Sex is and always has been one of the bases of human society. The earliest record of prostitution was documented in 2400 BCE, meaning it’s been going on since men and women realized they had genitals — if you’re looking for something to binge-watch about this topic, “Harlots” and “The Deuce” are really good shows to check out. Sex trafficking and prostitution are illegal in the U.S, although multiple mainstream songs are still about sex for pay. It started with male artists, but in an age of reawakened feminism, women are retaking the word “gold digger” and using it to their advantage. There’s a new term for the millennium: sugar babies.
Most people know what a sugar daddy (or mama) is, but if you don’t, the technical definition is a rich older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman in return for her company or sexual favors. The distinction between sugar babies and prostitutes has always been that sugar babies get paid for their company while prostitutes get paid explicitly for sex.
Another more implicit difference is that prostitutes are seen as dirty, sleazy and always lurking on the corner waiting for any lowlife to pop up. They’re basically seen as cheap, whereas sugar babies portray a persona that is more lavish, classy and glamorous.
When asked what one of the biggest misconceptions about sugar babies was, Miss Sugar told the Huffington Post, “Being with a sugar baby is more of a relationship rather than just a transaction and the sugar baby gets taken on nice dates and gets pampered. It’s more of a girlfriend experience than anything, but of course, with added ‘bonuses’ and usually the relationship is no strings attached. Some of these mutually beneficial relationships don’t involve sex, just mentorship and financial aid in exchange for companionship.”
Now, this article is not meant to glamorize or demean any person who is involved in this occupation. However, it is also not fair that society throws salt on one profession rather than the other when the bottom line is — it’s all sex for pay.
The City Girls and How They’re Influencing Sugar Babies
Who are the City Girls? They are a rap duo consisting of JT and Yung Miami. Their breakout moment was on one of Drake’s most popular songs, “In My Feelings.” Everyone knows the duo for their outlandish lifestyle, lyrics and personalities. “Act Up” was the summer 2019 anthem for the new generation of women ready to show men that gender roles are getting revamped. “Take Yo Man,” “Twerk (featuring Cardi B.),” “Leave Em Alone,” “Tighten Up” and “Where the Bag At” are just a few of their well-known songs.
Their lyrics speak about taking money from guys and never associating with poor men, all while having fun, living life and never letting menial things such as love get in the way of getting to the bag. Because in a capitalist society such as ours, money equals power. They also get their inspiration from the timeless movie “B.A.P.S.” starring Halle Berry and Natalie Desselle.
A lot of people (mainly women) who listen to the City Girls agree with their views on sex and money; some even say that they’re feminists in their own right. Niela Orr from Buzzfeed News advocates for the Miami natives, saying, “Their focus on gaming men for personal gain starts to sound like a complicated form of women’s justice. Instead of honchos who are overdue to be toppled, JT and Yung Miami are after the lower-level everymen who need to be taken down a few pegs.”
Although, in the same paragraph, Orr says the City Girls aren’t female-empowering because the two rap about their fellow women in demeaning ways. In their defense, however, when they do speak ill of other women, it’s usually women who have spoken ill about them. In an industry as fierce as the rap game, and with the stigmas that black people face, looking weak is never good for the “image.” It’s not right, but it’s just life.
Contrary to what their critics believe, the City Girls don’t see themselves as prostitutes: “We’re not promoting prostitution because we’re not prostitutes, we just ‘bout our money.” It’s no surprise that a majority of their denigrators are men, but there are women as well who feel that the City Girls are portraying women as gold diggers. Some men were so outraged by the City Girls’ mainstream summer of 2019 that they started a movement called City Boys in retaliation.
How the Sugar Baby Stigma Is Changing
In the wake of the City Girls, Megan Thee Stallion, Joanne the Scammer and others, there’s been a subsequent rise of sugar babies. Granted, being a sugar baby is nothing new. What’s new is the stigma associated with the label.
It is no longer a shameful act to get money for sexual favors or just plain companionship. Even on YouTube, you can find countless videos of sugar babies who give advice, tips and even storytimes and vlogs on how they found their sugar parent and the experiences they share with them.
Even college students are turning to this method of funding to pay off college debt and loans.
Why Are College Students Turning to the Sugar Lifestyle?
Everyone knows that college is expensive, and many that are fortunate enough to attend usually use loans and financial aid, but they sometimes still can’t make the cut. They have to obtain jobs on top of schoolwork, and even then, decades after college, former students are still paying off debts.
Christian Gollayan from the New York Post reported, “Georgia State University in Atlanta nabbed the top spot, with more than 1,300 students registered as sugar babies. More than 300 of those students signed up in 2018.”
The highest-ranking sugar parent website, SeekingArrangements.org, posted their list of colleges with the most sugar babies. On the list is Rutgers, Columbia University and New York University. The University of Central Florida and the University of Alabama are in second and third place.
Howard University was the only HBCU school to make the list, coming in at 22nd place. However, JT shouted out the school in pride and support on her Instagram story when it was reported on the Shade Room.
These numbers will continue to rise.
Is This Prostitution With a Different Name?
So, does prostitution have a new name? An anonymous sugar daddy claimed to Business Insider that there’s a difference between the two: “To me, sugar dating is more like an arranged temporary marriage where you do your own arranging. A prostitute not only offers sex acts for money and sees multiple men a day, but that’s how she makes her living. A sugar baby wants an ongoing relationship. She wants a guy who she can get along with. She wants what a girlfriend or wife might get if they found a well-off man. She has a job that mostly pays her bills, but she is looking to improve her lifestyle. And she does not talk about sex for money.”
Interestingly enough, his logic would prove that sugar babies were around longer than the title suggests, going back from ancient times up to the 1940s, when women entered the workforce. Marriage was a transaction where a woman would exchange sex, companionship and household duties for the security of a man.
When it came to royalty, marriage was always aligned with business, whether it be alliance or stature — it all came down to power. It seems the main difference is that one is strictly business and the other consists of companionship and mutual understanding.
In my opinion, the only difference is the name and the structure of how it’s conducted. At the end of the day, no arrangement is the same, despite what the media and society may depict. Both of them are high-risk situations, and not all end up as successful as the other. It may be the new wave of feminism — what it’s not is just a trend. It’s the new alternative to a millennial’s GoFundMe.