The hideous face of the sugar daddy


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“Let’s meet at 3:30.” I stared at my phone for several long minutes before finally persuading myself to meet with Rick, an older gentleman who had sought me out on seekingarrangement.com. I decided that if I were going to be taking a risk for the sake of personal investigation, it would be wise to bring along two of my friends. As I made my way to a coffee shop in Coralville, I found myself sweating. How do other girls, or boys, do this? It hit me that some students are perhaps so desperate for money that meeting up with a complete stranger to discuss possible financial stability in exchange for a “mutually beneficial relationship” is somehow worth the risk.

The relationship I’m referring to is that of a “sugar daddy” — an agreement usually between an older rich man and a young woman with the intent to exchange gifts and money in return for company and sexual favors. Unfortunately, with the rise of college tuition and debt, it has made college students the fastest growing group on websites that facilitate “sugar daddy” relationships. According to an ABC News article, the site I used saw a 58 percent increase in college-age users between 2011 and 2012.

Unsurprisingly, those on the outside looking in chastise the websites for aiding in corruption, poor self-esteem among young women, and prostitution. I wanted to discover if there was any truth to the argument, so I searched for a reputable — for lack of a better word — website, set up an account, and waited. Within 24 hours, Rick contacted me.

I found myself in a coffee shop sitting across from an elderly, well-dressed man while my two giggly friends sat nearby, “reading” magazines. I had no idea what to expect from the conversation, but I quickly found that this potential “mutually beneficial relationship” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Rick was a talker — but he only had questions for me. Where did I live? What was my experience? Do I have anyone living in the area that may cause a problem? I answered every question with hesitation.

I tried to turn the questions on him, but he always deflected them. Rick eventually cut to the chase: He demanded that I provide an intimate aspect to our relationship in the future to receive money — a violation of the website rules — even when I had previously stated on my online profile, and in person, that I was in a committed relationship. I ended the meeting quickly thereafter.

There are legitimate risks to participating in a “sugar daddy” relationship — the most obvious being that one has to meet up with a complete stranger. Equally dangerous is that the trend in “sugar daddy” relationships is the exchange of sex for a higher allowance, and, as a consequence, a skewed sense of self-worth. However, it is understandable that college students feel tremendous pressure when it comes to paying for expenses. College students are criticized for selling their beauty, among other things, for financial support. “You’re selling your body.” “Why not get a job?” “Why sacrifice morals?”

This is strange. Many celebrities and models make their livings off their bodies — beautiful women turn to modeling to pay the bills and make ends meet. Why? Because the mainstream rewards beautiful and sex sells. Regardless of the hypocrisy, one thing is for sure: a “sugar daddy” relationship is just another gentle name for prostitution, and any student considering such an arrangement, for whatever reason, should consider every other — much more comfortable — option first.

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