College acceptances in some ways are easier to come by than financing the education that comes with them. Despite the various financial aid/ loan packages one can sign up for, many students still fall short on payments needed for their housing or class materials. While some students turn to part-time jobs to relieve financial burdens, others decide to enter escort services.
The Atlantic reports that 44 percent of the 2.3 million women who are enlisted escorts — “sugar babies” — on the site Seeking Arrangement are in college. If the “babies” sign up to Seeking Arrangement with an .edu email address they receive free premium membership whereas male users must pay $1,200 for it. The “dating” site also claims the sexual relationships created between their “babies” and users are natural. Seeking Arrangement also upholds the illusion that its services are not prostitution despite the clear sex-for-money exchange.
Even though the relationships can get very physical, many of the sugar daddy/sugar baby relationships have an added dimension. It’s not just about physical looks, but also intelligence. It was duly noted in The Atlantic’s investigative piece, “some men on the site use it exclusively for sex, the majority want sex and something else. They want someone to come along on business trips, go to company events, and meet their friends—someone who understands and appears interested in what they have to say. Most importantly, they want someone who will help them pretend that the relationship is not a transaction.”
The “babies” interviewed by Caroline Kitchener, author of the investigative article, told her when they do not ask for their payments upfront, they receive more funds. Some of men even give the young women credit cards to make the exchange feel more personable. One woman, named Wanitwat shared:
“I found that some, if not most, of the guys don’t want to talk about money. I suspect that’s because it kills the fantasy. They’re trying to pretend that these smart, beautiful women actually want to hang out with them.”
Though these men may try to avoid the reality of the relationships they have with their “babies,” Kitchener challenges readers and even the “babies” to break through another illusion. The “babies” may be brilliant college students trying to fund their education, that does not exempt them from the label of prostitute. Or does it?