Are sugar daddies misunderstood?

February 7, 2013
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OK, I’ll admit on the surface its looks bad. Really bad.

When the Las Vegas-based website SeekingArrangement.com boasted that its dating service was connecting cash-strapped university students with rich older people for “mutually beneficial relationships,” you all assumed the worst.

The website bragged that it wanted “empower” so-called “sugar babies” who happen to be “students, actresses, models or girls and guys next door” looking to date someone older and successful who would promise to pamper them and help them financially.

When it turned out that hundreds of Canadian university students, including dozens at the University of Guelph, had already signed up to meet an older sugar daddy or sugar mommy, you kind of freaked.

What exploitation, you cried. What moral deprivation, you shouted. Why, it’s a step removed from prostitution, you declared.

But let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions.

Just because a wealthy man seeks the company of a comely young university woman in exchange for significant financial compensation on a monthly basis doesn’t mean there’s anything salacious going on.

Or just because an affluent older lady showers a strapping young college boy with gifts and cash doesn’t mean she’s expecting any sexual favours in return. Of course not.

Maybe these rich, older benefactors are just helping their young university friends with their homework. Perhaps these sugar daddies just need attractive college-aged girls to help them figure out how to get the VCR to record Matlock re-runs or how to get started with this whole Facebook thing.

Maybe they just want to give back to the community by passing on their, err, career wisdom to a willing sugar baby. Or it could be they only need someone young and athletic to fetch the mail, mow the lawn, shovel the driveway or do other household chores. We just don’t know.

Perhaps these sugar daddies and sugar mommies are just kind-hearted citizens concerned about the rising costs of tuition in Ontario and looking to help out a struggling student. Think of them, then, as a kindly grandma or grandpa, handing out weekly birthday cards with cash tucked inside and not asking for so much as a peck on the cheek.

How noble of them. This all seems perfectly clean-cut and above board to me. Shame on those who suggest anything else is happening here.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m trying to make new, older friends online, I typically list my age, my height, my body type and the amount of financial compensation I’m expecting every month. Nothing unusual there.

I frequently charge my friends between $5,000 and $10,000 a month for my company. Hey, I’m just that fun to be around. And if significant money isn’t being exchanged, it’s not really a friendship you can trust, is it?

We should known enough by now to understand we can’t assume anything in this world.

There may be a massage parlour in town that only opens after 11 p.m., is staffed by scantily-clad women and serves an all-man clientele. But who’s to say those men aren’t just shift workers, getting off work late and suffering from sore backs?

And who’s the say those massage parlour girls are just doing it for the money. How short-sighted. Maybe they just really love the challenge of working out the knots in the backs of shift workers.

Or, while we’re at it, what about those motels that charge by the hour – maybe there are just people out there who only need a place to have a quick nap. Why rent a room for a whole night if you only need an hour?

If there’s motels that figure they can make more money by having 24 guests rent a room in one day rather than just one, what’s so wrong with that?

Sounds pretty mutually beneficial to me.

Greg Mercer is a Guelph-based writer whose column appears every third Saturday. Past columns can be read at gregmercer.ca

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