‘He offered me $10,000 a month to be his girlfriend’: Inside the life of a feminist sugar baby
We spoke to Rachel, a student, a feminist, a girl who paid her rent with Chanel bags and cash from sugar daddies
You’re totally justified in having a sugar daddy because the gender pay gap already sets young women at a disadvantage, or at least, that’s what Seeking Arrangement will tell you.
The dating site, which recently held a summit to help sugar babies find a rich older man to pay their bills, featured lectures on the feminist benefits of the lifestyle. In a video by Elite Daily one woman tells the crowd: “you are receiving everything you receive because of who you are in his life, not because of sex.”
In another lecture featured in the video, this time held by Yale graduate student Jordan Taylor, the Ivy Leaguer says: “If you walk into that conversation knowing the gender pay gap is real, that it’s happening to millions of women across the country, then it’s a lot easier to smile and ask someone for $1,000.”
The most common babies are female students, and in 2015 the average sugar daddy was 45 years old and worth £5.2 million. The huge gulf between those lifestyles means it’s not hard to see why many young women choose to do it. And as it’s become more mainstream, sex work, escorting and sugar-daddy-ing have become part of the feminist school of thought of owning what you do with your body and your time. But is it a bit far to equate thousands being paid to date a man with eliminating the wage gap?
Rachel is a final year undergraduate, a feminist, and, until recently, a sugar baby. And she says it is. “I don’t think that’s the reason people do it, that’s a bit far.
“But look, guys can do what they want to get cash as long as it’s legal and so can girls. I don’t see the why people think they have to justify it. If people judge the lifestyle they obviously just don’t understand it, and who can be bothered with judgemental people anyway?”
Rachel spent six months as a sugar baby while living in San Francisco, where the average rent price on a two bedroom apartment is over $4,000 a month. During her time doing it she earned over $2,000, but never took any of her liaisons past a first date. Her rule, she tells me, was that she doesn’t “fuck them, kiss them or even touch them.”
Seeking Arrangement calls the sugar baby lifestyle “dating with a purpose”, and for Rachel at least, that’s what it was. “I did it when I lived in Cali because it’s literally just dating rich people and getting $200 after it, which was the only way I could afford rent.
“I literally just sat through a meal with really clever guys who were just too busy or awkward or lazy to find someone themselves. It was so worth it, I got to go to fancy places I never would have experienced otherwise. One guy even gave me a Chanel bag. Once, I had a guy transfer $1,000 into my account just so I could buy something to wear to dinner. I spent like $400 and the rest I put in my savings.”
The most common “allowance” is $3,000 a month, but that’s usually arranged after the first date. Rachel never took things past the initial meeting. The match starts normally enough, similar to how you’d chat to someone on Tinder or Bumble. The daddy will ask you out, they offer you money for a date, and you decide whether or not to accept based on how big that offer is.
“It wasn’t that they weren’t good looking”, she tells me. “But I often wasn’t really after a relationship. Or sometimes I didn’t like how they made their money, so it didn’t sit right with me morally to do anything more than one date. One guy offered me $10,000 a month for an arrangement, but he specified ‘both holes’, so I decided against it.”
“I admit that after a while I didn’t really need the money that desperately, but, I mean, Sephora.”
A third of Seeking Arrangement’s sugar daddies are married, something 22-year-old Rachel banned in her dating profile. “I always said I didn’t want anyone married, but one time a guy showed up and announced he had a wife and kids at home. It pissed me off so much I got out of there as soon as I got paid. Sometimes you’ve just got to sit there and smile nicely until it’s over, but I have no wish to be some married guy’s outlet.”
Although Rachael lived in California for six months she comes from a small, working-class neighborhood in England, and explained that Seeking Arrangement gave her a chance to experience things she never would have had access to otherwise. “Honestly, I’d recommend it to anyone.
“People always ask me how I could do it if I didn’t really enjoy it, so I’ll always ask them if they enjoyed stacking shelves or working in McDonald’s. They always say no, so that’s exactly my point. It’s just a job, but mine is paid a lot better.”
“And I get to have really intelligent conversations too, like way better than I’d get off a Tinder date. I once went out to dinner with an ambassador and we talked about his job all night, discussing politics and current events.
“They’re honestly just lonely guys who have nothing better to do with their money. Sometimes I feel a little bit sorry for them, but they’re getting company from me – even if they are paying. That money is nothing to them, compared to how much they earn.”
Pity aside though, there’s the safety aspect of Seeking Arrangement to consider. As I’m sure your mum worriedly mentions every time someone references Tinder, meeting a stranger off the internet is a weird, sometimes creepy and dangerous (but often absolutely fine) experience. Rachel never got into cars with the men she met, or left with them from the place they arranged to meet. She’d also have a friend text her to ask for the OK halfway through each date.
“It never got creepy enough that I had to leave”, she says. “If you’re careful about it and vet them beforehand you’re fine. People who have bad experiences are usually people who are bad at sussing people out and checking the details carefully.
“I really think that the people who make it out to be this awful thing need a reality check cos they’ve either A) done it wrong or B were too prude for it in the first place. Look, it sounds savage and like I’m tooting my own horn, but all they want is a girl who can dress OK and hold a nice conversation, and Tinder is risky for that. With Seeking Arrangement they get a reliable date and the romance of being able to pay to wine and dine them.
“OK, maybe romance is the wrong word, but the excitement at least. They expect you to be able to go to a nice place – probably somewhere they’ve wanted to go to for ages – for dinner, and with someone who wasn’t being paid maybe that would come across as clingy or keen or intimidating. But if you’re being paid you know the deal and don’t draw attention to it.”
Since moving back from California, though, Rachel has put her sugar baby life on hold. “I’ve only done it in England once. The guys are poorer here, and you’ve got to do it in London otherwise it’s just completely pointless.”
Since getting into a relationship she’s deleted her Seeking Arrangement profile, and doesn’t speak publicly about her experience. Despite the attempts to reclaim a sugar baby lifestyle as a feminist choice, the stigma is huge. “I just don’t want any future career to be jeopardised by my name associated with “sugar baby”. I know it’s wrong and it’s sexist as fuck, but I’m not from a privileged background so I’m already on the backfoot, and I don’t need anything else against me.
“I think there’s stigma because some girls will do it once and then feel like it’s funnier or gets more attention to exaggerate it. It’s like they feel as though they have to justify themselves by saying ‘ew it was totally gross and weird and I’d never do it again’ to excuse them from doing it in the first place.
“I’m being paid for my time like any other job.”