It was only a matter of time before two of America's latest and greatest cultural obsessions -- the economic crisis and virginity auctions -- collided. Broadsheet has already covered the latter extensively, but the latest auction is different enough from the others to raise my eyebrows. For one thing, the virgin in question is a 27-year-old heterosexual man who's offering up what he calls his "gay virginity." For another, he claims to be a former "Business Analyst at a big 5 investment bank on Wall Street" who lost his job as a result of our country's recent financial turmoil.
On the one hand, it's a lazy comedian's dream, a veritable jackpot of "these crazy times" schadenfreude humor. (He has spent his career screwing over the American public -- let's see how it feels now that he's the one getting screwed! Yuk yuk yuk!) But it also highlights what's wrong with virginity auctions and raises some new questions, too. For instance, what is "gay virginity," anyway? For the ex-Wall Streeter, it's "the ideal handjob/blowjob combination" but "no anal activity of any kind." Does that count? Is "gay virginity" nothing more than whatever the buyer and seller agree it is? Heterosexual virginity loss appears less complicated -- intercourse, preferably with ritual tearing of the hymen -- but isn't. For instance, do you lose your virginity at initial penetration or after the act's completion? And what if, as is common, you don't have a hymen left to tear by the time you sell your innocence to the highest bidder? When we get into these kinds of specifics, the absurdity of these auctions becomes even clearer. You can't "sell" your virginity because it isn't a commodity to be transferred from one party to another; it's an idea, and a vague one at that.
There are other interesting things to note here. Unlike the female, er, entrepreneurs, the analyst is so embarrassed at what he's doing that he'll send his photo only to the highest bidders. (If he thinks the sore losers will keep his secret, I fear he's got another thing coming.) And because the seller in question is heterosexual, the scenario he proposes plays into another coveted fantasy -- gay sex with a straight man.
But the most impressive and unexpected aspect of this entire stunt is that the virginity auction Web site houses the most honest and humble denunciation of banking excess I've seen yet from someone on the inside. "In the last 3 years during my employment I have lived like an absolute idiot," writes the analyst, "spending money that I didn't have in order to impress the front office brokers that I worked with and who held the keys to big bonuses." I don't particularly need to see any other bankers peddling virginity of any kind, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a few more mea culpas out there.