The tightrope stretching between a sugar baby and a prostitute is a thicker line than it is perceived to be. Those who don’t know much about sugar babies often mistake them as a prostitute, but there are vast differences between the two. Sugar babies are independent; their reasoning for enlisting in escort like businesses are distinct and it is not necessary for them to participate in sexual favors. People should know the distinctions between being a prostitute and a sugar baby because they are two entirely different jobs. Prostitutes have a negative stigma surrounding them dating back to the BC era. These stigmas could obliterate the social standing of a sugar baby in the blink of an eye and destroy relationships.
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Speaking from personal experience, my grandmother used to be a prostitute and my sister used to be a sugar baby respectively. My grandmother became a prostitute to feed her drug addiction. And so, she would participate in sexual activities with drug dealers or other random people willing to pay, so she could afford to get her fix. On the opposite side of the spectrum, is my sister who needed money to shop and fill her needs. She would talk to men who were rich, not all of whom were old, and go on dates with them in exchange for money. This is called sugaring. Engaging in sexual activity is not required but, if both parties consent to it, it is possible. Throughout her 2-3 years as a sugar baby, not once did she have sex with a sugar daddy. Both my sister and my grandmother participated in their respective lines of work when they were in their 20s or so but being young is not a requirement to becoming either a prostitute or a sugar baby. That much people know but what are the formal definitions?
Firstly: what is a sugar baby? Sugar babies are “fun-loving, stunning, smart young [women] interested in companionship with a wealthy, interested, man. The companionship is repaid in monthly allowances and other types of luxuries” (Admin, 2017). When someone thinks of a sugar baby, they envision young attractive women having sex with rich old men, but despite popular belief only 42% of sugar babies are women in their 20s or college students which leaves the other 58% to be older women (Ross, 2015). Those who are considered sugar daddies or mamas are just rich people, young or old, that possess power. These men mostly yearn for companionship instead of sexual pleasure. Sugar babies are often women trying to get by in college or struggling. There are some sugar babies who are in it just to play around and earn side cash because they are bored, but most sugar babies are those who are in need. The formal definition for prostitution is, “the debauched exercise in which sexual practices are performed in exchange for payments negotiated between the sex worker and [their] client,” (de Matos Leal,4484). As stated earlier with my grandmother, prostitution is an exchange of sexual favor for money, drugs, etc (de Matos Leal,4484).
Sexual intercourse is not a requirement when getting into a sugar relationship, because sex is an agreement that must be accepted by both parties. Even if they don’t engage in coitus, sugar babies will be paid whereas prostitutes would not be until they consummated with their client. According to Melanie Berliet, a prostitute is expected to come perform their services and leave while a sugar baby is expected to provide comfort, security and company to whoever enlists their services (Thought Catalog, 2015). Sugaring is also optional and could be described as a relationship with different and invisible strings attached. The different strings are getting paid per date, most times with the same person, and non-exclusiveness. The term invisible refers to their often unsolidified rules, in a way it’s similar to a polygamous relationship since sugar babies can have as many sugar daddies as they please. Insider interviewed a former sugar baby and suggests that, “being a sugar baby is just another way of dating — with some practical applications” (Hendricks, 2018). You go on dates, enjoy each other’s company and then receive payment for the given date. Relationships play a huge role in the worlds of both sugar babies and prostitutes. A former sugar baby compares the relationship of a sugar baby’s stature to that of a man taking a woman on a date and paying for everything. She then goes on to compare prostitutes and mistresses elaborating that they, “…were relegated to a strictly transactional role: sex for money, or sex for luxury,” which is just a fancy way of saying prostitutes have sexual relations for money (Jones).
Since sugaring is an advanced form of relationships, it shows the independence that a person has when deciding on conforming to that lifestyle which can lead to the relationship becoming a job. Sugar babies are in control of who they meet, when they meet, and they can also set personal boundaries. Prostitutes, on the other hand, are governed by pimps. Pimps are the bosses of prostitutes and they often collect a portion of their earnings in return for protection. Unlike sugar babies and sugar daddies, the relationship between a prostitute and her pimp is strictly business and cut to the point. Both relationships are the basis for their line of work and determines their next play.
Though relationships are the key to both “jobs,” the one between a pimp and a prostitute is one that can be both harmful and beneficial. This relationship can lead down the path of abuse. An article on the relationships between pimps and their ‘hoes’ says, “Should the victims fail to meet their ‘quota’ they are likely made to work until it is, or are beaten or otherwise disciplined” (Miccio-Fonseca, 26-32). Prostitutes are often forced into their work through human trafficking or by other uncontrollable conditions. Sugar babies are more likely to get into their field because of the need for money or boredom whereas with a prostitute they may have been coerced or forced into it. People, especially youth, are more susceptible to becoming a prostitute based on their mental state, emotional state and physical state. If a sex trafficker sees that someone is emotionally unstable, they will try to use that weakness against them as it gives the trafficker the advantage (Miccio-Fonseca, 26-32). Because sugar babies are self-employed they can stop working whenever they want to with no consequences while with being a prostitute it is not as easy. Prostitutes begin to get involved in dangerous criminal activity which, even if they do succeed in separating themselves from that lifestyle, can cause lifelong effects.
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Though there are many differences between being a sugar baby and a prostitute, there are also many similarities. They lead unsuitable lifestyles, it is easy to get caught up and they’re selling their bodies—though in different ways—for money. Sara-Kate, a former sugar baby, states that though she had everything she could ever ask for she was “pretty aimless” in life (Insider). She had so much money that there was nothing else that she could possibly want which led to her being lost in life. Prostitutes, especially victims of sex trafficking, are exposed to a wide variety of drugs, which is one of the main topics in Miccio-Fonseca’s article on sex trafficking. She says, “…the youthful sex traffickers are likely to have a history of drug use, which may be progressively protracted in both frequency of use and potency related to kind of drugs used,” because prostitutes are often surrounded by these substances due to their illegality they are more susceptible to use them which leads to an unsustainable lifestyle (26-32).
Though there are similarities with prostitution and sugaring, the differences outweigh the similarities. Think of a scale with a feather being the similarities and a brick being the differences. The similarities include their unsustainable lifestyles, how they’re both transactional relationships and the effortlessness of getting caught up in their work. The differences are agency, the reasons on why they enlist in their work is vastly different and it’s not necessary for sugar babies to participate in sexual activities. See? They’re outweighed. This essay is in no way implying that prostitution nor sugaring is right nor wrong but it’s main effort is to prove that being a sugar baby does not mean that the person is a prostitute. A sugar baby performs his/her job with the intent to pay for school, help with family problems whereas with a prostitute he/she could’ve been forced into it or they do it on their own will with the intent to buy drugs. Either way, there are distinct differences between the two and knowledge is the key to understanding and shaping our world for the better. This was the Untold Truth.
- Admin. “What Is a Sugar Baby – Definition, Headlines, Arrangement & How to Become One.” Mysugardaddysite.com, 3 Oct. 2017, mysugardaddysite.com/what-is-a-sugar-baby-definition-headlines-arrangement-how-to-become-one/.
- Hendricks, Sara. “An Ex-Sugar Baby Reveals 4 Things People Always Get Wrong about the Job.” INSIDER, INSIDER, 3 May 2018, www.thisisinsider.com/what-people-get-wrong-about-sugar-baby-lifestyle-2018-4.
- Berliet, Melanie. “8 Common Misconceptions About Sugar Babies.” Thought Catalog, 18 Jan. 2017, thoughtcatalog.com/melanie-berliet/2015/07/8-common-misconceptions-about-being-a-sugar-baby/.
- Jones, Abigail. “Who’s Your Sugar Daddy?” Newsweek Global, vol. 163, no. 14, Oct. 2014, pp. 60–63. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.kennesaw.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=fth&AN=98638110&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- de Matos Leal, Carla Bianca, et al. “Aspects of Life and Health of Sex Workers.” Journal of Nursing UFPE / Revista de Enfermagem UFPE, vol. 11, no. 11, Nov. 2017, pp. 4483–4491. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5205/reuol.23542-49901-1-ED.1111201726.
- “My High Life as a Sugar Baby; INSIDE THE WORLD OF THE UK’S SEX FOR SALE WEBSITES Why Are so Many Young Women with Good Jobs Selling Their Bodies? Here, Elizabeth, 23, Reveals How Her Sugar Daddy, 37, Puts PS800 into Her Account Every Month and Lavishes Her with Luxury Gifts & Holidaysand Why She’s Always Wanted to Be a ‘Kept Woman.’” Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), 2018. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.kennesaw.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgbe&AN=edsgcl.536521607&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Ross, Terrance F. “Where the Sugar Babies Are.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 20 Jan. 2015, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/01/where-the-sugar-babies-are/384547/.