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“Take out loans and eat Ramen, or get a Sugar Daddy and live the life you’ve always wanted!”
The slogan seems to capture it all, the essence and contrast of the average college lifestyle as opposed to luxury and extravagance. The advertising continues:
“Enroll with Sugar Baby University today, and get your education paid for by a generous sponsor.”
“Because let’s be real: becoming successful starts with who you know.”
I cannot help but cringe at that last line as if a young woman’s success is obviously a direct result of an older, “generous sponsor.” Sugar Baby University is a program within Seeking Arrangement, a Sugar Daddy dating company primarily dedicated to pairing young women seeking money and material assets with older, wealthy men. This concept, while archaic, is a growing business across global universities.
While the relatable burden of college debt and expensive tuition is felt across the board, the idea of signing up for a Sugar Daddy seems too radical of a notion to be common. Yet it is.
Joanne Belknap, University of Colorado’s professor of Ethnic Studies, acknowledges the inherent risks associated with this category of online dating. Still, she believes that “We live in a culture where women are paid so unfairly compared to men. It’s not surprising that women would do this when you think of the level of sexual harassment women have to put up with at their jobs that pay a lot less.”
Her statement reveals a tragic truth in gender politics today. Although Professor Belknap respects the decisions of adults, she criticizes a system that allows for women to feel that their opportunities are limited. Although both young men and young women engage in programs such as Seeking Arrangement, the vast majority of “Sugar Babies,” or young participants, are women.
Still, most college students are adults, and therefore capable of making their own decisions with their bodies. However, the proliferation of Sugar Baby University and other similar businesses exposes young minors to this opportunity as well.
The Involvement of Underage Girls
Dr. Margaret Stager, a specialist in adolescent medicine has recently reported growing rates of underage girls involved in sex work, via Seeking Arrangement. In her practice located in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Stager has met with many young teenage girls who have turned to Sugar Daddy companionships either seeking wealth and extravagance, or a one-time cash influx.
Regardless of the intent, the unpredictable outcome poses several dangers to those who participate. Dr. Stager warns of violence and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, the secrecy associated with being underage puts many young girls in risky situations where they can easily be exploited and threatened by their company or their companions.
Contrary to popular belief, many girls who find these businesses appealing are not victims of poor economic conditions, but rather the opposite. Dr. Stager has noticed that girls who join Sugar Daddy companies are often from stable, upper middle-class families.
The reality is that many Sugar Daddy dating sites are prostitution agencies in disguise.
Many of the experiences shared by Sugar Babies through blogs reveal the various loopholes that exist, allowing young women and minors to engage in prostitution. For instance, while under normal conditions, the Sugar Daddy would provide a monthly allowance to his Sugar Baby, ranging from $500 to $3000. However, they can also provide allowance on a more meeting-by-meeting basis, to provide payments directly for sexual acts.
The Broader Context
The reality is, women have the option to choose what to do with their bodies, but underage girls are being sent negative messages about their potential when Sugar Dating companies promote the necessity of a Sugar Daddy. Regardless of false advertisements, testimonies of the dating arrangements showcase the brutal exploitation of young girls. Sugar Dating websites flaunt their youthful girls because they are literally commodities to be sold. Underage Sugar Babies are solely valuable for their bodies; the industry idolizes them because they are sex objects.
To be blunt, these dating sites are bad news for underage girls. Not only are the risks of physical harm and disease high, but young girls also are forced to treat their bodies as goods for trade, for sale. In an age of rape culture and the recent Stanford sexual assault case, it is more important than ever that young girls are aware of their infinite potential, their intellect, and their talent, rather than what their bodies can do for men. Young girls should be aware of the endless alternative methods for raising money.
Whether you spread your passion for calculus and obsession for reading through tutoring, or save lives and enforce safety protocol at your local swimming pool as a life guard, your involvement in several other activities can help resolve financial problems while empowering you.
In the midst of a cultural awakening within the discussion of modern day feminism, it is imperative that young girls never feel that exploitative dating sites are their only choice.
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