Sex Work is Real Work

On escorting and sugar dating

I was on and off the sugar scene for a number of years, and my experiences with this style of dating are what ultimately prompted me to take up escorting. Try as I might, I failed to make a meaningful connection with anyone from Seeking Arrangement beyond an initial date or two. Not that I haven’t been looking; I’ve been sincere in my search for a mutually-beneficial arrangement, but it seems I and the gentlemen on this site are incompatible.

Part of the issue is the concept of paying for companionship. There seems to be a disconnect between what people believe to be escorting and what is actual escorting. As a companion, I advertise my services as such; when you book an appointment with me, you’re paying for my time and company. Seeking Arrangement similarly offers members to find dates with whom to spend time. As per their site:

“Where Sugar Babies enjoy a life of luxury by being pampered with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances. In turn, Sugar Daddies or Mommas find beautiful members to accompany them at all times.”

I dunno… sounds like escorting to me. SA has stated in their Terms of Use that people using the site are prevented from “Using the Website as an escort, or using the Service to solicit clients for an escort service.” Meanwhile, this is exactly what escorting entails — compensation for time. Granted, the compensation for an escort’s time is usually money, yet there is compensation nonetheless.

After the passing of the SESTA/FOSTA Bill (which severely limited ways in which escorts can advertise their services), SA tightened up their stance against escorting, and attempted to remove the notion of “compensation” in monetary format from their platform. You can no longer specify an allowance, for example. They’ve changed the name to “Seeking”, presumably to further remove the monetary aspect of this sort of dating relationship. Brandon Wade has even specifically stated SA will report profiles that are believed to be escorts, to law enforcement.

The problems then begin to arise when women using the site as a means to make money become exploited, and this happens all the time. There was even a lengthy thread on a popular local review board a while back discussing the ways in which men can get (quite literally) the most bang for their buck; this has since been deleted. But some of the “advice” given to men were to find ladies in remote areas with few options for sugar dating; and to find young, college-age women. The assumption with this, is that these men are seeking to exploit women in vulnerable positions (although they would never admit it). The compensation offered is minimal, and undermines a woman’s value in this marketplace.

There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking value for a service or product; we all do this. Yet escorting and sex work in general seem to be prime targets for rate negotiation. Those who are heavily attempting to negotiate do not view sex work as real work. To become a sex worker, one doesn’t need to attend school or do some other professional course (but there’s an idea for you!). Experience in this line of work isn’t valued in the same way it is in other professions. Since society typically views experience and education as meaningful ways in which to gain employment and increase income, selling time and companionship isn’t viewed similarly to other professions. And this is the problem. We value services based on outmoded conceptions of what we deem valuable.

But sex work IS a profession and must be treated as such, regardless of the identity that someone assumes or the platform on which they solicit. We as sex workers already know this, but clients and would-be “sugar daddies” must be educated on the value of our profession and the business realities we face as independent contractors and agency-represented individuals. Our duty is to help them understand that our time and experience are to be respected equally as any other profession.