It's sad, it's pitiful -- and it comes as no surprise at all that a popular "sugar daddy" dating service has reported a big uptick in new user registration since politicians shut down the government seven days ago, leaving single moms who rely on programs like WIC in the lurch. Seeking Arrangement unapologetically makes its bones hooking up young women -- whom they call "goal seeking sugar babies" -- with wealthy, mostly older men who are seeking a "mutually beneficial relationship." Sex and companionship in exchange for money -- nothing that shocks the pants off of any of us at this point.
But why does this feel different? This feels like something that shouldn't happen in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. This is prostitution out of need, not personal choice. And the only people who should feel ashamed are our elected officials.
A representative from Seeking Arrangement says the site usually experiences a lull in September and October, and can't explain the sudden peak it experienced at the end of September. Half of its new members are single moms, and the site is attributing its sudden growth to the halting of WIC (a food and nutrition service that caters to women, infants, and children). It has reportedly affected nine million women since the government shut down.
I've known young women who have dated wealthy men they found on sugar daddy sites like these. They were neither destitute nor desperate to feed their children. By contrast, they were actually very pretty young girls who lacked professional ambition and self-esteem, but were very open about admitting they wanted to find a rich guy and be taken care of. If that's your desire in life and you find a willing partner -- it's your business, go for it. But that's not the case here.
What we have instead is a government that pulled crucial support out from under the feet of women and children. We have moms who need to feed their kids and know that the one commodity they possess is their bodies. It makes me sick to think that there are men who will take advantage of their situations -- but we all know they exist. Despite your feelings about WIC and similar programs, the bottom line is that you can't just pull a lifeline from someone without giving them a chance to find an alternate way of surviving.
Sadly, the way these women have found will probably work for them, at the expense of sacrificing their own dignity.
Could you see yourself hooking up with a sugar daddy in order to support your children?
Image via Jaysin Trevino/Flickr