It’s been a few years since the term “sugar baby” began circulating the internet, but the world has not yet tired of the concept. There are stories of men and women making $9,000 a year going on dates with men or sugar babies falling in love with their sugar daddies — and then there’s the complicated question of whether this is sex work or dating with benefits. (Arrangements)
What is an Arrangement?
(As told by a well known arrangement site) “An arrangement is where people are direct with one another and stop wasting time. It allows people to immediately define what they need and want in a relationship. Our profiles allow members to effortlessly state their expectations. This is what we like to call Relationships on Your Terms.”
What’s a Sugar Daddy
Successful men and women who know what they want. They’re driven, and enjoy attractive company by their side. Money isn’t an issue, thus they are generous when it comes to supporting a Sugar Baby.
What’s a Sugar Baby
Attractive people looking for the finer things in life. They appreciate exotic trips and gifts. Sugar Babies get to experience a luxurious lifestyle, and meet wealthy people on a regular basis.
Now you know the titles what about the part you didn’t know.
“Almost all of my friends do some sort of sex work,” says Katie, 23, a visual artist in New York. “It’s super-common. It’s almost trendy to say you do it—or that you would.” She is not lying.
“It’s become like a thing people say when they can’t make their rent,” says Jenna, 22, a New York video-game designer. “ ‘Well, I could always just get a sugar daddy,’ ‘I guess I could just start camming,’ ” or doing sexual performances in front of a Webcam for money on sites like Chaturbate. “And it’s kind of a joke, but it’s also not because you actually could. It’s not like you need a pimp anymore. You just need a computer.”
Men are on as well. “Basically every gay dude I know is doing arrangements,” says Christopher, 23, a Los Angeles film editor. “And there are so many rent boys,” or young gay men who find sex-work opportunities on sites like RentBoy, which was busted and shut down in 2015 by Homeland Security for facilitating prostitution. “Now people just go on RentMen,” says Christopher.
“I think it’s becoming a lot more socially acceptable now,” Astrove, who published an essay in Marie-Claire about her experiences and is currently writing a book about her time as a sugar baby, said. “When I started in Boston, I didn’t know anyone who had done it. Now there are millions of girls on the site and less sugar daddies, but at the time I felt like I had them all to myself.”
Well is this legal? “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?” asked the cover of The New York Times Magazine in May— and apparently it was a rhetorical question, with an argument made for decriminalization that seemed to equate it with having “respect” for sex workers. (In broad terms, the drive for decriminalization says it will make the lives of sex workers safer, while the so-called abolitionist movement to end prostitution contends the opposite.)
One arrangement site states “Sugar is a lifestyle choice, not a profession. A sugar baby is a person who wants to date financially secure men/women who can provide them with the lifestyle he/she desires. They are selective about who they date; a prostitute isn’t picky about who they take on as a client. The risks involved with prostitution are countless, and include exposure to crime, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and theft of service. Many prostitutes are also subject to physical and emotional abuse, especially when involved with a pimp. And in Sugar, sex is never a requirement, only an aspiration.”
Many say there is nothing “happening”. I don’t pay for anything,” 24-year-old Heidy says about her lifestyle. The young woman, who resides in Orlando, Fla., is unemployed, yet travels all over the world with wealthy (and often married) men. Heidy considers herself a “full-time traveler,” and not a gold digger, as many would assume.
“I have been called bad names before like a gold digger. But I don’t feel that way and when I’m on these trips I do not ask for money.”
“I’m only on the website to travel and see the world. I’m not there to look for a sugar daddy. So if anybody wants to call me a bad name, I don’t take that because I know I’m not there for that reason.”
Despite claiming she doesn’t ask for money, Heidy has been given gifts of up to £1,500 after her trips.
She added: “Some of them have asked me to move in with them, live with them. But I’m not ready for that stage yet because my life is here in the USA. If I do fall in love with somebody, I will do that. But for now I haven’t met the right person.”
Heidy is far from the only woman to enjoy similar benefits from rich older guys.
Milan, a 32-year-old sugar baby says “I’d like to state that sugar babies aren’t sex workers, though, especially the ones I know. It’s always a mutual understanding that this is what you want, this is what I want, and here’s how we can get there together. The SD usually respects that, and it can be a turn-on for them. Like, she knows what she wants.”
This sound all fine and dandy but isn’t this really just prostitution? Some even believe it is worse because there is zero reputational factored into doing it. Your best friend, lover or co-worker could be doing it and you would never ever know.
As the debate over whether the United States should decriminalize sex work intensifies, prostitution has quietly gone mainstream among many young people, seen as a viable option in an impossible economy and legitimized by a wave of feminism that interprets sexualization as empowering. “People don’t call it ‘prostitution’ anymore,” says Caitlin, 20, a college student in Montreal. “That sounds like slut-shaming. Some girls get very rigid about it, like ‘This is a woman’s choice.’ ”
They are not just using arrangement sites… Says one realtor.
“The thing is, nowadays,” says his friend (they both work in real estate), “there’s the hidden hos. Like they’re hos, but they pretend to be just some regular girl hitting you up on Tinder.”
“I hate that,” the first guy says. “The hidden hoochies.”
“The ho-ishness,” the second guy says, “is everywhere. I used to take girls out to dinner, but then I’d see they’d eat and bounce—they just want a free meal—so now it’s no more dinner, just drinks.”
Their complaints are of a type commonly heard online, on social media and rampant threads: “All women are prostitutes”; women just want to use men to get money and things. The Internet holds a mirror to the misogyny doing a bro dance in the background of this issue.
I ask the guys why they think some men pay for sex, especially when dating apps have made casual hookups more common.
“It’s transactional,” the second guy says. “There’s no one blowing up your phone, demanding shit from you. You have control over what happens.”
“Oh, come on,” the first guy says. “They call them ‘daddies.’ They call women ‘babies.’ ”
“You can’t tell who the hookers are anymore,” says another guy at the bar, a well-known D.J. in his 30s. “They’re not strippers, they’re not on the corner, there’s no more madam. They look like all the other club girls.”
He tells a story of a young woman he let stay in his hotel room one weekend while he was working in Las Vegas. “She met up with this other girl and all of a sudden they had all these men’s watches and wallets and cash. They were working.” He laughs, still amazed at the memory.
“It’s like hooking has just become like this weird, distorted extension of dating,” the D.J. says. “ ‘He took me to dinner. He throws me money for rent’—it’s just become so casual. I think it’s dating apps—when sex is so disposable, if it doesn’t mean anything, then why not get paid for it? But don’t call it prostitution—no, now it’s liberation.”
There are a lot of young black women here. “I’m kind of surprised,” says a young black woman named Nicole, 25, “but not really. They’re probably here for the same reason I am, which is there’s a lot of racism on the site, like guys will just openly say, ‘No black women,’ so maybe they thought they’d have a better chance in person.”
Nicole is lovely and has a job as an executive assistant. “I want to start a handbag line,” she says. “I have all these great designs and ideas. And I just don’t see how I could ever get together the capital. So an investor would really help.”
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