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Take note, Cambridge sugar babies: your Daddies are more slimy than sweet

2013 February 1
by Zoe Strimpel
I'd rather tutor snotty-nosed kids on weekends than be faced with the kind of work involving proximity to a man of this ilk.

I’d rather tutor snotty-nosed kids on weekends than be faced with the kind of work involving proximity to a man of this ilk.

Just a brief note on the “record” numbers of Cambridge lady-students signing up for sugar daddies on

Ok, so, yah da yah da, the site offers young “goal-oriented” women the chance to get extra cash for newly expensive tuition fees. £9,000 per year, after all! No wonder they’re turning in droves (168 out of roughly 4,700 female undergraduates) to a website where they can offer their youth and beauty in exchange for cash.

Two things are apparent from this previous paragraph: one, actually a very small proportion of women are seeking arrangements with old rich men to help them get through Cambridge in style and two: I thus rather disapprove of the disproportionate coverage of this whole thing. Actually, I think I’d disapprove of it even if the numbers were much bigger. This is because, despite glaring problems with the whole setup and what it says about lots of things, everything I’ve read so far has been entirely dictated by the site’s own press release. The implication if one reads enough of the coverage is a wholly unexamined sense that when the chips are down, and tuition fees go up, proffering your tasty AND clever young booty is a fair recourse for cash. Yep, both young and clever. No wonder these men are fawning. We’re expected to agree that the prospect of a young woman at Cambridge is most exciting for the sexual possibilities it offers than for the intellectual or professional or social possibilities – and the downsides of having those threatened by higher prices.

There are lots of big stuffy superior things to say about the sort of people who go for this. I am tempted to wag my finger as the girls and say, can’t you get a job at a cafe or as a weekend tutor? Isn’t it worth earning a bit less but not putting yourself in this position?

But I don’t know their circumstances. So I’m going to focus on the two things I do know.

One: That many young women today see their bodies on a direct continuum with commercial gain and consumerism, eg gifts and pampering, is disturbing but no surprise. As Ariel Levy argued in her fabulous book, Female Chauvenist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, hotness is the ultimate currency these days, sexual attractiveness has more power than a briefcase of greenbacks – it buys you everything, from happiness to power to actual, measurable wealth. Love and inner beauty are the laughable stuff of old innocence. What everyone wants to be and to have these days is non-ageing tans and botox, diets and hairless vaginas, to strive for total thin-ness, perfect toning. Women like that get more. Because (some) men want women like that. And many women want to be women like that. So in a way, it is only natural that young women in possession of a very hot piece of property (body gold in currency terms) – youth, beauty and the sexual spark that brains add to that mix – should go straight to market. Whether or not modernity has done its work to the degree that the psychological landscape of the sugar babies can seamlessly assimilate this voluntary arrangement is another story. I rather hope they feel freaked out and grossed out by the scenario. Not because they’re doing something incredibly akin to prostitution – it’s not the same since they don’t have to offer sex – but because it is gross and freaky. For the below and second reason.

Two: The men who are signed up for this site know that they are only being suffered because they have cash. This means that they are probably ugly and/or socially maladapted since good looking and/or suave wealthy older men have no issues finding willing younger babes in “normal” offline scenarios. It’s an obvious but unmentionable axiom of a site like this. Which means that they know that the women they are seeing know that they know that they are only being used for cash. A man happy to pay for the guise of a real relationship, with a bit of sex thrown in by a woman almost certainly repulsed by him, is odd enough. But that he knows the girl knows that this is the case going into it – that his attractiveness is *not* why she is with him – is just somehow more disturbing because it indicates the kind of man that one would probably not want to date at any cost. Not even for want of champagne and tuition fees.

I know that stripping and pole dancing and getting naked are any woman’s prerogative, to get all Britney on it. But I’m afraid I’m going to go all old-school and judgemental and say that I think that women lucky enough to be at Cambridge are lucky enough to have earning potential that should free them from this sort of thing. I say “lucky”. That’s because I don’t think that it’s generally something a woman after personal and professional fulfilment would opt for as a first or even a second choice. If it is, fine, but I’d want that desire closely questioned if it were mine.

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