Writer Melanie Berliet wanted to take the plunge, quit her day job, and pursue freelance writing full-time. No steady paycheck, no health insurance, no safety net. So Berliet joined SeekingArrangements.com, a site which pairs young, female 20-something “sugar babies” with rich, older, male “sugar daddies” for a relationship based on gifts, including luxury items and cash. By stipulating the bling or Benjamins are gifts, the site technically doesn’t promote prostitution. Although Berliet said she was concerned about “walking the line between dating and prostitution,” she eventually convinced herself that in many species “mating rituals [often involve] the exchange of gifts” and “suspected gold diggers like Heather Mills or the late Anna Nicole Smith … were merely following their evolutionary instincts.”So she started dating rich men. Er, “dating.” There was Hank, who needed a “tall, blonde girlfriend” to take to St. Barth’s for two weeks and could not have her “wearing the same thing all the time,” so, “of course,” he would buy her Louboutins and Gucci handbags. There was Darrell, who offered Berliet either a sugar daddy relationship with an allowance or employment at his company. (She chose neither.) And there was Charlie, a man Berliet actually hit it off with, who gave her an iPod upon meeting her — “just a token,” he said — and offered a shopping spree in NYC’s tony SoHo neighborhood as a third date.
Now, there are many things that are problematic with Berliet’s various lines of reasoning. Frisky readers, you are intelligent enough, I’m sure, to figure them out yourself. What I’m most fascinated by, however, is not why she joined, but why she left sugar daddy dating.
Berliet’s summation of why she couldn’t be a sugar baby is interesting, to say the least: “Ultimately, I realized that I’m not that progressive or that, for whatever reason, being financially independent means something to me.” Progressive isn’t the word I’d use — free-thinking, perhaps, but not progressive. I personally don’t care if it’s your true heart’s desire to be “gifted” with Prada, Balenciaga or cash in exchange for sex with some old man; it’s certainly no one else’s business to tell me how to conduct my sex life. Just own up to the fact that you’re contributing to the sexist concept that male/female relationships are predicated on financial exchange. And definitely don’t tell me you were doing it because you’re so progressive or liberated! Melanie Berliet thought she knew what she wanted out of life and that in and of itself is a quality to be prized. Don’t kid yourself that you’re doing any favors to the sisterhood, though, honey!
Some of the men Berliet describes — like one who would prefer to rent a girlfriend than invest in a wife because even with a pre-nup, his fortune is not rock solid — sound like definite a**holes and possible misogynists who are only dating on the site out of desperation. By being complicit on the site, Berliet was only encouraging sugar daddies on SeekingArrangements.com. Like I said, there’s nothing admirable or progressive about that, even if she ultimately decided she wanted to pay her own way in life.
Writer to writer, I appreciate Berliet’s openness and willingness to tell this story. But if she honestly believes every single thing she wrote in her Vanity Fair piece, girlfriend needs some help. [Vanity Fair]