In March I wrote a post about the supposed problem of lonely men renting out their spare rooms to skint women in exchange for sex. At the time I said:
So sad, lonely bastards offer homeless women a roof and a hot shower in return for companionship and, possibly, sex. Unless there is assault or rape going on, what the hell is the problem here?
This being modern Britain, some campaigner or other wanted it made illegal. However, yesterday a reader sent me a link to this article:
Penny lives in a grubby student house; the carpet in her living room is flooded, there are missing tiles on the kitchen floor and the hob doesn’t work. The heating is so bad that, sometimes, it’s cold enough in the house to see her own breath.
If it were just down to her maintenance loan, Penny would struggle to cover her living costs each month. But rather than getting a more conventional part-time job, she has – like an increasing number of other students – turned to ‘sugar babying’ to supplement her income.
And sugar-babying is…
As a sugar baby, Penny enters consensual, transactional relationships with older, richer men – ‘sugar daddies’ – who she spends time with in exchange for ‘gifts’, sometimes in the form of cash.
Isn’t this perilously close to prostitution?
Whether the sugar baby-sugar daddy relationship is sex work is a contentious issue. While some sugar babies do have sex as part of their arrangement, other services are also provided – such as companionship.
So at best it’s escort work, otherwise it’s straight-up prostitution.
“I’d prefer to have a date and get food out of it rather than just go to a hotel room and have sex with them,” Penny says. “I don’t really want that because that’s quite prostitution-y.”
Penny’s most recent sugar daddy paid for their first meeting in drugs: “He gave me £80 worth of coke.”
A minute ago she was doing this because she was freezing to death.
She is, however, considering sex with her latest sugar daddy. They have been talking for months, but she has met him only once before.
Unless he’s sending her cash every week, how is this a sugar daddy? They just sound like two people who are useless at dating.
“We have spoken about having sex and he’s sent me a screenshot showing that he’s clean. I trust him that way.”
Eh? Don’t you normally need tests and results to show you’re clean? And since you brought it up, how clean are you, missy?
She has decided to stay over when she next sees him and though she is looking forward to it, she confesses she still has nerves. Her meetings can often take her to cities and train stations she’s never been to before, and given the fact he’s still virtually a stranger, it’s hard not to see how this leaves her vulnerable.
Has she considered working from a brothel or getting a pimp for protection?
There is no research into the risks specific to being a sugar baby.
Meaning, the researchers don’t use that term.
And yet, there are no laws relating specifically to sugar dating. In the event that sex is offered in exchange for payment in these relationships, it would, theoretically, be covered by prostitution laws and therefore be legal in England, Scotland and Wales.
Indeed, how would the law distinguish between being paid for sex as a sugar baby and being paid for sex as a prostitute?
This article is most interesting when contrasted with the one I wrote about in March. Back then, a man offering his spare room in exchange for sex was an abomination, exploitative towards women, and should be made illegal. But apparently a woman can get her rent paid in exchange for having sex and it’s all okay; indeed, she doesn’t even have to endure the indignity of being a prostitute if she calls herself a sugar baby.