Sugar relationship. This name gets a lot of buzzes lately. Some people said that it should be legalized and allowed. Some people said it should be normalized, some people said it is wrong, some said it is right. This topic caused so many opinions and sparked many interesting conversations. But there is one thing that gets so many people confused about, is sugar relationship prostitution? I have my own opinion that I strongly hold, which is the sugar dating is prostitution.
But before we get started, it's important to understand the meaning of sugar relationship, prostitution, and a serious romantic relationship. After that, I am going to explain the reason for my opinion based on the most arguments I heard and provide my findings and thoughts on that.
What's a sugar relationship/sugar dating? According to Sugarbook, a well-known platform for sugar baby and sugar daddy to meet, it means "...where both parties define what they want in a relationship in exchange for financial support. Most times this consists of a Male/Female who is eligible for financial backing in exchange for love and companionship."
There are definitely some questions that are asked by many.
Firstly, most people would ask "Is there any sex involved?"
The answer is indeed ambiguous because some sites do not say that clearly if the sex is always involved or not, while some sugar baby interviews did show that there is sex, such as this one.
I understand the reason why sugar dating websites do not mention sex explicitly because when they did mention that, they will definitely be penalized by the government, and would be hard for a lawyer to fight on their behalf.
According to Seekingarrangement.com as quoted by Kronzek Firm PLC, "a mutually beneficial arrangement between two people, both of whom are clear and upfront right from the beginning about what they want. And what do they want? Well, although the site explains that the relationship can include anything from monogamous dating to being a married person's other’, to a simple sex exchange. It all depends on the people involved."
So there may and may not be sex involved, but the expectations are clear and obvious that most men paid younger women to ultimately have sex with him.
Sugar dating consists of sugar babies and sugar daddies. To put it simply, a sugar baby is a woman who offers companionship and/or sexual service while the sugar daddy is the one who pays for it. I do not have many references for the meaning of both parties because most of the time in websites and interviews, the way they described sugar baby is very ambiguous such as "she enjoys the finer things in life" or "Sugar Babies have exquisite taste." or "They have a passion for traveling and love receiving gifts."
It's ambiguous because it doesn't say what is her role and responsibilities in this sugar relationship and the description is very broad that it fits everyone. I mean, I too, have exquisite taste, a passion for traveling, and love to receive gifts.
It's almost as if it means that anyone who enjoys receiving gifts and loves the finer things in life is sugar babies. Do you feel happy to get gifts on your birthday? That means you are a sugar baby!*
*I am being sarcastic.
What is prostitution?
According to Malaysian law, "“Prostitution” means the act of a person offering that person’s body for sexual gratification for hire whether in money or in kind; and “prostitute” shall be construed accordingly. "
The word prostitution in Latin meant to put upfront for sale.
So the key in understanding what prostitution is all about is the presence of money or any other kind in exchange for sexual service.
The sexual service is ranging from sexual intercourse, striptease, erotic dance, acting, or any others that deemed to be, well, sexual.
Serious Romantic Relationship
A serious romantic relationship refers to when 2 people decided to engage together in an expected lifelong companionship because they choose to love each other.
According to Elite Daily, there are some elements that many people repeatedly mention about a serious romantic relationship, which are (1) It's building toward something, (2) Both of you are committed to making your relationship last, (3) The something you're working toward is probably marriage, (4) You could see yourself starting a family with that person one day, (5) You're in it for the long haul, and (6) It is no joke.
So if people are being girlfriend or boyfriend to someone with the intention of making it long term, you know it's a serious romantic relationship. They are most of the time building something, whether it is a strong bond with each other, a union, or a family. They also always committed to making the relationship last because if either one or both isn't committed, there won't be any serious romantic relationship.
Sex in Sugar Relationship
Although sex in sugar dating is optional, it is definitely common and very usual in the practice. To say that most men do not want sex in sugar dating is almost as naive as to say that most men don't like sex. Especially the fact that they will have to pay so much money to the girl. Maybe the sex doesn't happen right away, but it will ultimately happen during the sugar relationship. I believe that some men in sugar relationships don't want sex but it's not the majority. In fact, it's probably a rather small number of them that don't want sex at all.
It is shown in some sugar dating relationships that sex does happen in the sugar relationship with some sugar babies stated they did it and they don't mind it. An anonymous testimonial from an ex-sugar baby was submitted to the MalaysiaKini stated that she did have sex with the sugar daddies.
There are some videos that show people spending the day with a sugar baby to show how it actually is being a sugar daddy and they showed they did not have sex. It is definitely not an accurate representation of sugar dating because they just paid the sugar baby for the video content. Most men don't pay sugar babies for video content. They did so to satisfy themselves and to have a companionship. And many of them, well, most of them, satisfy themselves with sex.
Excuse my language, but I'd like to be direct about what I am talking about instead of beating around the bush. After all, I am just trying to prove a point 😁
Argument 1: Sugar Relationship is more similar to Serious Romantic Relationships
So what's the difference between a woman who is in a relationship and a woman who is in a sugar relationship?
Women who put themselves on a serious romantic relationship are not putting up themselves for sale, to be paid, or to be rented for a day. When initially they put their profile in a dating app, they did not put the profile up to attract a customer to enquire about their service (which may or may not include sex) because they seek serious, life-long companionship, not a transaction. They are not the kind of women who are disposable, where when they are not getting paid, the relationship ends.
They are also not doing sex with their serious partner for free. The definition of free in this context is a price. So by saying it's free, you'd meant they had sex for $0. This statement is not true because if a woman sells herself for $0, then she'd have sex with literally anyone. Even some random men on the street, she'd do it, because she is sold for free. But she didn't. She chooses who she can be intimate with and she does it out of love. And this is priceless. It's not something she put up a price for. Just like being loved. You can't pay for someone to love you, because if you do, that is no longer called love. That's called a transaction.
In a sugar relationship, the girls list themselves on websites and then the man will enquire more, then when they had a deal on the price and services they will get, they then proceed with the action. Some girls provide the sex service, some don't, but the world of sugar relationship does not ban the presence or absence of sex, just like in prostitution. Both prostitution and sugar dating also involve money or a similar kind in exchange for sex.
Therefore, no, a sugar relationship is absolutely not the same as a serious romantic relationship. In fact, the presence of money here makes it belong to the prostitution category. So in this aspect, the sugar relationship IS prostitution.
Argument 2: The Engagement Number
Many sugar babies dislike being associated with prostitution because they feel that they do not cater to as many men as prostitutes.
For example, in a Reddit forum I saw, the administrator explicitly will ban sex workers and explain in great length how they're not sex workers. To quote:
"When she is juggling multiple men, she is engaging in sex-work, most commonly prostitution."
(in her logic, therefore, sugar dating is not sex work because sugar babies engage to only 1 man at a time)
But when I go along and see the forum members' submissions, some of them did juggle with multiple men at once. It is also worth noting that in the sugar dating industry, any woman can date as many men as they want, there is never a rule that strict women to only cater to 1 man at a time. This is probably just the forum administrator's way of distinguishing themselves from prostitutes since they dislike being associated with them.
But on top of that, this definition by the forum admin is not stuck to any fact at all. Her definition of prostitution is simply wrong. By saying that prostitution is engaging in paid sex towards many men, in my opinion, demonstrates their lack of understanding of prostitution.
In no place at all people makes the prostitution guideline by the number of customers. Prostitution has a simple meaning: if you can exchange money or any similar kind for sex service, it's prostitution. Regardless you did it with one man or thousands of men. If you let someone purchase your sex service, you are a prostitute.
Argument 3: Sugar Babies choose who they can serve
Since money is the key here, that means you allow your sex service to be bought with money or any similar kind. When you put yourself up for sale, anyone can buy you. A sugar baby can choose whoever can be their client. But the difference with people in a serious relationship is that in sugar dating/prostitution, the acceptance criteria in a sugar relationship tend to be extremely broad while in a serious romantic relationship, the acceptance criteria tend to be extremely narrow.
However, I don't think acceptance criteria has anything to do with the fact that someone put a price on themselves in exchange for sexual service.
What matters is the intention of what you will do with him. Will you take them as a life partner, love them, and stick with them through thick and thin, or will you take them as a client who pays you?
So to say that you did sexually engage in a man, and then gets paid for it is still considered prostitution.
If a sugar baby did not perform any sexual act towards a man (yet still getting paid for it), then she can be considered not a prostitute because there is no sexual service purchased here.
However, never in the sugar dating sites or forum, tells that sugar babies are not allowed to have sex with their sugar daddies. They are allowed to have and not have any sexual service. So looking from the industry point of view, sugar dating is just the same as prostitution since both enable their service provider to engage in sexual acts. As an individual, it may differ if someone should be called a sex worker or not, depending on whether or not they provide sexual service.
Argument 4: More than Sex
Another argument that I heard is that sugar dating is more than just sex. They said that sugar dating is just like any other relationship, the only difference is they just come into an agreement upfront.
I disagree. Because in other serious relationships, there is no transaction involved. None of the parties in a relationship put any price on themselves.
In other serious relationships, both parties love each other. In sugar dating, when a man doesn't pay a sugar baby, the 'love' no longer present. In my opinion, the 'love' they called in sugar dating is not actually love.
To love someone because they paid you to is illogical. Loving someone means you love, care, and think of them no matter what.
If the sugar baby just comforts the man by saying nice words and show that she 'loves' him because of the money he paid her, as far as I'm concerned, that is purely just bounded intimacy.
Argument 5: Sugar Babies are Empowered, Driven, and Ambitious.
The more I dig, the more I see how people in the sugar baby/dating industry does not want to be called same as a prostitute, one argued that sugar baby is more than prostitutes, as seen in the following statement taken from bestsugardating.com:
"they are more than that because they are also empowered, driven, and ambitious. They have exquisite taste and appetite for a relationship that promises new experiences and of course, good life."
It doesn't explain how it is any different from a prostitute.
I think their look of a prostitute is some typical low-class woman who doesn't have any personality and strength. It's important for them to know that many prostitutes are also empowered, driven, and ambitious. They have exquisite tastes too and wanted to have a new experience and a good life, which is why they work hard to earn that. Prostitutes in general actually have their own personality, their own life struggle, and therefore, they are also hardworking and ambitious. I do think it's unfair for sugar babies to think of sex workers doesn't have any ambition in their life.
Sugar babies have a full-time job or study they currently pursuing while at the same time, prostitutes are also having full-time jobs or study they currently pursuing. Some sugar babies become full-time sugar babies and don't have any job, just like full-time prostitutes.
There are numerous life stories of prostitutes around the world that became prostitutes out of their life struggle and survives the dark side of prostitution, it shows how strong they are. Just like this interview with a prostitute called Spicy by Soft White Underbelly.
Despite the argument that sugar babies have better character than prostitutes, at the end of the say, what matters is still the same: did you or did you not provide sexual service in exchange for money (or any similar kind)?
It may be repetitive for me to keep saying the same thing, but again, this argument is invalid because regardless if the woman is strong, ambitious, or possesses any other great quality, she and the industry still, in fact, provide sexual service in exchange for money or any similar kind. So, no matter how sugar babies think they are not prostitutes because they are better than them, as long as they provide sexual service, they are still prostitutes.
Argument 5: Regular Arrangement
Some sites, such as bestsugardating.com said that "The key difference is that a sugar daddy relationship is a regular arrangement. The two parties will agree on what they can and can’t do to each other. They have sugar baby rules and sugar daddy rules and sex is not necessarily included.", and this is also backed by some sugar baby interviews out there.
Prostitutes also have a regular arrangement if the client wants to and before they get the job done they made sure to agree on what they can and can't do with each other.
So both the prostitution and sugar relationship operates the same way.
I don't know what is their perception of prostitutes, they seem to think prostitutes don't have a proper discussion before the sex is done and that the sex workers have no say in what they can/can't do. In reality, many sex workers have the say whether they can or can't fulfill the clients' requests. It's their choice to say if they want it or not. They also have the same power to reject or accept customers.
Sometimes, they may be abused by pimps and forced to do things they never wanted to, but that's a different story which I classify as abuse/human trafficking, not sex work.
Argument 6: The Companionship Service
Many sugar babies also said that what makes sugar relationships different than prostitution is how it is so similar to a serious romantic relationship. They would go out, they would talk, they probably not having sex the first time they met. But in this clip, it is also shown that in some brothels, sex workers also give out the service of companionship where they would just talk, dine, walking around, travel, hug, etc.
It might be very similar to a serious romantic relationship but the key difference is when you take away the money that is used to pay for their time and energy, would they still do the same care and companionship?
In some cases, the men only wanted to do it with 1 woman for a long period of time, just like in sugar dating. They also built an emotional bond with each other. In the same clip, some men would even stay with their preferred sex worker even when they are in the senior age.
So technically, the service sugar babies give is not something new and exclusive that only sugar babies provide. It has been in practice for quite some time in the sex industry, and that emotional bond between the service provider and the client is not something impossible that only happens in sugar relationship since it is shown to also appear in a significant frequency just like in prostitution.
So as I mentioned in the title and everywhere in this article, the sugar relationship is actually prostitution. I don't want to talk about my own opinion on whether the sugar relationship is right or wrong. But I think people in the sugar relationship industry should own it and admit that what they are doing is prostitution. The more they said it's not prostitution, the more they show that it is indeed prostitution.
But essentially, sugar relationship is prostitution because they share the same value, which is to provide sexual service in exchange for money or any similar kind. Although it is true that in both industries they may or may not have sex, both industries condone sexual service, and the absence of sex is something that is case by case and not a principle the sugar relationship industry hold.
I wouldn't call the sugar relationship to be prostitution if the industry of sugar relationship doesn't condone any sexual act in it, OR if it doesn't condone payment in any form (money, items, or travel). But so far in my research, they never ban sex services or payments.
I think if sugar babies/daddies don't think there is anything bad with prostitution, they shouldn't have any problem when people said sugar dating is prostitution. They should also be more consistent in what they really think. If they think the sugar relationship is normal, they should not be ashamed to introduce their sugar daddy to their family as their sugar daddy. If they really think it's all about the money, they should also just admit it because as someone who is not trying to hide anything, it's important to be honest and upfront. When sugar babies tried to say it's more than just money, I don't think they would say the same if they never got paid for spending time with the sugar daddy. All in all, if they really think this is a form of prostitution, they should just admit it or else give concrete proof on how it isn't. So far, all the arguments based on interviews and forums never prove how it's not the same as they tend not to address the shared value that prostitution and sugar relationships have.
When I speak of prostitution, I never meant it in a negative way. So when I said that the sugar relationship is prostitution, I don't mean it in a bad way. I am just stating an opinion that it is. Whether prostitution is good or bad, depends on your view and a country law's view. Some countries legalize prostitution while some don't.
It is also worth noting that, just like any job, the sugar relationship possesses risks as well. Although there are so many interviews that said the sugar daddies are nice and kind, there are already cases of assault that reportedly happened in a sugar relationship. So it is not something that is extremely safe, glamour, and all nice as most sugar babies said. If you are a sugar baby, you should know what are the risks and therefore able to protect yourself.
Keep in mind that getting money, penthouse, cars while being in a normal relationship and not needing to do any work does sound too good to be true, and usually, when something is too good to be true it's either it comes with great risks or it's not truly like what they portray it to be.
All I state here in this essay is just the fact that both prostitution and sugar relationship is the same, that is all.
At the time of this writing (this writing took 3 days to write), there is an action done by the government of Malaysia towards the sugar dating platform, Sugarbook. I heard that the app is being blocked in the country while they are investigating it. I guess what is the outcome of that investigation should make it clear for those wondering if the sugar relationship is prostitution or not.
However, regardless of what would the government say, I stand by my opinion to say that they are the same.