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The 4 Things I Learned from my 48 Hours as a Sugar Baby
By Mari Pack
If you don’t know what a Sugar Baby is, then you’re probably a better person than I am. A Sugar Baby is a young woman who agrees to perform various girlfriend-like duties for a much older man, a Sugar Daddy, in exchange for money. Though sex is often part of the exchange, Sugar Daddies primarily like to ‘spoil’ their younger girlfriends with expensive trips, dates and allowances. Some Sugar Daddies don’t ask for sex at all. Ultimately, the Sugar Daddy gets off on the idea of having so much power over a young, pretty, submissive woman.
So basically, you’re just throwing money at regular misogyny.
I made a Sugar Baby dating profile for all of two days because I was bored. I was also tired of dating other Millennials, whose self-serving “progressivism” makes me want to set myself on fire. I was tired of catering to their soft fictions, which, despite some seemingly liberal trappings, still cast me as an archetypal form of wish fulfillment. I figured that if I had to encounter obnoxious sexism wrapped in egomania, then I wanted it to buy me a fur coat. In essence, I wanted a better fantasy.
Boy, did I get one. My Sugar quest almost ate me alive, but I learned a lot in my 48 hours in Fantasyland. I learned that most Sugar Daddies are just older, saggy versions of the 25-year-olds I’ve been dating. I learned that (some) rich men have a super fucked up relationship to emotional intimacy. I learned that many of them are confused about what a “muse” or a “goddess” is. Honestly though, I already knew those things.
Here’s what I didn’t know.
1) Sugar Daddies under 30 exist, and they're all Martin Shkreli.
It’s easy to understand why an older man wants a younger girlfriend. Sure, he’s probably creepy and gross, but he isn’t insane. He likes control, but only insofar as it fulfills his virility narrative. These men, for the most part, accepted my refusals with some amount of grace.
However, when a man in the prime of his life wants to buy a girlfriend, then it’s only about power. Unless he’s visibly deformed, any young guy with a lot of money should be able to attract a girlfriend the old fashioned way: by throwing dollar bills out a car window. Nearly a third of the messages I received came from young dudes, and it was a huge surprise. They all lived in New York. They all owned jet skis. One of them offered me his spare apartment. Another invited me to the Caribbean.
In my experience, young men don’t take rejection well, and these guys flipped out twice as hard. It turns out that when you combine youthful stupidity with jet skis, early success, and too many Island vacations, then you get Martin Shkreli.
2) The more money a man has, the more likely he is to describe himself as ‘handsome’ – but not for the reasons you think.
Most Sugar Daddies set their pictures to private. It’s an additional safeguard against snooping wives and coworkers. Sugar Babies receive invitations to view those pictures upon request. I received several invitations from picture-private men who claimed to be “handsome.” Well, I know what “handsome” means in the real world, but in Sugar Daddy world, it means a potato with eyes.
I have a theory about this: rich men aren’t stupid. They know how to make money. They might be a little deluded, but they realize on some level that wealth doesn’t hide their frumpy figures and drooping chins. Still, nobody wants to be Prince Charles: toothy and weird with virginal Diana on her wedding night. They all want to be Hemmingway: tall and seductive to young women even in his 50s. When rich men call themselves “handsome,” they’re not trying to seduce Sugar Babies. They’re trying to seduce themselves. They want to believe that young women want them. That’s part of the fiction.
3) It's easy to commodify yourself once you realize that society has mostly done it for you.
I assumed that Sugar Babying would make me feel icky. I thought that receiving messages from sex-starved, delusional men begging for companionship was worse than receiving unsolicited dick pics from boys half their age. I worried that the whole process would force me to cross some sacred line of self-respect.
Here’s the thing: I already felt objectified by male culture. I know that I’m supposed to be some enlightened feminist who’s above it all, but that shit still bothers me. Even when dudes don’t overtly treat women like commodities or fantasies, many of them still say something cringe-worthy about beauty standards or rape culture or relationships.
Honestly, I don’t think they realize that they’re sexualizing women past the point of personhood. I think that a lot of guys are just existentially frustrated that their fuck buddies have real opinions, human needs and expectations about how they deserve to be treated. At a certain point, why shouldn’t you get some really nice dinners out of it? Why not live the fantasy for what it is?
My profile included four pictures and a three-paragraph biography. I said that I was well traveled, educated and independent. I included some bullshit about how “chemistry is more important than money.” I thought that line might be a bit much. It wasn’t. Within 48 hours, I had received 75 messages. Lots of men offered to pay me 3-5K a month, plus $200-400 each time we met. That’s not a fantasy. That’s an escort service. Some men seemed genuinely interested in my personality, at least insofar as it was attached to my supple young body. Too close to dating. Those guys needed to go too. I would wait. I wanted to be a fantasy for a man who fucking knew how to have a fantasy.
And then, I found him.
4) You can accidentally fall for your Sugar Daddy, and it’s bad news.
He was well traveled and remarkably intelligent, but that wasn’t why I first messaged him back. He wrote the he was looking for a Sub, someone with whom to enact various BDSM fantasies.
“You’re cute with an interesting profile,” he said. I made clear that I didn’t have any BDSM experience. He said that he was happy to teach. For some reason, this didn’t come off as creepy. It came off as alluring.
His life, which I won’t repeat here, was absolutely fascinating. He was writing a memoir. We talked about Westphalian sovereignty, Middle Eastern politics, and Hemmingway. He was patient, attentive, and magnanimous. He explained that, for him, sex and life were quite different. “It’s just something you learn as you get older. It’s hard for young men to understand that a woman who is quite assertive in the world might like to be sexually submissive, and that both are fine.”
We talked nonstop for two days. He treated me as an intellectual and emotional equal, even when I disagreed with him. “It think I’m shooting myself in the foot, arguing nonstop,” I said at one point.
He wrote back, “No, it’s hard to find anyone to talk to about these things.”
And then it hit me. Fuck. I wanted him to like me as a person.
Of course, he never would. That was exactly the point. I’d forgotten, momentarily, that I was supposed to be his fantasy. Not the other way around. He had, quite brilliantly, played to my most visceral desire – to be treated like a real person by someone who acknowledged, even deconstructed, the power imbalance inherent to heterosexual sex and sexuality. This man was exactly what I wanted. He was a better fantasy, my fantasy. The obvious truth of the matter, which I had hitherto ignored, suddenly manifest it all its ironic glory: I would never be more than a form of wish fulfillment to a man that I actually liked, which had been the problem all along. So I did what I always do, and ran.
This isn’t a woman realizes that she wants to be respected and loved by the men who she has sex with morality tale. I always wanted respect, and demanded it. I also never stopped respecting myself, which is far more important. I wanted to experiment, and I did. Honestly though, I walked away from Sugar Babying feeling like it wasn’t that different from standard dating. It certainly forces its participants to discuss relationship expectations, sex and power in a frank, open manner.
Sure, many of the men are awkward, misogynistic and egomaniacal, but so are half the guys in Brooklyn. Even though I accidentally bought my own con, I don’t regret the attempt. Fantasy is an inherent part of human sexuality, and an inherent part of my human sexuality. I just want it better compartmentalized. I think that my potential Sugar Daddy would have been an adventure, but I also think that I would eventually have asked too much of him. Mostly, I walked away with better idea of what I find attractive and sustainable in a partner, which has always been the point of dating.
#Real #PersonalEssay #SugarBaby #SugarDaddy #BDSM #RichGuys #Commodities
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