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Why women want sugar daddies Today's feminists, when dating, are coldly mercenary

Look hot and don't complain: the dream job? Credit: Keith Hamshere/Getty Images

Look hot and don't complain: the dream job? Credit: Keith Hamshere/Getty Images


September 21, 2021   6 mins

During a recent trip to the US, I had lunch with a young man from New York, who told me glumly that many of his peers had spent the summer swanning around Europe while he stayed put in America. They were all flaunting it on Instagram, of course, but none as aggressively as a clutch of young women in their early 20s, who had spent time in the most expensive spots: the Amalfi Coast, Porto Cervo, Capri. I peered at his phone and saw images of the girls draped over each other in terrace restaurants, on the prows of boats, laid along tree branches in thong bikinis, glowing with the gold-dust of fine living.

They were either still in college or freshly out of it. But the reason they, rather than the young man, were able to go yachting off Sardinia while sipping Dom Pérignon was because rich older men ­had hired them to come on a luxury holiday with them. The job — look hot, be nice, and be ready to accommodate more without crying assault — is called sugaring. It is — though sugar daddies or babies might not admit it — sex work. My friend betrayed no sense of surprise at the arrangement; such things had, he explained, become totally normal in his age group.

Indeed, sugar daddy-baby “arrangements” are booming, with increasing numbers of female students in the UK and US advertising on sugar websites. Unlike traditional sex work, it’s popular among young women at elite institutions; destined for fine careers, they nonetheless see it as a time-efficient way to offload student debt and, as Molly, a 22-year sugar baby who read PPE at Oxford, told me, “get a taste of luxury”. In 2019, nearly 1000 students at Cambridge were signed up to Seeking Arrangements, the top sugar-brokering site in the Anglosphere. According to the site’s 2020 annual report, the number of university students in the UK seeking a sugar daddy, or a sugar mommy, increased 36% from 2018 to 2019.

The crux of “sugaring” is hardly new, as mistresses throughout history could testify. And Gen-Z and millennials are inheriting the earth at an expensive, professionally uncertain time. Nonetheless, despite the familiarity of the trope and the clarity of the need, the rise of elite sugaring among young, extremely upwardly mobile women points to two profound and rather shocking shifts. One: that dating, with all its messiness and the in-built possibility (if things go well) of an actual relationship — complete with compromise, give and take, and real intimacy — has imploded. And two: that feminism has morphed from a movement with ideals — which envisioned, for instance, a socialist world in which women might be free from sex work — into a hard-nosed, misandric, mercenary pragmatism.

Feminists of the first wave looked for male allies to get laws changed. Those of the second wave, freeing themselves for the first time from the trappings of normative heterosexuality, had separatist instincts. But those of the present wave see men as pathetic, selfish, hard work — and only good for two things: sex and cash.

“All the sugar babies I know consider themselves feminists,” said Molly. “But it’s more misandry than feminism. It’s ‘men are scum’. Both parties sort of despise each other.” Aria, 25, a Cornell graduate currently in law school in DC, has been on Seeking Arrangements for five years. She, too, despises her clients, telling me over WhatsApp video from a Balkan city: “Men are nothing. They’re just fucking idiots. The hardest thing about being a sugar baby is pretending to give a shit what these older men have to say. Older men are so archaic and out of it.”

For these women, the sex is the ok bit — the easy bit. Aria “can have sex with someone without having any feelings towards them. I don’t even have to like them to have sex with them. Being a sex worker: that’s nothing. I can always pretend. Sex is easy.” This sentiment, almost down to the word, is echoed among other sugar babies.

The callous terrain created by ten years of dating apps and misapplied “sex positivity” seems to have rendered physical intimacy a shiny token whose value lies in shifting the needle of power up or down, while the relationship of sex to things like romance or affection has been cauterised. Increasingly, relationships are seen as exchange mechanisms. Last week, influential sex podcaster Dan Savage reassured a well-spoken sugar baby, who had called his advice show to express worries about telling her new (real) boyfriend about her arrangement: “I think all relationships are transactional … We all pay for it. We don’t always pay for it with money. We pay with time, affection, diligence, intimacy, care. If we don’t ‘pay in’, they end.”

In the 70s and 80s, feminist sociology focused on the extra, “emotional” labour women had to do at work (as constantly-cheerful flight attendants, for instance) or, often on top of full-time jobs, at home (as the family glue and domestic drudge). In a twisted reinterpretation of that sociology, nowadays “women my age see all relationships as sexual labour,” says Molly. “Why not get paid for it?” She points out that Twitter is full of women who think men should pay a deposit before they go on a date with them. Aria put it more scathingly still: “Men have a dearth of people they can share their feelings with… Thanks a lot toxic masculinity. So if I’m performing all this emotional labour — if I have to listen to a man complain for an hour — I should get $500.”

Sex work has been transformed, or rather wishfully squeezed, into the same category as any form of work. At the same time, all relationships have been reduced to a form of sex work. To complete the bitter triangulation, these developments are seen as compatible with empowered young womanhood. Leah, 24, another brainy American sugar baby who messaged me on Instagram from Portofino, speaks the language of ambition: “We want that financial security while we go after our goals. Everybody sells their body. Construction workers sell their bodies. What’s different?”

It is perhaps no coincidence that sugaring has flourished since the MeToo movement. Beneath the reasoning of many sugar babies’ testimonies lies a terrible disappointment with how men are, and, one might infer, a desire to be treated considerately, tenderly by them. Molly sugared because she was “broke” but “at the back of your mind you think, well, you’re going to get treated badly anyway…”

The discourse of MeToo pitches heterosexual sex as barbed power play in which young women must aggressively have, or be had. Intimacy no longer comes naturally: boundaries have had to be erected and policed, the status of sexual consent constantly monitored. Against this backdrop, sugar relationships offer something more tranquil and easy to control — something, in photographer Elysia Nicole Downing’s  words, “much easier to navigate and manage because I’m not emotionally attached, I feel whole and like my needs are being met.”

But MeToo also had a profound effect on the professional landscape by effectively ending male-female mentoring. “A lot of older men are reluctant to reach out to you now [on a professional basis],” notes Molly, who says that the “best gift” is a man using their contacts to “get you access to an industry”. By establishing the sexual utility of the young woman and professional value of the older man at the outset, the sugaring relationship circumvents the nasty power play pinpointed by MeToo.

But this is in a way the saddest irony of all: MeToo was meant to free women in the professional sphere from being treated as objects. Instead, it seems to have encouraged them to sell their bodies for work-related advancement. Aria is happy: her sugar daddy is one of America’s top political lobbyists. From the outset, he asked: “How can I help you [professionally]?”

However lucrative, helpful, easy, or apparently “empowered”, life as a sugar baby erodes a woman’s sense of self. But if the women are losing something wholesome, the men seem to be gaining, even gobbling it. After all, sugar daddying is about more than renting a hot body. It’s also about getting a friendly, sexy therapist; someone who will listen, even nurture. Sometimes the men just want friends. Aria’s political lobbyist prefers office gossip to sex, which fades into the background when they’re together, taking up “less than five minutes” of a three-hour session.

Aella, a versatile star on OnlyFans (the meeting-place for many babies and daddies), has described some of her relationships with clients in strikingly therapeutic terms. “These men desperately want to be valued by women,” she has said. One man just wanted to cry on her; after talking about “his life”, they:

“held each other and sobbed for a while. Then we took off our clothes and just had skin to skin contact. So we lay, intertwined, hugging and that was the entire session … He said he didn’t have any other outlet like that. From then on he would hire me about once a month and I would come see him and he would just hold me and cry.”

With top therapists charging hundreds an hour, these men are actually getting quite a good deal. For a few hundred bucks, they get emotional succour as well as sex.

Sugar babies repeatedly describe providing the same service. It seems easy: the babies I spoke to, or whose accounts I read, all said ease was their primary reason for pursuing these arrangements. But in the end the cost is high. Molly felt despair and had a breakdown after her sugar daddy paid off her student debt. She is still struggling with the long-term effects of seeing all relationships with men in terms of a sexual quid pro quo. Like Molly, I suspect, a generation of sugar babies will eventually discover that money is worth an awful lot, but it’s not worth everything.


Zoe Strimpel is a historian of gender and intimacy in modern Britain and a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. Her latest book is Seeking Love in Modern Britain: Gender, Dating and the Rise of ‘the Single’ (Bloomsbury)
realzoestrimpel

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Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago

MeToo was meant to free women in the professional sphere from being treated as objects.” No, it wasn’t. It was meant to empower and raise the status an elite class of women, which has been pretty much the purpose of feminism for 150 years. Raising the status of non-elite women is an unintentional side effect of feminism, often an unwanted one; if this were not the case, almost the entire focus of feminism would be on promoting affordable childcare to liberate women from the main barrier to professional equality with men.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

It was meant to empower and raise the status an elite class of women, which has been pretty much the purpose of feminism for 150 years.
That’s my impression from this article. It appears most of the young women who are sugaring attend top universities and have major career aspirations (perhaps aided by some of the wealthy men who employ them as sugar babies?). I’m guessing most/all of these young women are physically attractive, too. There also appears to be no effort by the authorities to enforce the law relating to sex for money.
Meanwhile, back in what’s left of the working class, an older man who pays a young woman for sex is not called a Sugar Daddy; he’s a dirty old man, and the woman is a prostitute. Both might well be prosecuted if the cops find out.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think that the wealthy elite men have learned the lesson from MeToo and brought in a contract to protect themselves and called it sugaring and all those young women think they’re the smart ones! It is sugar coated prostitution after all.
One thing I noticed about MeToo was that all the really successful actresses who spoke out against Weinstein also claimed to have knocked him back and despite his threats they still made it, yet The McGowan’s of the movement who had submitted to his advances were largely 2nd rate. Clearly they wanted a refund! Food for thought Ladies!

Robert Kaye
Robert Kaye
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“There also appears to be no effort by the authorities to enforce the law relating to sex for money.”

That would be because sex for money isn’t illegal. In the UK at least, soliciting on the street is illegal, kerb crawling is illegal, pimping is illegal, brothels are illegal. But two people making an agreement between themselves privately, as here, is entirely lawful.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

I agree with you as to what #MeToo has become, but initially I think it was an hysterical moral panic in response to the television series of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, which was first broadcast April – June 2017 in the USA, May – August in the UK, often watched repeatedly. The #MeToo online storm began in October 2017.
If you have read the book then you will know there is a scene where the women, in their bonnets, literally tear a convicted rapist to pieces, which is pretty much what happened to Harvey Weinstein, albeit in a more ‘civilised’ manner.
One day #MeToo will be looked back on as a chilling example of the power of propaganda and early 21st century media. Nothing to be proud of in my opinion.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Quite agree. I also wish more people actually would read Atwood’s fine novel, which is more nuanced, intelligent and abidingly sad than any of the atrocity exhibition adaptations it spawned.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

With great respect Claire & Jonathan, much of the exploitation of vulnerable women & other young people #MeToo spoke out against was both real and devestating. Some young people are totally fine after recieving forceful sexual advances. For others, they scar them emotionally for the rest of their lives. I’ve been told by two different women how such events made them continually afraid to be alone, mainly as when that happened they’d keep replaying the events in their minds, even decades afterward. These were very working class women who were definetly not recycling SJW propoganda. For all the nasty side effects of #MeToo, Im not sure yet that it wasnt a net positive.

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

So not so much real *emotion* at work at all, emotion being after all something moving and always going somehere freshly vital – as stale, altogther congealed obsession with a a single event. Hideous kinky, is all i can say

J Hop
J Hop
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

I don’t think it’s either or. Moral panics always have a grain of truth to them, but then they get blown out of proportion. For instance, it’s true that women are vulnerable to rape and there are many instances where we are preyed upon, but we are most definitely NOT living in a patriarcal nightmare Handmade Tale like so many hysterics insist we are. Maybe they should visit Pakistan sometime. Much like the George Floyd riots, a real problem (police misconduct) gets blown into epic false narratives (police hunting down thousands of black men just for sport).

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

I don’t disagree with you. But #MeToo was not intended to support those women you describe. It simply wasn’t the purpose of the movement. Just like feminists don’t care about low-status women in Afghanistan or Rotherham, those very working class women were of no value and no interest to it.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Of course they are plenty of women who would have been victimised by unwanted, aggressive advances.

But the comment still stands – Metoo (as with practically all of feminism) had nothing to do with them, couldn’t care less.

Arguably, their cause was diluted by equating:
A. Rape based on physical force or violence
B. Some actress agreeing to sleep in exchange for a part, happily roaming around in public with their “rapist” after the incident and realising 20 years later how they were a victim of patriarchy.

No metoo activist raised a squeak about Rotherham, child marriages, etc. It was all about supposed rape culture in colleges or upper class fashionable society, which any sensible person would tell you are in fact the safest places for a woman.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I agree with you guys on some points, especially that a part of contemporary feminism seems to be entirely self serving & does nothing for those outside of the upper middle class. With MeToo though, I remember 2019 articles in the Guardian about how it was helping abused factory workers to speak out, and even agricultural workers in LatAm. And some of the complaints from middle class women seem warranted, they may have been physically safe as you say, but some felt forced to the casting couch or its equivalent, or else no chance of career advancement. Back to self serving feminism, an interesting point that rarely gets mentioned is how corporate feminism was also greatly to the advantage of the top 1% of men, reducing the competition they faced from men just below them (mediocre or ‘middle tier’ men as the FT used to call them.)

Jane Purcell
Jane Purcell
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Except in the Handmaid’s Tale scene they are TOLD the man is a convicted rapist (and baby killer). It turns out the man was working in the Gilead Resistance.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

Interesting to note that your second point about promoting affordable childcare to “liberate women” is a Marxist idea.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Quite so – to make childcare more affordable, one either has to pay the carers a lot less or make everyone pay for it through taxes.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Yes, that struck me too. And the carers are almost all non-elite girls and women, so why would the alternative feminism which Jonathan Ellman visualizes take that route? Well, there is the second possibility you mentioned, that of paying higher taxes. Perhaps that’s what he had in mind.

Cat Fan
Cat Fan
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Or it could be an employment benefit paid for in the same way they might pay health insurance or travel expenses. High quality firms would boast about the benefits of the inhouse creche or after school and before school care they provided to employees. No reason either why a company such as Walmart, Asda etc could not run a daycare r work in partnership with one in order to provide a place where staff could have their children during work hours if it was so needed.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

How about taking responsibility for your own children?
We had 2 children whilst It was as at University.
My wife worked full time.
On graduation my wife worked part time ,me all the hours god sent.
We had absolutely zero support.No grandparents no one.
It was hard but worth the investment.
Many people have forgotten about delayed gratification.They want everything now.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

I’m not in favour of ‘cheaper’ childcare. Especially for well-paid middle class women, who seem to be the ones who bleat about the costs the most.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

Because of the ridiculous price of housing and rent in the cities that decent jobs are becoming ever more concentrated, 2 incomes are usually required to pay the living costs. If we could crash house prices back to a level where only one income was sufficient then I’d agree with you, but personally I think in the current financial climate then free or heavily subsidised childcare would be a good thing

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

having created a mess with the housing market it’s hard to see an easy way out of it. And I see no moral reason why those who have increased their wealth through riding the housing price gravy train shouldn’t pay for it. They have accumulated a mass of untaxed, unearned wealth and messed things up for others in the process.
But they don’t like tax, and they won’t like house prices falling either – so it’s hard to see how a party with a solution could get elected.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Just to be clear, my observation that affordable childcare liberates women is not to recommend it, it is first of all to note the link between Feminism and Marxism, then it is to be ironic about the association between having other women care for your children so that you are ‘free’ to get a job.
Once you have brought a child into the world the most important thing to do is to make sure it is as happy and healthy as possible, your personal ambitions are now secondary.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Absolutely.
I have just read this after replying to your previous comment.
Children do not ask to be born.
They grow up in the blink of an eye.Give them the attention they need and you will be rewarded many fold.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Well put! Putting the child first is not
fashionable these days, but it is good for the child. A happy child is worth more than a luxurious house.

Ken Maclaren
Ken Maclaren
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

The solution for ambitious career women who want children is simple, have children with a man who wants to be the main carer.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  Ken Maclaren

This seems to be a growing trend. I’ve personally met three of these women, all doctors, whose husbands stay home with their kids.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

In fairness MeToo started out as a backlash against what was in effect forcing women to have sex. For all we may be unhappy with the cultural effects, the world is surely a better place without Harvey Weinstein, Brian Jeffrey Epstein and DSK as role models.

Sorry – wrong Epstein.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

There are lots of others. It’s not the big names, it’s the Playboy culture persuading people that transactional relationships (sex, etc.) are normal, fine, and even, the way to be successful.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m not sure what the Beatles have got to do with it.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

oh please it will never go away. someone will always take it’s place. according to rose mcgowan, all of hollywood was behind weinstein and actively sought to stop her.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I seem to recall many successful actresses saying Weinstein tried it on with them, they knocked him back and despite his threats they went on to have successful careers. That doesn’t sound like he was forcing them to have s*x with him. He was an ugly fat man using what he had to offer to try his luck! Those women not quite as confident in their abilities took him up on the offer, then changed their tune when his foot in the door offer didn’t pan out as well as they had hoped. Buyers remorse me thinks!

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago

Never, in my life to date, have I been so glad to be blessed with a solid relationship and family. And fortunate, also, that I’m not trying to survive my twenties in the current social mess.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Amen!!

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago

‘…saw images of the girls draped over each other in terrace restaurants, on the prows of boats, laid along tree branches in thong bikinis, glowing with the gold-dust of fine living’. I’m sure the sugar babies of Rotherham felt equally spoilt – free sweets, booze and drugs in exchange for sexual favours. Same mutual loathing, just different levels of social and material expectation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

*Very* good point. But even if the mechanisms are similar, there is the rather crucial point that the Rotherham girls were minors and so vulnerable to pressure and not competent to take those decisions, whereas the Portofino girls were adults, with the right to make their own mistakes. If you go on a sugar-daddy web site at least the rules are clear on both sides, and the pressure does not start till after you have signed on.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree, that is a crucial difference. Having said that, many university-age girls (and boys) are still more or less children, however much they may imagine otherwise.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

How old is mature enough though? How long are we expected to push the boundaries of responsibility? I’m happy to see the age of consent rise to 18 but beyond that? No thanks, time to start taking responsibility for your decisions!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

My late brother was a tax inspector and at one point was assigned to collecting VAT and NI from brothels and their staff.
His brothel raids were quite entertaining by the sound of it. They’d burst in and say to the bemused housemaid, “How did you get this job? Do you consider yourself employed or self-employed?”
He’d ask the prostitutes similar questions. One would be, “What were you doing before this?” to which the smartypants answer would be something like “Before this? I was sucking off an Arab upstairs”.
He was a quiet, amiable man with the gentlest of manners, and was often wheeled on to calm them down. Once they learned from this man with the kind face that they weren’t going to be jailed, deported or put out of their job (HMRC was all about the money and nothing else), they usually calmed down, and became quite interesting.
The girls were from the Baltics and the Balkans, and they did tours of duty. They’d stay six months and make at least £150,000 gross; more if they were especially good-looking. The house took a third in commission and charged them rent besides, so the least they’d clear would be about £90,000. They’d then go home – or to Majorca or wherever – and chill for a few months. They’d get a new haircut, come back with a different name and photos, and they’d be a new girl all over again. Repeat ad nauseam.
He asked them if they had a typical customer, and what did he spend. This was to verify what they said they earned: did big fat ugly slobs have to pay more? Generally they said no. Old / young, ugly / good-looking, scruffy / well-dressed, obviously wealthy / obviously poor, in good shape / in bad shape – they all turned up, they all paid the same – £250 an hour or whatever.
He asked a few why a good-looking, wealthy, well-dressed young man would pay them £250 for something he could presumably get for nothing. “They aren’t paying me for sex,” was the usual reply. “They’re paying me to f*ck off after the sex.”
Sugar babies, take note of what you’re actually selling: being this week’s disposable commodity.
And I miss my brother.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I like the world-wise awareness of your third last paragraph – what the guys are paying for.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago

Part of my relationship with my wife is – and I say this without shame – her advice and mentoring. That probably makes me sound weak, which is why I think it is hardly ever mentioned in public, but goes on behind closed doors, in pretty much every happy relationship. Women, good ones, want their husbands to be secure and successful. They advise and discuss, offering an insight. It might be something trivial, like remembering to thank someone for a gift, or role playing a difficult conversation with a boss the evening before.

Without a doubt, that female perspective is one I’ve come to trust, *without* feeling demeaned or diminished. It’s part of the partnership and I’m much better as a man because of her.

So it makes me wince to read of this cheaply transactional ‘sugaring’. Yes, we’ve all thought about love and sex being exchanged in any relationship. It’s hardly an original thought. But it misses the potential for partnership, for alliance – for support and love.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
2 years ago

Curious that the article doesn’t discuss our pornified culture. Sex is today so largely commodified and transactional. Check out any porn site – there are reams of amateurs all over the world happily performing any and every sex act in private, in public, with multiple simultaneous partners … all of it. I have heard more than once over recent years about young women being encouraged by young men to imitate porn site fetish activities as normalised sexual behaviour. Well, they can make their own choices. But I also remember that when I was 12 or 13, I knew exactly what a prostitute was: it was a woman who, when you paid her money, let you kiss her. That innocence is lost, and for our children I miss it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Christopher Gelber
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Pretty much all pr0n is on the prostitution spectrum. The explosion in the quantity of it over the last 20 years is all the proof needed that the women in it are willing participants, and that any objection to it they’ve expressed in the past is because they weren’t making enough money at it.
One of the reasons I an cynical about feminism is that when it comes down to tacks, when they’re given what they demand they behave worse. Once upon a time it was wicked and exploitative to look at photos of semi-nude women; now, minor female celebs can’t wait to strip off for men’s magazines, and in many cases are known for nothing else.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

As the article describes it, there was always a huge, well-established favour-exchange economy in politics, academia, arts, everywhere, and young women have sex as one of the main assets to trade. Maybe we should add that to the official picture of the world. For one thing, the biggest losers are not the players, but those who refuse to put out and lose their opportunities to the sugar-babies. For another, the sugar-daddy phenomenon may be just people being more open (and shameless) about what they were doing anyway.

An interesting question is: what is the alternative, exactly, for the individual? In simple terms, of course, it is just that the sugar-daddies should stick to women of their own age, and the sugar-babies give up on Costa Smeralda, pay their own student debts, and compete on equal terms for the top jobs. But what then? Ideally we should all form those deep, loving, mutually fulfilling relationships. But how many would never make it that far? And what should they do instead? Transactional sex may be kind of sad, but loneliness (or involuntary celibacy) is not brilliant either. If “These men desperately want to be valued by women”, what should they do instead to obtain that? Or should they (and the majority who do not have the cash to be sugar-daddies) simply do without and tell themselves they are better off? As for the women, what do they get if they try to find a relationship in the normal way – and how does it fall short of what they actually want?

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I thought this was a very good post. I guess we all enter relationships for a reason. For some it is to love and be loved, to have someone you can rely on when things are tough, and who can rely on you too etc. But if you have no capacity for this, what are you left with.
Which changes the question to – why are there so many such empty people?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

There is another group, though: those who, for one reason or another (too many issues?) can fin no one willing to try, or to put up with them long enough to make that relationship work. Even if you are not empty, what if no one is willing to put in the work required to find out?

Alan B
Alan B
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

For them the sex robots can’t come soon enough! (No pun intended.)

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Why so many empty people?
For 1 thing modern mass media has raised our expectations in a partner. Plain Jane or John down the street with real world human flaws and normal income is not enough for so many young adults with raised expectations.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago

Or an over inflated sense of entitlement. It seems as though these young women feel entitled to have exactly what they want, when they want it without actually doing a meaningful day’s work in their lives.
Tragic, really,as there is nothing like the thrill of opening that first wages packet.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Well yes – provided independence really matters to you. Otherwise parasitism of one kind or another is a pretty good option.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

At the risk of seeming like an archaic, sentimental old man, our creator made us into man and woman for a very special reason. If anyone reading this post is unaware of it, I honestly feel very sorry for you.
It is truly depressing that in our modern, “advanced” society we consistently push ourselves away from God, and His prescribed ways of life, which lead to unadulterated happiness, yet we lament all the things that we are missing in our lives.

Last edited 2 years ago by Warren T
Dave Corby
Dave Corby
2 years ago

These men and woman have fallen for the oldest deceit in the book.
They think they can get the benefits of the sin without any consequences of pain and suffering later.
What kind of person would want their used bodies?
They have literally sold their souls and it will take a miracle to gain them back.

J Hop
J Hop
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

While I don’t condone these girls shallow and crass behaviour, we really have to stop this stone age belief that women are only valuable for their virginity. I was raped at 15 (not regret raped, said no and then he took what I wouldn’t give him with a knife raped) and my grandfather distinctly told me afterwards that “no good man would want me now”. He stopped caring what I did or who I dated and I was treated as worthless by my family afterward. I guess my “used body” determined my worth and I spent years dating awful men thinking I deserved it before I woke up. I take responsibility for that, but this type of attitude is truly damaging.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  J Hop

Thanks for a very impressive contribution.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  J Hop

Awful story, and your grandfather is a nasty, disgusting person who deserves to be publicly flogged, but not sure where you get the impression about “women only valued for virginity)
A lot of feminism is based on strawmen argument.

The biggest problem with extending the definition of rape to “regret rape” is that it trivialises and overshadows genuine, painfully tragic cases like yours. I hope you have mentally recovered over the years to some extent from your ordeal.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  J Hop

Or, alternatively, they understand the difference perfectly well but (to take an example from modern food tech) they think fake meat is worth having if real meat is not available.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  J Hop

Horrible for you twice over, I am so very sorry that happened to you. But there’s a difference re Dave Corby’s comment, he is talking about young women (and I bet a few young men) selling their bodies willingly. It’s not about virginity, they are treating themselves as if they are just so much flesh. What happened to you was against your will, despite what your grandfather said, he was utterly wrong, your integrity remained intact. If only someone could have comforted you with that, not much comfort perhaps but it is important, I hope you can see that.
The attitudes are quite different I think.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

What’s interesting is that we can be sure these women will conceal their past life as wh0res from their future husbands for exactly the reason you state. But if they later find out that their wives are* wh0res and object, they won’t have a leg to stand on. You can misrepresent to your heart’s content to obtain a marriage. When it’s found that you lied, unlike any other contract you’re not obliged to compensate the other party or put them back into the position they’d have been in had they not married you. The men just have to divorce you and then they get taken to the cleaners exactly as though they were the ones at fault.
You’re in a better position when you buy a fridge. If the salesman procures the contract by lyingly saying it makes the tea, when you find out that it doesn’t, the contract is void and he has to put you back into the position you were in before.
If you marry a wh0re and you find out about it, you’re the one who had the problem, not her.
*I’m of the view that you are what you do

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

It’s easy to speculate. It would be interesting to hear from a few women who have had a sugar-daddy at uni and then what happened when they tried to have ‘normal’ relationships.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

Used bodies? I can’t believe this got so many likes. These women aren’t giving anything away that they don’t still have afterwards, physically speaking, and no one is going to be able to tell how much “sinful” sex they’ve had. It’s their mental health that’s going to be the issue.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
2 years ago
Reply to  Dawn McD

I would certainly expect them to be used – that’s what they’re for. My wife wanted me to be her last lover, not her first. And I wanted her to have some idea what she is doing.

Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott
2 years ago

A few thoughts on the article as told to me by an acquaintance who seems knowledgeable on this industry:

  1. As with many pursuits, the “best” 10% of producers will earn 90% of the income. Articles on this industry tend to over focus on the 10% and give a distorted view of the market.
  2. The difference between a sugarbaby and a prostitute is that the prostitute is paid on an hourly basis and, for the most part, can’t be selective in her clientele. The sugababy is paid a form of “salary” and is able to be selective and, potentially, is agreeing to exclusivity. Everyone involved can believe that there is a difference between the two business models if it helps them sleep better at night.
  3. Regarding the Instagram posts of the young women on the expensive yachts, I guarantee you that the “sponsors” have been cropped out of the photos. Any of the young women who are claiming that this is all about empowerment and smashing the patriarchy and so on need explain why they are not willing to be publicly photographed standing next to the man who made the whole thing happen.
  4. In fairness to the ladies, my friend was keen to point out that the sponsors, a large majority of whom will be married, probably also aren’t very keen on putting photos of themselves and their young friends on the family Instagram account. The wife of the sponsor has been told he is on a business trip to the depths of the Amazon rainforest where not even satellite phones work meaning he can’t be contacted nor can he interact with social media.
  5. Leah, the brainy American, wonders what is different between her and construction workers. See above Leah. Construction workers don’t have an issue begin photographed in their high viz jacket and hardhat when on site. Have you fully disclosed your occupation to you social media followers? Why haven’t you given the author your full name for publication? A construction worker would have no such issues.
  6. For better or worse, the internet has drawn in a lot more suppliers and made the market global. Demand has not kept pace. That has led to a fragmentation of the traditional model and the arrangements are now very likely to be purely time based and transactional with exclusivity from either buyer or seller becoming very rare. This article describes the industry as it somewhat was a decade ago but, with rare exceptions, is not any longer.
Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

As long as privileged women continue to spin the narrative of being victims of the patriarchy, any behaviour that strikes a blow at men can be justified on moral grounds.

The women cited in the article strike blows at both the wallets and the egos of men – but only men with power and money who are willing to pay for their time.

They constitute a tiny minority of all males, as in the case of MeToo, but this detail is ignored, conveniently, as it enables the women to frame their mercenary actions as justified – and even heroic in the battle against the “patriarchy.”

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

Of course men never have to put up with women’s emotional baggage when dating.

Dennis Lewis
Dennis Lewis
2 years ago

Nice one!

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago

Not a bit!

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

wait til they hit the 40’s with no man and no babies.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Kat L

That describes most of the #metoo whistleblowers. Most didn’t complain until the game stopped working for them.

John K
John K
2 years ago

An old-fasioned Marxist friend at university 50 years ago used to argue that selling the labour of your body (through sex or manual work) was morally superior to selling the labour of your mind or your hands. At least it was honest.

He may have had a point.

As others have noted, when working class women sell sex its called prostitution, when the UMC do so it’s sugar daddying.

It used to be called being an “escort” at one time, and was considered OK, even amusing.

Fast forward and you need to have a degree in evading logic to justify the hypocrisy.

Last edited 2 years ago by John K
Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
2 years ago
Reply to  John K

An escort is and always was a high-class, by-appointment-only prostitute. These girls are selling exclusivity which is different. I don’t know how to place it in historical context, but “mistress” comes closer than “escort.”

Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright
2 years ago

The real losers are young men, lower status older men, and less sexually attractive women.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Wright

Losing out doubly by not having access to rich powerful men who can “help their career along”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Wright

I think the real losers are the men and women involved in this business. It sounds like the perfect way to induce affluent misery.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Yes – but something can be both ghastly and corrupt!

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Wright

If young men, lower status older men, and less sexually attractive women “miss out” on the incredible cynicism and shallowness of these sugar daddy relationships, then they are better off, as they still have the opportunity to form real, caring, devoted relationships that will
withstand the test of time. Holy Scripture is full of wise admonitions to be loyal and devoted to one’s spouse, for its Author knows where true happines lies.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
2 years ago

It’s the professed hatred of men that is so depressing. I think it’s natural, when we are young to have a relaxed attitude to sex and who we have sex with but hating the men who pay for your favours and those of your own generation is really sad.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

It is self hatred projected onto others, I think. Tragic waste.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Could be, but I think that the author may be onto something with the observation that these women are feminists: the modern form of feminism that explicitly legitimises hatred towards men instead of primarily the empowerment of women. That is what underpins this ugly dehumanisation of men that permits these women to treat them in the way described.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

The thought I had, when the women were describing these men, is that their experience is coming from a “study sample” of men who would pay young women to go on trips with them and pretend to be their girlfriends for a limited contracted time. These are not regular guys. If someone’s primary experience of America was being dropped into a rodeo and then asked what Americans are like, they might say “big hats, pointy boots, like to ride large animals, chew tobacco and spit a lot.”

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“With top therapists charging hundreds an hour, these men are actually getting quite a good deal. For a few hundred bucks, they get emotional succour as well as sex.”

I wouldn’t be too sure about that, because it assumes that this is what a professional therapist would actually provide – not the naked part obviously, but the same end result. Just because this man wants to cry his eyes out in such a situation doesn’t mean that’s what he actually needs: someone in pain needs a therapist to analyse why they are in pain, not to gratify an acting-out instinct that is one of the symptoms of that pain.

You might just as well say that alcohol and drugs are worth the money to those unlucky enough to be addicted to them, but in fact they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
A Hick
A Hick
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I agree. The women are functioning more as a “drug” and seeking as the “dealer.” The men need detoxing of course.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
2 years ago

This article seems to imply that “MeToo#” is not only a cynical use of rank hypocrisy, but also nothing more than, just another angle by which to get attention and get ahead, and gives voice to the lie that all women, even, and maybe particularly, intelligent, pretty, ambitious ones, are all ‘victims’ of dastardly MEN, but might, actually, have some agency, in exploitative relationships. How any self respecting woman can stand up and proclaim they are a feminist, as if it is something pure and noble is utterly beyond me, and while I fully support the rights of woman I have nothing but contempt for the noisy shrill’s who populate the ‘cutting’ edge of modern feminism.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

To be honest, it isn’t really the cutting edge of feminism – more a kind of pop feminism built around female entitlement. Feminism may have fed this with its constant hard luck stories, bs about patriarchy and anti male rhetoric, but I don’t think this was ever an intended outcome.

A Hick
A Hick
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

Not sure. I think the article is saying that women who rationalize such behavior as “feminist” are self-gaslighting themselves to a bad ending. #MeToo is primarily an elite driven moral panic, not over any cable adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, but triggered by Trump’s election. The election of someone like Donald Trump exposed just how depraved a society the US had become. Will it have any lasting positive effect? Maybe, or maybe not. My bet is not much much of one. What’s really interesting is how commercial culture commodifies everything relentlessly, including not just sex itself (historically through more mundane brothel or pimped prostitution) but now the idea of a relationship. The autonomous GFE provider is a relatively new concept in Western bourgeois culture. It was there in aristocratic Europe and definitely in some Asian cultures (courtesans), but here is it cheapened and commodified to a much greater extent. The most interesting parallel maybe to what we have now was in the Weimar Republic in Berlin where a very sophisticated sex trade (mostly for rich foreign “sexual tourists”) had a similar gradation of elite providers, both in a GFE type thing and more interestingly BDSM (calling Mr. Grey). Of course such commodification of intimacy and the illusion of empathy didn’t exactly work out well for the Germans, or several tens of millions of eventual collateral damage.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago

Of course the young men are the collateral damage to the unavailability of their female ‘peers’. My advice to them is Go East Young Man! Asian women are interested in serious relationships from their early 20s, generally well educated and aspirational, and maintain relations with an extended family that makes Western families look frighteningly dysfunctional. Plus, you get to see more interesting parts of the world than yachts in Mediterranean ports.

Kate S
Kate S
2 years ago

Feminism has long been colonised and capitalised. It’s no longer a critical apprach to women’s liberation, but a sellable brand that anyone can appropriate. I also think that the moment feminism was branded as a *safe space for everyone* it all went downhill. A good example being that men in drag appear to be leading the ideological charge in feminism today. Maybe it’s a leap but that this coincides with the meteoric shift in Feminisms focus to issues like sex work, body positivity etc seems to me to be playing a big part in the dismantling of feminisms original aims.

Now it’s all about the ever-shifting territory of feelings and validation instead of analysis.

In any case, this article make my heart ache a little, i feel like we’re moving into a very cynical age.

Alan B
Alan B
2 years ago
Reply to  Kate S

It is the chilling next wave of 90s-era deregulation. “Neo-liberal” metaphysics.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

feminism has morphed from a movement with ideals — which envisioned, for instance, a socialist world in which women might be free from sex work — into a hard-nosed, misandric, mercenary pragmatism.

even those of us who only bought into a lighter version of feminism saw one of the big pluses that as women earned there own money, money would be taken out of the dating equation. People would date as equals.
in fact it seems to have led to massively entitled women for whom the world, and men in particular, were created just to meet their needs.
mostly this entitlement takes the form of complaints that it hasn’t worked out that way – because hubby, or men in general, are useless.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

How utterly horrible.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Yes – and all that expensive foreign travel can’t be any good for the environment either

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

Students at elite universities work as prostitutes so they can sun bath on the Aegean while paying off student loans. Hmm. Cornell should go ahead and make this part of their summer internship program.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 years ago

So, the ruling classes are using prostitution to get ahead in life… yet more evidence (as if it were needed) that our elites are totally out of control.

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago

This article reminds me of the latest season of Sex Education. A thoroughly enjoyable comedy. However, regardless of the intention of the series, Sex Education is simply a celebration of confused women transferring their confusion and angst onto compliant men.
This article is describing utterly unconfused men, using their confidence and money to buy sex from confused women, and their tension between a set of ideologies and an identity they desperately wish they enjoyed vs the easy money they really crave.

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
2 years ago

Everybody sells their body. Construction workers sell their bodies. What’s different?”
I loathe these disingenuous word games. We all know that “selling your body” is a euphemism for prostitution. Prostitution means getting paid to allow someone to use your body for their sexual gratification. Construction workers generally don’t do that, so I would say that’s a pretty obvious difference Why can’t she be honest about that?
Also, it seems implied in this article that the men generally treat the women well. What happens when one of these old dogs is emotionally abusive to one of these empowered young feminists? Probably not a very pretty picture.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
2 years ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

I don’t think it’s disingenuous at all. There are strong parallels – both are selling their physical and mental attributes, time and energy. Does an escort always allow a client to do anything he may want? No – she has agency and exercises it. Of course, sex is inherently intimate, which is why a real sexual assault is much tougher than a mere everyday assault, and for those of us who know what it is like to care for a partner, to call sex merely transactional is stupidly reductive. But we all know how it feels to have engaged in meaningless, transactional sex, and that isn’t qualitatively different to selling your brain, muscles, time, professional experience and all the rest of it. You choose which bits of yourself to sell and get on with it.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
2 years ago

I don’t mind being downticked, but am curious as to the reasoning of those who do. I’d like to hear your thoughts as to why. Thanks.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

I have’nt downticked you but I’ll explain why I disagree with you.
All religions as far as I know view sexual intercourse, within marriage, as a sacred bond, it makes babies which make up families which make our future.
The other side to sex may be pleasurable but it is also risky (200,000 abortions last year and rising) and/or transactional.
Your comment exemplifies our secular, capitalist society’s attitude to sex as just another commodity, according to you it has no deeper meaning than mowing the lawn or running a business. I think that is a grave error, as well as very sad.
Perhaps that’s why you have been downticked, I don’t know.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

This is not feminism, it is prostitution. I had a longish relationship with a much older man when I was young and took nothing from him.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

 “These men desperately want to be valued by women,” she has said. One man just wanted to cry on her; after talking about “his life”

ok, so this is a man rich enough to afford to be a sugar daddy crying about his (presumably burdensome) life.
and he wants to be valued by women – presumably for something other than his money
anybody feeling any sympathy here?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I wonder if her interpretation is slightly off. Could he not want the burden of coping with his life to be understood or recognised – whether it be narcissistic or not or whatever?

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

It’s more – do I really care?

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand…….

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

W.B.Yeats?

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Yes, ‘The Stolen Child’, I think.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Thanks. Purely a guess on my part. I don’t know Yeats at all well, and had never heard of this one.

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

The Waterboys set the poem to music – it’s beautiful.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Yes, when I read this piece I felt so frustrated and saddened at what is happening to the world around us and I recalled this poem… this is just one verse. Forgive my laziness but I felt WBY was a better wordsmith than me!
The poem echoes of silliness ( perhaps that word itself is appropriate to these young women and rich older men), but also infers of traps with sinister undertones There are several levels to all this but at one level it seemed to me that, despite these young women being well educated, that like the child in Yeats poem they are incapable of grasping the reality of life and thus are in a sense innocent and easily lured into false security.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

My daughters attended an elite all-girls prep school in Manhattan. There are a handful of ‘sugaring’ cases amongst their peers. It seems to be a rich or privileged girl’s gig as they have access to rich men unlike middle-class and poorer women. No doubt these ‘sugaring’ girls are used to an elite lifestyle and can’t perpetuate it themselves in the near term, so they have a go at it. It’s for sure ‘a thing’.

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
2 years ago

“at the back of your mind you think, well, you’re going to get treated badly anyway…” What an astonishing and sad thing to say, given that half the planet is men. No doubt she is steeped in modern feminism where the world is divided into “them” and “us” and everyone loses except those making money off it all.

Scott Powell
Scott Powell
2 years ago

Not counting the more exotic separations of men and women, like in this article, I think it’s obvious that relations between the sexes have never been worse. That’s what we call progress, I guess.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

Hugging and crying is what I need.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Yes – but do you have a yacht?

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

No, but I’ve got a huge xxxx

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

But the article is about rich old men buying cash strapped young women.
I was always amused by the tale of Emma Hamilton. She started out as a courtesan – one of the most beautiful women of the age.(She was rumoured to have danced naked on the dining table at Upthank house during a particularly rumbustious party) The ancient Lord Hamilton took her as a trophy wife and she became Lady Hamilton. He wasn’t able to make use of her and so she said “Ta very much”, moved to Naples and took as her lover, Horation Nelson. Lord Hamilton didn’t seem to care. What a gal.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Isn’t the article also about cash strapped young women selling themselves to rich old men? The impression I got was of a negotiated transactional relationship and the possible deleterious effects it may have.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

Did I say otherwise michael?
Emma got the ring and the title and the money.
The ring was they key. Being a Sugar Babe is a dumb move.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

cash strapped young women.

though only temporarily cash strapped, and only relatively so. And they are doing it for posh hols abroad, expensive clothes and the like, not to feed their kids.

Dennis Lewis
Dennis Lewis
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Your potted history of Emma, Lady Hamilton – who could be considered one of the most celebrated ‘sugar babies’ in history – gives her a lot more agency than she actually had. Although she did achieve fame as the model of the painter George Romney, the historical record shows that she was literally passed around from one aristocrat to another. Charles Greville, the aristocrat who got the most use out of her, kept her as his mistress in England on condition that she give up her daughter born from a previous liaison. Once Greville got bored with her, he foisted her onto his uncle, Sir William Hamilton who was British Envoy to Naples. Her love affair with Nelson brought her more fame in England. But when he died, the British government refused to honour the provisions Nelson had made in his will for her upkeep. Overwhelmed by debt and abandoned by most of her friends, Emma fled England for France. It was there that she died in abject poverty at the age of 49. Sad story.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Sounds like quite some character, and Nelson went up even further in my eyes! Though I suspect that part of the story was made up.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

All I can say is “yuck”.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 years ago

Here’s the best intro to this aspect of evolutionary psychology I’ve seen, by a Filipina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=082hRjgIKG4

Last edited 2 years ago by Rod McLaughlin
Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 years ago

What an epistle of despair.
There really is more to life than money.
To display such cinicism so early in life makes me pity anyone with those values.
More fool the stupid men!

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago

Thanks for such an insightful article. For me, a key phrase is “a desire to be treated considerately, tenderly by them.” Old fashioned chivalry has been under a pincer assault this past two decades. From extreme feminists who consider it “benevolent sexism”. And widely across the manosphere, from those who consider even the mildest form of chivalry as the value of despicable white knights.
And the decline of religion has to be a factor, even back in the 20th century, social scientists were stating its religion that prevents “free trade” in a sexual marketplace.
Perhaps most of all, sugar platforms reflect a society wide trend away from right brain relational values to left brain utilitarian / transactional thinking, as Iain McGilchrist explains at length in his books. Not really sure what the solution is. No trend stays unidirectional for ever, but I think this need to get a bit worse before they start getting better. ( Im talking about the general decline of relational values. For sugar platforms, strong regulatory undercurrents are building against them, their peak popularity may be very close, at least in the anglosphere. If they decline that will be a mixed blessing. In todays wicked world, they are hugely life enhancing for some.)

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

I think the Taliban have the right approach.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

or perhaps previous generations from your own culture, where women were protected from cads and the family had a say in the marriage.

rick Ewbank
rick Ewbank
2 years ago

The easy access to online porn for many years now has affected young men’s attitudes to women and to sex, and probably the attitudes of women as well. Not enough people are talking about this but the impact is serious in my view. I am sure the attitudes displayed by the woment interviewed here have their roots in the influence of too much porn.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  rick Ewbank

I am sure the attitudes displayed by the woment interviewed here have their roots in the influence of too much porn.

would you mind joining the dots on this one for us.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

I don’t think I’ve read anything so sad and disturbing for a long time.

Gisele Lamarche
Gisele Lamarche
2 years ago

I look forward to your article about parasitic men seeking ” a nurse with a purse”!!

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Are there such women? Where do you meet them? Angels with assets? Is there some sort of app?

Gisele Lamarche
Gisele Lamarche
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

as a nursing assistant I meet men looking for a “nurse with a purse” DAILY.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Sorry to be personal, but as a nursing assistant I’m guessing you can’t offer a yacht in the med.
and you’ve confused my denial that there are many such women around with a denial that men are looking for them.

Aron T
Aron T
2 years ago

When I was a young boy in a religious parochial school, a constant theme of our teachers was that the generations are in decline, and modern people are a mere shadow in terms of virtue and intelligence compared to the ancient ones. Most of the commenters on this article sound just them. The reality is what an ancient wise man once wrote: “there is nothing new under the sun” I recently was reading a new translation of The Three Musketeers. All four of them were sugar babies of one sort or another. D’Artagnan shamelessly raped Milady and exploited her maid. I can go on and on. Dumas was a genius at describing human foibles and people in his book are no different in any way (better or worse) than people living today. The same can be said of the characters in the Bible, or in Greek or Mayan myths or….
I strongly urge all the shocked commentators to relax. The modern world is not going down the shit hole – it’s always been that way. To quote the book of Genesis: “the heart of human desire is evil from one’s youth” All you can and should do is try and lead a good and decent life yourself, and stop worrying about and judging other people’s lives.

Last edited 2 years ago by Aron T
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago

It’s a nasty business seeing half the population as contemptuous. I’ve little time for the men involved in these arrangements but there’s the pretence; the want a sexy young woman’s company. The women strike me as mercenary and false.

Honest sex work is fine but to have such hatred for your clients is very distasteful.

We live a culture of women as perennial victims; quick to blame men whether deserved or not. Women are rarely held to account and there are those who see men only as wallets and callously exploit them.

I believe the overwhelming majority of women are not like this and live with men as friends and partners on equal terms. Like those men who disgrace us, those few women whose naked, shallow self interest should be held to account. Fair play to our writer she has tried to do this.

Alan B
Alan B
2 years ago
  1. Surely the number of actual women (not bots) on these sites is exaggerated…just as the AM dump revealed about that sex-selling racket. Why repeat these numbers credulously? That amounts to marketing on behalf of the “sugaring” industry.
  2. As others have said better, it is naive to believe that the chief aim of “MeToo was…to free women in the professional sphere from being treated as objects. It was a marketing campaign plain and simple. That MeToo aimed at freedom from objectification was surely the intended appearance, however; and as one famous American has taught us, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” In this sense–as marketing–it was a success.
  3. The emotional consequences for people like Molly are worthy of concern, but this is becoming an even more grave social ill.The people who do this are venal, incapable of forming and maintaining intimate relationships, and yet clearly they feel entitled or are otherwise empowered to rule us (“powerful Washington lobbyist” aaaaargh!!!). How long can it be endured? “Leaders” such as this will produce nothing more than a thoroughly transactional dystopia and we’re getting one very quickly.

Now whose ready to mint that trillion-dollar coin?

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

OK, those sugaring hate men, treat them with contempt while taking their money. Fair play? Maybe.
But what about so-called “normal” relationships that these women may value at some future point: a real relationship, children, family? Will they be able to overcome their antipathy toward older men, men in general, men who are not financial superstars? If not, what will that mean for the relationships they start, the families they have? And let’s put this squarely in the context that young men, in general, are floundering, dropping out of college or not even enrolling, and far too many spend far too much time in Mum’s basement watching porn and playing video games. If these younger women sugaring hate the (financially) successful older men, imagine what they will feel toward their peers and potential partners.
Sugaring seems to be a fundamentally dishonest transaction, as opposed to simply escorting: sex for €. Providing something akin to “the girlfriend experience” seems to free girls from the “stigma” of calling themselves prostitutes (in their own minds), but isn’t that what they are (not that there is anything wrong with it)? I would hesitate to call these girls mental health therapists, not matter how much skin to skin contact they have while the men cry…..

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

Another day, another UnHerd article heaping opprobrium on men:
“Beneath the reasoning of many sugar babies’ testimonies lies a terrible disappointment with how men are, and, one might infer, a desire to be treated considerately, tenderly by them.”
Yet you furnish not one quote to back up this “inference”, but simply resort to misandrist stereotypes regarding the alleged insensitivity and callous behaviour of men – for want of a better explanation for their mercenary and transactional approach to life.
Perhaps these high-class escorts are just “broke”, as they say, and becoming a “sugar babe”, as ghastly as it sounds, appears to be an easier way of earning money than the many other alternatives at their disposal?
Some of us actually took menial jobs whilst at university. And survived.
Is there anything any of the female contributors to UnHerd actually like about men?
I presume that even those unfortunate enough to have been so cruelly conditioned by patriarchy into deluding themselves they are heterosexual (Bindel) do form relations with men? Fathers, brothers, perhaps?
And are there any other subjects that interest them besides enumerating the hideous attributes of men and their toxic relationships?
Because apart from the occasional piece from the ever readable Mary Harrington, they appear to write about nothing else.
No one with an IQ higher than a daisy would make negative generalisations about say, the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims based on the abhorrent actions of a tiny minority of Islamists, so why do feminists – of whatever wave – feel empowered to do so about men? Unremittingly.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
2 years ago
Reply to  Eddie Johnson

The author is repeating the reported experience of sugar babies, who are the tiniest minority of young women and they are practicing a specialized trade. From what little I know about it, she is reporting it accurately, but the article greatly exaggerates the size of the phenomenon (there just aren’t that many rich men with the resources, inclination, and free time to go on holiday with a frisky 23-year-old). It would be the most depressing article I ever read if I thought there were millions of American sugar babies populating the bars and luxury hotels of the Med, but there are probably just tens of thousands.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago

She doesn’t sound like marriage material, does she?

William Cameron
William Cameron
2 years ago

Problem is that it devalues the lady . She is much less attractive with that in her CV .

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

Come soon, oh merciful meteor.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

As an older divorced man, who meets quite a few of these sugar daddies wives / ex wives, I am constantly fascinated as to what interests these, in my view far more attractive than ” 20 something” ladies?… Men who don’t drink is probably the single biggest factor, closely followed by men whose ‘ raison d’etre” is not governed by job title, peer group status and/ or wealth and their car, who are self deprecating and… actually love womens company.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

What these dozy tarts don’t realise is just how short their shelf-life is. There’s always going to be fresh meat coming on the market. And if that seems harsh – I’m taking them at their own valuation.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

What these dozy tarts don’t realise is just how short their shelf-life is. There’s always going to be fresh meat coming on the market. And if that seems harsh – I’m taking them at their own valuation.

Miguel Alvarez
Miguel Alvarez
2 years ago

I’ve ended up in a few such situations.
All 3 were amazing, fun and wonderful…I have zero regrets.
They enjoyed the dinners, drinks, trips, hotels and gifts.
I enjoyed their company…None hit me up for money or demanded anything.
It just flowed…When I asked why they being in their 20’s would date a man in his 30’s and 40’s all (3) told me they were tired of young guys who were rude, crude, liars, cheap or had limp xxxxx.
They never hid me or were embarrassed to walk holding my hand and we laughed and enjoyed each other’s time.
I met the families of (2).
Some women are mercenary about money, with others it’s about wanting a partner to enjoy life with that isn’t crazy controlling or abusive.
Plus young women have a crazy Daddy Kink now a days…If you look good and are funny with a little cash in our pocket…Odds are you won’t be lonely unless you want to be.

Last edited 2 years ago by Miguel Alvarez
Miguel Alvarez
Miguel Alvarez
2 years ago

I’ve ended up in a few such situations.
All 3 were amazing, fun and wonderful…I have zero regrets.
They enjoyed the dinners, drinks, trips, hotels and gifts.
I enjoyed their company…None hit me up for money or demanded anything.
It just flowed…When I asked why they being in their 20’s would date a man in his 30’s and 40’s all (3) told me they were tired of young guys who were rude, crude, liars, cheap or had limp xxxxx.
They never hid me or were embarrassed to walk holding my hand and we laughed and enjoyed each other’s time.
I met the families of (2).
Some women are mercenary about money, with others it’s about wanting a partner to enjoy life with that isn’t crazy controlling or abusive.
Plus young women have a crazy Daddy Kink now a days…If you look good and are funny with a little cash in our pocket…Odds are you won’t be lonely unless you want to be.

Last edited 2 years ago by Miguel Alvarez
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

11

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

I am ashamed of my sex, after gaining the vote from the sacrifices made by the suffragettes we have simply gone along with the folly of the economic growth paradigm. Chasing after money rather than the truly important things of life. Both men and women will soon learn the hard way. Our excesses have compounded the climate crisis with an ecological crisis that is likely to cause global collapse in finance, civilisation and population commencing right now. Research providing all these predictions is referenced in this Wikipedia article Ecological overshoot – Wikipedia

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

This statement:after gaining the vote from the sacrifices made by the Suffragettes is not historically/factually correct.
There was a majority in the Commons by 1910 in favour. However, the demand was votes for property-owning women and the Liberal PM worried that too many would vte Tory and he’d lose the election.
The Suffragists, who had been working since the 1890s, did not support the terrorist actions.
The 1918 Act was as much motivated by giving votes to the men returning from the WW1 trenches.
https://genderparity.uk/suffragettes-votes-women/

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Well said Mike. So many people forget about the suffragists, who were quiter but more successful.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

You can also find much of this referenced in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. (including the climate change) When the ancient Jews listened to God, they prospered. When they sunk into selfishness and ill repute, they were conquered. Over and over and over again. We are no different.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
2 years ago

Go back to work and produce something useful. You are not going to solve the climate crisis and ecological crisis, such as there is one, by complaining about it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laurence Siegel
Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

also, if done incorrectly it can get you killed. one college student several years ago was murdered after meeting up at her clients house after a trip.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Kat L

That’s quite a small number if this is as common as it seems. But there must surely be a lot of emotional and physical damage short of actual death. Or am I being naive?

Al Chapman
Al Chapman
2 years ago

It’s a bit like girls at University who happily f##k and shack up with their professors. They find themselves friendless, isolated with none of the life long friendships and acquaintances that living and mixing with your peers gains you. All for the security of a mirage of status and money and now of course social media…an old reeperbahn brothel window if I ever saw one.

davidackland7
davidackland7
2 years ago

I want so much to be outraged by this quite Playboyish essay but all I really feel is confusion at this nonsense. Do I really pay to read this nonsense. These body privileged nightmares contribute to the female emancipation HOW. I’ve just read of a young London woman being murdered 8.30 in the evening in a busy park in London, her home town. Perhaps this vehicle would be more useful looking into this.

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
2 years ago

Sugar babes – baaaaarrrggh!

J. Brelner
J. Brelner
2 years ago

Not to put too fine a point on it — a w***e by any other name.

A Hick
A Hick
2 years ago

I was struck by the men crying. Not because I don’t believe it, but because I know a middle aged man around 60 who has used seeking.com to find women (not that young, but somewhat younger than he is) after two failed marriages. He is a basket case emotionally and psychologically. Not a sociopath but just a damaged person. He is I would argue, a textbook misogynist, meaning he can’t relate well to women as people beyond their sexual utility, but he is not a stereotyped predatory boor who consciously “hates” them. He is also a textbook case of cognitive dissonance. He desperately wants a true relationship, but has no clue what is involved in maintaining one. He is not violent or physically abusive. His marriages were to women who likewise were “damaged” people (one was closeted gay and had issues with that until the marriage fell apart, and the other was a true manipulative narcissist). He is looking for a sort of GFE to provide at least the illusion of empathy and support. He will find it from another “damaged” person probably, at least on some level. He is “dating” a 35ish women, not from some elite university, but a working class women (which is what he prefers as he is working class himself vocationally but from an elite background with inherited money, a classic underachiever, learning disabled who choose a blue collar job over a professional one). She is just getting out of a failed marriage.

Last edited 2 years ago by A Hick
A Hick
A Hick
2 years ago
Reply to  A Hick

This article is discussing a tiny and particularized subtype of sex worker. The women interviewed and featured are either from elite backgrounds themselves (daughters of elites) or from upper middle class and educated backgrounds who aspire to elite status. They hate their clients not because they are men, per se, but because they resent having to engage in this sort of thing as the price for gaining or maintaining elite status. They are ultimately hating on themselves. Now there are working class women (pretty ones) who also manage to enter this world, and from the experience I’ve seen, from the above example for instance, such women have a far more realistic view of such “business” and less self loathing for doing it. That doesn’t mean it’s “good” for them in any way, I would argue it is not, but many of them seem far better able to compartmentalize the “business’ side of it and not see it as some sort of existential degradation of their personhood. Non elites know how the world works, and what they have to do to get ahead, and simply feel less personal guilt historically for engaging in many activities that elites feel guitly about when they are forced (or think they are forced) to engage in them.
It’s always been this way, and it probably will always be this way. The most interesting literature about guilt is written by elites, and for elites, or about elites to amuse non elites. Whether it’s a gothic novel, a supermarket tabloid, or a Woody Allen movie, if you want to read about, or watch interesting guilt and lives screwed up by it, you know where to go.

Last edited 2 years ago by A Hick
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
2 years ago

There is nothing ‘feminist’ about having a sugar daddy. Both it and being a housewife are forms of prostitution and, frankly, I have more respect for the street prostitutes who do it from poverty and addiction.

Alan B
Alan B
2 years ago

Misery loves company.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

i can assure you madam that i am no prostitute.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago

Are you a Marxist? Just curious.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Are you saying that most women are prostitutes? Have you told them of your opinion? I’m not sure you are right, but if so then they really should stop.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
2 years ago

You just called the lovely woman sitting next to me a prostitute. Have you no shame?