In 2009, Natalie Dylan made headlines when she auctioned off her virginity, with the highest bid offering a cool $3.8 million. Reactions varied. Some denounced Natalie’s morality, while others, such as one Fortune 500 CEO, lauded her “entrepreneurial gumption”.
To the opponents, the idea that virginity can be sold and bought as a commodity – in a niche segment of the prostitution market, if you will – is repugnant. It stems from the concern that a market like prostitution can be coercive for those involved and is an insult and degradation of human dignity. In other words, it is oppressive.
Yet, for others, Natalie’s project is a display of human liberty. Instead of being coercive, it is considered a break from the oppression embedded in the history of fathers marrying their virgin daughters off for financial and political ties. Natalie’s experiment is simply an exercise in free will over one’s own body.
What is oppression? Is it subjugation to immorality? Or can it also be our unwarranted arbitration over someone else’s actions and morality?
What is freedom? Is it the liberation from oppression? Or can it also be the liberty to subject yourself to what society currently stigmatize as oppression?
By the way, Natalie Dylan is a Woman’s Studies major.