Prostitution. It’s a word that often pops up in criticism of the Sugar lifestyle. Feminists, religious groups and others have clung to this catchword in their preoccupation with the financial component of mutually beneficial arrangements. They immediately jump to the conclusion that because money is exchanged in contexts where sex is a possibility, the entire concept is intrinsically morally wrong. Here is the problem with comparing Sugar to prostitution.
Whether or not Sugar dating resembles “prostitution,” this tired argument is outdated and hardly applicable in the modern world. Not only does it neglect the nuance and idiosyncrasies that exist in the world of Sugar dating, but it also assumes that, in the general population, only two types of intimate relationships exist: ones that include money and ones that do not. In reality, all relationships contain various elements of give-and-take. In the 21st century, traditional distinctions are eroding, especially with the increasing popularity of online dating services as meeting places for friendships and relationships of varying types.
With more traditional platforms, it seems the key distinction is between those who are seeking casual sex and those who are more marriage-minded, looking to build a long-term relationship with a clearly defined happy ending – house, kids and holy matrimony. In between these two extremes, there exists a vast and fuzzy area of dating, not otherwise specified.
For many men, when it comes to dating, it’s much easier to pay for a desired outcome than engaging in time-consuming negotiation with ambiguous results. To get what they want, when they want it, a little gift of sorts can actually be cheaper than the seduction process, which is often a costly endeavor in its own right.
The phenomenon of the Girlfriend-Experience (GFE) is an example of the growing similarity and fusion between sexual and marriage markets. To an onlooker, a GFE in action appears identical to any other dating scenario, but with the added certainty that the “girlfriend” in question will be attractive, often exceptionally so, well groomed and simply irresistible. Oh, and sex will be included somewhere in the evening’s antics. And the woman will be compensated. But besides that, the date resembles any other: drinks, dinner, sweet nothings, the works! Economists have questioned why more women are not tempted to enter this lucrative dating model.
Perhaps young women are smarter than those economists may have thought. There’s something crucial – and valuable – that women possess and men will pay for. It’s called “Erotic Capital,” a term British sociologist Catherine Hakim introduced in the early 2000s, referring to a woman’s accrued amount of intellectual, social, and sexual attractiveness. She can use these qualities to her advantage in all contexts – from the office to the bedroom. This feminine wealth of aesthetics doesn’t only refer to her beauty and sex appeal. In fact, intelligent, savvy women with impressive social skills can earn more than the most beautiful, which is part of the reason why bright, ambitious and cultured college students can be so successful. A woman’s sex appeal is about more than looks. It’s her own unique multi-faceted package of personality, style, wit, grace, charm, sense of humor, social skills and the ability to make others feel at ease, jovial and comfortable in her presence. In the bedroom, this can refer to her energy, erotic imagination, fitness, playfulness, and all the other fabulous qualities that make for a sexually satisfying partner.
SeekingArrangement allows the young, flirtatious, vivacious young woman to take full advantage of her erotic capital. She is more than a sex object – and her Sugar Daddy is more than an ATM. To call Sugar dating prostitution is to reduce the individuals involved to one-dimensional stereotypes, when life is much more complicated and interesting than that. Every relationship has its own form of currency, be it sexual, emotional, financial or otherwise.
Just because a Sugar Baby’s job is not to nurse her man when he is sick, clean his socks, cook his favorite dinner of lamb-chops or bear his children (nor does she expect him to mow her lawn, stop watching porn or accompany her to couple’s therapy) doesn’t mean she can’t love her Daddy while she’s with him and vice versa. It’s a no-strings-attached mentality that keeps everyone happy and sustains the novelty of the sugar bond. Some call it prostitution. I call it delicious.