Sex & Relationships Readers Respond

What does it say about our society when women can make more money doing sex work than in most other professions? Our readers weigh in.
It's not surprising that men with lots of money are eager to spend some of it procuring sexual favors from attractive young women. Nor is it surprising that Web sites like have sprung up to facilitate this process. But what does it say about our society when a young, educated woman can make a far better living doing sex work than in most other professions?

Nicole McClelland's "What a Choice! Sex with a Sleaze for $100,000 or Writing for Peanuts" explores the power dynamics of sugar daddy relationships, tapping into a host of social, economic and political issues. McClelland's article raises many interesting questions about the lack of professional opportunities for young women, the politics of sexuality, and the role of sex in a capitalist society that commoditizes human relationships.

Our readers weighed in on this article with a thought-provoking discussion about sex work, gender relations and power in our society.

Many readers came to the defense of the sugar daddy set-up, arguing that these arrangements take place between consenting adults and are, therefore, none of our business. Libertine writes: "It's all out in the open, no one is trying to fool anyone about the true nature of the transaction, and the participants are all consenting adults ... everyone who gets involved in this knows full well what they're getting themselves into; it doesn't occur under duress, so I see no reason to complain about it."

Dano M points out that trading sex for money is no different than other financial transactions: "I see little philosophical difference between this type of body for rent and other skills for rent professions."

Reader robedal agrees: "It has always been the case that people rent parts of their bodies to others at various rates. Thus if I was involved in some questionable activities, I could rent the brain of an experienced professional (called a lawyer) to help me break the law or avoid punishment. I see no moral superiority to lawyers aiding criminal activity over persons who rent other portions of their anatomy for varying periods of time."

Other readers argued that sugar daddy relationships are no big deal, since women trade sex for money in one of our most revered and vigorously defended institutions: marriage. Almhco writes: "Is there any real difference between this and the housewife who simply sticks around for the house and car and credit cards, doing her "duty" as needed? Why does a piece of paper make one situation morally correct and the other morally wrong?"

Goeswithness disagrees, pointing out that equating marriage to prostitution is unfairly dismissive of the work done by homemakers. "Actually I think the "comparison to housewife" bit is an unfair cliche. If women married men solely for material possessions, meaning to live disconnected lives, maybe. But in marriages at least people do try to make a life together, make a family together, share the important events in life, support one another. And one might presume that there is love. Furthermore, working at home and raising kids is doing her part towards contributing to make that collective life."

Xenocyd bluntly counters, "The divorce rate has risen in tandem with the rise of financial prosperity of women. Historically, marriage has been largely prostitution. Don't dance around that."

Other readers point out that in our society female sexuality is always a commodity, regardless of whether or not individual women trade sex for money. LeeAnnG argues that "Americans seem to at least tolerate -- and even sometimes aspire to -- the display of the body, no matter how sexual the nature of that display might be ... enhanced breasts and other sexual features of women's bodies are predominant in mainstream television shows. The swimsuit issues of magazines make them big, big sellers. All of this is a form of sex for money, and sometimes immense amounts of money. But somehow we are supposed to stop short of taking money for the consummation of the desires elicited by the promotion."

Some readers see sugar daddy arrangements, as well as prostitution, as the predictable outcome of a capitalist system where most relationships are based on money. According to Mister_PsyOps, prostitution is " ... a fine bargain for the cozy elite and quite a bad one for female and male prostitutes unless they actually enjoy the lifestyle or far more likely delude themselves into believing they do. In a sense, the "calculations" here are symbolic of the bargain that has sold the entire country down the river as Washington and the MSM are little more than brothels for a criminal corporate ruling class. In other words, when the entire system is a broken sham, everything is for sale. Everything."

DaBear also points out that the unfair distribution of resources allows the rich to objectify and dominate others: "It's all about the goddamned money and the utter and total control of the rich in terms of absolute domination of those that aren't rich and the obscene way the rich know that and use others as toys. Why would anyone want to be rich if it takes that much domination of others, that much selling off of one's humanity just to have absolute power over another because of figures in a computer or pieces of paper 'n metal?"

Many readers, however, do not see anything exploitative in sugar daddy relationships and point out that, far from being oppressive, sex work can be liberating. Sandollar writes: "Those who choose to work in the sex business for the coin to pursue what they value more, may be less exploited and in more control of their lives than white-collar office workers on what they feel is a life-sapping hamster-wheel, while struggling to break even."

SabrinaMorgan also defends sex work as a worthwhile and fulfilling profession. "We do it because we're reasonably well paid and enjoy the work. We get up and do the job when we'd rather be out with our friends. We get up and do the job when we want to sleep in, or when we're not feeling well. It's not a joke. It's not a lark. It's a job."

But other readers have a very different view of sex work. Linden writes that "The ability to make your own money equals empowerment, but it still matters what you do to make it ... The idea that women constitute the "sex class" is inherent to their oppression ... "

Whether sugar daddy arrangements are liberating or oppressive, a sign of capitalist exploitation or nothing more than consenting adults having fun, they open a fascinating window into the complex interaction between sexuality, gender, and power in our culture. We thank our readers for engaging in this thought-provoking debate.
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