In honor of International Women’s Day I thought I would publish a post from the archives about women’s rights. I used to write for a friend’s blog at Fireign United. I originally published this blog post on December 1, 2008. So, keep that in mind!
After taking the GREs today I came back to the apartment hoping to relax and mindlessly watch TV for an hour or so before getting started on my to do list for the day. When I turned on the TV the Tyra Show popped up, and I thought this show should suffice. Unfortunately for me, this episode was devoted to interviewing the now infamous 22 year old American woman, Natalie Dylan, who is auctioning off her virginity through the Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada. My mindless TV hour turned into a thought-provoking and emotionally stimulating hour. What better way to express the emotions and ideas the episode evoked than to blog about it?
The prostitution industry is a really fascinating industry, not to mention the oldest, especially pertaining to women. A lot of women in the prostitution industry claim that they are taking back control over their bodies by benefiting monetarily from sexual exchanges; it is a form of women empowerment. Natalie has jumped on this so-called feminist form of women empowerment. She isn’t foreign to the concept of women empowerment either; to the contrary she is currently in a master’s program working on a thesis about “the dichotomous nature between virginity and prostitution”. For her, this auction would be part of a case study, though I’m sure the possible $3.8 million price tag is an added bonus. But is this really empowerment? Can women really gain empowerment through collaboration with the very system that disempowered them to begin with? I don’t think so.
On the surface level it’s easy to think that maybe this industry provides an avenue for regaining control over the female body. Instead of getting exploited these women feel that they are the ones taking advantage of the system by getting a substantial financial kickback. Some argue that it puts women on equal footing with men; women can have sex as freely as men can. For Natalie she gets a substantial financial kickback as well as a thesis that is already gaining national recognition. I’m sure she is feeling really empowered right about now. And maybe that is elevating in some ways.
However, if you dig down a little deeper you realize that in reality nothing has changed. The system that originally disempowered women is still disempowering women because it’s the same system. And this particular system reinforces that in the world today a woman’s body can be bought. Natalie, no matter how many times she preaches about the feminist ideals she’s supposedly promoting through her auction, is reinforcing that a woman’s body can be bought. Whether it is through prostitution or an auction, even if it’s a woman’s free will, at the end of the day her body is still being bought. The female body becomes a consumer good, a separate entity almost from the woman herself. The objectification of the female body does not and will never empower women, though it may deepen their pockets. If you want real empowerment, instead of collaborating and working within the system, work to change it.
As an aside Natalie also made sure to tell all the viewers out there that sex is a ‘woman’s’ issue. A huge chunk of the women who lose their virginity are in high school. Even if it ideally is a ‘woman’s’ issue, in practice sex is a teenage issue as well as an adult issue. Not to mention the fact that she is only 22 years old. I’m 22 and I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as a woman yet. I am a transitional aged youth falling between the ages of 18 and 24. Though I suppose transitional aged youth are special in that they can play the adult card and the kid card depending on what’s in their best interest. But that’s another blog for another day.