Pass the sugar

Sex on Tuesday

Photo of Khristina Holterman

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“Hello, beautiful. I’m looking for a faithful and loving sugarbaby that I can trust and take care of. Nothing sexual, just want your attention and friendship. Text me on Kik if interested. $700 weekly allowance,” reads one of the direct messages I’ve received on Instagram.

Look familiar? If not, welcome to the world of Instagram sugar daddies. As with most spam messages, these inquiries are usually immediately deleted or ignored. In fact, ignoring and deleting is the right move. Take it from me: Too often, I have responded, only to realize some messages later that Randysmith295 is a total scammer. Once a so-called “sugar daddy” begins asking for your bank information or convincing you to purchase a random gift card, it’s time to block and move on.

Still, in pursuit of a steady allowance in exchange for chatting platonically online with lonely old men, I decided to look past Instagram to more “legitimate” sugar daddy sites. 

Originally, I found the website, “WhatsYourPrice.com,” where men will offer a certain amount of money for a first date. The payment can range anywhere from about $80 to $200.  

After receiving a couple of offers, however, it became clear to me that none of the old men I messaged would actually follow through with the money without meeting me in person first. All of that “platonic only” talk also proved false, as most of the men craved some aspect of a sexual relationship. It felt more like sex work, as the guys seemed unwilling to pay at all before sex. Disappointed, I ditched the website. 

Not giving up just yet, I Googled some other websites and stumbled upon “Seeking Arrangements.” On this website, I had the best luck with online daddies, even planning a few Zoom dates. Possibly one of the only ways the pandemic has been a blessing is being able to use it as an excuse not to meet in person with any of these men. 

Still, though, I soon felt a similar underlying theme of sex-for-money transactions with very old men. Alas, I abandoned my sugar daddy quest, feeling disgusted and frustrated. 

One of my friends had better luck. 

Over winter break, she was lucky enough to visit some friends in Miami, where the sugar daddy scene was bustling. She went to a party one night, and immediately her group was approached by “start-up” style older men, desperate for their attention. 

My friend advises to always have a “posse” around you when on the prowl for a sugar daddy — a trustworthy group of girls who will have your back and not leave you in the corner with a creep. 

But being a sugar baby goes beyond just superficial beauty. It’s almost a talent, a display of confidence, to capitalize on men’s desires to fulfill a “daddy” or protector role. Even more, all these men want, in her experience, is someone who will listen to them, give them just an ounce of attention. 

You don’t have to do anything sexual with a sugar daddy to still reap the benefits. A pearl necklace for a couple of phone calls seems pretty worth it to me, and my friend even finds herself enjoying the stories and conversations she has with older men. In her opinion, they are more entertaining than frat guys.

At first, upon hearing her experiences and recalling some of the repulsive men who had messaged me online, I thought maybe it was wrong to satisfy these men’s fantasies and play into the role of a woman in need. But it soon became clear that, to my friend, and I’m sure many others, being a sugar baby is empowering. 

If, as women, we’re already objectified through the male gaze, why not use it to our advantage? It’s unsettling but inevitable that men — and other women — will objectify our basic being. And while it’s important to push back against this sexualization, it’s also powerful for women to use that unavoidable male gaze to our benefit. 

I’ve discovered a great deal about myself through my friend’s sugar baby life. Being a woman is valuable beyond any price and she’s taught me that my standards can always be higher. I mean, if men will pay for your company, why would you give yourself up to unappreciative guys who will only hurt you? 

We all deserve to be appreciated, and while participating in sexist stereotypes — such as needing men to be financial providers and protectors — may seem degrading, there’s empowerment hidden below the surface. In reclaiming harmful stereotypes, women can find control and power in them, and make of their roles what they please.

My experience as a sugar baby may have failed, but through my friend, I’ve gained enlightenment about my worth and importance. From now on, I’ll always remember the most important lesson of all: Pussy is not only expensive but priceless.

Khristina Holterman writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected]