By K. Aleisha Fetters
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Matchmaking sites for wealthy men and younger women have been multiplying since SugarDaddie.com launched eight years ago. They adopt varying procedures for separating themselves from prostitution sites, which are illegal.
Outright financial arrangements aside, studies have indicated that, on average, women are more prone to advertise their youth and looks in their dating profiles while men advertise prosperity and class, said Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and chief scientific advisor to Chemistry.com, a division of Match.com. "For millions of years, men have sought young, attractive women while women sought men with resources," she said. "They still bear those predispositions. It's Darwinian logic."
Fisher says the sites--in and of themselves--are harmless. "They are no different than trying to sell people chocolate chip cookies. We have a natural sweet tooth and these sites are providing for two basic human desires."
The 52-year old New Yorker who belongs to one of the sites denied any element of prostitution in his arrangements, saying a "genuine friendship" has to exist in order for them to work. However, he feels being in public with an 18-year-old girl is considered socially unacceptable, which makes the sexual nature of the relationship primary.
"She (a former companion) had to have a clear understanding that she needed to make herself available at my whim to do what I wanted," he said. "When she asked for a certain amount of money, she had to earn it sexually. I was providing her with a minimum of $3,000 per month, including an occasional trip to the Caribbean. Twice I gave her $5,000, which she really earned."
Some members are looking for less explicit arrangements, casual dating, and relationships.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act holds that Web sites are not liable for information posted there by third parties, clearing these sites of legal responsibility, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group based in San Francisco.
The sites mentioned in this article include a disclosure statement against prostitution saying inappropriate profiles will be deleted.
SugarDaddie.com, which claims 1 million users, bars nude photos. It also prohibits the use of the terms "money slave," "mistress," or "goddess," as well as any promotion of a sexual fetish. Any profiles containing references to a "maintenance agreement" or "financial arrangement" are deleted, said Steve Pasternak, founder and owner, in a recent phone interview.
The rules are looser, however, on SugarDaddieForMe.com, where the profiles of female members can include topless photos and references such as "sex slaves" and "master."
Most sites moderate "decency" levels. Some provide extensive identity and background checks of male and female members. WealthyMen.com, for example, allows users to verify job, income, and photographs through faxed tax returns, bank statements and photo IDs. Many sites, however, do not post pictures or identifying information.
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K. Aleisha Fetters is a freelance writer based in New York City.
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