On this blog, we have often discussed the basis for prostitution from rivaling feminist and libertarian perspectives. Critics have long argued that the definition and prohibition of prostitution is inherently flawed and conflicted. Others argue that it is a denial of the rights of consenting adults under a state enforced morality standard. Brazilian student, Catarina Migliorini, 20, has rekindled this debate after selling her virginity online to a Japanese man named Natsu for $772,000.
Migliorini’s virginity was the subject of bids by 15 people– an auction organized by Jason Sisely, an Australian filmmaker.
Alex Stepanov, 21, from Sydney, also put his virginity up for sale, but was able to collect only £1,860 from a Nene B from Brazil.
Migliorini will be flown to Australia where she and Stepanov will meet the winning bidders and lose their virginity. Under the contract, the minimum time the virgin must spend with the bidder is one hour and in that time “the virgin must engage in sexual intercourse with the highest bidder”.
Notably, Migliorini denied being a prostitute. “I saw this as a business. I have the opportunity to travel, to be part of a movie and get a bonus with it.” Of course, most prostitute view their work also as a business, but Migliorini insisted “[i]f you only do it once in your life then you are not a prostitute, just like if you take one amazing photograph it does not automatically make you a photographer.”
That does not seem a particularly convincing line of argument. It is reminiscent of the famous Churchillian story about “price.” According to legend, Winston Churchill once asked a socialite if she would sleep with him for 1 million pounds. When she admitted that she would, he offered one pound. “Winston! What sort of woman do you think I am?,” the woman objected. He responded, “We have already established what you are, now we are just haggling over price.”
Nevertheless, she might be on better ground arguing that this is ultimately a moral choice. Virginity clearly does not mean much to her and she sees it as a commodity to be sold. The money that she will receive is enough to set her up for life. If this is a consensual agreement between adults, should society still criminalize the conduct. After all, she can legally have sex with in infinite number of partners. She also can legally receive an assortment of gifts before such encounters from meals to trips to jewelry. It is not unknown for individuals to sleep with others to achieve benefits of various sorts, but are not considered prostitutes. Likewise, a porn star can have sex with dozens of partners for money but not be charged with prostitution since it is done on film. What is left is an uncertain line in defining prostitution.
Yet, when she wants to accept money for such services, she would be considered by most as committing the crime of prostitution. So long as these arrangements involve consenting adults, should the arrangements still be considered criminal?