Image from Elizabethraine.com.
As anyone who has read Dolly Doctor will be aware, there’s no way for people to “tell” that you’re a virgin yet society’s obsession with virginity shows no sign of abating. We can say this with confidence because every few years, a “woman auctions off her virginity” story hits the headlines.
The latest to join this meme is “Elizabeth Raine”, purportedly a 27-year-old medical student from the USA, who has decided to auction off what Tony Abbott might refer to as Her Greatest Gift.
Raine describes herself as “a sensually stunning, highly educated, and charismatic American woman who has placed a 12-hour date with me atop the auction block”.
Image from Elizabethraine.com.
In an unbearable irony, Raine told EliteDaily that “ideally, virginity should not be valued”. Fortunately for her bank balance, presumably, she’s aware that that utopian ideal is still a long way off.
It helps that Raine’s photos give the impression, at least to the casual observer, that the winning bidder will indeed be spending a night with a slim, blonde lady with a reasonable bust size. I say “to the casual observer” because anyone with a passing knowledge of Photoshop will be aware that these photos are about as unretouched as James Cameron’s Avatar.
Adding to the sense that “Elizabeth Raine” is likely to be a future star of ‘duped on the internet’ greatest hits package, Catfish, is the fact that the auction begins on April 1st.
“We didn't even think about April Fools' as it is not something big here in Australia”, Raine’s ‘Australian-based’ publicist Siobhanne Sweeney told HuffPo.
On her blog, Musings Of A Virgin Whore, Raine writes, “my lovely agent owns a very successful and respected business in Sydney Australia”. However if Siobhanne Sweeney herself is, in fact, real, she has surprisingly scant internet presence for a publicist. Which is to say, no internet presence as a publicist. I mean, yes, I’m presently wearing a tinfoil hat, but does that not seem a little odd to you?
For the sake of argument, though, let’s say both Raine and Sweeney are real, and someone with too much money on their hands has the very real chance to spend 12 hours with her later in the month.
Raine writes that a primary motivation behind her stunt is to grapple with her misgivings about feminism: “I almost certainly do not wear a feminist badge (I prefer short dresses, or scrubs). Rather, I have decided feminism is relevant here because some feminists have decided my virginity auction is relevant to them [...] But I have decided I will not be discarding my feminist label, and I also will not be calling off this auction. I am not so easily controlled.”
Attempting to explain her motivations further, Raine rattles off a list - “The money … the scandal … the eroticism” - that sound awfully like the reasons women often give for wanting to “try” sex work, as though it isn’t a job but rather a thrilling adventure they saw in a midday movie; they don’t want to be sex workers, they want to be ~high class call girls~.
Despite the fact that Raine appears thrilled to make the transition “from virgin to literal whore”, in positioning herself “above” sex workers by insisting that she will lose it only for “exorbitant” sums of money, Raine’s project smacks decidedly of classism and whorephobia.
In her book about virginity in America, The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti wrote, “What’s the difference between venerating women for being f-ckable and putting them on a purity pedestal? In both cases, women’s worth is contingent upon their ability to please men and to shape their sexual identities around what men want.”
If “Elizabeth Raine” is a real person, I commend her mercenary cash grab (American student loans are, after all, out of this world). Just don’t pretend there’s anything expressly feminist, or anti-feminist for that matter, about it.