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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Website matching students to ‘sugar daddies’ exploits

    The Internet is a strange place, full of tap-dancing goats and cities built out of chewing gum. But one of the stranger things found on the Internet these days is “Seeking Arrangement,” a website that connects young, pretty, college-aged women (known on the site as “Sugar Babies”) with older, wealthy men called “Sugar Daddies.” There are female Sugar Daddies, occasionally referred to as “Mommas” when mentioned, and Sugar Babies of both genders, but I want to focus specifically on the relationships between older men and younger women. Through “mutually beneficial relationships,” the website claims, Sugar Daddies get companionship (read: sex) while the Sugar Babies get showered with gifts, clothes, trips and, most importantly, money. Creeped out yet?

    The most disturbing thing is that in 2013, “Seeking Arrangement” reported that 44 percent of all 2.3 million Sugar Babies were college students. Further, if they register with an .edu email address, they are entitled to a premium membership. For the men seeking to become Sugar Daddies, a premium membership can cost up to $1,200.

    Clearly college women are using this site. Why? To pay for their college expenses.

    Gain or no gain (monetarily), it is clear that this website is exploitative and commodifies these young women, treating them like prize hogs at an animal auction. This company is using the current environment of unreasonable college tuition costs and lack of legal employment opportunities to exploit vulnerable, money-needy female college students. College is expensive, I get it. But surely women are entitled to an education without having to spend four years at the beck and call of some old rich guy.

    And I am not the only one disturbed by this website, either.

    “There are a range of perspectives and opinions on sex work as to whether it is exploitative or empowering,” said Hannah Lozon, acting director of the UA Women’s Resource Center. “However, the language of ‘baby,’ ‘daddy’ or ‘mama’ is disturbing and one that reifies domination and control and is suggestive of child prostitution.”

    Some may agree with Lozon that this constitutes a form of prostitution. However, rather than chastise women who would use this site or attack them as prostitutes, we must instead criticize the sites that enable this kind of exploitation in the first place.

    While it may be their choice, it isn’t really a free one. Women should be free to choose things that uplift their worth and dignity; they should not be coerced by economic circumstance to see their only value in someone else’s sexual desires. Choices that uphold a woman’s — or any person’s — dignity must be free of the kind of harmful consequences they may run into using “Seeking Arrangement”: abuse, fear and paranoia over appeasing their “daddy” so that their tuition checks aren’t cut off.
    No young scholar should be reduced to a Sugar Baby. And any society that allows and compels it has a lot to answer for.
    _______________

    Casey Hoyack is a philosophy, politics, economics & law senior. Follow him on Twitter @Hoyack_

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