Internet trade knows few limits, especially when it comes to the one commodity that has been for sale since the beginning of time: sex.

The current trend is not just selling sex -- but virginity, and not run-of-the-mill whoredom but "prostitution for education", as in the case of Romanian teen Alina Percea.

According to the Daily Mail, 18-year-old Percea just closed the month-long bidding at 10,000 euros -- rendering her virginity the property and prize of an Italian man she has never met.

"It was very exciting," the Daily Mail quotes Alina. "I thought the money would go higher, but I'm happy. I've got to do this to pay for my studies, so I can work and help my family in Romania."

Alina is not the first to sell her virginity on the internet.

A lesbian student from Bristol University sold hers in 2004 for £8,400 to avoid graduating with hefty debts, reported the BBC.

Prostitution for education

Prostitution, often hailed as "the world's oldest profession", has historically been linked to poverty and lower classes, explored in novels/films such as Fanny Hill where the impoverished protagonist takes up a succession of lovers to survive after her beau is sent out of the country.

Hollywood movies have nurtured the fantasy of prostitution -- the plot of "hooker meets the man of her dreams and hooks no more" has been played out in films ranging from Pretty Woman(1990) to Milk Money(1994) to Risky Business(1983).

The present real-life fantasy, however, has been adapted into postfeminist lexicon: instead of changing for a man, women are instigating the change to better themselves.

The intriguing aspect of the "selling virginity" cases that span from the US to the UK to Europe is the tenacious link to education.

They are not being exploited, like young girls in countries like Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam where their parents sell them into the sex trade; and they are not kidnapped by strangers, as was the case with Long Pross who shared her story with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times.

It is not their last choice, but merely an option that presented itself.

As the BBC quoted Rosie Reid, the Bristol student, "It started as a joke, and ended up as 'why not?' "

A sociological sexual experiment

While Rosie’s deflowering began as a joke, for 22-year-old Californian Natalie Dylan it was a sociological experiment to study the value of virginity and to fund a Master’s degree.

Dylan, who has a bachelor's degree in Women's Studies, has been flogging her virginity since last September, with no set closing date.

According to The Telegraph, bidding for Dylan has hit £2.5m, and her bidders have surpassed 10,000.

Percea admits that she got the idea from Dylan. Is this setting a new trend for not only educated girls – but also for the reinterpretation of what the internet can be used for?

Internet has been instrumental in, if nothing else, being the ultimate medium to unite buyer and seller.

No matter how bizarre the product is that is being sold, there is someone out there, tapping away in cyberspace, that will buy it -- from kidneys to toenail clippings to breast milk to virgin vaginas.

What remains at the end of it, is the aura that continues to surround virginity.

As Shakespeare's Parolles said in All's Well That Ends Well, "there was never a virgin got till virginity was first lost": virginity, for all its hype, is nothing but a man-made invention.

Photo by Andrew Otto
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Virginity sale: sex for tuition

By: Sacha Fortune