Friday, April 17, 2009

Last month, A.Z.Winer wrote about a certain website entitled AshleyMadison-dot-com, a non-singles website for married people looking for an affair. Today I was sent an article in the New York Times about another website, SeekingArrangement-dot-com, in which self-proclaimed sugar daddies and babies can find each other to strike up an "arrangement," generally meaning the "daddy" takes the "baby" out, showers her with gifts, and gives her a stipend in exchange for company, conversation, and (often but not always) sex.

The article, written by Ruth Padawer and entitled "Keeping Up With Being Kept" presents what seems like a fair representation of the people who use the site, which is mainly young women with college debts, moneyed older men who never could get (or keep) a date, young women looking to be pampered, and moneyed older men looking for an ego boost. The site boasts a 1% "sugar mommy" population and one quarter of the "daddies" are looking for a male "baby," but for the most part it is wealthy men seeking hot young women, and hot young women seeking wealthy men.

The women debate among themselves on the blog over whether they consider themselves sex workers or not... some say absolutely and they're fine with that, and some simply state they are no more or less than women who stay in a marriage for the MasterCard or seek relationships based on what material rewards come with them. Padawar brings in the historical perspective, noting that traditionally, marriages have been a contract largely based on power or economic transaction, with the woman being the person (/thing) bought and paid for.

But what really bothers me about this website is not the express sexual contracts implied in "Seeking Arrangement," nor the fact that it may or may not be sex work. These are clearly adults, making adult decisions to maintain or improve their lifestyles. My issue is NOT that it is older men with money and young women who accompany them for their lifestyle. My issue is that, again, it is ONLY older men with money and young women who accompany them for their lifestyle.

Cougaring is only just beginning to become cool, almost forty years after the sexual revolution. Is it really idealism to wish that people could be shallow and self-serving equally? Because I know lots of good looking guys with college debts, and I'm sure there are lots of could-be cougars out there just searching for a way in which they could use young hot men for their youth and hotness without society, you know, FREAKING OUT. And here's the thing: physiologically, it makes more sense. Because while the average man reaches his "sexual peak" (whatever that means) in his late teens, the average woman reaches hers in her late thirties. Now, technically a woman in her late thirties dating a younger man is a "puma," but that's not the point. Especially since there isn't even a term for a man who dates a younger woman, unless you count "regular." The point is that it's 2009, and I feel like that should mean something.

Like we should have jet packs, and sexual equality.


B.Graham said...

I actually meant for this to post next week but am apparently extremely inept at blogging. So this totally counts as next week's article from me. Drink it in.

Stephen said...

How unromantic.

Alex said...

Ok, now that conversation totally makes sense. Well, not totally, but much more than it did.

And I completely agree. I mean, that kind of arrangement was basically my childhood dream (seriously), but you're right, women should be able to buy love (or whatever) too.

Ozkirbas said...

Strict traditionalism. Puritanical, middle class morality...

Also, the concept of the "cougar," much like the concept of the "MILF" or the "lonely housewife," is expected to be a more casual sexual relationship than that between "sugar parent and sugar baby." Which is INTERESTING, since (if I'm not mistaken, I could be. Maybe I should make these comments in a less "permanent forum) these concepts are, historically at least, particularly derived from classic male fantasies. If these concepts are becoming "cool" it's not that they weren't prominent - there could be just more women taking on these roles and taking charge (or, just falling line with classic fantasy scripts - which is far more bleak). Huh.

AZ Winer said...

"The Cougar" the TV Show!?!