Buying ‘Sugar Daughters': What’s Really Wrong With the Sugar-Daddy Phenomenon

Last week’s Amanda Fairbanks piece in the Huffington Post on college students and their “sugar daddies” has drawn a firestorm of attention in the media. As Fairbanks reported, sites like Seeking Arrangement and Sugar Daddie have grown in popularity during the recession, as more financially-strapped and debt-burdened college-age women seek out creative (if time-honored) solutions to their money woes. Fairbanks interviewed college students and their “sugar daddies,” exploring the question of whether these arrangements are just another form of prostitution, or something genuinely different.

Sites like Seeking Arrangement, of course, only facilitate the kind of sex-for-money transactions that have been going on for eons. Just as people had extramarital affairs before AshleyMadison.com, young women and older men sought out “mutually beneficial” relationships long before Al Gore invented the Internet. What these sites do is provide both ease and legitimacy for what was once secretive. They enable older men with money and young women without it to find each other far more easily than they did before. They also provide at least some small opportunity for young women to screen the “sugar daddies.” From a safety standpoint, Seeking Arrangement (which claims to vet its male clients) offers somewhat more protection than an old-fashioned newspaper ad.

It’s easy to overhype the popularity of the sugar daddy phenomenon. It’s safe to say that it’s neither as new as some imagine or as widespread as some journalists (and website operators) claim. But it’s also clear that the Internet, the recession, and spiraling student loan debt enable and encourage these relationships. And in some instances, these clearly are relationships.

Two female students of mine have told me they’ve met older men on Sugar Daddie (the older of the two main sites facilitating this service). One, Nicki, in her early twenties ended up in what she describes as a romantic relationship with a man three decades her senior. The last time I spoke with Nicki, she’d been with her older man for more than a year. Part of the deal is mutual sexual exclusivity, which she takes very seriously; the only difference is that the sexual exclusivity is explicitly tied to the monthly retainer she receives. Like the women in the HuffPo story, Nicki insists she’s not a sex worker. “My mom told me it’s as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one,” she says. “All I did was use the internet to find a rich man whom I could fall in love with.”

It’s easy to understand the motivations of young women like Nicki. It’s harder, however, to excuse the actions of men twice and three times the age of the college students they pursue. The quasi-romantic nature of the sugar daddy-young girl relationship is troubling. The rich old man isn’t just buying sex, he’s buying status (if, as some of these men do, he chooses to “show off” his college student). If he’s buying her listening ear as well as her body (something that Fairbanks suggests is likely), he’s treating emotional intimacy as a commodity that can be purchased.

By blurring the lines between a genuine romance and prostitution, the sugar daddy relationship is more problematic than a traditional john/hooker encounter.

That pretense of intimacy is inherent in the term “sugar daddy” with its hint of the incestuous. While the term “john” (for a male client of a sex worker) suggests anonymity, “sugar daddy” reeks of emotional (as well as sexual) boundary violations. The implication is that the real fathers of these young women have failed to provide the right combination of emotional and financial support; the term reinforces the not-entirely inaccurate trope that younger women who seek older men have “daddy issues.” And it suggests that the older men who seek out “sugar babies” are looking for young women whom they can spoil and fuck, deliberately blurring the line between paternal indulgence and sexual objectification.

The real question is whether the term “sugar daddy” is an unfortunate misrepresentation of what’s going on, or an all-too-accurate description of something dark and especially ugly.

—Photo orijinal/Flickr

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About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website

Comments

  1. The burqua and criminalisation is the closest any of you lot have come to stopping women using their erotic capital for financial gain.

    No breed of moral crusader has ever been able to stop it, the best you can ever do outside of some grotesque form of sexual oppression like the burqua is to keep it seedy and dysfunctional by criminalising and heaping shame and guilt on it.

    • I like paying for sex and will contineu to do so. However, johns often do a good enough job earning the scorn so many have for them without someone using phrases like “using [] erotic capital for financial gain.” Whatever happened to straight-forward characterizations like ‘having sex to make a living?’ Guys who think the problem with the sex industry is the people against it, that’s what happened.

  2. The Wet One says:

    Really? The women involved in this are completely blameless? They have no responsibility whatsoever for their actions and their moral standing? They really had a gun to their heads and were forced into this somehow so as to relieve them of any responsibility for their decisions?

    What about the college aged guys with exactly the same financial issues? No sympathy for them anywhere and they don’t generally even have the outlet of rich older guys to take care of them.

    Seriously?

    Why can’t women just do what they want and men not be judged for responding to the opportunities that arise? Why can’t we just hold each person accountable for their own decisions?

    Why is it ALWAYS a man’s fault somehow?

    Could someone please tell me?

    • Hugo works off the premise that women don’t have agency or minds of their own.

      • No, in this case, Hugo has a point. Sugar daddies are whore-buyers who don’t have the moxy to style themselves such. They don’t want to admit they pay for sex, but they do want to castigate women as being willing to sell sex. Just not to them, cause, you know, they don’t pay.

        • But it seems that Hugo is trying to say that the Sugar Daddies should be held up for what they are while at the same time acting like the women in participate in this behavior have no agency or responsibility for their part.

          If we were talking about young men in similar financial straits that joined a drug cartel it would be taboo to act like he doesn’t have any responsibility for it (I bet the reactions would be something like, “Yeah economic times are hard but he could have found something else to do instead for money couldn’t he?”.)

          • Well you have to understand…the author has a personal vested interest in perpetuating the outward illusion that college age women are innocent little lambs – all potential victims of ze patriarchy…otherwise who will he appear wise and omnipotent to?

          • S. Gallo says:

            He’s hardly saying they were forced, trafficked or not free to do otherwise. All he said is that its’s easy to understand why young women would be inclined to this. And it is, though this doesn’t lessen their complicity.

            Believe me, I wish there were solid reasons to castigate the GMP’s resident moralizer here, but in this case, there really isn’t. I advocate legal sex work myself, but sugar daddies, like their kissing cousins the male-order grooms, are a disgusting lot. In their pretense that they’re essentially engaged in love and not paid sex, they sully both.

            • And it is, though this doesn’t lessen their complicity.
              But the problem is he is trying to say that they aren’t as complicent in this.

              I think the whole sugar daddy thing is digusting myself but that’s no reason to act like they are the only responsible party in it.

  3. The Wet One says:

    Also could someone please explain this one to me:

    “It’s harder, however, to excuse the actions of men twice and three times the age of the college students they pursue.”

    So if I understand you correctly, it’s just fine for young attractive women to use their youth and attraction to get a wealthy suitor (however committed to the young woman they may be), but it’s completely out of bounds for an older man to use his wealth, experience and silver hair to attract the younger women he wants?

    Really?

    C’mon. Be real. Each sex desires something from the other. Can’t they just trade for whatever it is and carry on with life. Not everyone wants love, marriage and kids. Isn’t that ok or am I missing something? Or is that not ok when you’re a MAN and you’re older than say 30?

    Crikey! You’d think that these guys were praying on desperate down on their luck street walkers or better yet, sex slaves held hostage in some trick pad somewhere.

    Perspective people!

  4. This article frankly borders on misogynistic.

    Implicit to the arguments made here are three claims:
    1) Young women in these relationships do not understand the “true nature” of the relationship
    2) Young women in these relationships must be lacking something (a responsible father figure is suggested) to enter into such an arrangement
    3) The young women discussed here have been forced into this arrangement due to spiralling college costs

    The possibility that college-age women might be informed individuals capable of making their own reasoned decisions does not seem to cross the author’s mind.

    This does not make sense. Unless the author has a world-view of “I must protect women!” (something he vehemently denies), there is no way to rule out the possibility that the women involved are fully capable of making their own decisions.

    Do 40+ year old men have more “experience” than 20-something women? Sure. Yet we acknowledge that 20-something women have enough experience of their own to enter into contracts (including those supposedly problematic student loans!), vote, and own real estate of their own free will.

    Sure someone who can manage a business, home, and credit card is able to manage their own romantic wants and needs.

    • In any exchange, greater responsibility belongs to the person with greater power. Age and cash give older sugar daddies power and experience. What we forgive in a 22 year-old we don’t in someone twice their age; there’s a reason why the constitution limits the presidency to those over 35 and car rental companies won’t rent to those under 25. Responsibility naturally increases with age, and that responsibility is further increased by wealth.

      If one of these college students were sexually molesting an underage boy, I’d blame her. It’s not that young women have no responsibility; they have more than children and less than people their parents’ age. This is basic developmental psychology, people.

      And johns who purchase sex from sex workers their own age bother me much less — this is a problem of incestuous nomenclature and age disparity as much as anything else.

      • Rubbish, she presumably chose from a selection of people indicating that she had power.

        To say that women of 22 don’t have the where with all to 1) decide for themselves if they want and can handle the relationship and 2) perhaps find that they made a mistake and learn from it is an insult to women.

        Its just more paternalist white knighting from you Hugo.

      • In the area of sexual relationships, youth and beauty gives college girls great power and in many ways greater power than that of a man two or three decades older than she is.

        • That’s just silly, Doug. Money is what we make and hold on to; we get more of it as we age. That is not true of beauty.

          Paternalism? Hah — the sugar daddies are the ones trading in paternalism of the worst sort. The young women are legal adults and I don’t think that Sugar Daddy relationships should be illegal. But I have no problem saying that the older men who purchase sex and faux intimacy from women thirty years or more their junior are fundamentally creepy, not least for their refusal/inability to direct their sexual energy towards a partner who is their experiential equal.

          There are few things more disturbing than deliberately blurring the line between paternal care and sexual desire. It’s the longing to both play “daddy” and to fuck the one for whom you’re playing the role that’s so offensive.

          Do you hold daughters in incestuous relationships equally responsible with their fathers? As the name implies, this is essentially the same damn thing.

          • Horseshit, Hugo. Just because the colloquial name for something is a play on words does not make it the same thing. Women who get into sugar-daddy affairs don’t sit there fantasizing, “Oh boy, it’s like I’m fucking my ACTUAL father.” Nor do the men think, “Oh boy, it’s like I’m fucking my ACTUAL daughter.” This is no more incest than two platonic male friends calling each other “brother.” Jesus. Count on you to confuse the map for the place.

            Anyway, I must have missed the tablets from Mount Sinai that say one is only allowed to love those who are their “experiential equals.” Having something in common with a person is not automatically a factor of both parties being the exact same age. I have friends 20 years my junior with whom I have more in common than many of my same-age peers. Similarly, when I was much younger, I had far more older friends than my same-age peers too. What’s age got to do with personality compatibility?

            And in any event, who says these men are incapable of such relationships? Maybe they simply want a younger partner for a change. So what?

            Your absolutist thinking trips you up every time, Hugo.

          • So it’s fundementally creepy to direct one’s sexual energy to a partner who’s not one’s experiental equal. Yet you have no qualms about older women dating younger men. Is that because women are never able to be more experiental than men their age – that they by nature are immature? That would explain a lot of your writing.

          • Do you hold daughters in incestuous relationships equally responsible with their fathers? As the name implies, this is essentially the same damn thing.

            Hugo, this is probably THE most insulting thing I’ve ever read about incest. There is a pre-existing power relationship in an actual incestuous relationship. Plus the age of onset for incest is, if I remember rightly, somewhere around ten or eleven.

            On the other hand, you have a grown woman who purposely seeks out a relationship of her own free will. There is no pre-existing arrangement whatsoever.

            I voting up this comment because, even though it is vile, I think it needs to be seen.

          • Do you hold daughters in incestuous relationships equally responsible with their fathers? As the name implies, this is essentially the same damn thing.
            You seriously want to say that in comparison to an older man a grown woman has the same burden of responsibility as an underaged child? How’s that for infantalizing?

            And of course the whole thing about the father seeking the daughter out versus the grown woman and older man seeking each other out. And how the grown woman has several courses of action where the underaged girl doesn’t. And the woman has a hell of a lot more in the way of denying the older man where the underaged girl is almost quite literally trapped with her rapist father.

      • You guys are missing the point – this isn’t about power. Claiming that the young women have power just plays into the author’s obviously flawed argument.

        When the author claims that this is about power, it implies that the young women are somehow incapable of making a reasoned decision to enter the relationship in the first place.

        But no one holds a gun to your head and makes you sign up for a pro-sugar daddy dating website!

        The author refuses to accept that young women could ever be making a rational, informed choice to enter into these sorts of relationships. That is straight misogynism! He is arguing that the women involved are either so gullible as to never understand the nature of the relationships they are entering, or so naive that they cannot truly understand such a relationship in the first place.

        Such beliefs do women a terrible disservice! College age women are absolutely capable of understanding the kinds of relationships they chose to enter into, and are eminently able to gather meaningful information on what to expect from certain relationship types. Claiming otherwise is just silly!

        Throwing out comments about the age to “be president” or “rent a car” is likewise ridiculous: in both of those instances you are being asked to accept responsibility for others (in the case of president, quite a few others), but this is about having the right to own your own body and your own emotions!

        That the author seems to feel college-age women cannot be trusted to make responsible, informed decisions is INCREDIBLY disturbing.

      • what is more powerful than having the choice of whether or not to sell something? since laws *are* in place to protect against physical coercion i.e. rape, it would seem that it is actually the young women who hold the power here. since when does any singular buyer – the sugar daddies – have any innate power at all?

      • In any exchange, greater responsibility belongs to the person with greater power. Age and cash give older sugar daddies power and experience.

        I don’t know if age actually bestows power on someone, but wealth certainly does. Would the arrangement be any less problematic if the man were roughly the same age as the woman? Or would the relationship be less of an issue if the man was poor?

      • Responsibility naturally increases with age, and that responsibility is further increased by wealth.

        This is a total line of bull. Wealth generally allows people to escape responsibility – think for a minute of all the wealthy people who have committed crimes and not faced the same legal action as someone with less money. Likewise, there are TONS of older people who are irresponsible. Especially those with money.

      • “Responsibility naturally increases with age”

        By that logic, those who are 65+ must be the most powerful of all.

        But really, this article just strikes me as so much of a “Swedish model” mentality. The idea that if there’s any power differential between two people in a sexual relationship that it is therefore automatically exploitation is strikes me as paternalism plain and simple. If we’re talking about extremes here, such as some preyed-upon teen street prostitute, you’d have a case that power difference has made “choice” essentially irrelevant. But in a case where both parties are above a certain threshold of decision-making ability? Sorry, but in that case I don’t think there’s a “victim”, hence no victimizer in need of sanctioning.

  5. It’s easy to understand the motivations of young women like Nicki. It’s harder, however, to excuse the actions of men twice and three times the age of the college students they pursue. The quasi-romantic nature of the sugar daddy-young girl relationship is troubling. The rich old man isn’t just buying sex, he’s buying status (if, as some of these men do, he chooses to “show off” his college student). If he’s buying her listening ear as well as her body (something that Fairbanks suggests is likely), he’s treating emotional intimacy as a commodity that can be purchased.

    I have no problem excusing the actions of a rich man twice the age of a college girl, giving her a monthly retainer in exchange for their more than entirely monetary relationship. No problem whatsoever. In fact I think the older man is more likely to be the one taken advantage of and eventually hurt in the process.

    Hugo Schwyzer’s mangina white knighting radical feminist views are endlessly one sided and endless annoying.

    • Doug it is absolutely disgusting to say “youth and beauty give college girls power.” Actually I think that is pretty degrading to men, implying that one can lose his ability to reason and become defenseless around a beautiful woman. Also because it overlooks a woman’s non-superficial qualities.

      • What an ugly misandrous response Mina. And totally clueless about your opposite gender.

      • I don’t totally agree with Doug (and “mangina”? Really?), but he’s not totally off. A psychology study came out recently showing that when men were in the presence of an attractive woman, they performed poorly on a cognitive task. Unfortunately, a few feminist sites I saw presented this as “lol stupid men,” which was another blow to my waning faith in the movement.

    • Oh boo hoo, a man buys into a woman’s sex and beauty for status and pleasure. So now he’s going to feel hurt and betrayed that he had to pay for it rather than actually deserving an emotional connection with someone in the first place? Please, like he had no responsibility in his decision to pay for the superficial qualities he desired.

    • Anonymous Male says:

      Doug1,

      I totally agreed with your message until it got to the “mangina” part. I understand the sentiment, but it undermined a much better point, I think.

  6. I had friends in college who set up relationships of this nature to pay their bills. I didn’t approve of the arrangement but who am I to intervene. I will say this. There was never any intention to love the old men coming from these girls. They would pet and rub them like a lucky rabbits foot while they were around. When they weren’t, they were embarrassed by the age of their lover. Many made it publicly known the old guy would be dumped once the financial situation changed. So don’t ever expect your young object to love you back. You are deluding yourselves if you do. As a young woman, I wanted to spend time with people in my own age group. People who shared my experiences and discoveries. Having the old guy around was a drag and eventually, we stopped inviting our friends to join us for anything, knowing the old guy would put a damper on the fun. Old men are fools to think they can keep up or even identify with a younger generation. You are not our equals. And frankly we, or should I say I, don’t need a “daddy” figure to teach me anything. I already have a father to fill that role. A large majority of the older men who get involved with younger women have wives and children waiting for them at home but they choose to segment their time/loyalty to a “young”, “hot”, outsider. Seems to me, both sides of the arrangment are dishonest. Maybe these people deserve each other.

  7. When I was working my way through university, I considered doing this sort of thing to help pay my tuition. I had rationalized it with the old, ‘it’s only sex’ idea, and was nearly ready to trade my body for my books. I can honestly say now that I’m so glad I didn’t go through with it. I made it through university on my own merit, and that’s something I’m proud of. I can be honest about my past, wherein I believe that had I chosen a Sugar Daddy, I would be ashamed to admit it. One final thought: the man I’m with now deserves to be with a woman who can be honest about who she is and who she was. I couldn’t imagine looking back and thinking about the fact that I prostituted myself for an education. But that’s just me… I hope the girls that are doing this won’t feel the regret that I know I sure would have.

  8. For women, youth and looks are power. Money less so, and age definately not. These women have power and they are exploiting it.

  9. Y’all are missing the analogy.

    Saying that young women have erotic capital that give them equality with sugar daddies is like saying that inner-city athletes have “athletic capital” which they then use to exploit the universities that put them on scholarship. But we don’t talk about black athletes taking predominantly white administrations in the Big Ten for a ride. We talk about a culture of exploitation of black male athletes, and rightly so. That’s the right analogy. Sex appeal, like athletic ability, is fleeting, and those who buy it are invariably quick to dispose of those who no longer have it. To claim that it’s an equivalent power to $, which can endure and grow over time, is simply absurd.

    • Beautiful explanation, Hugo. You nailed it.

    • No, *you* talk about colleges taking these black athletes for a ride. You ignore that these people – black athletes and young women – have agency and choose among a menu of options. Black athletes and prostitutes *could* take other jobs or career paths if they wanted, but they are aiming for a better paying alternative.

      These young women, could they not be waitresses even if they can’t work in their field? I have $40k in debt and work as a waiter. If I decided to sell drugs that would certainly be my own choice.

  10. Honestly, I prefer to write essays and get scholarships and grants to pay tuition.
    Both parties mentioned are consenting adults. In our culture having money and having an attractive younger woman = status. These women are not making the choices that I would make, but they are not stupid. They may regret it one day, but who does not regret some of the things they did in college?

    Who is to say that this type of social transaction is any more wrong than the next?

  11. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    As usual, I have an issue with the (rather postmodern) use of the word “power”- without details as to what power is. (Max Weber said it was the capacity to get someone to do something despite their resistance. That probably doesn’t fit here.)

    I think that an older man clawing at a younger woman in public might run the risk of looking a little silly. I took a 40 year old women on a museum date once and saw a man about my age glaring at me. She and I have a 26 year age difference. I look a lot younger, though, so maybe he was just grumpy.

    This is another silly article.

  12. Anonymous Male says:

    I’m sure that the most common version of this scenario is with a much older man, but is the age difference really a decisive part of this discussion? If a woman pays for college by being involved with this type of relationship with a man near her own age, is that equally bad or is that okay? Presumably using a 25 year old for his money is much more age appropriate.

    I don’t have a problem with this sort of relationship in itself, as long as the relationship is honest and consensual. Such a relationship could be exploitative, maybe even more than other relationships, I don’t know, but it could be either person being used, or maybe both for that matter.

    Larger, more important social issues are the cost of higher education, career opportunities for recent graduates, the workings of the student loan industry, the cost of living, etc. I’m not saying that recent college graduates do this because there are no other options, but maybe in some cases this is caused by financial desperation. It would be ideal if people choosing this option could choose it from a wide range of options.

    On the other hand, as a quasi-libertarian I’m happy to see such a thriving entrepreneurial spirit among the next generation. Good use of economic commodities at their peak, before amortization, in order to pay for higher education. Good recognition of a high demand for valuable services. They’ll go far…..

  13. I’m torn on this.

    First, it’s pretty clear that, generally speaking, most of these young women wouldn’t consider dating much older men (I’m talking 15-30+ years her senior, not just a few years) without the financial incentive. The men, on the other hand, are not in it for a financial incentive; they’re in it because they have wanted a younger women to show off or have sex with for a long time, regardless of any benefit he may get, but haven’t been able to without the monetary commitment, because there aren’t many super-young women willing to do that. For the most part, these men having regular sex with these young women is blatantly a transaction where sex is exchanged for money. That’s called sex work.

    Of course, whether or not this being clearly sex work is good or bad is not going to be agreed upon on this thread, but given the higher level of safety of the transaction, the willingness of the young women to engage in this transaction, and the open nature of the transaction, I can’t judge too harshly. As long as everyone is in agreement about what everyone expects form one another before agreeing to it without coercion (and I’m not sure I consider a young student wanting extra money to be coercive, because let’s face it– they’re not all doing this just to pay tuition), I don’t see much of a problem.

    All of that said, I also don’t think that the motivations of these young women are necessarily more “understandable” than those of the older men. They’re usually both quite pleased with the benefits they receive from these arrangements. When I was 22, I made plenty of decisions about sex that I wouldn’t have made now as a 27-year-old; this doesn’t mean I deeply regret, or am haunted, by those experiences. I also think it’s unwise to assume that these young women are doing something against their own better judgment in using their sexuality in this way. Women, as well as men, have individual and highly personal views of their own sexuality. While some may cherish dearly every sexual interaction they have, others view sex in a much more casual and “free” fashion. I don’t think either of those approaches is inherently bad. For a young woman who is happy to enjoy her sexuality, whether it be in exchange for money or a relationship or simple sexual gratification, I don’t see this arrangement being problematic.

    • Anonymous Male says:

      Very well put, April. I would disagree a little with the first paragraph about what the older men get out of it. The relationship could be about having a trophy, having sex with a young woman, but it could also be about recapturing youth, recapturing the feeling of falling in love, getting a good feeling from being in a “mentor” role (using the term extremely loosely), or any number of other motivations.

      I don’t know if you’re thinking this, but I’ve noticed in several posts the apparent assumption that if there’s a wide age range then the motives are clearly only a few simple ones. Presumably when a relationship is with a “peer” then the possibilities are endless. I would question the assumption that the wider the age difference, the fewer the motives involved. More than a decade apart, and the relationship is only about one thing?

      I’m not saying that all of these men and women are without blame. I just think human beings are really complex and their relationships really diverse, so it’s hard to boil this down to 2-3 motives for all of them.

    • I don’t agree that this phenomenon is clearly entirely sex work. It wouldn’t interest people so much if that was the obvious case.

      Instead it’s more mixed and nuanced than that.

      Most of the time these relationships, that get called sugar daddy ones, are sexually exclusive. When they’re not really but she pretends it is, then yes it’s more entirely sex work and she’s also being fraudulent. But that’s not the side of this these articles have focused on and called sugar daddy relationships.

      Many, certainly not most, but many college age girls are attracted to rich older men who are reasonably fit and also have a certain amount of status, power and even better charisma. Yeah some or many of them have had daddy issues. But as well women have always been attracted to men with money, the more so when they themselves don’t feel totally secure about money on their own (and family’s) bat, and especially as they contemplate serious life money demanding junctures, such as traditionally marriage with children to quickly follow, and now to pay off sky rising student debt in a seriously employment down economy.

      • I don’t know how you couldn’t consider exchanging sex for money sex work. It doesn’t have to occur in a sleazy club or motel room to qualify.

  14. Nicely said April.

    There need be a level of coercion, not persuasion, to subject this sort of thing to societal moral scrutiny. It can’t be solely about power, or money, or excessive age gap. These things may be present, but are not sufficient without intent to coerce. Otherwise, as April says, it can be just another one of many experiences. My biggest gap has been 15 years, definitely not rich, but an “artist” – mostly unemployed. I regret buying some of his junk, but that’s about it.

  15. Duke Leto says:

    Hugo,

    Again, you write a post making women sound like helpless prey…come on really? I know young women and they know exactly what they’re doing. I’m starting to wonder why the GMP is posting this stuff.

    Duke

  16. Hugo, so what’s your take on my ex-girlfriend? We were of a similar age group, met through mutual college friends and bonded through mutual interests. Half way through our relationship she convinced me to move to a large city with her. My friends advised me to do it, it made sense, and this girl seemed like quite a catch. But things changed. My salary mushroomed, hers shrunk. She started demanding $500 bags, Prada, Coach, Ralph Lauren Black Label, and one day she just asked me to give her my credit card. I told her I loved her but this made me feel taken advantage of, so she told me that lots of rich successful men proposition her every day so if I wanted this relationship to last, I would have to “work” for it. We broke up. She tried her hand at getting around with rich men more than twice her age. One guy, 40 years older than her, even paid for her to have a personal assistant, then fired her after he realized my ex would never have sex with him.

    How does this fit in with your narrative of sugar daddies?

  17. It’s easy to understand the motivations of young women like Nicki. It’s harder, however, to excuse the actions of men twice and three times the age of the college students they pursue.

    This is a horrible comparison. It’s easy to understand the motivations of both the women and the men involved. It is not so easy to excuse their actions, male OR female.

    What you have here is the ability of wealthier people to whitewash their crimes. To the extent that prostitution is a crime, this is just a way for people with money to maintain a facade of respectability around selling and buying sex. It’s no different than a middle-aged, middle-classed man picking up a street walker. Not one iota.

  18. I couldn’t agree with this more your comments on the pretense of intimacy that is inherent in terms like “sugar daddy” Hugo. And how it blurs the “line between paternal indulgence and sexual objectification”. That was a really stellar comment that really spoke to me.

    While I don’t think either party is thinking about doing their own father or daughter, one can’t deny the purposely incestuous connotation in using words like “sugar daddy” or “sugar baby” to describe relationships with older men. It’s to suggest that even “daddies” in general can’t have non sexual, non objectifying relationships with younger women. And by blurring the lines with family titles like “daddy” to describe sexual relationships between older men and younger women, we are really disparaging men as fathers who really deserve the title. It also suggests that men in general are unable to have relationships with younger women without it being both slightly incestuous and sexual at the same time. Which we all know is EXTREMELY untrue. But it doesn’t stop it from degrading the title real fathers deserve and the important role they play in a young girls or young woman’s life when people start using such terms to describe lecherous relationships. If I was a father and other men were happy to call themselves “daddies” to younger women in a sexual connotation, I’d take heart with that because it degenerates what a real “daddy” or “father” is.

    As for comments about the women knowing what they are doing. Personally, I greatly changed inbetween the ages of 18-25. I made some pretty stupid choices in that time frame. Immature ones. I think most people find the person they were at 18 isn’t the same person at 25. While people over the age of 40 are pretty much established in who they are and have obviously gone through more life experiences and at that stage of their life are probably more confident in their place in the world. They have far more skills, far more ways to manipulate what they want and far more ways to control the situation. While I do think these girls know what they are doing, I don’t think they have the life experience to completely understand what exactly it is they are selling out for. Since women typically don’t want to be used for just their bodies, even if they are being paid for just that. To act like a young woman (or even man) of 21 has the life experience and knowledge of a man of 40+ is to ignore the key ingredient that makes this so alluring to the men purchasing the sex and companionship. The fact that he is older and likes the power in being the older partner. Lets not act like a young woman or man of 18 – 25 is on the same level, has the same life experience or has learned the same life lessons that someone of 40 or older has that is making enough money to purchase sex. The entire relationships is based around the fact that the person doesn’t have the life or age experience the other one has and the older person both likes what they can “buy” and the power that comes with that. Yes, at the end of the day, everyone has a choice. But it’s the more predatory choices of the buyer in this case that speaks louder since the maturity of a 40+ year old is light years from the maturity of a 18-25 year old. Even in the most mature of 18 year olds. And if a 40+ year old man isn’t as mature even as the most mature of 18 year olds, then he has many more issues then just his inability to get sex without paying for it.

    • Erin

      Would you support the idea of chaperons for women, an older brother perhaps – to help them navigate and make decisions relating to the job market?

      • Jonah – it depends in what context you are using the word “chaperon”. Do I think a woman needs a man to accompany her places? No. But I highly value the older men in my life (my brother included) that looked/look out for me and offered me advice about men and took an interest in me as a human being. Some of these men are related to me and some are not. I think men can have really positive influences over women’s and girls’ lives if their intentions toward a woman are looking out for *her* best interest, not what ultimately will get him what he wants. Which doesn’t even always have to be sexual. Even some family members will try to mold you into what you want because of what *they* want, not what might be truly best or right. So I think the idea of “chaperon” is a little outdated but good men truly being there for the girls and women that are in their family or not? That sounds pretty darn cool.

        • Erin

          I’m sorry, I was being facetious – I don’t think Hugo and his followers realize how they construct women to be frail and passive and men to be the ones that are supposed to be responsible for them.

          • Well good for you Jonah that I wasn’t being facetious and I gave you a great answer. :)

            If you don’t want to respond to it, that’s too bad because I was interested in your thoughts.

            I think you are purposely over exploiting what Hugo often explores in these kind of gender articles. I also think you’re purposely remaining ambiguous about your thoughts on this topic out of some misguided battle against Hugo.

    • Erin, I think your general point of view stems from an inability to see older men as humans. You are objectifying them. In one broad stroke you portray older men as these masterminds who used their entire time on this planet to learn how to expertly manipulate women and on the other hand if any of them don’t fit your description, you say that they’re not masculine enough. You emasculate them, accuse them of being little boys who have bigger problems if there is something they actually enjoy about younger women besides the disparity of power and control.

    • Also, when I was 18-25, I was mature enough. Not only did I pay my way through college without prostituting myself, but I was responsible enough to be in charge of a platoon of Marines in Iraq. Every nation in the world entrusts 18-25 year old men to fight honorably on their behalf and be mature enough to make life or death decisions on the battlefield. You, on the other hand, are saying that 18-25 year old women aren’t mature enough to be entrusted with their own genitalia, let alone a gun. I’m not saying that 18-25 year old men are always mature enough, but they’re expected to be, they are told to go get the best jobs and sacrifice themselves for their friends and countries. We don’t expect this from women. And you don’t even expect them to take charge of their own vaginas except for maybe once a month.

      • Linguist says:

        I agree with you.

        Feminism is like a two-faced Janus: When it suits them, when they want new roles for women, women are as capable or more capable than men. But whenever there is a problem that a woman is involved in – like prostitution, or when a women kills a man, or in divorce court, then suddenly the women are fragile and incapable, can’t take care of themselves, or take responsibility for their actions.

        • The thing is, I actually had to ask myself if Hugo and company were telling me that I, as a man, actually know what’s best for women better than they do. Because when I was 18-25, seeing these women date older men and trying my best to get a fair shake at a relationship (see my comment above), it turns out that I was right all along. Damn, if I only knew this information back then, then when all the women told me “no”, I could have told them they were clearly stupid immature little things. Then maybe I could have gone to see their old man and arranged a reasonable gentleman’s agreement to get their daughter’s hand. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Janus, what would Hugo do? Consistency is a bitch, isn’t it?

      • Dungone, what part of my comments points to my inability to see older men as humans? I actually think these older men aren’t valuing themselves very much to begin with. And I think these younger women aren’t valuing themselves very much either.

        We aren’t *just* talking about older men having relationships with younger women. We are talking about a very specific kind of relationship where older men are paying women for their “companionship “and younger women are earning money to provide “companionship”. Now obviously everyone has a right to that. But from my experience I don’t know what man that honestly wants to be used for his money anymore then I know of women that want to be used for their sexuality. Most people want people to want them for *more* then just that. The sad thing about the stance for the older men is that this kind of relationship is so emotionally limiting for him. Instead of working to build a real or honest relationship with a younger woman they don’t have to pay for or *gasp* a woman their own age, they are just taking the easy way out of relating to women in general. And if you’re okay with that, good for you. But I think something is sad about that and that does not equate to me “objectifying” men.
        Now if these older men really enjoyed younger women for more then the disparity in power and control or youth, then they would be seeking out relationships differently then going to places like Sugar Daddies.

        That’s great that at 18-25 you were superiorly mature, but most people within that age grow and change a lot. Maybe you were the same person at 18 that you were at 25, but I was not. And either were most of my friends. Even people in the Marines or Army that I know. A person’s ability to be responsible for platoons in the Marines does not equate to emotional maturity or responsibility in relationships. I am in no way saying you weren’t infact emotionally or mature within your relationships. But to equate your position in the Marines to mean that in every facet of your life you were grounded, usually isn’t the case for most people. There are many young men and women in the Marines that do a wonderful and hard job and in their personal lives are struggling. I know a few personally. Just look at all the strong, smart, drive, successful men in the public eye that have screwed up and hurt the people in their lives for sex in recent news.

        Every nation in the world entrusts 18-25 year old men AND women to fight honorably on their behalf. I’m not sure why you left out all the women in the military that fights for our country. I’m not trying to turn this into a gender pissing game but you did leave them out.

        And no, I said nothing close that 18-25 year old women can’t be entrusted in their own genitalia. What I said is that most young people. both men and women at the ages of 18 make different choices then whey the are older and mature. And that 40+ year old men that have the money to pay for companionship infact have more life and world experience. That’s what I said. I said nothing about women not taking responsiblity for their choices either. Thanks.

        • I gave you an upvote on your comment just because you said a couple things that were common sense. But there’s a lot more that needs a good response.

          “what part of my comments points to my inability to see older men as humans”

          Almost all of it. My previous comment explained why, so I won’t repeat it. If you disagree with any of the other parts of that comment, let me know so I can clear that up.

          “We are talking about a very specific kind of relationship where older men are paying women for their “companionship””

          Not every age-disparate relationship is between rich men who overtly pay for a young woman’s sexual services. Even if that’s the case, the age-disparate part is extraneous to the argument you’re making. It’s guilt by association. If you look at almost all relationships in society, women routinely treat men as providers and do everything in their power to get as much money as they can for themselves, whether it’s in exchange for sex, children, or status. And you can’t say that this is wrong in every single case. Sometimes this is really in the best interests of both parties. Sometimes there are actually situations where two people, through love and mutual understanding, can redress wrongs that have been inflicted upon them by external forces of society and culture.

          Even so, even if we limit it to just this straw-old-man, if you want to look at men as humans, let’s have a little more compassion. Let me use gay men and AIDS to make my point. Gay men have a higher rate of AIDS and they engage in risky sexual behavior, but that’s because society treats them as outsiders and forbids them from having stable, public relationships (i.e. marriage). If some couples have a legitimate need to maintain an age-disparate relationship but the only option provided to them is to meet secretly in a crass exchange of money then yes, that’s limiting in so many ways, but it’s not necessarily their fault.

          “A person’s ability to be responsible for platoons in the Marines does not equate to emotional maturity or responsibility in relationships”

          As a general rule, it most certainly does. Take any person, put them through the training and make them responsible for a platoon of Marines and they will be more mature and responsible than they were before. As a caveat, Marines lead very stressful lives that very few people are suited to. It’s very difficult to maintain healthy relationships when they’re away from home, worrying about combat. A lot of Marines’ get involved with immature women who do despicable things, maybe through no fault of their own, but because too many self-respecting women don’t want to get involved with guys who will get sent off to war and come back dead. Those relationships fail and fail big time. But I meet a lot of older women married to former Marines and they always tell me that they love their husbands dearly. They say it as soon as the find out I was a Marine.

          “Every nation in the world entrusts 18-25 year old men AND women to fight honorably on their behalf. I’m not sure why you left out all the women in the military that fights for our country.”

          That’s not true of all nations, including the United States. Women are not only not expected to serve, but they’re expressly forbidden from combat. And if you ever want to be a nerd and read through international treaties regarding forced labor, you’ll find that every single form of discrimination is forbidden, every sort of exploitation for economic gain is forbidden. Except one. Sexual discrimination is allowed when sending people off to war. The male-only draft is perfectly acceptable by every human rights treaty I have ever come across.

          • Dungone : “Almost all of it. My previous comment explained why, so I won’t repeat it. If you disagree with any of the other parts of that comment, let me know so I can clear that up”

            Dugone, your previous comment didn’t explain it. You made a lot of accusations about my thoughts but you didn’t back it up with anything I actually said. I think the fact that you can’t specifically point out which part of my comment lead you to believe I was objectifying older men means you don’t even know.

            So I will ask you a few questions and you can tell me which part to you was objectifying/dehumanizing of older men since that’s what you are accusing me of.
            You said that I don’t see older men as humans. Was that when I agreed with Hugo about the incestuous connotation in terms like “sugar daddy”? Or was it the part where I clearly said that I don’t think any party is really thinking about doing their own father or daughter but you can’t deny the connotation in term? Or was was it when I said terms like “sugar daddy” disparage men who really are fathers who deserve those titles, did you see that has disparaging to men? Was it when I said 18-25 year old people make choices that they might not make when the are 25+? Or was it when I said people over the age of 40 are more established and logically have more life experience? Was it the part where I said these girls know what they are doing but they clearly don’t have the life experience someone of 40+ does? Was it the part where I said women don’t typically want to be used for their bodies? Anymore then men want to be used for their money? Or was it when I asked why these men didn’t try to obtain companionship with younger women or women their own age without having to pay for it? Was that the part I was objectifying men in? I pretty much ran through the basic comments in my posting so let me know which one of those was objectifying to men.

            I’m sorry but telling me I’m dehumanizing older men in an article about men who are objectifying women based on their age is preposterous. You can over exploit my comments about the reality that 40 year old people, both men and women, have more life experience then most 18-25 year olds by saying things like “ In one broad stroke you portray older men as these masterminds who used their entire time on this planet to learn how to expertly manipulate women and on the other hand if any of them don’t fit your description, you say that they’re not masculine enough” or you can be honest about what I said. Further, not once in my whole posting did I say that older men were not “masculine enough”. Another example of your misrepresentation of my comments.

            Dungone: “Not every age-disparate relationship is between rich men who overtly pay for a young woman’s sexual services.“

            Of course not! Do I need to point you to the part of my comments where I asked why these men don’t seek out companionship with women, younger or their own age, that they don’t have to pay?

            You pointed out my quote in which I said : “We are talking about a very specific kind of relationship where older men are paying women for their “companionship”. Was this not the topic of the article? This specific kind of relationship? THis wasn’t an article about general May December non-payment romances right? You even quoted me saying that my comments were about this specific kind of arrangement and then you come back with all the ins and outs of other May-December relationships. I am baffled.

            Dungone: “If you look at almost all relationships in society, women routinely treat men as providers and do everything in their power to get as much money as they can for themselves, whether it’s in exchange for sex, children, or status. And you can’t say that this is wrong in every single case.”

            Today alot of women work, just like their husbands.Today, alot of women go to college and grad school and take pride in the work they do. Yes, there are still traditional relationships where the man is the main provider in terms of money, but in most cases, for most of the middle class, women are working just like their husbands. I am not someone that believe that women are always looking to get the most money they can from men. But again, *this* is a different conversation. We are not talking about normal may-december romances or even normal relationships among the rest of us that date and don’t get paid for it. We are talking about a specific kind of relationships that Hugo presented in this article special to the “sugar daddy” set up. I am once again confused why you want to talk about every other kind of relationship out there but the one Hugo specifically addressed in his article.
            Dungone: “Sometimes this is really in the best interests of both parties. Sometimes there are actually situations where two people, through love and mutual understanding, can redress wrongs that have been inflicted upon them by external forces of society and culture.”

            But that’s not the type of relationship we are talking about! We are talking about older men purchasing companionship with younger girls to pay off their college debts. We aren’t talking about love, kids, families…Again, this article is not about general May-Decemeber romances and love matches.

            Dungone: “ Even so, even if we limit it to just this straw-old-man, if you want to look at men as humans, let’s have a little more compassion.”

            I find this statement pretty erroneous Dungone.

            What about men having compassion for women their own age and seeking out relationships with them? What about them seeing women their own age as equals and even romantic interests? It’s interesting to me that you are complaining that older men aren’t being see as humans when these older men aren’t seeing women as humans. It’s interesting to me that you want us to have more compassion for these older men who aren’t exactly showing much compassion for women themselves. They are seeking out younger women, not because they respect that younger women or because they respect women in general, but because they want some young tail.

            Again, we are talking about a very specific relationship where young women provide a “service” in exchange for money to older men who rather pay for “companionship” with younger women then seek out relationships with younger women without paying for them or even seeking out relationships with women their own age.

            You went on to talk about gay men and I am not going to even address this topic. Not because gay men don’t deserve to be heard but because it has nothing to do with the topic of conversation in this piece and it only contributes to adding more confusion.

            You want all this sympathy given to older men who purposely seek out younger parters instead of learning to socialize with women their own age or even younger women they don’t have to pay to be interested in them. But you don’t stop and think about the message men are sending to women about their worth.

            I am also not here to argue your personal life experience or your level of maturity. It’s great that you were responsible for platoons of Marines and thank you for your service (it’s a noble job) but that has nothing to do with my point or the conversation. Maybe you are the same person now that you were then when you were responsible for platoons of Marines but most people grow a lot from 18-25. I know a number of people in military service and while they do a great job on the field their personal lives are messes. One does not beget the other. Now maybe for *you* it does and that’s great. But in general it’s not a solidifier . Just as men that have successful outward lives (think of all the famous and successful men in the news lately) have not been able to hold the same level of success in their private lives.

            I have no doubt hat a lot of Marines get involved with immature women but again, that’s not what this article is about is it?

            • Seriously?

              I explained it thusly, right there… how could you miss it? ” In one broad stroke you portray older men as these masterminds who used their entire time on this planet to learn how to expertly manipulate women and on the other hand if any of them don’t fit your description, you say that they’re not masculine enough.”

              That is what your comment did and I call it objectification. Do you need further clarification?

            • Yeah I do need further clarification because all you’re really doing now is restating a position that was based on malformed ideas to begin with.

              I made it really easy for you by running through the basic concepts of my original post in question form that was the original source of your accusations about my comments. You aren’t able to be conclusive about anything.

              I’ts ironic to me that your talking about me painting men in one broad stroke when I’ve pointed out to you several times now that I didn’t see anything all encompassingly wrong with older men and younger women relationships, just relationships between “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies”. Despite making that point to you several times, you cling to your false beliefs. You are either choosing to ignore it to over exploit your own points or you don’t grasp what I’m saying. If it’s the first it’s a common debate style when someone has nothing else to argue on merit of information. It’s only affective toward your opponent for those that only read skim the material. That out aged over exploiting of commentary. But it’s not an intelliectual debate.

              I also find it funny that when I made it fundementally easy for you to pick out which part of my posts were the ones that lead you to make the malformed opinion you did of my thoughts, you still couldn’t produce any .

              Further, I NEVER said that any man wasn’t masculine enough and your gross lying is really poor. I challenge you to qoute the portion of my text that said I said men weren’t masculine enough. We both know you can’t but I challenage you to do so.

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      Hi Erin,

      My experience is that people become less manipulative as they get older. But maybe that’s not true of Ashley Madison customers. I have met many rich “dicks” in my life, and maybe they are getting the bracelets they deserve. The sexual relationships I’ve been in with younger women have usually had an intellectual overtone, and there were usually also overtones of psychological support.

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        None of these were my students BTW. One ex-student.

        • I don’t see anything neccesarily wrong with older men and younger woman relationships Henry. Of course an older man can having a loving relationship with a younger woman. It’s not an all inclusive catagory. I just think in the caes of sugar daddies and sugar babies, we are talking about men and women using each other for the qualities none of us would really want to be used for. Although as a woman, it does bother me how men view their female contempories vs their younger counterparts. I’d just like to see more men take pride and excitment and desire in women their own age instead of treating younger women like golden calfs.

          • Henry Vandenburgh says:

            Erin, it’s actually more difficult being in a relationship with a far younger woman than someone your own age. They typically haven’t gone through the same life issues; they’re more immature; they’re not as good in bed (the supposed beauty is there, but in a relationship it becomes less important to a partner– quickly,) and so on. So, I’m pretty sure that if I were divorced and wealthy, I wouldn’t resort to Ashley Madison. A younger woman who’s intellectual can be pretty exciting, but playing the teacher 24/7 can get old. Relationships probably depend on the unique qualities people possess.

            • Henry, then if it’s so much more difficult being a relationship with younger women then your own age, why do it? Why look for that supremey intelligent conversationalist wrapped up in a young body if it’s so difficult?

              Please don’t think I’m not disparaging your relationships. I’m not. My beef isn’t with you for dating younger women. I’ve dated older men. They use to give me more attention then men my own age. And at first it was nice but then I quickly learned what these men valued about me. Women can’t win here. But i don’t think most men really care either. Now I date men closer to my own age.

              Like I said before, I’m just sick of older men acting like their prizes and hitting on younger women all the time instead of looking to their comtempories. I’d just like to see more men take pride and excitment and desire in women their own age instead of treating younger women like golden calfs. There was a recent movie with Merly Streep and Steve Martin called “It’s complicated”. It was one a good movie and one of the rare Hollywood movies that actually paired men with an age appriopiate women. I’m sick and tired of men indirectly saying how women their own ages are pretty much crap to them. It’s not a positive for younger women and it’s not a positive for older women. Even younger women age.

            • Henry Vandenburgh says:

              Erin, I don’t think people actually choose their relationships a priori. I think they emerge from chemistry. On about three or four occasions, I had relationships of an older-younger nature emerge. As is typical of all of my relationships, I had known the person for over a year first. In one case, nine years. Most of my relationships have been with women within five years of my age (all younger.) I have heard that sibling rank order has something to do with preferences. I’m the oldest child in my family. My current wife is four years younger than I (a youngest.) My experience is that women usually signal to the man that they are sexually interested.

            • Yes Henry, I agree that relationships emerge from chemistry. Are you then saying that you haven’t felt chemstry for women your own age?

              I have also heard about that study where sibling rank and order do beget preferences. I’m not sure I understand your last comment about women signaling men that tye are interested. Perhaps many women you’re age have signaled an interest in you but you weren’t interested?

            • Henry Vandenburgh says:

              Hi Erin,

              I missed this. Generally you get cues from a woman if she wants you to approach her (sexually.) Otherwise, it’s not a great idea, at least not for me. Yes, I’ve definitely felt chemistry for women my own age. I’m married to a 62 year old (great chemistry.) She is four years younger.

            • Hmm, let’s see Erin. You don’t want to disparage Henry’s past relationships, but you **are** sick of all those old lechers hitting on young women all the time. So really, your beef **is** that Henry, or any other man dates younger women. At all. Why you feel compelled to offer the disclaimers is beyond me.

            • S.Gallo, you will notice in my response to Henry that I clearly stated that I don’t see anything all encompassing wrong with older men and younger women relationships. But I do see something wrong with the whole setup of sugar daddies and sugar babies. Further, while I see nothing all encompassing wrong with older men/younger women relationships, I do see something off putting in older men who place a premium on women that they will only date younger ones. I’ve done online dating and have had many men message me that have been older then me and the age range of the women they were interested in where several years younger then themselves. These men I avoided. I had other older men message me where their age ranges at least hit their own age or went over their age and these were the men that I decided to get to know better. So an older man dating a younger women isn’t automatically bad. Older men that only date younger women is another matter. Or older men that put a premium on women based on age matters. Because it doesn’t bode well for an older OR younger women to be with a mate that sees her worth contingent to her age.

              Henry went on to further explain his position and I in turn had a few questions and ideas of my own. My comment to him was to be respectful and let him know that I am not making all encompassing judgements on his personal relationships but that as a woman, I still struggle with all the messages women get from society and from men about our worth being tied to our age. Would you like me to clear anything else up for you? I’m happy to do so.

      • Ah, the joys of being over 50 and not feeling compelled to beat about the bush. If there’s one thing I wish I knew when I was younger, this is it.

  19. Hugo didn’t see anything wrong with using his status as a college professor to bang his students. But now he’s too old to make that work – it chagrins him that rich men use money to do the same.

    Par for the course is that he details another social dynamic where even tough both men and women are freely participating, the women are victims ( because they lack agency) and the men are the criminals – because when there is a problem only men can be blamed.

  20. Hey men, I’m really glad you guys know everything about how a woman’s mind works, but vote down every woman posting on this thread. Who’s misogynist again?

    So everyone’s saying how these women aren’t “coerced”… Let me tell you a little bit about what it’s like to be a young woman in debt. I worked three jobs at a time, while I was in school, to minimize my debt when I got out. For the first several years they were minimum wage jobs, which really really suck and have a super high turnover. In the past five years I’ve been a bus driver, a hostess, a coffee barista, a mystery shopper, a media consultant, and (finally) a paid intern. I’ve finally graduated, and now work at a national organization in DC (so you know I’m not a slacker).

    For awhile, things were really rocky with my family – they kicked my older brother out of the house when he failed to graduate from a top-ranked military academy on time (he graduated three months late before joining an elite department selection) and converted his room into a rec room so he’d never come back. I couldn’t stay at home for longer than two weeks at a time, and once I called home for a $200 two-week loan to cover the last bit of rent for the month before I got my paycheck, and I was accused of being a socialist. I never partied, never joined a sorority, and had two meals a day that were usually cans of soup. I developed an eating disorder while trying to cut back food costs.

    Let me tell you, in a situation like that, you definitely do feel coerced. I’m a young woman who committed to remaining a virgin until marriage, but let me tell you, in my lowest moments, prostitution crossed my mind. A man who promises you a dignified life in exchange for sex looks desperately attractive for a desperate woman.

    Anyone who says that it’s not immoral to dangle the means for a dignified life in the face of young women in the midst of a Great Recession is just naive – you just haven’t been there. It’s not that women are helpless – it’s that a broken economy disenfranchises my generation, and men (although they may be well-intentioned) are exploiting that disenfranchisement and perpetuating the objectification of women. Some of these women know what they are doing. But many of them, I would predict, feel overwhelmed by crushing debt and no job prospects, and do indeed feel coerced into an undignified arrangement.

    • You were certainly coerced to do the normal jobs, just like men are. But when it comes to prostitution you are talking about being tempted by easy money and a way out of the daily grind that most other people are coerced into. You speak as if you believe that hardship is something that only women experience and something that women should not have to experience.

      Like Erin, you sound like a women that struggles with being as independent as men are.

      • Is that so Johna? Which part of my comments shows that I struggle with being as independent as men?

        Leave me out of your personal agenda.

    • Linguist says:

      Whe n I was fresh out of school I also had loans to pay off. And it wasn’t always easy. But I never seriously considered prostitution ( or drug dealing or robbery ) as a solution. But then I’m a man. I could never expect to get sympathy for my poor choices.

    • Anonymous Male says:

      “Hey men, I’m really glad you guys know everything about how a woman’s mind works, but vote down every woman posting on this thread. Who’s misogynist again?”

      Okay, last time I’m going to bring this up. Everyone say it with me:

      “How do you know WHO is downvoting the messages?”

      and the second verse,

      “How do you know WHY they are downvoting messages?”

      Did I miss the tab on the website where I can see the downvoter’s chromosome structure and read the voter’s mind? That’s powerful online Big Brother mojo right there.

  21. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    [Sincere] I wish people would only downvote messages that are abusive. That was offered up as the rationale for downvoting. I want to read the ones that are not.

    • People downvote messages they dislike – abusive or not.

      The other question is if your message even appears for up- or downvoting. – It seems there are filters and messages which Hugo does not like to read, for example critical messages from MRAs who keep young women and old men equally responsible for their agreements, often disappear as he deletes them.

  22. I think it’s appalling that women must be coerced by the funding of their education into selling pieces of themselves – be they emotional or physical pieces.

    The term “relationship” in these arrangements smacks of rationalising what is inherently less than optimum. I have no qualms if women choose sex-work for themselves by themselves but coercion by financial constraint is just an awful reason to start.

    If College’s and Universities across the North World are serious about equal opportunities for both men and women in tertiary education, then they must also offer flexible payment options that will allow women (and males) to simply enjoy life and study without having to sell off pieces of themselves to the richest bidder!

  23. As far as I can tell, these are mutually agreed upon and beneficial arrangements — why is it anyone’s business? I suppose the women could get jobs at Starbucks, but that won’t go very far.

    It’s true that you probably won’t see many young men-older women type of arrangements, but I don’t doubt they exist; young men need to pay for college, too!

    At least these arrangements are honest — both partners know exactly what they’re doing and why, and what they can expect. It’s much more unfortunate for a 20-something to marry an older, wealthy man to support a lifestyle she’d like to have and then bring kids into it. (Although, I don’t doubt some of the couples in those arrangements know exactly what they’re doing and why). Again, if it’s mutually agreed upon and it’s working for both of them, what’s wrong with that?

    • It is not clear if these women are really using their income out of escort services for paying fees in colleges and universities. Maybe they use the money for something else… who knows?

      It’s not about old men either – it’s about men who are willing to pay – their age, race, looks are irrelevant. – The sole criteria which counts is the wallet.

      As you said at least these arrangements are honest…
      I also wonder how young men can pay for these fees in colleges as they are getting the same bills to pay.

      I think, payment of such expensive fees for college and universities has nothing to do if the student is a male or a female. It has to do however with their families – some parents are rich and will help their children financially and some students have to go their own way – loans, part-time at Starbucks, escort services, whatever…

  24. But the performance and commodification of intimacy has always been a part of sex work — google “GFE,” for instance (and what exactly is a “traditional” john/hooker encounter, anyway?)… I wonder if what’s “really” scandalizing about the piece isn’t so much the emotional labor, but the fact that a bunch of respectable college kids are involved (and mussing up people’s easy constructions of sex work to boot).

  25. ‘HUGO:
    It’s easy to understand the motivations of young women ….
    It’s harder, however, to excuse the actions of men twice and three times the age of the college students they pursue……

    —–

    It’s typical Hugo, it’s the fault of the man, and the woman is the victim.

    However these young women are not minors, they are not drunk, they are intelligent – otherwise they would not study in an expensive college – and they decide out of themselves to sign up with a dating site for meeting older rich men, who are willing to pay them for their escort services.

    Who pursues who? Good question…

  26. What I’ve come away with between Hugo and his followers opinions and the counter opinion and particularly Gucci Little Piggy’s blog is that Hugos brand of feminism is damaging to women in that they are boxed off as passive, helpless creatures and damaging to men because they are stereotypes as the default adults that are responsible for these child-women and because their sexuality is seen as something that is often dangerous and seedy.

    The counter position, which seems to be coming mainly from mra sympathizers seems to be the one that’s promoting egalitarianism and an expectation of females to be equally competent and adult as males.

  27. It is up to the young woman and not up to the old man to sign up with such dating services on the internet and to offer her escort services against payment.

    This woman is an adult, intelligent and nobody is forcing her to do this.

    Why to blame men for everything?

  28. Something that always comes up in debates like this is ‘it’s a person’s choice” to do what they want. I don’t really think that that’s the issue. There’s a pretty big gap between can and should. Just because someone chooses to do something doesn’t mean that other people can’t disagree with the reasons why they’re doing it.

    I think selling relationships (whether they’re sexual, friendships, etc.) is creepy. There’s something about attaching a price tag to intimacy that just rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Like the article says, there’s something off about rich men who think that everything is for sale. There’s also something off about women who would rather sell intimacy than market other skills, even if it’s making coffee.

    Over the years, it just seems that, in general, what is considered personal in our society has been reduced. This is just one example. Things like money have become so much more important than basic human interaction.

  29. Also, not to trot out too much of a high horse, but are the villains here really these sugar daddies or the anti-labor, anti-education jerks who defund schools and make it impossible for so many college grads to find living wage jobs that they’re forced into the informal economy? And relatedly, is the most productive critique the one that castigates a handful of men for exploiting impressionable young women (though I admit I personally think they sound like creeps), or one that questions the conditions that created sex work–or whatever you want to call it–as the only option for these women in the first place? (I mean Hunter College, which one of the profiled young women attends, *used* to be free!) Acting as though this phenomenon is distinguished by its commodification of emotional intimacy to me not only suggests some naivete about the realities of sex work, it trades in the same right-wing moral panic that individualizes and pathologizes much broader and more complicated structural problems… which, incidentally, is not to blindly assert the primacy of economics over gender here — obviously this piece is a good example of how gender and class politics are inextricable from each other.

  30. Really? This isn’t just a daddy issue. Sugar babies are women, younger and older, who seek financial stability and attention from a man they have an attraction to. In fact, that is the goal of every single relationship in the world. Financial stability, and attention and admiration from a person you adore.
    This has nothing to do with one’s father. That’s a cheap cop out.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] (a blog post rather than a more thoughtful column) at GMP today on the Sugar Daddy phenomenon: Buying ‘Sugar Daughters’: What’s Really Wrong With the Sugar Daddy Phenomenon. Riffing on this Amanda Fairbanks piece in the HuffPo, I note that I’ve known students [...]

  2. [...] his latest Good Men Project piece, religious radical feminist white knight Hugo Schwyzer throws his weight at the piece at Huffington [...]

  3. [...] college-aged women who have turned to prostituting themselves to pay their tuition. I was hipped to Schwyzer’s piece on the Good Men Project via Chuck of G.L. Piggy. Chuck does a good write-up examining the piece, but what struck me about [...]

  4. [...] Hugo Schwyzer on “sugar daddy” relationships. [...]

  5. [...] some may compare the practice to prostitution or question the morality of trading money and gifts for affection, the people who use these sites contend that they’re [...]

  6. [...] some may compare the practice to prostitution or question the morality of trading money and gifts for affection, the people who use these sites contend that they’re [...]

  7. [...] that number will likely continue to climb. While some may compare the practice to prostitution or question the morality of trading money and gifts for affection, the people who use these sites contend that they're [...]

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