It's not wildly removed from the Sugar Daddy life or trophy wife idea, men who feel that they'd like something pretty hanging off their arm to set off their professional status and fast car. Because there seems to be rather less...let's call it 'panache' in having a paid online girlfriend to offer company via a screen than in showing up at glitzy restaurant with a pretty young thing to display; we might immediately cast the men in the role so sweet lonely boys being taken advantage of by internet vixens.
I am not going to go into any discussion of parallels between this and sex work, or rather I don't think it is helpful for my subject to study the motivations of the women who earn money from MyGirlFund. Mainly because my concern when it comes to these matters is their safety over anything else. I couldn't even tell you if I have motivations with regard to the shut down of MyGirlFund. It is the participating men and their feelings and regard towards women. We might, as we often do men who employ sex workers, either feel pity or revulsion, possibly both towards them. As if it is our business. It is unfortunate and unflattering but necessary to acknowledge this.
We have to acknowledge it because it is a small but loud part of male culture fed by this attitude that resents women. Resents attractive women for having terms, resents unattractive women for being unattractive. The NUS and leading campaigners for women's summit with ministerial support on tackling lad culture.
The agency of women seems to be very low on the agenda.
It seems there is doubt over whether or not it truly matters, or if there would be consequences in any interaction with a women. Because repeatedly the impression is that they aren't truly real. The case with MyGirlFund is that you pick your girlfriend, pay and then they are your girlfriend. There's a whiff of the attitude a child might have when playing with Barbie dolls. In women's magazines the message is 'you should be [insert physical shape and pubic hair style of the month here]'. The agency of women seems to be very low on the agenda.
This is not a question of objectification. I believe that misses the point. Agency is the point. To be denied agency and to deny it is isolating for both parties. Breeding animosity. Writing in her Observer column Eva Wiseman commented that: "To dismantle "lad culture" and minimise the negative effect it has on students, the girls who are shh-ed in class, the links to boys' depression and suicide, the violence, the answer is to build and highlight alternative cultures. To encourage students to drink and kiss in places that don't advertise with posters of tits. Just because the problem is serious doesn't mean the solution must be dry."
It might not promote agency but it seems arguable that MyGirlFund promotes the companionship and affection that comes with a relationship. Is it providing one of the necessary alternative as Wiseman suggests to curb lad culture? It surely is a tool with which to show how women, real women, can be interacted with. Maybe one day we will work out how to interact with lad culture too.