Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 487–504 | Cite as

Virginity for Sale: A Foucauldian Moment in the History of Sexuality

  • Jennifer C. Dunn
  • Tennley A. Vik
Original Paper


Natalie Dylan attempted to auction her virginity through the website of a legal Nevada brothel. Public discourses surrounding Dylan’s auction have characterized it as everything from a smart business transaction to the sale of her self-respect. Using a theoretical frame from Foucault, methods of textual construction, and rhetorical methods of analysis guided by cluster criticism, our paper explores how online discourses surrounding the auction enact problematics concerning the concepts of virginity and the interrelationships among women, sex, money, and power in American society. While Dylan’s discourse attempts to create space for sexual women and commodified sexuality as empowering for women, responses to her enterprise indicate there is little room for a woman’s unapologetic offer of her commodified virginity.


Sex work Prostitution Virginity Rhetoric Foucault 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dominican UniversityRiver ForestUSA
  2. 2.Emporia State UniversityEmporiaUSA

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