Global Humanity Looks to Unity of Minds in Crisis: Massacres of Muslim Worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand

"And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live...

Dr Mahboob A Khawaja, PhD. - avatar Dr Mahboob A Khawaja, PhD.

New TAFE program for Aboriginal health-care students sees a near perfect completion rate

If we are to close the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people, we need to develop and staff culturally competent health-care services.from shutterstock.comA customised scholarship program develo...

Kylie Gwynne, Associate Professor and Research Director, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney - avatar Kylie Gwynne, Associate Professor and Research Director, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney

Two million Aussies delay or don't go to the dentist – here's how we can fix that

When did you last visit the dentist?By Concept Photo/ShutterstockDental care in Australia is a policy anomaly; for some reason, the mouth is treated very differently to other parts of the body. About ...

Stephen Duckett, Director, Health Program, Grattan Institute - avatar Stephen Duckett, Director, Health Program, Grattan Institute

We need a new definition of pornography - with consent at the centre

In a search of social science literature on pornography, none of the definitions reviewed mentioned consent.ShutterstockWe all think we know what pornography is, whether we oppose it, use it, or toler...

Sarah Ashton, PhD Candidate, Monash University - avatar Sarah Ashton, PhD Candidate, Monash University

Women can build positive body image by controlling what they view on social media

It is possible to limit your bombardment with images of bodies that feel way out of reach – so choose wisely who you follow. hannah grace / unsplash, CC BYSocial media use is often described as ...

Rachel Cohen, Clinical Psychologist and PhD Candidate, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Rachel Cohen, Clinical Psychologist and PhD Candidate, University of Technology Sydney

Ultra low wage growth isn't accidental. It is the intended outcome of government policies

This is the first in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.The long debate over the c...

John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland - avatar John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland

Curious Kids: why bats sleep upside down, and other stories of animal adaptation

Zzzzzzz...Flickr/Ryan Poplin, CC BY-SACurious Kids is a series for children. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au You might also l...

Amy Edwards, Post Doctoral Researcher, La Trobe University - avatar Amy Edwards, Post Doctoral Researcher, La Trobe University

'Give us a sniff, love': giving marsupials scents from suitors helps breeding programs

A baby eastern barred bandicoot pokes its head out of its mother’s pouch. M. Parrott, Zoos Victoria, Author providedSmell is a vital part of sexual attraction for all kinds of animals (including...

Marissa Parrott, Reproductive Biologist, Wildlife Conservation & Science, Zoos Victoria, and Honorary Research Associate, BioSciences, University of Melbourne - avatar Marissa Parrott, Reproductive Biologist, Wildlife Conservation & Science, Zoos Victoria, and Honorary Research Associate, BioSciences, University of Melbourne

Youth homelessness efforts get a lowly 2 stars from national report card

Despite a ten-point roadmap and bold commitments, Australia has not stayed on track to reduce youth homeless over the past decade.Roman Bodnarchuk/ShutterstockA National Report Card on Youth Homelessn...

David MacKenzie, Associate Professor, Department of Social Science, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar David MacKenzie, Associate Professor, Department of Social Science, Swinburne University of Technology

View from The Hill: A truly inclusive society requires political restraint

“Standing against hate” requires robust leadership from the politicians.AAP, CC BY-NCTerrible tragedies test leaders to the full. Anyone watching from afar must be impressed with the way i...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

NSW election neck and neck as voters face a 1950s-style 'I'll see you and raise you' campaign

On Saturday, March 23, the people of New South Wales will head to the ballot boxes for a state election. It is looking increasingly close, with polls showing government and opposition neck and neck on...

David Clune, Honorary Associate, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney - avatar David Clune, Honorary Associate, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

Ultra low wage growth isn't accidental. It is the intended outcome of government policies

This is the first in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.The long debate over the c...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

Christchurch attacks are a stark warning of toxic political environment that allows hate to flourish

When lives are tragically cut short, it is generally easier to explain the “how” than the “why”. This dark reality is all the more felt when tragedy comes at the hands of murd...

Greg Barton, Chair in Global Islamic Politics, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University - avatar Greg Barton, Chair in Global Islamic Politics, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Can a senator be expelled from the federal parliament for offensive statements?

In the wake of comments about the Christchurch massacre, members of the public have raised the question of whether a senator can be expelled from the Senate for making offensive statements. It is now...

Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney - avatar Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney

The psychology of fear and hate, and what each of us can do to stop it

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has travelled to Christchurch after yesterday's terror attacks.NZ Prime Minister's office, CC BY-SAAs an immigrant to New Zealand, I am saddened and outraged ...

Stephen Croucher, Professor and Head of School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing, Massey University - avatar Stephen Croucher, Professor and Head of School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing, Massey University

Why overhauling NZ's gun and terrorism laws alone can't stop terrorist attacks

Grieving members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch.EPA/Martin Hunter, CC BY-SAMy research focuses on terrorism in or affecting New Zealand. Until yesterday, my p...

John Battersby, Police Teaching Fellow, Massey University - avatar John Battersby, Police Teaching Fellow, Massey University

Random Thoughts V

If Planned Parenthood was selling puppy body parts they would be shut down yesterday. The thirties and forties are a blur with work and family.  The fifties start to slow down and in the sixties yo...

Dr. Robert Owens - avatar Dr. Robert Owens

Christchurch mosque shootings must end New Zealand's innocence about right-wing terrorism

Members of the Armed Offenders Squad push back members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.AAP/Martin Hunter, CC BY-SATonight, New Zealand police continue t...

Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University - avatar Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University

Why news outlets should think twice about republishing the New Zealand mosque shooter's livestream

Like so many times before with acts of mass violence in different parts of the world, news of shootings at two Christchurch mosques on Friday instantly ricocheted around the world via social media. Wh...

Colleen Murrell, Associate Professor, Journalism, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Colleen Murrell, Associate Professor, Journalism, Swinburne University of Technology

The sleazy “sugar baby” scandal involving Australian politician Andrew Broad, exposed for his reported cringy attempts to hook up with a woman almost half his age, might look like just another case of a politician caught in flagrante delicto.

The 43-year-old married father of two reportedly arranged to meet the 25-year-old “Amy” while in Hong Kong for a fruit conference. He was presumably seeking to be discreet, but his penchant for bragging about how important he was along with Amy’s interest in financial gain ensured his sext messages ended up with the gossipy Australian women’s magazine New Idea.

What gives this story greater social import is how the pair met – through a dating platform designed specifically to match wealthy men with young attractive women. Such sites, as I argue in a recently published book, symbolise the rise of what I call sugar daddy capitalism – a deformalisation movement at the centre of Western capitalism that is erasing already blurred lines between commercial and non-commercial worlds.

Transactional intimacy

Sugar baby websites are the brainchild of US tech entrepreneur Brandon Wade. He has established a stable of such sites and apps, all based on the same premise: helping wealthy older men (sugar daddies) meet beautiful, usually much younger women (sugar babies) who want to be wined and dined in expensive restaurants and showered with gifts, including cash.

According to Wade, who has built a lucrative business empire on the concept, his typical sugar daddy has an annual income of US$200,000 and spends about US$3,000 a month on a sugar baby. About 40% are married. A similar proportion of the sugar babies are university students. They’re not obliged to provide sexual favours, but those who have talked about their experiences indicate that is usually expected if they want material rewards to keep flowing their way.

Brendon Wade, right, in a promotional image for one of his apps, Carrot Dating. Carrot Dating

Wade isn’t appealing to romantics. He has called love “a concept invented by poor people”. As he told CNN in 2014:

“As I look at the future of traditional relationships, I see divorces, heartbreaks and broken families. Marriage is messy, but divorce is even messier. Yet marriage is not the only path to happiness or financial security. An arrangement can provide the same benefits as a marriage without the risk.”

His ideas repudiate the family values Andrew Broad, a socially conservative politician, has claimed to believe in. It’s a transactional approach to intimacy, based on the iron law of supply and demand. Only hard cash counts, something rich and powerful men have long exploited.

Read more: Rise in 'sugar babies' mirrors increase in student sex work

Another way of looking at sugar baby websites is that they are promoting barely disguised sex work. Indeed Wade has been branded a kind of “e-pimp”. We can see his digital platforms as exemplifying a wider trend of casualisation in working relationships, using technology to extend the so-called gig economy.

Informal relationships

The pundits of neoliberalism champion casualisation, individual contracts and other forms of “gig work” because they believe supply and demand is the right way to determine all prices, including wages. It’s up to the individuals involved to decide what kind of arrangement best suits them. And this ought to happen behind closed doors.

Friedrich Hayek, a key figure of the neoliberal revolution, argued in his book The Road to Serfdom that deals between individuals are superior to state laws and regulations because they foster personal freedom. Money and self-interest would be the only universal principles permitted, with governments coming into the picture only as a last resort. That’s why in Hayek’s ideal society everyone would interact on a strictly private basis, guided only by the cool logic of the marketplace and personal preferences.

If the economy was rebuilt around this idea, neoliberal theorists like to believe, we’d all soon be rich micro-entrepreneurs, free to tailor our working lives to individual taste rather than being handcuffed to global standards imposed by trade unions and government.

What happens in reality when these ideas are put into practice? The sugar daddy phenomenon shows us.

Onward to the past

Consider the status of sex work in the Australian state of New South Wales, which decriminalised prostitution in 1995 (in large part to stamp out police corruption associated with illegal brothels).

Colourful Australian medical entrepreneur Geoffrey Edelsten, right, met his third and most recent wife, Gabi Grecko, through a sugar baby website. When they wed in 2015 he was 73 and she was 26. Joe Castro/AAP

Sex workers are generally considered independent contractors. That means, like other workers in the gig economy, they don’t get the benefits full employees enjoy, such as employer contributions to superannuation, holiday pay and sick leave.

Nevertheless they are still deemed workers – and that is important. Employers (or “hirers”) must observe regulations that specifically cover workers, including the right to join a union, and so on.

Moreover, if it turns out workers are being exploited by “sham contracts”, where they are for all intents and purposes full employees but being treated otherwise, the federal Fair Work Act comes into play. Businesses can be fined up to $30,000 for violating provisions on this issue.

Sex worker advocates have campaigned long and hard to be recognised by employment legislation, including the right to unionise. The next step is a national award.

Sugar baby sites are as disruptive to this whole system as platforms like Uber have been to highly regulated taxi industries. They turn sex work back into a strictly private affair.

Uber’s official line is that it’s just enabling ordinary citizens to share a ride, instead of the regulated system of taxi drivers requiring a licence and police background checks. Sugar baby sites exploit the same loophole. Sugar babies are not officially workers, and thus fall completely outside any germane employment legislation.

Read more: The 'Uberisation' of work is driving people to co-operatives

In this sense, these websites and apps represent a return to the past where prostitution was an informal affair and protections and standards were largely non-existent.

Given recent trends, there is a distinct danger that large swathes of the economy could soon be restructured in the same way.

So while it is tempting to focus on the salacious aspects of the Andrew Broad scandal, with all its hypocrisy and double standards, let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture exposed – of a technology-enabled economic ideology sweeping both working and personal relationships.

It might soon be knocking at your door.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/sugar-daddy-capitalism-even-the-worlds-oldest-profession-is-being-uberised-109426