NYMag.com’s fashion offshoot breaks great stories, writes hilarious pop-culture studies, and points out all manner of style-related factoids on the reg. Which is why we love it so much and read it so happily. And it's also why we were particularly confused when we read a piece by Ariel Black (a pseudonym) on "How to Find Your Own Sugar Daddy (Like I Did),"on there.
Black tells a story many New York women are familiar with — the difficulty of making ends meet while balancing a robust New York existence. When faced with insurmountable costs (and some pretty heartbreaking vet bills), Black decided to get herself a "sugar daddy," which, with the help of the Internet, is a pretty easy thing to do. Here, she describes her hunt for, and subsequent settling upon, then moving in with, a sugar daddy.
Now, let's be clear: When two consenting adults agree to a specific relationship, it's (for the most part) their business. Black makes it clear she is getting paid to have sex with the man in question, when she writes, "On our fifth date, he offered me $2,500 a month so I could relax with my dog. That night, Eli got lucky, too." There is a clear commodification of sex going on, a fact that Black — to her credit — doesn't conceal. There isn't much to be said if she wants to give her sugar daddy "what money is worthless without: friendship and fun. Plus great sex." She’s an adult, and these are her choices.
And yet, what is complicated here is that she is communicating her particular experience in a prescriptive fashion: Here is how I got myself taken care of, and here is how you can do it, too. "The job description of a sugar baby, as we’re called, is to be fun, happy, busy, sexy, and mysterious. Other feelings freak sugar daddies out — so if you aren’t happy or busy enough, embellish!" She explains. Basically, the job is to be as simple and unchallenging as possible. And this, dear readers, is really what makes us feel rather itchy: The reinforcement of the notion that women can be bought and sold and are a sexual commodity is being obscured under the guise of "empowerment." Sure, Black reportedly has the reins, but to what extent? "If I don’t properly tend his every need, a tantrum erupts: 'You ate all the Häagen-Dazs? You’re just using me! It’s over!'” she writes, or "Ask him to spring for a personal trainer and regular spa days so you can look your best for him. Wait until he’s in a good mood to shoot him a sext with a link to those Jimmy Choos (' … and I’d wear only these')." Here is a woman, a person, who is essentially saying that she needs to be taken care of by a man. And even worse; she acknowledges that and goes to pretty great lengths to ensure to.
When we first heard about the Mrs. Degree conversation, we felt a similar pang: How is this still going on, in 2013? In the case here, we get that people (of any gender) can easily find themselves in a relationship that can be uneven. But that isn't glamorous. It isn't just, as Black writes, "fantastic meals, exotic vacations, a fierce wardrobe, and even rent money." Black remarks that this way of living isn't meant to last when she writes, "...Being a sugar baby isn’t a sustainable lifestyle. It’s an adventure." Yet, an adventure is supposed to be inspiring, invigorating, and mentally stimulating. But this just feels like a major step backward. (The Cut)
We know stories on the Internet often sign off like this, but in this case, we really would appreciate you weighing in, more than ever: Are we being overly sensitive about one woman's choice to lead her life a particular way? Or does this reek of misogyny and financial slavery? Let us know.
Photo: Courtesy of Dylan's Candy Bar.