Candice Kashani graduated from law school debt-free this spring, thanks to a modern twist on an age-old arrangement. During her first year, she faced tuition and expenses that ran nearly $50,000, even after a scholarship. So she decided to check out a dating website that connected women looking for financial help with men willing to provide it, in exchange for companionship and sex -a “sugar daddy” relationship.
Now, almost three years and several sugar daddies later, Kashani is set to graduate free and clear, while some of her peers are burdened with six-digit debts.
As the cost of tuition and rent rises, so does the apparent popularity of such sites among students. But are they really providing financial aid, or signing women up for more exploitation?
Kashani believes such sites are a “great resource” but many feel say these arrangements smack of prostitution. Lynn Comella, an associate professor of gender and sexuality studies at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that it is not unusual for students to turn to sex work such as stripping, prostitution or webcam work to pay for school. But the sugar daddy sites are relatively new, and she says not entirely upfront about what they are really about. These arrangements are more vague than prostitution -there is an expectation of material benefit but it is not always specified and sex is not guaranteed.
“Sugar Daddy” arrangements have existed for ages, but experts say internet has made these transactions far easier to arrange and negotiate. Sugar daddy websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com and SeekingArrangement.com say students make up one-third of their users adding that enrolment jumps during August and January when tuition is typically due, sometimes to more than double its normal levels.
Women who have used the site report experiences that run the gamut -from respectful chaste dates all the way to aggressive solicitation online, even though it is forbidden on the site.
Sex is not guaranteed, although most users say it is implied.
The company says a few arrangements have even led to marriage, although it is rare. Some of the women say they feel respected and cared for, but remain aware that it is an arrangement, not traditional romantic love.