“Virgin auction” solicitors back on Melbourne campus today

A couple of days ago, the “ViRGINS WANTED” [link removed] filmmakers were asked to leave the Monash University campus after putting posters up in student areas. The filmmakers are attempting to recruit two virgins[1] to sell their virginity online, and capture their “ambitious journey” on-air.

The Herald Sun reported at the time that the posters were taken down and the police called:

[Melbourne filmmaker Justin Sisely] claimed yesterday that he was an artist “exploring the idea of virginity as a commodity”. “It’s a one-time thing, it’s not like they’re continually going to be a prostitute,” he said.

But he admitted the film would include controversial scenes, such as the volunteers undergoing virginity tests. Mr Sisely said given the economic crisis, a couple of young virgins would welcome the financial benefits.

The filmmakers came back to campus today – this time to the University of Melbourne.

They were seen in heavily populated campus gathering places such as the student union, handing out flyers and using a small digital videocamera to capture students’ reactions.

A source at the university says that some students appeared visibly uncomfortable about being approached, and that their reactions were being filmed without permission.

The Herald Sun continued:

Mr Sisely admitted some parents had called to complain after their children had shown interest in auditioning.

This is March. Campuses are teeming with new students, many of them seventeen years old. It is difficult to argue that the documentary makers were unaware of this when they started on-campus recruiting. And given that that quote appeared two days ago, and they moved in on another campus today to approach students personally, any protestations of ignorance would ring hollow indeed.

I hope they enjoy any attention they get from the Federal Police.

[1] In case you’re interested in their definition:

(b)The female applicants must be Virgins.  A female “Virgin” in this instance is defined as a female applicant who has not had the introduction by a person of his penis into her vagina or anus regardless of whether or not there is or has been the emission of semen.

(c)(i) The Male applicants must be Virgins. A male  “Virgin” in this instance is defined as a male applicant  who has not introduced his penis into the vagina or anus of another person regardless of whether or not there is or has been the emission of semen.
 
(ii) Additionally, the male “Virgin” must not have had the introduction by a person of an object or penis into his anus, otherwise than in the course of an appropriate and generally accepted medical or hygienic procedure (Obtained or provided under legitimate medical reasons and not false pretences).

(1) For the purpose of subsection (c) introduction to any extent is sufficient.



Categories: arts & entertainment, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, law & order

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29 replies

  1. What in the flying… this makes me absolutely sick.
    Tomorrow at work (uni of melbourne) I’ll sure as hell be keeping my eye out and hand poised to call security should they turn up again. The number for security at uni of melb. is 834 46666 if anyone’s interested.

  2. What a total sleaze. I suggest that if this topic interests him so much that he explores the notion of his own virginity as a commodity – there must be at least one orifice of his that fits his definition of virginity.

  3. Ugh, this is disgusting.
    Can we please move AWAY from the idea of virginity as a commodity? Please?
    Also, apparently you’re still a virgin if you give/receive oral sex?

  4. Their definitions of virgin are so heterosexist. Clearly they don’t consider sex with someone of the same gender as losing one virginity. While I find their work disgusting I think it is a fine example of the ways in which the GLB community are continually excluded from conversation regarding sexuality as a way to privilege heterosexuality.
    Renee’s last blog post..Traffic Stop Leads To Police Brutality In Illinois

  5. Actually Renee, while the description of what the film maker considers a female virgin (must have gone to the same school of thought as Queen Victoria), their description of what they consider the criteria for a male virgin talks about same sex pentrative sex as well.

  6. Icko to the power of infinity. I saw these posters in Marrickville yesterday and wondered what it was all about. Sometimes these viral-type things aren’t what they seem, but this one is!

  7. I am speechless with horror….almost. I fully agree with Renee. Penetration is phallocentric! That is the basis of the “virgin” definitions. I wouldn’t expect people hoping to exploit and capitalize on commodified virginity to be any other than white men blinded by their penis worship. GROSS! GROSS! GROSS!
    I also hope they get lots of attention from the Federal Police.

  8. So wouldn’t they fit the definition of ‘pimp’?
    I don’t know about the legality of prostitution in Victoria, but I presume you can’t just set up shop as an online brothel, soliciting underage girls and an educational institution. I’d be very interested to see what the police intend to do about it.
    I wish artists would just STOP exploring the idea of women as commodities, it’s not hip, it’s mainstream, it’s already been explored and commodified since for fucking ever, fuck off!!

  9. This guy is disgusting, It’s kind of amusing that he thinks he’s hip and edgy and yet his sexual politics are so conservative. If he’s on campuses filming, he should have got a location release from the universities in question. I bet he hasn’t, which means campus security have every reason to throw him out.

  10. Fascinating. I work on a Uni campus and recently we needed some photos of students to publicise our services. We went to a huge amount of trouble to tailor the university’s standard release for the students we were asking to pose for the shots, including getting them to show they were over 18. This stuff is just nauseating.
    M-H’s last blog post..No need for feminism any more

  11. Perverse.

  12. Ugh… this guy is originally from where I live…

  13. I saw a couple of posters for it around Sydenham in Sydney today.

  14. So fracking wrong. I hope that this guy ends up in serious trouble with the law for trespass or something and gets his arse booted off every campus he steps foot on.

  15. Hmmm. Clearly I am the only person who thinks something like this could be interesting. I disagree with Y about it just exploring the commodification of women – if anything, it’s more interesting that he’s including a man because we’re so trained to assume it is only a female’s virginity that has any kind of ‘value’.
    I’m not saying we should encourage the idea of auctioning virginity off. I think that’s gross, but not because it’s some kind of special rite of passage. But if – and it’s a big if given that I don’t know the filmmaker and only have the fame and fortune website ad to go on – he is actually interested in exploring how it is we’ve gotten to a point where even things like devirgination is up for sale, then I think the film could definitely have merit. Sure, he’s contributing to its commodification by asking two people to engage with the practice, but it’s hardly coercion. And like I said, the fact he’s using both genders makes it more interesting to me.
    I don’t think you can really get angry about it being heteronormative because it’s really more phallocentric. Besides, whether you agree or not (and I’m not saying I do), most people accept that oral doesn’t constitute ‘real sex’ and indeed that ‘real sex’ is penetrative so it doesn’t actually offend me that those are the guidelines he’s set for his female candidates.
    To be honest, if this documentary was screened I would definitely watch it and not assume straight away it was going to be exploitative and gross. I mean, it may well be. But it also might not.
    On the other hand, hanging around universities with video cameras and no obvious nod to ethical considerations is both stupid and gross, so that might be an indication of how the filmmaker will approach his topic.
    But the actual concept of it all is not something I find particularly nausea inducing.

  16. Hey Hoydens,
    Just blogged on this topic for the Sunday Mail if you’re interested. I totally get what you’re saying, but the larger idea of exploring the themes does interest me.

  17. Audrey: The topic itself, as described, I find deeply uninteresting and not even slightly original or fresh – and as you say, the filmmaker’s approach doesn’t exactly inspire confidence so far. The intense, wilful cluelessness of planning to submit the applicants to medical “virginity tests” drops that confidence yet further.
    The thrust of this post is the vileness of going onto campus uninvited and unwelcome, sexually harassing students (approaching random people to see if they’d like to engage in sex work and filming their response is a fairly gross form of sexual harassment), and on top of all that, approaching CHILDREN about going into prostitution. The fact that they planned to decline applications after the fact if they found they were under 18 doesn’t negate the fact that they were soliciting random people on a campus where a lot of seventeen-year-olds were known to be present.
    I doubt even the most sex-work-positive person could find any redeeming features in that particular approach.

  18. @ Audrey
    I would have thought that he could do all of that by actually interviewing some of the women who have ‘sold’ their virginity to pay debts or whatever, rather than spruiking for them at the Uni. The whole ‘check to see if they really are virgins’ is quite ick, and not necessarily going to prove that someone has been sexually active especially is she is a keen sportswoman.

  19. “things like devirginification” have always been up for sale, and advertised as such. He could wander into any church or botanic gardens ok a Saturday, point his camera at the nearest white wedding dress and hey presto, virginity as a commodity. It didn’t start with Big Brother or HECS debts or whatever soulless modern phenom he’s going to tie it to.

  20. ”The thrust of this post is the vileness of going onto campus uninvited and unwelcome, sexually harassing students (approaching random people to see if they’d like to engage in sex work and filming their response is a fairly gross form of sexual harassment), and on top of all that, approaching CHILDREN about going into prostitution. The fact that they planned to decline applications after the fact if they found they were under 18 doesn’t negate the fact that they were soliciting random people on a campus where a lot of seventeen-year-olds were known to be present.
    I doubt even the most sex-work-positive person could find any redeeming features in that particular approach.”

    Yeah, agreed. It certainly doesn’t indicate a willingness to do things properly as the film progresses.
    But we’ll have to disagree on the ‘interesting’ tag though, just in terms of the topic as a whole :)

  21. @ Mindy
    How would one even check that a dude has ‘become a man’ as it were?

  22. Hello,
    Interesting comments.

    [further soliciting and telephone numbers removed. ~L]

  23. @ Audrey, good point.

  24. Hm, I was just reading about Victoria prostitution laws at the Scarlet Alliance. It’s illegal in Victoria under the Prostitution Control Act (which is deeply problematic in lots of other ways, of course) to advertise to induce people to engage in sex work.
    The law is here.

    (3) A person must not publish or cause to be published a statement which is
    intended or likely to induce a person to seek employment-
    (a) as a prostitute; or
    (b) in a brothel or with an escort agency or any other business that
    provides prostitution services.

  25. So, if my understanding is correct, one could rock up at a brothel tomorrow looking for work as long as they didn’t put a ‘help wanted’ sign out?

  26. This kind of thing would probably have gone down a treat in the early 70s when I was a student. In the hippy era it was cool to break the social norms by flaunting ones’ sexuality, and many people didn’t evolve past that to realise that a lot of it was dudes getting more sex and women getting the, in a manner of speaking, rough end of the pineapple as always.
    But in an era where a 27-year-old mother of two can be given her terminal cancer diagnosis live, and cold, in a TV studio, no I don’t think this stunt could be described as edgy or original or breaking any important boundaries in terms of raw humiliation and wrenching exposure. And Mr Sisely, that wasn’t meant as an encouragement to go to greater efforts.

  27. Purrdence, in my professional legal opinion (U.S. only), I agree. The law specifies PUBLIC solicitation of sex work. It prohibits only impersonal, indirect advertising to the masses. This construction implicitly affirms the right to seek sex work on an individual basis– by both the supply and demand sides of the business.
    The commodification of sex, particularly virginity, is entirely nauseating but not ‘interesting’ in the least. Phallocentric notions of ownership/possession through the act of sex (conquest!) are as ancient as civilization itself. Again, its horrifying, but not new.

  28. What would be wrong about using actors to portray the main characters? Anyone with a quarter of an imagination could come up with a decent plot. What he’s looking to produce is the pornographic equivalent of a snuff film. It’s sad that he’s trying to pass this off as art.

  29. Woman who’s been done up the butt with a dildo — virgin
    Man who’s been done up the butt with a dildo — not virgin
    Woman who’s done people up the butt (with a dildo) — virgin
    Man who’s done people up the butt — not virgin
    ???? It’s certainly an interesting definition of virginity, to be sure… I’ve never heard of this guy before in my life, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say he’s a very young filmmaker desperate for publicity. Not only is the concept offensive and passe, the details have really not been thought through so well.

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