Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Online dating: is it prostitution?

Published: March 9, 2007
Section: Opinions

I recently came across a website called, a dating website for people looking for mutually beneficial arrangements. The site connects Sugar Daddies with Sugar Babies. Basically, it promotes arrangements where young women date older men in exchange for expensive gifts. Unlike other dating websites, profiles of Sugar Daddies (and Sugar Mommies) list the persons annual income and net worth;

for example, ActionDaddy is worth $750,000 to $1,000,000. The profiles of Sugar Babies list how much each expect from their Sugar Daddies (or Mommies). Foxy Kat expects between $3,001 and $5000 a month from her Sugar Daddy. She asks, Im looking to make YOUR world a better place Do YOU want to do the same for Me? She makes it sound so simple, doesnt she?

The website helps us with some clarifying definitions:

Sugar Daddy: n. Slang. A wealthy, usually older man who gives expensive gifts to a young person in return for intimacy or companionship.

Sugar Mommy: n. Slang. A wealthy, usually older women who gives expensive gifts to a young person in return for intimacy or companionship.

Sugar Baby: n. Slang. A young person who gives intimacy or companionship to an older man or woman in exchange for expensive gifts.

According to the website, this is a very natural dating arrangement. “Lets face it Its human nature for older men to want the younger and more attractive women. Its also natural for younger women to seek out men who are successful, specifically those who have the means of providing a woman with comforts and luxuries.

I did a little more research to see just how natural this arrangement was. I trolled the Craigslist personal ads and found hundreds of ads looking for sugar babies, sugar daddies, and mutually beneficial arrangements. It seemed as though most of the sugar daddies were looking to help out college students in particular, who perhaps have the desire to live lavishly but do not have the time for a traditional job. When I did a little more research on who these sugar daddies were, they were more often than not busy businessmen in their 30s and 40s, who claimed to simply not have time for a traditional relationship. They were willing to pay in order to have the convenience of some no-muss, no-fuss company — often sexual company. These arrangements were also pretty common in the gay personal ads as well.

Now, this seems all well and good. I once dated someone who showered me with gifts. Its not a bad deal. Of course, that was a relationship and not an arrangement. But the question remains: where do we draw the line between a mutually beneficial arrangement beneficiary and whore?

The dictionary defines prostitute as:

pros/ti/tute: -noun
1. a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money;


2. a man who engages in sexual acts for money.
3. a person who willingly uses his or her talent or ability in a base and unworthy way, usually for money.

So, is this mutually beneficial arrangement NOT prostitution because these sugar babies are receiving gifts instead of hard cash? Or is it because sex is negotiable within an arrangement?

According to an anonymous Sugar Baby quoted on, Who doesnt want to be spoilt and pampered? The truth is many of my girlfriends want to find a sugar daddy.

I am still having trouble wrapping my mind around this. On the one hand, what a great idea! I am young, attractive, and available. Therefore, I deserve to be paid for my attentions. How easy it could be! That new digital camcorder Ive been wanting — POOF! Its mine! All I had to do was spend some quality time with a rich older gentleman. I suppose I can understand this Sugar Babys point of view.

On the other hand Shes getting paid for her attentions. The Japanese Geisha is the only other example of this I can think of, and even they were occasionally paid for intercourse. And yet, these Sugar Babies havent been schooled in the fine art of entertaining gentleman. The only thing they have going for them is youth, looks, and maybe naivety. This just doesnt seem right. It seems like prostitution. And lets not forget that even consensual prostitution is still prostitution. But is consensual prostitution fine and dandy? Or is it wrong because its illegal? Is it wrong even if it were legal? Or is it still fine and dandy if it isnt legal, but everyone is happy with it? Is this simply a business transaction;

exchanging one good for another to the benefit of both parties? Or is it just an after-school job? It does sound a little more exciting than Aramark, albeit much, MUCH less safe.

Regardless of ones personal beliefs about the exchange of sex for money, I would not recommend this type of arrangement to anyone. Especially if it were formed over the internet. First of all, your sugar daddy could be a serial killer. Second, if you were getting paid handsomely by this individual, I am pretty sure it would be hard to say no when they ask you to do something you dont want to do. I tend to believe that sex is emotionally safer and most enjoyable when based on trust and respect, not money. The whole thing should set off an internal sketch alarm, because in the end, one has to wonder what kind of person chooses to buy a fake relationship rather than forge a real one?