2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Sugar baby sex work none of your business

By Hayden McBennett, February 5 2015 —

The website seekingarrangements.com is giving traditional sex work a new look. The website has over three million members, aiming to bring together “sugar babies” with “sugar daddies” or “sugar mommas.”

The University of Calgary is 15th on the Huffington Post’s list of Canada’s biggest sugar-daddy schools, with over 50 new signups to the website in 2014.

These no-strings-attached relationships are traditionally between an older, rich man and a young woman. In these relationships, money is exchanged for companionship and sexual behaviour of some kind. In the case of seekingarrangements.com, the “sugar babies” are young people looking to pay their way through post-secondary without taking on too much debt. “Sugar babies” earn an average of $2,600 a month.

Each arrangement is negotiated separately, with limits and boundaries discussed by both participants. The website also features “sugar mommas,” as well as the option to seek same gender arrangements.

It seems like a drastic solution to find more money for school, but tuition costs are rising. It’s increasingly difficult for young people to pursue post-secondary education and establish careers without running up large amounts of debt. The idea of having someone take care of all that in exchange for some dates has an appeal even the most straight-laced of us can see.

Though the website dresses up reality by calling it a “relationship on your terms,” an arrangement like this is a form of sex work. It’s a term that comes with a lot of moral judgments, but exchanging money for either sex or sexual behaviour is sex work.

The outdated idea of a young woman whoring herself out is rooted in sexist stereotypes. These relationships are two-sided. Both people in these relationships are getting something they need — either emotional and physical intimacy or money to pay for their education.

Just because I wouldn’t be comfortable in such a relationship doesn’t make me a moral arbiter. If both parties consent and are over 18, then it’s no one’s business but the people involved.

Sex work has the potential to be dangerous. If you’re entering into a relationship where you trade sex or affection for money, make sure both parties have the ability to withdraw consent at any time. Be smart about it. Establish criteria and boundaries. 

Finding a “sugar daddy” or “sugar momma” doesn’t have to be how you pay for your post-secondary education. But it’s not your body, so you don’t get to decide what happens to it. Stigmatizing sex work only hurts the people who work in an already dangerous industry. 

Tagged: ,

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet