The story broke earlier this week, and blogdom is going nuts over it. (One could argue that blogdom has been nuts for most of its existence, but that's more a feature than a bug.) The level of hysteria is up to Daily Mail levels, so I turned to the Daily Mail itself for background:

Natalie Dylan obviously values her virginity so highly that not even £2.5million is good enough as she prepares to auction off her chastity.

The 22-year-old student from California is being chased by a record 10,000 besotted men all keen to spend a massive sum for one night of passion.

Dylan, who's finished her university degree, said she wanted to use the proceeds to fund her postgraduate studies, and indeed you can buy a whole lot of postgraduate studies for $3.7 million. (And should that not be enough, she has a book deal in the works.)

Still, "10,000 besotted men"? Not likely. I don't doubt that there were that many bidders, and Dylan's attractive enough in that generic Southern California way, but there are only two likely motivations for the eventual winner: "I wanted my 15 minutes of fame" or "Nobody was ever going to sleep with me otherwise." Having been through the latter, I find it slightly more comprehensible.

The legality isn't an issue: the, um, transaction will be completed in a licensed Nevada brothel. The morality is a bit harder to nail down. A reasonable gut reaction might be "It cheapens the whole experience," though obviously $3.7 million isn't cheap to anyone this side of the Sultan of Brunei. Then again, of all the life-changing experiences one has, deflowering, as it were, has arguably the highest ratio of emotional baggage to actual potential for enjoyment. I wrote back in 1998 that virginity was severely overrated:

Some people still value this, perhaps in the way one values that new-car smell, but it goes away after a while, and good riddance. It's probably a good thing for a teenager to possess I have to say that, since I have had two children and even now I'd rather not imagine either of them doing the nasty, the realities of the situation notwithstanding but the current delusion that lack of information somehow results in abstinence, I'd just as soon see dispelled, preferably permanently.

Still, hardly anyone seems to have a kind word for Natalie Dylan, although Duyen Ky slaps down those who would condemn her with a dose of purest Been There, Done That:

[Y]ou know that I was once a prostitute. I wasn't happy about it what teenage girl would be? but the alternative was death by starvation. Would anyone out there like to condemn me for my decision?

But the ideologically pure conservative will disapprove anyway. He'll stop short of saying I should have accepted death, but he won't withhold judgment. His disapproval will be just as complete and intense as if I'd had a million dollars in the bank and had gone whoring for the sheer thrill of it.

Said conservative will argue that there are such things as moral absolutes, and he is correct to do so. I would invite him, therefore, to specify exactly which of the Ten Commandments Natalie Dylan's actions or, for that matter, Duyen Ky's violate. I suspect it's the same one I trample upon when I go 60 in a 55 zone.

I have managed to get this far without using the word "prostitution" myself, mostly because I wanted to close with a definition of it: sex plus free enterprise. If you wish to criticize Natalie Dylan, you might want to contemplate which of those two components offends you more.

The Vent

  17 January

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 Copyright © 2009 by Charles G. Hill