I’ve got a short piece (a blog post rather than a more thoughtful column) at GMP today on the Sugar Daddy phenomenon: Buying ‘Sugar Daughters’: What’s Really Wrong With the Sugar Daddy Phenomenon. Riffing on this Amanda Fairbanks piece in the HuffPo, I note that I’ve known students who’ve sought out these “arrangements” with varied results. And I touch on why the Sugar Daddy phenomenon bothers me far more than traditional prostitution:
By blurring the lines between a genuine romance and prostitution, the sugar daddy relationship is more problematic than a traditional john/hooker encounter.
That pretense of intimacy is inherent in the term “sugar daddy” with its hint of the incestuous. While the term “john” (for a male client of a sex worker) suggests anonymity, “sugar daddy” reeks of emotional (as well as sexual) boundary violations. The implication is that the real fathers of these young women have failed to provide the right combination of emotional and financial support; the term reinforces the not-entirely inaccurate trope that younger women who seek older men have “daddy issues.” And it suggests that the older men who seek out “sugar babies” are looking for young women whom they can spoil and fuck, deliberately blurring the line between paternal indulgence and sexual objectification.
The real question is whether the term “sugar daddy” is an unfortunate misrepresentation of what’s going on, or an all-too-accurate description of something dark and especially ugly.
See also this terrific Alternet piece from Sarah Seltzer.