2013 Looks A Lot Like 2012: Another Brazilian Teen Is Selling Her Virginity
3:30 pm, January 2nd | by Colette McIntyre
Eighteen-year-old Rebecca Bernardo is putting her virginity up for sale, hoping to raise enough money to cover her mother’s medical bills. As the Brazilian native told CNN through a translator, following her mother’s stroke, Bernardo worked as both a waitress and a cosmetic salesperson but still struggled to cover the costs of her mother’s caretaker. Inspired by the virginity auction of fellow Brazillian Catarina Migliorini where the winning bid was nearly $800,000, Bernardo posted a video to YouTube declaring her hymen for sale. The video received 3000 views in one day. “There comes a time when you have to make decisions to get what you want,” Bernardo said in an interview. “You have to be strong.”
Virginity auctions are not a new thing; in fact, The Frisky compiled a list of seven women, not including Bernardo or Migliorini, who have sold their virginities online and there is definitely at least one episode in the Law and Order: SVU canon that deals with the phenomenon. There is something very potent about teen girls putting their virginities up for sale. The media is drawn to these stories because they combine all of our sensationalizing and infantilizing fears of female sexuality, predatory men and “the Internet” into one salacious news item. We love feigning disgust at the lecherous men we imagine are doing the bidding; we love turning our noses up at the young girls engaging in “prostitution”; we love portraying the Internet as a debased world of danger and sin.
I’m confused by how men are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for something that is literally a concept. Maybe a comparable transaction would be “buying a star” for yourself or your loved one, but even that’s a stretch since stars actually, ya know, exist. There are a lot of things that make me uncomfortable with the virginity auctions that have taken place — the clear class discrepancy between the bidders and the seller, the fact that we wag our finger at these girls and do not offer to help, the fact that many of these girls become a strange type of celebrity for a very brief time — but mostly I’m just astonished by how we treat virginity like Gollum treats the One Ring. So far it looks like 2013 will not be the year that we retire that kind of thinking.