Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Virgin/Whore dictotomy in the media

No doubt you've heard about the 22-year-old woman selling her virginity to the highest bidder in order to pay for college. And, if you read any of the blogs that I do, you've also heard of Michigan 2L, the 2nd-year-law student who prostituted herself in order to keep up with her bills and was sexually assaulted by one of her clients.

What's the difference between these two women? Why is the former allowed to pose in magazines, while the latter is repeatedly villified in the press as a whore? We don't know what Michigan 2L looks like because she has chosen to remain anonymous for the sake of her career, and presumably other factors. So what's the difference? Each is using or has used her body, selling sex for the purpose of furthering her education, and yet Michigan 2L fears for her life.

There are a few differences, one being that Michigan 2L was raped and assaulted, and Natalie Dylan has not yet sold herself. Dylan has become a celebrity of sorts, while Michigan 2L has languished in a depression because the police in her town laughed at her and refused to bring rape charges against the client who took such advantage of the fact that their exchange was illegal (a law professor, I might add).

The other difference: Dylan is selling her virginity, Michigan 2L was selling sex. Our society is obsessed with virginity. O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with it. And while sex itself is a dirty, horrible thing that no self-respecting woman should ever allow herself to experience ("unless being forced to by her husband," chimes in Dennis Prager), virginity is something that can be bought and sold... to the extend that buying your own virginity back is becoming its own little psychotically gross little industry.

Dylan is selling a commodity.

Michigan 2L is a whore.

Seems like all a woman is entirely wrapped up in her virginal status. (In which case, I implore my best friend not to consummate her marriage so as to remain a full woman... or something... wait, how does it work again? Why are women bad once they have sex? Biblical "scholars" help me out here.) Which is probably why Jessica Valenti is writing The Virginity Myth as we speak.

The media is playing a huge part here, and I just thought it was interested that no one (that I've read) has pointed out the incredibly obvious bias here. A woman who has sex for the first time for money is permitted to be elevated to celebrity status. Any woman who has sex for money any time other than the first for money is just a whore, and as such deserve no other human consideration.

It's fucking sick.


willis said...

I thought it was illegal to sell a body part (kidney, for example) in the US. Wouldn't selling a hymen fall into that category or does one actually have to take posession of the part? Interesting question for your law school studies. Sick, none the less.

Rachel said...

No one buys real hymens from women who don't need them anymore. There are fake hymens for sale (which I've blogged about previously), but the main part of the hymen industrial complex (and I use that turn of phrase more ironically than not), is vaginoplasty where women get plastic surgery on their vaginas, most of the time to repair broken hymens.

Janet said...

Now, don't I just feel like an idiot for giving it away.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! :)