Islamic Studies

What is virginity worth today?

By Elizabeth Landau
Originally published at CNN

(CNN) — Is a woman’s virginity worth $3.8 million? That’s how much Natalie Dylan, a 22-year-old from San Diego, California, said she has been offered through an auction she announced in September.Natalie Dylan, 22, said she has put her virginity up for auction through the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Her private auction through the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada, has given her lots of “business opportunities,” she said.

Her top bid comes from a 39-year-old Australian, but she has no immediate plans to settle the auction, she said in a recent interview with CNN.

Some men may seek virgins because they want them as trophies, or desire purity. But as to why men would bid so much money on virginity, she said she has no answer.

“I honestly don’t know what they see in it,” she said.

If you think Dylan’s auction amounts to prostitution, she completely agrees. She also said she’s not breaking any laws — after all, prostitution in Nevada is legal.

“I feel people should be pro-choice with their body, and I’m not hurting anyone,” she said. “It really comes down to a moral and religious argument, and this doesn’t go against my religion or my morals. There’s no right or wrong to this.”
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The idea that virginity has a high value harkens back to the days of early humans — if a man has sex with a virgin woman, he knows for sure that her children will be his, anthropologists reason. In early civilizations, women were also considered the property of men, said Laura Carpenter, assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

In America, women were expected to remain virgins until marriage through the 1950s, Carpenter said. But with the availability of the pill and the IUD in the 1960s, combined with youth counterculture and gay rights movements, it became more common for women to engage in premarital sex, she said.

Attitudes shifted toward the conservative side in the 1980s with the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic, which made the stakes much higher for choosing a sex partner, especially for men. Abstinence-based education programs also took off around that time, with government support, she said.

Today, about 95 percent of Americans have sex before they’re 25, Carpenter said. But worldwide, virgin prostitutes can claim larger fees, certain cultures still attach larger dowries to virgin brides, and some women undergo reconstructive surgery to restore their hymens.

In looking at Dylan’s auction, “To some extent it’s not new. The new part is the Internet,” Carpenter said.

Dylan is not the first to hold a public sale for her sexual innocence. An Italian model reportedly had plans to sell her virginity for more than $1 million in September. Dylan said she was inspired by a report of a Peruvian woman who put her virginity up for sale.

Some think Dylan’s auction may be indicative of a shift in the way society treats sexuality.

“In a world that is teeming with brand messages, with sponsorships everywhere, intimacy is really just the next thing to go,” said Jon Ray, a 24-year-old marketing consultant in Austin, Texas, and author of the blog Who is Jon Ray?

Brett Austin Vanderzee, a 19-year-old student at Oklahoma Christian University who has pledged to stay a virgin until marriage, finds Dylan’s actions somewhat appalling, but not shocking.

“It’s kind of crazy, but I think it’s the general direction that society has been heading in for a while,” he said. “We’re becoming more accepting of things that normally would have been considered unwise.”

Kiara Daines, a 17-year-old from Detroit, Michigan, said she’s saving herself until marriage for personal and religious reasons. Both Vanderzee and Daines said they have endured teasing from their peers because of their choice to remain abstinent.

Others say there’s just too much hype around virginity. Martha Kempner, vice president for information and communications for the nonprofit Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., said telling a young woman to stay”pure” misses the point that sexuality will influence her long after she loses her virginity.

“By putting the emphasis there, [on virginity], we’re actually devaluing the rest of women, the rest of her, and the rest of her sexuality for the rest of her life,” she said.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics showed that religious teens who take virginity pledges are as likely to have sex before marriage as their religious peers, and less likely to use condoms or birth control when they become sexually active.

Many people say losing one’s virginity has different implications for men than women. While young women see the act as a symbolic giving of themselves, young men are more prone to want to get it over with and brag about it. Similarly, says Kempner, women are taught to keep themselves “pure” and help men exercise control, while there’s a “boys will be boys” attitude around men.

Do men really think that virginity is worth millions of dollars?

Audacia Ray, a 28-year-old former sex worker from New York and author of “Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads and Cashing In on Internet Sexploration,” is skeptical. She views Dylan’s auction as a publicity stunt and doesn’t anticipate she’ll “continue in the industry.”

The importance of a woman’s virginity may vary in different cultures, but generally there’s not the high value there used to be, Ray said.

“It begins to be viewed more as a burden over time — a burden in that losing virginity is an event, so that it has to somehow mean something, which is part of the reason why people are all up in arms about Natalie,” she said.

How do Dylan’s friends and family feel? Dylan, who said she was raised in a conservative, non-Christian religious household, said although her mother doesn’t agree with her, she still loves her as a daughter. Generally people have been supportive, said Dylan, who uses “Natalie Dylan” as a pseudonym.

“I’ve talked with my exes, some different guys, and they understand it’s just a business deal, and they know me, and they know I’m not this promiscuous girl. Honestly, even if I didn’t do this, I’d always be the girl who thinks prostitution is OK,” she said. “I would always want to find a partner that can accept me for me.”

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  • I think the saddest part in all of this is…

    I am not surprised in the least.

    Well, the million dollar figure was a surprise, admittedly. But not the fact someone is selling their virginity.

    I am also surprised it wasn’t auctioned via eBay.

  • Assalamu Alaykum



    And one of the signs of the Day of Judgment.

    This is so stupid. How can you sell your self like that? So, so stupid. A’oo thu billah!!! May Allah protect us from such dirty acts!!

    Subhanallah, with role models such as these, its no wonder why the Muslim youth are doing these things as well. Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting!!!!! These words do not do justice to how evil these things are.

    I feel bad for sisters especially, because at least guys have scholars they can chill with and talk to. Girls hardly have any resources. To me, at least, it seems like they have nobody to talk to, to express what they are going through. Sure, they can talk to scholars like guys can, but in the end of the day, most scholars are guys, and guys are different from girls. Guys can’t relate to girls as well as girls relating to girls. We need to put more energy into developing the sisters into stronger Muslimas, inshallah.

    We ask Allah (SWT) to forgive us for our sins, and to ease the difficulties and struggles the Muslim Ummah is struggling with every day, and to grant us the highest of heavens, inshallah.

    Assalamu alaykum

  • Sallmu Alakum B. Suhaib,

    A question is followed at the end of my statement:

    I must say I agree with iMuslim. This practice of selling ones body has become so much apart of western culture that what would have left many Muslims awestruck en a century ago (e.g. Qutub) nowadays is seen by many as commonplace. The problem is as much as this is a “western problem” it is also a “Muslim problem”. Many Muslims today (and I am not pointing fingers at anyone is specific) acknowledge the problems of the west and the world in general but ignore the problems in our own world (Ummah).

    What has troubled me more then the latter story is the recent events that have taken place in Saudi Arabia. Under the jurisdiction of Sheikh Habib Abdallah al-Habib, a refusal placed on the annulment of the union between an 8 year old- who unlike Natalie, is denied the luxury of making her own choice- and a 47 year old man, all for the settlement of a debt!!

    Many may disagree with my opinion, but would it be wrong for me to look upon the events in Saudi Arabia as more disturbing and irrelgious then Natalie’s lack of moral judgment???

    Respectfully yours,


  • Okay…I do not understand the reason of such posting on this particular site. It is kind of news we expect in weekly inquirer. Can some one explain the point of this?

  • Salam,

    Lowly Servant, the sisters in my little community here have a halaqa once a week. It has helped my wife (who is in her 5th year as a muslimah) tremendously.
    Just a casual get together to read Quran and read tafseer and hadith out of books and then a discussion followed of course, as my wife tells me, by snacks and chats about anything and everything. Maybe the sisters in your community can do something like that inshallah.


  • I too also found this news very shocking. I find it hard to imagine how a woman can sell something as precious as her virginity for any price. The fact that this woman, in particular, has remained a virgin for 22 years of her life is saying something, especially in this day and age. I recently read online, that 95% of Americans do not stay virgins until they are married. As we all well know, high school is a difficult age to maintain that virginity with peer pressure, and the influence of media. So the question that comes to my mind is, if this person stayed virgin until she was 22 years old, doesn’t this virginity mean more to her than you could put a price tag on?

  • iMuslim: I believe she tried EBay, but they wouldn’t permit the auction.

    OmarE: great point. I am more disturbed by the idea of permitting a man to trade his pre-pubescent daughter’s hand in marriage to settle a debt. I understand the court did impose numerous restrictions on the marriage (including: no consummation until puberty and the daughter’s right of choice after puberty) but that does not change the underlying principle. Further, a decision that forces “choice” on a young woman who has never before had that right may actually bring more harm than good.

    R: there is so much beneficial discussion that can come of this story. To name a few: 1) The perpetual objectification of women 2) The poverty that drives people to sell sex in exchange for money 3) Access to education (she’s doing this to pay for school) 4) Divorce laws (I believe she needs the money because of the financial discrepancies of her stepfather during his divorce from her mother).

  • The lesson we can learn from this is that we must be careful in this world. We should all seek refuge from allah to protect us from all these fitna. Each one of us can fall in this evil and cursed path from a single wisper of sheytan.

    Lets all renew our guidance from our lord and serve him rather then some dummies who cant even give a worthy price for such preciousness. Our lord has promised a fortune that is greater then $4 million. A fortune given to those whom obey him.

    34) And remember what is recited in your houses of the signs of Allah and His wisdom Undoubtedly, Allah knows every subtlety, is Aware

    35) Undoubtedly, Muslims men and women, and the be lieving men and women, and obedient men and women and truthful men and women and enduring men and women and humble men and women, and almsgiving men and women and fasting men and women, and men and women who guard their chastity and men and women who remember Allah much, for all of them Allah has kept prepared forgiveness and great reward.

    36) And it is not befitting to a Muslim man or Muslim woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed something that they would have any choice in their matters, and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he undoubtedly, has strayed away manifestly.

    —-Surah Al-Ahzab

    Lets not be fools like the fools before us of whom Allah destroyed. Our lord is always watching for he is the All Hearer and All Knower. Lets not make the same grave mistakes of which this lady and the majority of the western world are making. This is one of the many signs of the day of judgment. The day is coming even closer by the second. The angel has his lips ready on the horn. Lets not waste time sitting on the desk wondering why a blind woman can do such a thing. We should all repent to our lord and replace all the bad deeds we may have committed with good ones.

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    “Lets not waste time sitting on the desk wondering why a blind woman can do such a thing.”


    I would have to differ with your contention and your usage of the verses mentioned above. The Prophet [sa] mentioned the plight of a group of people on a ship, some on the deck and the others on the bottom. The latter were thirsty and kept asking the people on the deck for water. After a large number of unanswered requests, the people on the bottom decided to drill a hole in the ship for water. I’m sure you can guess what happened.

    Being aware of things going on in one’s society, developing remedies for those problems in light of the correct creed was the mission of the Prophets and the mission of this community. The Prophet was well versed with the happenings in his community and the Qur’an mentions some of the more outrageous actions of the Pagans that lived amongst the Prophet, many suitable for the likes of the Sun, “And when the girl is asked why she was killed.”

    Muslims cannot continue to live in self righteous caves, and many who have tried, lost their children and friends because they were unable to understand what their kids and friends were going through. I found my son, and we live in Egypt, singing “Smack Dhat” by Akon. I was astonished that he, at five years old, could have known about this filth. I sat down with him we talked and now he’s singing his ABC’s. It is important for us to follow the filth, just try our best not to get our clothes soiled.

    Condemning folks is one thing, building folks, teaching and learning is another.


  • As salamu alaikum,

    I understand the shock, but I do not think that we should put so much emphasis on the woman selling her virginity. The most troubling part to me is her not wanting anything to do with the guy after they have sex. She is holding this position despite offers from men to be her boyfriend (of course should not be an option for muslims) or even marry her.

    I do not think we would be making as big of an uproar if she was sincerely looking for a husband and planned to stay with him. Even if she was a muslim and stipulated she would not marry unless her mahr was at least $4 million could we really say anything?

    Putting such an emphasis on virginity and not the manner in which virginity should be ‘lost’ (for lack of a better term) does not really help the youth. We tell our young people to preserve themselves but do not equip them with the proper methods for pursuing marriage. Eventually the competing pressures of hormones and wanting to do avoid sin will meet.

    wassalamu alaikum,

    • “but do not equip them with the proper methods for pursuing marriage” this is the key to helping the ummah rather than just telling them to “wait till you find a good muslim husband”.
      The Prophet SAW said “Tie your camel 1st and then have tawakkul in Allah” We are not helping each other tie the camel. We only judge them if the hormones are kicking badly and they unfortunately do zina. No one tries to introduce the majority of singles because of fear of “what of they marry and then get divorced they will blame me”

  • ‘ta’llamtu ash shar laysay li sharrihi walakin litawaqqihi…….’

    As a poet said, I studied evil, not for the sake of it but to protect myself from it. For how many people fall prey to evil due to their ingonarance of it’

    or something to that effect.


  • As a woman, I’m very shocked that any female would put a price on her dignity, self-respect and worth. How will she feel afterwards

    I pray that the Muslim Ummah is protected from such immorality. May Allah guide these people.

    Alhamdulillah for the blessing of Islam, and for the rights and protection that Allah (swt) has given us women, to be valued and honoured.

    Fi amanillah

  • salaam

    ok I totally agree that this is an important topic but I do think the fact that the brothers and sisters brought up that particular situation in Saudia Arabis is extremely important. This is because as a Muslim we belielve this is wrong. I believe it is wrong. But does Islam say its really wrong? This situation has disturbed me ALOT. Because I have read that Islamically that the father can arrange the marriage WITHOUT CONSENT (yes many scholars dont want to say this) although i read in pro islamic site if the age is before puberty. Another thing it bothers me soooooo much is because men sometimes do Not make the right decision for their child while women do. MOthers maybe smarter at this so It doesnt make sense that if she does not approve it can still go through! All these Islamic rulings REALLY BOTHER ME.

    plz explain!

  • asalaamu alaykum, what one normally finds when people are discussing an issue such as the one above, is that woman woman woman, comes up time and time again. i really think we should also be bothered that there are men out there who would take, for want of a better turm someones verginaty then just abandon her. it is i would say like the chicken and egg situation as they say. i mean, if no men were prepaired to pay for sexual “services”, then no women would be able to “sell” them.

  • To Mr Sohaib Webb. “Condemning folks is one thing, building folks, teaching and learning is another.” Indeed T’is true !!! I agree we should all be teaching and advising one another, disregarding the sins we commit, as well all do it. Daily.

    looool at your 5 year old singing “smack that” . Shouldn’t be laughing as yeah i agree the song is filth..Sorry though couldn’t help but laugh.

  • i don’t think that we should disregard the sins that we commit, otherwise it may become a normality. we should not condemn people, because Allah guides who He wills, but we should condemn abusive, illicit and damaging behaviours that affect our communities, and at the same time try to find ways of teaching people a better way, and ask Allah for tawfeeq and protection.

    fi amanillah

  • Salaam,
    So funny, the comments from brothers and sisters from the Muslim Faith.Haha.
    Anyway, the fact that the Internet is booming, this is inevitable, there are so many stupid, funny, intelligent people out there…it depends on HOW YOU see it..LOL. Take things easy. We rely on Him for understanding and not ourselves sweethearts!

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