Guest Post: This is CNN?

More like Fair-and-Balanced when it comes to reporting on "Natalie Dylan" and her virginity auction.

Lorraine K avatarI was sent a link to a CNN story yesterday afternoon. It is the latest update in a story that's become quite the media frenzy: "Natalie Dylan"  (not her real name) and her creative alternative to student loans. This 22 year old woman is auctioning off her virginity in hopes of raising enough money to finance her Masters degree. This is remarkable, due not only to the high sum her "cherry" seems to be going for these days (between 3.7 and 3.8 million dollars, when last checked), but because of the shock and awe that has followed in its wake. A perfect example of this is the commentary provided by CNN's Prime News host Mike Galanos and correspondent Richelle Carey . Billed as "hard news with a human side," Prime News "challenges news makers and experts to help viewers gain a clearer understanding of the 'right vs. wrong' conflict playing out across the country every day." (If you ask me, this sounds more suitable for Fox News than CNN, but I digress...) Click here to read more. 

Amid flashy images of faceless women in skintight dresses, neon lights, and purposefully seedy brothel bedrooms, Carey starts off the report by offering some background, saying that Natalie "claims" that she is "auctioning off her virginity to pay for her education," pausing dramatically before adding a censorious "mmm hmmm." Then she goes on to say that Dylan "claims that she's gotten offers from 10,000 men--guess she's proud of that," once more adding her own two cents. The most ridiculous part in her commentary occurs when Carey explains where Dylan may have gotten her idea: "apparently her sister paid for her education by being a...I'm gonna say it--a hooker!"

Why, how utterly scandalous! Is she serious? In 2009, amid stories of genocide, torture, and war, she is incensed and offended by this? She was so bothered, she couldn't even say "prostitute;" she had to go straight for the dreaded h-word! Is this what we have come to call journalism? Name calling and righteous indignation? This is about as "fair and balanced" as Bill O'Reilly! It gets better when we take Galanos' commentary into consideration.

There he sits in his chair, with his slicked back hair and his spotless white dress shirt, his face registering emotions of incredulity and disdain for the story of the fallen woman that has come across his desk. He joins in Carey's attack, chiming in with his own snide comments: "So the sister was the role model here to get the ball rolling...that's great." He continues, "And how 'bout that as a kicker, I'm looking at some of your notes here and I remember doing this story--that she wants to have a career in marriage and family therapy. Yeah, your clients are going to find out that, and they're really going to want to go to you when you lost your virginity...for millions. Great. The clip ends there, with him shaking his head, eyes closed, clearly disgusted with the whole sordid business.

First of all, who is to say that engaging in sex work makes one unfit to hold any future careers? Furthermore, why would her clients have cause to know about this one period in her private life? Sure, there is publicity now, but by the time Dylan has gone through school, earned her degree, and begins her practice, her 15 minutes of fame will have long been over, her actions relegated to the pages of obscurity, replaced by countless tales of pretty celebrities who flash their panties climbing out of limos. Her sex life, no matter how sensational it may be now, should not be used as a measure to gauge her ultimate worth in society. Also, I think that Dylan's clinical approach to sex would make her all the more fit to be a marriage/family therapist, as she would be able to remain unbiased about those very personal matters. I once had a therapist who encouraged me to go back to my ex-boyfriend because she had met him once and, she "liked him." I found a new therapist the very next day.   

If you ask me, Natalie is getting the better deal. How many girls have, for romantic or religious reasons, remained virgins, holding on tight to their purity like a talisman, attaching their very self worth to it, longing for the day that the perfect man will come along and relieve them of it gently--only to wake up sore the next day and find the man gone, or distant, or alarmingly cavalier about the milestone that he has just been a part of crossing. At least in Natalie's case, she knows what she's getting up front. She's being extremely pragmatic about the whole thing. She's previewing the applicants (hopefully weeding out the undesirables) and letting them know exactly what she expects. Since it is essentially a business transaction, she has no emotional expectations. They will be in a semi-public place with many people around who have experience with facilitating similar encounters; she has very little risk of sustaining physical harm. As long as she and her partner use protection, the greatest risk she runs is feeling some minor discomfort when she is penetrated for the first time. The man will presumably be getting what he wants and she will be taking care of a necessary evil with relatively little ado while making an incredible profit. By capitalizing on society's obsession with purity, she's turning America's puritanical thinking on its ear. They may scream and call her a whore or snicker righteously behind their news briefs, but in the end, who is going to be the one laughing? Ms. Dylan--and she'll be laughing all the way to the bank. 


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Who is Lorraine K?: Former Catholic school girl and bona-fide goody-two-shoes, Lorraine has spent her early adult years fleeing as far as possible from the straight and narrow path on which she was raised. After spending a couple of years kicking around the bars and clubs of NYC, she discovered the NYC BDSM scene and became a member of TES (The Eulenspiegel Society). Not long after that, she met Elizabeth at the Sex Positive Journalism Awards and found herself joyfully carried away in the NYC Sex Blogger scene. Lorraine has a B.A. in English from Iona College (yes, a Catholic college). She is currently an assistant editor at a college text book publishing company. Most of her writing involves her own unique experiences in and around New York City, erotica, and the scholarly implications of the Harry Potter series.