America’s Desperate Students Turn to Prostitution
Seekingarrangement.com, whose tagline reads “Elite Sugar Daddy dating site for Mutually Beneficial Relationships,” gained upwards of 800,000 members, 35% of whom are college students willing to have sex with wealthy old people for cash. …Um. What.
Okay, let’s talk about prostitution. Basic definition: sex for money. The quintessential supply and demand market, if you will. In order to further my knowledge and eliminate all fine lines concerning this term, I consulted the end-all-be-all of the English language: urbandictionary.com. The first definition, which acquired 244 thumbs up signs, simply stated, “The world’s oldest and most successful profession.”
Interesting. Very interesting.
It makes sense, if you think about it. They say only sin is recession-proof, which is a more refined way of telling us that whenever shit hits the economic fan, we’re always willing to drown ourselves with illicit sex, drugs and a hardcore consumption of alcohol. Even though we are unable to face ourselves in the mirror the next morning, we still got our immediate gratification so what the hell, right?
Some businesses, however, have capitalized on our country’s total lack of shame. Take Seeking Arrangement, a site that hooks up “sugar babies” with “sugar daddies” (or “sugar mommies” if you’ve ever fantasized about Stiffler’s mom).
Clearly I’m very big on definitions today, so I meandered on over to the website which boldly states the qualifications of each role. Here we go:
Let’s highlight a few key areas here. We’ll start with sugar babies because everything about this website proves that my generation deserves some serious attention. First, you have to be hot. Secondly, you have to be incredibly materialistic. That’s…pretty much it.
Sugar daddies/mommies must have a huge net worth that they’re willing to share and their marital status must mean absolutely nothing to them. Bonus points if they have completely conventional sexual fantasies found in most porn movies.
Alright, so that’s nothing new. Apart from the encouragement of adultery, it’s just a regular dating site. I’ll rank it somewhere between christianmingle.com and Zoosk.
But wait! Did I spy “student” in that first screen shot?
Fun fact about Seeking Arrangement: Out of the 800,000 members, 35% of the “sugar babies” (as estimated by Brandon Wade, the 41 year old founder) are college students. “Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded. College students are one of the biggest segments of our sugar babies and the numbers are growing all the time.”
Since I’m currently a college student (with loans like everyone else, actually), I can assure you that, on average, we’re not abandoning our age group and swooning for the 45+ crowd. To be honest, they remind us of our parents, which isn’t sexy. But the site isn’t boasting a knack for pairing soul mates; it’s merely advertising dollar signs. And instead of seeing a creepy old person leering at us through our Macs, we see a way to pay off our student loans.
But put yourself in the shoes of the student for a minute. Everyone likes to be wined and dined once in a while, but I highly doubt going out on a “date” with a 40something (who is really 60something once you meet him in person; botox doesn’t fool the educated) year old was ideal. To be honest, I think it might be a last resort for some. But there is a clear motivation and everyone involved knows it—even the website, whose tagline is “Mutually Beneficial Relationships”. Translation: we want cash to pay for college; you want to get laid. Let’s talk business.
The Huffington Post provides an example. Taylor, a 22-year-old college student, took a train from her apartment in Harlem to Greenwich, CT, which is known for being extremely affluent. (It’s where celebrities go when they want to live in the City but not really.) She met a man who claimed he was 42 but was obviously older in person (toldja), and went back with him to his mansion. Once there, they both changed into swimsuits and, after Taylor rubbed sunscreen on Rich Old Guy’s sagging back, eventually pulled a Jersey Shore in the pool.
Taylor’s online “dating” profile did not provide any interests or hobbies. It did not include any characteristics she desired in a partner. Instead, she identifies herself as a full-time college student studying psychology, and her preference for a sugar daddy “arrangement” is listed as $1,000 to $3,000 a month. The pictures she included of herself were described as “revealing” which meant they were probably along the lines of amateur Myspace mirror/webcam pics.
Before you think, “whatever, just another golddigging whore, no big deal”, you should probably know that Taylor had a breakdown on the train ride home. “I never thought it would come to this. I got on the train and I felt dirty. I mean, I had just gotten money for having sex.” And he never called her again, that bastard.
But despite Jimminy Cricket going into cardiac arrest over her ruined morals, Taylor’s back on the market and still looking for sugar daddies; her tuition bill is due in September.
What I’m trying to say is this: these young men and women don’t want to do this. And those strippers on the poll who are telling you they’re saving up for their college tuition may not be lying to get higher tips. Some part of them might be okay with it and they might think they know what they’re getting themselves into, but overall sex with rich old men who have saggy backs is somewhat repulsive. If you’re quick to judge, I’m just going to say this: no one would rather sell their body for sex if they had another althernative. Pretty Woman isn’t based on a true story and Julia Roberts is a liar. And, for some, it’s seen as the only way out.
The economy and college are in a race to put students in debt the fastest. It almost seems as though there are not enough scholarships out there to pay off the ever-growing student loans. Unemployment is still prominent and it’s almost impossible for recent college graduates to find jobs in their fields. The ones they do find don’t have a salary nearly large enough to satisfy the high cost of living. Ten years ago, a remark such as, “oh he’s still living with his parents?” would ring with condescension. Now, it’s just a common question and the answer will probably be “yes.”
As you can imagine, the last thing recent graduates need when they’re trying to break out into the adult world is to shoulder the heavy burden of sizeable student loans. Mark Kantrowitz, responsible for Fastweb.com and Finaid.org, says that the average 2011 graduate finished with about $27,200 in debt. I guess what I’m saying is this: consider the conditions they’re under. Are they really so bad that we have to engage in these trysts? It all depends on the individual case, but the fact that there’s even a question about it that could merit a “yes” is disheartening for our entire country. These women (and men) are educated, bright individuals and the future of America. Because of present American economic conditions, the future of America is facing grim prospects.
I’ve wondered how Wade is able to skirt around people who speculate about the legality of this arrangement. His answer is, again, his website’s slogan: it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. And they’re not explicitly asking for sex; they’re offering a profit and seeing how far you’re willing to go to obtain it. Barb Brents, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who researches legal brothels within the state raised an interesting point: “These college women didn’t see themselves as sex workers, but women doing straight up prostitution often don’t see themselves that way either. Drawing that line and making that distinction may be necessary psychologically, but in material facts it’s quite a blurry line.”
Twenty-five-year-old Suzanne had fallen on hard times, but soon found a sugar daddy that pays her $400 a night. When asked about the prostitution term, Suzanne doesn’t shy away. “If this isn’t what prostitution is called, I don’t know what is.”
Nah, I’m sure there’s a nicer term. Let’s consult Urbandictionary again, shall we Suzanne?
The fourth definition of prostitution on the page according to a user by the name of Insanity76 (earning 111 thumbs up): “The ‘illegal’ act of paying for sex, although it’s ‘legally’ committed many times in dating. Guy pays for dinner, pays for the movie, girl is flattered by guy’s “generosity,” so she gives him some ass at the end of the night, which is exactly what he was hoping to get in return for the money he just shelled out and why he took her out to begin with. Why it’s illegal to just give the girl the money straight up to fuck him that he would’ve spent on the date anyway is beyond me.”
But Allen Lichtenstein, a private attorney in Las Vegas, argues the point that “The only illegal aspect would be if the individual receives some kind of direct payment or material compensation for sex.” In the Huffington Post article, he says, “any relationship that is an ongoing one that’s not purely about sex but may have a sexual aspect to it, you can’t really classify as prostitution. It would simply cover too much ground.”
Ugh. So, if it’s not prostitution, and it’s not legitimate dating, someone help me find a word for it.
Your move, Urbandictionary.
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