September 11, 2008 / 4:22 AM / 9 years ago

Student auctions virginity, sparks online debate

<p>Teen girls are seen in a file photo.Jessica Rinaldi</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A 22-year-old woman in the United States is publicly auctioning her virginity to pay for her college education, sparking a heated online debate about sex and morality.

The student from San Diego, California, who is using the pseudonym Natalie Dylan for "safety reasons," said she had no moral dilemma with her decision and found it "empowering".

But few bloggers sided with her and some suspected her intentions.

"I don't think auctioning my virginity will solve all my problems," she told celebrity television show The Insider on Wednesday. "But it will create some financial stability. I'm ready for the controversy, I know it will come along. I'm ready to do this."

"We live in a capitalist society. Why shouldn't I be allowed to capitalize on my virginity?" she added.

The woman, who has earned a bachelor degree in women's studies and now wants to start a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, is hoping the bidding will hit $1 million.

The online auction site eBay turned her down so the auction will take place at a Nevada brothel, the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, where her sister is working to pay off her college debts.

The date for the auction was not immediately available.

In a flurry of media interviews and appearances, she admitted that her mother, a fourth grade teacher, does not agree with her decision. Many on the Internet also disapprove.

"Maybe this is the conservative in me coming out, but this seems so wrong," wrote one blogger, Mike. "Isn't this prostitution?"

"I must say I feel sad for the future of our society," said Mike from Montclair State University in New Jersey.

"What disgusts me about this whole thing is the fact that she is promoting it so heavily. It seems less about having some guy pay for her virginity and more about trying to get her 15 minutes and a reality show," said a blogger called "Ent Lawyer".

She does have her supporters -- not surprisingly Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

"I think it's a tremendous idea. Why lose it to some guy in the backseat of a Toyota when you can pay for your education?" he told reporters.

Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy

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