By Jack Hudson
For many students, the University lifestyle they desire is unattainable within their financial constraints. For some, financing life at Uni is a day to day struggle and a major cause of anxiety.
This is perhaps why apps and websites to find ‘sugar daddies’ are becoming increasingly commonplace across the UK. Undergraduates are by far the biggest demographic amongst ‘sugar babies’.
For some causal users this means a couple of nice gifts from online conversations with men, for others it means a sustained relationship with an older man in return for payments of figures such as £2000 a month.
It is clear why this is an attractive option to many young men and women who are struggling with the cost of living.
Many people are unsure how to feel about this growing trend. The phrases ‘sugar daddy’ and ‘sugar baby’ are quite trivialising terms, which certainly have far less negative connotations than ‘prostitution’.
However most would argue the two are different, as having a sugar daddy is just a mutually beneficial relationship, and while many daddies may want sex it is not a requirement of the relationship.
Most sugar babies would say they have a relationship with their sugar daddy- albeit in most cases a friendship. Many sugar daddies argue they are just looking for companionship.
Much of the media does link this kind of relationship to prostitution. Whether this is a negative depends on your views on prostitution, but in most cases it is intended as a negative comparison. Some would argue that the practice is denigrating to the young women who are involved, involves a loss of self-respect as women are selling their bodies, and is a shameful way to make money.
These views are generally not subscribed to by students. The worst reaction a sugar baby is likely to hear from their peers is laughter.
However, there is a serious side to this issue that must be considered. Some of the students on these websites are in desperate financial situations.
In this instance, the power dynamic between the sugar daddy and baby is very susceptible to exploitation. It is very possible that students could find themselves in situations they do not truly wish to be in.
The End Violence Against Women coalition has said that websites trivialise relationships which may turn out exploitative or harmful to young women and men.
Some feminists have argued that the relationship between a young female student and a sugar daddy is inherently exploitative as it is based on the buying of women and their time.
This has arguably led to some feminists judging women who do chose to better themselves financially using their sexual assets.
However, my belief as a feminist is that women should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies and not be shamed for making decisions which benefit them.
While we could question the morality of being a sugar daddy, for the students making money out of this the only question that needs to be asked is if they are in a secure empowered position and are confident enough to lay out their boundaries.
As long as students are not naïve and are in a position where they can do everything they can to avoid exploitation, then having a sugar daddy is perhaps the most profitable and sensible way to make money on the side of university studies.