But Ms Urick rejects any criticism that Seeking Arrangement exploits women.She says that while “most” sugar daddies are looking for “some romance”, some sugar baby relationships are platonic: “Maybe like 10 to 20 per cent”.“Most sugar babies identify as feminists,” says Ms Urick.Brook Urick says the websites’ popularity stems partly from the fact that sugar daddy relationships are becoming “a little more accepted and prominent”.“Some people say they heard about it in a magazine or on TV,” she says.
Seeking Arrangement has hundreds of thousands of sugar daddies signed up globally, with 57,000 in Australia alone. Google ‘sugar daddies Australia’ and there are nearly 250,000 results, including the sites Sugar Daddy Meet, Sugar Daddy Australia and Australian Sugar Daddy.
So what does Dorian get out of such relationships, which he says he sought out for “companionship”? “I don’t have to be: ‘Oh I have to look like a kind caring gentleman.’ No, I just say exactly what I want, what I’m looking for, what I am, and then someone will find it, someone will like me.”In his case, this has meant being able to ask and find a young woman to go shopping for, and model for him “a three-piece lingerie set” from a particular brand he likes.“There’s no way I would put that on OK Cupid,” he says, referring to a conventional dating website. ’”Dorian said he had had sex with some of the women he had met through the website, but not all.
Older, male work clients introduced him to the website.
Unlike a conventional dating website, Seeking Arrangement connects men and women who agree up front to pay younger, attractive men and women for companionship, or as the website puts it: “sugar babies are an expense that must be accounted for”.
The concept of a “sugar daddy” may be nothing new — some think the term might stem from the 1908 marriage between Adolph Spreckels, an American heir to a sugar fortune, with a woman 24 years his junior. What is new, however, is that these types of relationships, while once something widely made fun of, have gone mainstream and global.
Once upon a time, men in relationships with sugar babies were a target for ridicule, as in the 1927 silent Laurel and Hardy film Sugar Daddies, in which an oil tycoon struggles to escape a woman he accidentally married while drunk. While the data on just how many men are engaged in these relationships is hard to pin down — other sugar daddy websites contacted by the ABC declined to provide data — testimonies from sugar daddies have been popping up with regularity over the last year in such publications as The Australian Women’s Weekly, Harper’s Bazaar and GQ.A lot of sugar daddies, maybe they don’t want to text every day, they don’t want to talk about matrimony or having kids.“I know a lot of men who’ve been married for 20, 30 years, their wife doesn’t want to hear their gripes at the end of the day.A sugar baby is willing to lend an ear to them.”In other words, a “relationship” freed from any drudgery, or maintenance? “We had an image we were playing with, like sugar daddy shopping, like at a store, picking the things that he wants, leaving the things he doesn’t want.”Or, as Dr Meagan Tyler, a research fellow at RMIT University who specialises in gender inequality, puts it: “[The men] are paying [the women] to not be a full human being.She adds that women in sex work “have a very high rate of patterns of child abuse” and that she would “hazard a guess” the same situation might be the case among sugar babies.It’s a claim that is backed up by at least one first-person sugar baby account.To not have any needs, to not have any desires of their own, to not have any push back against their power”.