Is being a sugar baby on a sugar dating site the same as being a prostitute? The short and most honest answer is absolutely, yes. Some sugar babies might circumvent this fact by saying that they are merely compensated for their time and companionship and not sex. I know this is true because in the past I, too, have confidently argued the same.
I am a sex worker, and now a legal prostitute at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada. Formerly, however, I have identified as a “sugar baby,” and I was a highly successful one at that. Through my sugar lifestyle, I could pay for college and further studies, travel the world and experience luxuries. I embodied and reveled in being a spoiled-rotten sugar baby, and thus I do not make my claim from ignorance but rather from several years of experience.
Yes, there are some sugar relationships that are not based upon sex; the same is true for some relationships with legal prostitutes and their clients. As legal prostitutes, all things that we do, or do not do, are declared and negotiated. As a legal prostitute, I have been paid to share in an innocuous bubble bath session with a man, and then take a nap—no sex, just “time and companionship.” We are not always compensated for sex, just like sugar babies are not. Thankfully, my sugar experiences were mostly all positive but that is not a presumption that I am at all smarter, nor necessarily took better precautions, than others with unfortunate experiences; I was just lucky.
While I am grateful and privileged to have had many positive sugar experiences, the unfortunate reality is that not all aspiring sugar babies do. Negative sugaring-related scenarios such as the tragic death of murdered Google executive Forrest Hayes seem rare, but only because the disheartening experiences many sugar daddies and sugar babies have had are often not publicized. Few people are as brave as my Bunny Ranch colleague Alex, who revealed her sugar-dating horror story this past September.
Online platforms such as Seeking Arrangement, which host millions of eager sugar babies and sugar daddies/mommies, are simply pimping schemes that admit no responsibility for their users’ safety. The legal distinctions that separate sugar babies and illegal prostitutes are flimsy, and sugar websites get away with offering what they do by promoting the fantasy that sugaring is so entirely different from prostitution when it is exactly that—prostitution. Further, the way such websites market their quasi-innocence is the same way an illegal escorting service or company works: if the “Daddy” takes the “baby” on a “date” for an “agreed upon” “allowance”, then whatever “adult activities” that occur afterwards in the bedroom between consenting adults is their own business—which is indeed true. My intent is not at all to judge what is normal and natural for us all. EVERYBODY has sex, and someone is always paying for it in some way. I get it; sugaring is an enticing route for young women, particularly students like me, and I have done it. The distinct problem with sugar websites is that they overtly promote a farce and take no responsibility when things go awry, consequently rendering all parties involved infinitely vulnerable.
Perhaps the reason why sugar dating websites are so popular is because people are more comfortable with euphemistic terms such as “sugar” instead of “transaction,” and “sugar baby” instead of “prostitute.” The legal Nevada brothel system, conversely, is designed for everybody’s safety: sex workers are tested weekly for diseases, and must identify as legal prostitutes and obtain a sheriff’s card within their working county. Equally, legal prostitutes work in a safe environment and may choose to turn away absolutely any client they do not wish to entertain. Everything is unequivocally transparent for both legal sex workers and clients. Legal prostitution—besides being legal—is structured, regulated, and the wholly empowering option for young women and their clients, and keeps us all safer.
Maybe the phenomenon of sugar dating speaks to a larger issue about society’s lack of acceptance of prostitution, an inevitable social situation that permeates every city in the world and will never go away. Because prostitution is scorned by the status quo, despite being ubiquitous, it allows savvy but morally questionable business persons to take advantage of ways to sugar-coat the unlawful sex industry and shrewdly dodge law enforcement. If people just accepted sex-for-money as a social norm, prostitution would be legal everywhere in the USA and brothels wouldn’t be limited to the rural areas of Nevada — and there would be no need for sugar dating.
When I realized and accepted the truth of exactly what I was doing, I delighted in my own self-honesty and self-discovery and admitted to myself exactly who I am: an intelligent, well-travelled, and well-educated young woman who happens to work as a prostitute. I decided my safety is paramount. Regarding my work, I chose to proceed in a legal and safe direction to continue to be successful. I am much happier working legally in a Nevada brothel than navigating the grey sugar world. Most importantly, I no longer lie to myself and I take greater pride in everything I do and represent, with a complete understanding of myself, my goals, and the clients I see.