Thousands of women are being “Internet Girlfriends” for money, especially via sites such as MyGirlFund.
What does the success of MyGirlFund tell us about our relationship with technology and how we interact with the opposite sex in the digital age?
The truth is that when you first log in to MyGirlFund, it looks like you’re on a porn site. You’re presented with an array of women who are mostly scantily clad, and upon clicking on their profiles most of the descriptions tend to emphasise the various sexual photos and videos you can pay the women in order to see: stripping, using a dildo, performing oral sex on someone.
Some of the women offer the option of cam chats, and others give rather more detail regarding their personal lives than you might expect — they mention that they have children, say, or are in education — but on the surface, the difference is subtle to say the least.
Perhaps MyGirlFund wasn’t quite supposed to turn out the way things were planned back in 2008. In a company Q&A last year, the site’s director of business development, Stefan Patrick, said:
“Back in 2006, everyone was becoming aware of the power of web 2.0 advances: the social dimension. With backgrounds in transactional platforms […] the founders were looking to build an online transactional community/social network. […]
There are very few markets that attract customers willing to pay simply for socializing and only for digitally deliverable goods. Adult entertainment is one of those markets and it has the virtue of a low barrier of entry. […] No one was getting the fact that guys wanted real interaction with girls and tools were now available to deliver that experience. Free porn was propagating like crazy and interaction was the one of the few things for which they were willing to pay.”
So it sounds like MyGirlFund was designed to be — and rather looks like — a porn site with added interactivity: an online Babestation, if you will. But here’s the thing. The more you talk to the women who are using the site, the more you realise something quite different and rather more complex is going on.“Of course it’s not just about sexy things, many guys and girls on the site want a friend. I know many that have recently had a loss in their family or just want to get away from reality of their day-to-day life, stress of their job, boredom, etc., and simply want to enjoy some female interaction, which is completely normal.
I don’t judge anyone and I’m here for anyone, even the ladies,” says EnglishRose23. She’s a 25-year-old single mother who enjoys “all the girly things you can think of,” like horseback riding, swimming, and spoiling herself clothes shopping.
“Not only do guys join for fun,” she says, “there are many reasons why they may choose to join. Some are in need of a confidence boost to meet women in the real world, and, personally, I’d ask who is better to give them advice of what to do or be like towards a woman in person?
“For instance, many guys are happy to have the friendship they have with me on here. They’re already happily married, so meeting someone in person could get them into trouble, whereas online, it can’t get complicated; they’re not meeting anyone and feeling as if they’re cheating on their loved one, because they’re not.”
EnglishRose23 is one of the first women I speak to on the site, and my initial instinct is somewhat sceptical. Perhaps she’s been cherry-picked for me by the site’s administrators as someone they knew would give positive feedback on her experience.
But as I talk to more and more women, a relatively consistent and clear picture emerges of how and why they’re using the site.