on the project’s official site and over Facebook and YouTube. Bidders had the chance to take a look at photos of Catarina posing salaciously and Alexander…uh… doing martial arts while fully clothed.
Now that the bidding is over, the deed will be done. Allegedly, the “deflowering” will take place on an airplane to escape prostitution laws.
So, what were the final numbers?
Catarina raked in a whopping $780,000 for her virginity. That’s enough to buy a really nice house, although Catarina will allegedly be donating some of the proceeds to charity.
Alexander’s virginity was only worth a paltry $3,000 – about the price of two used Ford Festivas.
The price of virginity
While on the surface, I have no problem with an adult choosing to auction off their virginity for money (consenting adults can do whatever they like with their bodies, to the extent that it doesn’t infringe on others’ rights), I was (naively, I guess) a little surprised to discover that we still live in a world in which a woman’s virginity is worth $780,000.
Why do we still put such a high price on virginity? And why is a woman’s virginity worth so much more than a man’s?
Virginity throughout history
Virgin births, virgin goddesses, and virgin sacrifices are fairly common fixtures of history and folklore. Traditionally, virginity has been viewed as a symbol of purity, a special gift to be given to a marriage partner, and a prize that the marriage partner (generally the husband) has a right to.
Throughout history, and even in some countries today, “virginity testing” has been common practice. As dangerously inaccurate as it is, this sort of test (which will be done on Catarina) is meant to ensure that a woman (usually a bride) is “pure”.
If we as a species value virginity so highly, it’s no surprise that virginity can be given a monetary value to complement the symbolic value that’s been ascribed to it. In cultures that practice bride price, the price of a woman is sometimes directly related to her perceived worth, which is based on her sexual promiscuity.
Even the Bible ascribes a specific monetary value to virginity. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 states,
“If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”
(Translation: once a virgin is “defiled”, she no longer has any economic value to her father, so her rapist owes him 50 shekels.)
Clearly, attitudes like these have been around for thousands of years, and they persist today.
If you’ve ever read relationship advice columns or browsed r/relationships, you know that virginity continues to be a hot topic. Nowadays, in secular society, virginity is often considered to be a burden that the virgin wishes to be rid of. However, the attitude that it’s an indicator of purity (especially for women) still remains.
With a cursory Internet search, one can find plenty of examples of men who want to verify that their girlfriend is a virgin, or who feel threatened by their girlfriend’s sexual experience. Not to mention the pervasive attitude that women who are sexually promiscuous or experienced are dirty, impure sluts.
Male virginity is a whole different story – one that’s rife with its own set of ill-informed expectations.
As Jennifer A. Leigh, Psy.D., writes, male virginity is generally seen as a shameful sign of social ineptitude. There are plenty of male-focused coming of age films (think Sex Drive, Superbad, American Pie, etc.) and other media that reinforce this attitude.
Combine the idea that a woman’s purity is more valuable than a man’s with the one that sexual experience is a man’s rite of passage and a virgin man is “less of a man”, and you can see why Catarina’s virginity fetched so much more than Alexander’s. It just seems fewer women are concerned with their male sexual partner’s perceived purity.
For your deliberation
Do you think a person should have the legal right to auction off their virginity?
Do you think that, as a society, we put too high or too low a symbolic price on virginity?