Who would have thought a 22 year-old with a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies would be selling her virginity? Who knows, but almost everyone has an opinion about it as her story is being gobbled up by the mainstream media.
Appearing on The Tyra Show under the pseudonym Natalie Dylan, the young woman explains why she’s willing to finance her graduate degree by putting her flower on the market. Natalie, sitting alongside her sister, says, “We are doing premature research for our thesis project and we wanted to study the dichotomous nature between virginity and prostitution.” The sisters describe Natalie’s act as individually empowering, even one of feminism, because she can choose prostitution as a viable and safe option.
In response the concepts of “female empowerment” and “feminism” have since been debated among society, sex workers and feminists.
On the set of The Tyra Show NYC NOW Chapter President, Sonia Ossorio, expresses her disapproval and makes a personal clarification. Reflecting on the values of the typical sixties women’s movement she attests that what Natalie is doing “…has absolutely nothing to do with feminism” because her sexual pleasure is not involved.
However, the most astute analysis I’ve read so far is from politically active sex worker Sasha of Love Bites:
“I think we can all see the double standard in using feminism to profit off a patriarchal construct but despite this, I don’t think what Natalie is doing is not feminist. It’s just that when I think of sex work, feminism isn’t the first political issue that springs to mind. For many hookers — ones that get banged more than once anyway — the bigger issues are decriminalization and labour rights. Again, the banner of feminism is often unfurled from a privileged station, the one occupied by academics and women’s studies majors, though as a sex worker I’ve used it myself to bolster my choices and it certainly feels legitimate in an empirical setting. My body, my choice: feminism at its essence.”
Sasha also participated in a really great discussion on CBC Radio Q’s podcast with Susan Cole from Now Magazine. If the subject interests you I highly recommend that you give it a listen. (And thanks Andrea for the hot tip!)