Need money for your college education? Try selling off your virginity!

Last week, Natalie Dylan (not her real name) announced that she was auctioning off her virginity to raise money for her college education.

The 22-year old Women's Studies major has already received her BA from Sacramento State, but is now looking to finance her Master's degree. After debunking reports that he was going to be the Master of Ceremonies at the auction, Howard Stern stated that he had invited Ms. Dylan to appear on his show. Regardless, Stern's involvement has only been the latest twist in what has become a flashpoint for conservative social commentators.

The auction will be held on Tuesday, September 16, at Nevada's Bunny Ranch, a legally licensed brothel, and participants are encouraged to bid online. Ms. Dylan has stated that she will not surrender her virtue to any random wealthy man who contracts with her; rather, she will continue to accept bids until she finds a suitor with whom she shares "chemistry." The sad truth, however, is that her Cinderella fantasies will probably dissolve in the face of an amoral Russian oil magnate with very deep pockets.

Natalie Dylan's public auctioning of her first time shows an amazingly astute awareness of the society in which she lives. To begin with, despite the high price that society puts on one's virginity, the sad fact is that losing it isn't really all that fun. Most of the loss of virginity narratives that I've heard revolve around fear, physical discomfort, and disappointment. At the end of the day, at least Ms. Dylan will leave with a hefty check to salve her depression and relieve her aches.

More important, Ms. Dylan seems to have a pretty strong understanding of the "self-selling" mentality that underlies American culture. In an era that commodifies writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians as "content providers," it seems logical to assume that there are few things that can't be measured, packaged, priced, and purchased. As political strategists argue that votes are bought and sold through targeted advertisements and even the most gifted college graduate must constantly "sell himself" on the open market, Natalie Dylan has turned herself into the iconic young American.

From a case study perspective, this is particularly interesting: born with a commodity that has a flexible value, Natalie Dylan has generated interest by withholding it from the market. Moreover, she has clearly worked hard on the packaging of this natural resource, as photographs of the young lady attest that she is fit, healthy, and attractive. After changing her name to reflect a pair of Charlie's Angels characters, she secured celebrity endorsements from Howard Stern and the Bunny Ranch, and is now prepared to release her IPO. Presumably, even when she is finished commodifying her virginity, she will find a way to continue to market her basic resources, either through the Joey Buttafuoco/pornographic route or via the Monica Lewinsky/cultural scandal path. Over the next few years, she will probably succeed in transforming her virginity into a bucket of cash, a first-rate resume builder, and a head-start on her career, regardless of what it ends up being.

I wonder how many college graduates, their job prospects dimming, are slapping their heads at this very moment!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He's just jealous; at 22, he couldn't GIVE it away!
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