Editorial: “Sugar babies” must be afforded rights and protections

By Rebecca Lumley

"Motivated by money or not, it is not for anyone to judge the morality of a sugar baby."

In an article published recently on Dublin Live, the founder of a website called Seeking Arrangements stated that almost 10,000 Irish students had signed up to be “sugar babies”. 568 students from DCU were members of the site, with 72 new sign ups in 2016.

The website’s premise is that it matches “successful men and women” who “know what they want” with “attractive people looking for the finer things in life.” Wealthy professionals pay young people, many of whom are students, to adhere to a set of terms laid out in their profile.

Some may want sugar babies to accompany them to parties, travel with them or just provide companionship. In return, the website states that sugar babies “get to experience a luxurious lifestyle and meet wealthy people on a regular basis.”

It is stated that money is no object to the average sugar daddy (or mum), with site founder Brandon Wade estimating that the average sugar baby earns approximately €2,150 a month.

Not your traditional idea of romance then.

To many, arrangements like these might sound more unethical than untraditional. While many sugar babies may not offer services which constitute prostitution, the thought of taking money in return for faking romance still leaves a tight, uncomfortable feeling in the chest. Growing up, I was told that if I couldn’t imagine telling my grandparents that I had done something, I probably shouldn’t do it.

Liberal as my granny is, I don’t know what she would make of a scheme like this.

Wade defends the operation by highlighting the financial merits afforded to struggling students. He claims that his site has aided hundreds of thousands of students, allowing them to graduate from college free of debt. According to him, “that’s more than anyone can say of any particular government party.” His point isn’t entirely unfounded.

Motivated by money or not, it is not for anyone to judge the morality of a sugar baby. What is important is that students who choose to enter into such arrangements feel safe, unpressured and able to ask for help. Though it mightn’t be as traditional as part-time job in Penneys or McDonalds, sugar babies must still be afforded rights and protections, free from stigma.

Rebecca Lumley | News Editor