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‘Sugaring’: The Sad Way Some Students Use Sex to Escape Debt at My Alma Mater

A story from the Ball State Daily News leads this round-up of the 10 most attention-grabbing headlines from Monday, January 27 2014.

Dave Swindle


January 28, 2014 - 12:00 pm


This is Week 4, day 1 of my new 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media that crosses my path each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at

1. From the publication where a decade ago I wrote op/ed columns and movie reviews as an undergrad: Ball State students get close for cash

Ellis has had a few online conversations, but he has not gone on any dates because he said there are not a lot of Sugar Daddies looking for gay Sugar Babies.

“Being gay in the sugaring world is not a common thing because it’s usually girls who are in their 20s who find older men who just want to spoil them,” Ellis said.

Both students use, a website used to connect potential Sugar Babies to benefactors offering monthly lifestyle budgets ranging from less than $1,000 to more than $10,000.

The website recently released a press release announcing the top 20 fastest growing Sugar Baby schools: Indiana University is No. 18, Ball State at No. 58 and Purdue University at No. 66.

Seeking Arrangement targets college students looking to earn money to ease student debt. According to a press release, college students make up 42 percent of the website’s Sugar Baby membership.

“A lot of these college students don’t have jobs and they’re fighting to pay student loans with increases in the cost of education,” said Leroy Velasquez, public relations manager for the website. “And rather than graduate with a financial burden on their back before they even get a job, they could just date a Sugar Daddy on Seeking Arrangement and graduate debt free.”

One woman chooses to become a prostitute in order to support a drug addiction. That’s understandable and tragic. My favorite movie, Requiem for a Dreamis a heartbreaking story. A woman is so desperate for her fix that she abandons the man she loves and degrades herself.

But so you can avoid having to pay student loans back for a few years? You let some guy you’re not attracted to pay you to have a fake relationship with him and then rent your body to him?

It just breaks my heart that some women place so low a value on themselves.

2. Via Conservative Videos and hat tip to SLM Goldberg: Kirsten Powers: Being A Democrat ‘Was My Religion’ Before Christian Conversion

3. Victor Davis Hanson here at PJM: Eating Our Young

Major props to Ed Driscoll for this awesome graphic illustrating the lead story of the week:

The baby-boomer/me generation demands what its “greatest generation” parents got — or, in fact, far more, given its increased rates of longevity. The solution of more taxes and less benefits will fall on young people and the unborn, apparently on the premise that those under 18 do not vote, and those between 18 and 30 either vote less frequently than their grandparents or less knowledgeably about their own self-interest.

The Social Security pyramidal scheme is merely the tip of the ephebiphobic iceberg. Currently student indebtedness exceeds $1 trillion. Many of these loans begin compounding before graduation and are pegged at interest rates far higher than parental mortgages. The cause of this tuition bubble is also not controversial. The prices colleges charge for annual tuition, room and board have for over two decades far exceeded the annual rate of inflation.

There were four causes of such price gouging of students. None of them had anything to do with offering better education for a more competitive price for job-hungry graduates.

 4. Jared Sichel at The Jewish Journal: Holocaust in North Korea

At the museum, Shin sought the horrific images from 1945 of thousands of decomposing bodies from a liberated Nazi concentration camp being dug up by a bulldozer.

The horror of that image, which he had viewed for the first time in South Korea, convinced him that he must do what he can to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners languishing today in North Korea’s four concentration camps. Shin has become, despite his desire to remain private, a public face for what is a growing movement to shed light on North Korea’s totalitarian government and its unrelenting political imprisonment of its countrymen.

The international media coverage of North Korea tends to focus on anything but the country’s humanitarian crisis. We hear about the country’s nuclear program or the budding friendship between former American basketball star Dennis Rodman and North Korea’s 31-year-old dictator Kim Jong-un, or the latter’s recent execution of his uncle, Jang Sung-taek, formerly Kim’s No. 2 man.

But Shin is a living testament to the fact that attention must be paid to what is happening to a completely hidden population: Nearly seven decades after the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces on Jan. 27, 1945, North Korea’s concentration camps have now existed more than 12 times longer than the Nazi camps and twice as long as the Soviet gulag.


As lunch wound down, Shin’s translator said that they had to leave soon for another interview. So I asked him if we could discuss a light topic — God.

Shin responded that although he isn’t entirely convinced of God’s existence, he does believe he received help from above. “I believe that there was a higher being, a higher power involved with my life, for me to be where I am right now,” he said.

Like all of North Korea, Camp 14 was devoid of any religion, of anything that could challenge the Kim family’s throne.

Today, Shin attends an Evangelical church in Seoul whenever he can, and, in fact, finds solace in Moses and the story of the Exodus — a self-doubting leader who helped an enslaved people escape a tyrant.

“When I look at North Korea now,” Shin said, “It reminds me of ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs.”

Read the whole thing. Jared is an extraordinary writer with a lot of talent. I look forward to seeing what he continues to do.

5. Jeremy Boreing at Truth Revolt: Gay Marriage at the Grammys: All Art is Propaganda

On the surface, it’s easy to criticize Sunday night’s Grammy Awards telecast for sliding from a celebration of music into a celebration of gay marriage with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s live performance of  “Same Love,” featuring Mary Lambert, Madonna, Queen Latifa and 33 couples – gay and straight – tying the knot.

There’s no question that the sanctimonious display, complete with gospel choir, stained-glass cathedral motif and pseudo-religious rhymes was intended to propagandize Americans into further support for gay marriage by giving the appearance of universal acceptance among the glitterati while marginalizing opposition from religious conservatives by reducing their motives to “fear” and “playing God.” “Right wing conservatives think it’s a decision,” the lyric intones. The fact that the socialist mayor of New York’s former lesbian wife agrees with that assessment is of no more concern to the songwriter than the fact that the current Democratic president – and indeed all of the Democratic presidents who went before him – all saw marriage as a male/female issue until right about election time last year.

Still, to turn one’s nose up at the Grammys for letting a show meant to honor art turn into a propaganda-fest is to misrepresent art itself. The simple fact is that all art is propaganda.  From the first man scrawling on the first cave wall to da Vinci to the Beatles, the purpose of the artist is always to communicate a unique perspective in the hopes of moving the audience.  In fact, for most of human history (and perhaps even still…) art has been less a business and more a patronage system where the wealthy would literally pay for art that promoted their vision of the world, not the artists. It’s hard to say what Michelangelo’s personal beliefs on scripture were, but his employer’s motive of inspiring awe in the face of the divine lives on in the Sistine Chapel and the Accademia to this day. As capitalism has imprinted itself on art, the values of the artist themselves have taken a more dominant role.

The idea of neutral art is as misguided as the idea of objective journalism – it has never existed in all of human history, and it shouldn’t.

Read the whole thing. Spot on. Jeremy is someone else I should make a point to keep an eye on. This is a great piece the way he puts the Grammys in a bigger discussion about the nature of art.

6. Michael Ledeen here at PJM: Hey Stupid! It’s Not About Nukes, It’s About Life and Death

There are none so blind as those who will not see, and hardly anyone wants to see Iran for what it is:  an evil regime bound and determined to dominate and destroy us, our friends and our allies.  The evidence is luminously clear, but most all of our attention has focused, as usual, on the nuclear issue.  Did the Iranians promise to stop enriching uranium or “dismantle” some of the components of their nuclear program?  How many Western sanctions are being eased or lifted in exchange? And on and on…

We don’t know the answers to these questions, as the text of the agreement is secret.  However, we do know that the Iranians now have six months — the sort of deadline that often slides — to reach a “final” agreement with the 5 + 1 countries.

We can expect the Iranians to prolong and exploit this period to their advantage and our peril.  They’ve already begun. The Iranian regime is expanding its regional and global power, killing its domestic enemies, and subverting and intimidating Middle Eastern nations that are reluctant to bend to its will.  These matters require serious Western attention, but they aren’t getting much.  For us, it’s all about nukes and sanctions.

7. Ed Driscoll here at PJM: The Evil of Banality

Allan Bloom, call your office — New York intellectual life really had become an enclave of the Weimar Republic by the early 1960s; as Bloom wrote in 1986’s The Closing of the American Mind, “The self-understanding of hippies, yippies, yuppies, panthers, prelates and presidents has unconsciously been formed by German thought of a half-century earlier; Herbert Marcuse’s accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsch label has been replaced by a Made in America label; and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family.”

8. Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler: Hillary Wants to Get Benghazi Out of the Way

Just for the sake of history, let’s recall that Clinton could have prevented the attack but failed to do so. Her State Department turned down repeated requests for enhancing security at the U.S. facility in Benghazi. After the attack, she blamed it on a YouTube video and promised one of the parents of the victims that the U.S. government would go after and get the man who made that video. Clinton made good on that threat. The perpetrators who actually carried out the attack, however, remain at large and the Obama government has shown no interest in capturing them.

9. Glenn Reynolds at USA TodayHow Americans can kill Obamacare, legalize pot: Column

Far fewer than half the number needed by March 31 have signed up. And, as it turns out, most of the people signing up for Obamacare aren’t the uninsured for whom it was supposedly enacted, but people who were previously insured (many of whom lost their previous insurancebecause of Obamacare’s new requirements). “At most,” writes Bloomberg‘s Megan McArdle, “they’ve signed up 15% of the uninsured that they were expecting to enroll. … Where are the uninsured? Did hardly any of them want coverage beginning Jan. 1?” It looks that way.

In fact, there seem to be more uninsured than there were before Obama took office, leaving Jonah Goldberg to ask, “So what was the point of Obamacare again?”

10. Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler: Could Obamacare Become a Generational Problem for Democrats?

There are a couple of major flaws leading to fewer millennials than needed signing up. One, it’s cheaper just to pay the fine for violating the individual mandate than to buy insurance that most young people don’t need. Young single men don’t need to buy pregnancy and mammography coverage, but Obamacare mandates it, making policies more expensive. Additionally, Obamacare allows younger people to stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26. That slices off the 18-26 part of the 18-34 demo that needs to sign up in greater numbers.

Reading of the Day, from Ann Coulter’s Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obamapage 94:

BAD IDEAS MEAN MORE MURDER. (Or: Why I am not a #Democrat or #progressive anymore.) excerpt from page 94 of #AnnCoulter book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the 70s to #obama

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image courtesy shutterstock / Viktor1

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (29)
All Comments   (29)
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God, save me from your idiot followers.

The problem with your essay is three-fold.

First, you've never actually talked to the women who do this sort of thing. You just judge them from on top of your ivory tower, never venturing down into the real world to actually understand the situation.

Second, it's not even possible for a college student to have a "real loving relationship". The human brain is still developing well into the mid twenties, and guess which parts are the last to develop? Yep, the parts that handle the sort of high order concepts like "love". Most people are effectively sociopaths well into their twenties, not because of poor upbringing, but because they simply lack the brain development to be anything else. Did you know that a twelve year old, when we adjust for life experience, has better cost/benefit analysis than your average teenager? The brain goes through massive physiological changes in the teenage years, and it doesn't get settled until well into the twenties. There is no way a person can truly understand love until they have their brain back in proper working order.

Three, marriage, and male/female relationships in general, have never been about "love". Property rights, tribal bonds, procreation, survival, prosperity, a good healthy dose of lust..... Not love. The very concept of "Marriage for love" is exceedingly new, historically speaking. It's a product of the mega prosperity post WWII, and that prosperity is unlikely to be seen again in our lifetimes. The reason we have such a high divorce rate is because people like you are running around spreading lies about the nature of reality. First comes marriage, then comes love. Loves takes /years/, probably decades, to really create. I asked both my surviving grandparents (one on each side) if they loved their spouse when they married. The answer - Nope. and they were from not-poor families, so they didn't necessarily need to marry for survival. At the end? Hell yes. Five years later my grandfather still says things like, "Well, I'm coming to terms with the fact she's gone."

People like you are the reason why prostitution is so dangerous. Because you demand it be kept in the shadows, it's impossible to regulate and police. You give evil men leverage over women because they can not go to the police for help (and over men in the case of gay prostitution).

And before you pull out your precious little straw man that you've so thoughtfully crafted (*snark*).... No, I'd really have no problem if my daughter were involved in one of these relationships as long as it was monogamous. Even if she was a full bore prostitute, as long as she were doing it in a safe and controlled environment, I'd have less problem than if she were a "marketing" or "journalism" major. At least she'd be getting some value out of her time.

Before people like you go looking down their noses at these women, maybe you should try to talking to them. Maybe you could try doing some real journalism. Get in contact with someone like Valerie Baber, and have a public discussion with her on the topic. Actually debate someone who has done the sorts of things you think are so horribly terrible, but come away with little regrets (other than the time your government jackboots harassed her over her private associations with consenting adults).

For people that want to be educated on the topic, start with Baber's editorial -

Another great place is Penn & Teller's Bullsh*t, Season 4, Episode 2.

Oh, and Dave, for all your hand wringing, have you picked up the phone and offered to pay for their education? Someone needs to pay for it. I sure as hell don't want to. The government shouldn't be, as that's basically the same as me doing it. We can presume their parents aren't. So who then? If you're so worried about them, why don't you pay for it? It's really great that you can make a living some other way. It is, I'm happy for you. Some people can't. Maybe you should leave them be and tend to your own house.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So you're a libertarian in favor of fully legalized prostitution and you would not discourage your own daughters from entering the profession.

Are you an atheist too?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think I just found a new candidate for the World's Worst Dad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dave, you're a bit young to remember the nineties' the way I remember the nineties'.

This was when "sex-positive" feminism and the porn culture reached their apotheosis. Even Redbook was writing about anal sex and all the women's glossies were waxing eloquent about "sex-work" being just another legitimate career choice. The late 1990's were the era of the stripper/hooker memoir and it became almost fashionable to have pole-danced one's way through college. Or so it seemed. You only hear the glamorized versions of the co-ed call-girl tales of course.

P.S. am I using the apostrophe correctly?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I remember reading a heartfelt essay from a teacher about finding that some of his former students, girls, worked at strip clubs to go through college. He mentioned many sad things, but the one that struck me was: "I see this teenage girl after a few years of stripping and her face is like a baseball glove." Sugar babies will end up the same, coarse and degraded and shopworn. There's nothing sweet about that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A couple of notes from my own reading.

I recall an article about young women who were "hooking" to get through college. After reading the article, it became clear that it was not an issue with the cost of tuition; they simply had no morals. (At least one continued when she no longer needed the money.) Perhaps what you quote is different.

For a while the ads popping up on my screen were for something with a name like "travel buddies". It was basically for guys looking for girls to travel with. As far as I could tell, she gets free travel, and he gets... unsure, actually.

I think the point is that we have always had prostitutes, but now we are manufacturing them.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not seeing the problem with "sugaring". Free market, consenting adults, goods exchanged, etc...

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are right. it is not a "problem" ... if people are intelligent, hairless monkeys. On the other hand, if we were created by God in His image with the potential to be just "a little lower than the angels", then there is a "problem".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's no problem with "sugaring", it's just sanitized prostitution. If you are OK with that, then there's no problem at all. But let's call a spade, a spade.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm in total agreement, it is indeed prostitution. And yes, I'm okay with that. I've been married 30 years to the same woman and have been faithful that entire time. However, the actions of consenting adults in their non-public conduct is not any concern of mine.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I make no judgement on the practice of prostitution, or the people involved.

My point is that we should not kid ourselves by using euphemisms to disguise what is going on. The euphemism of "sugaring" indicates to me that people, in general, actually do have some problem with the practice.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"I make no judgement on the practice of prostitution, or the people involved."

Why do you choose not to make moral judgments about this subject? Do you not make moral judgments about any actions? Rape, murder, theft?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rape, murder, and theft, Mr. Swindle, do not involve consenting adults. Acts of simple prostitution are between consenting adults who are capable of choosing whether to participate, or not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is incorrect. Prostitution involves an entire community. If there is a brothel operating in the apartment next to yours do you think it would not affect you? Do you think it would be a good thing for the community if more husbands starting going to prostitutes instead of being with their wives? Do you think it would improve the quality of a community if the divorce rate went up because prostitution was normalized more?

Do you think a wife and family consent to a husband and father who chooses to direct his time and energy into prostitutes?

Do you acknowledge the fact that prostitution destroys families?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you had a daughter would you rather she go through college with a boyfriend who loved her or a sugar daddy who paid her to rent her body and emotions?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If I had a daughter I would hope that she would conduct herself in a manner consistent with her upbringing. However once she had become an adult I would no long have any control of her actions and I could only offer her advice and prayer for her well being.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why didn't you answer my question?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Probably because your question was an idiotic straw man. I wouldn't want my daughter to be a construction laborer (fun fact, construction laborers typically retire around age 50, and only live another 5-10 years after). Hard life. By your logic, I should look down on these people.

Her college boyfriend doesn't love her. He doesn't have the capacity to do so. Love, Real Love, is an extremely high order concept. It simply can't be understood by a 21 year old that's never experienced life and has a barely functional brain (the brain is still developing well into the mid twenties).

Please stop watching Disney movies and reading Nicholas Sparks novels. They're not real life.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I find that most people who say "your argument is a straw man" really don''t know what a straw man argument is. You're wrong about 20 year olds being able to love. I know plenty of people who met their spouse in college, some even younger (grade school). You can't put an age limit on love. It's different for every person. I would like to hear you answer Dave's questions about the consent of the wife of the husband who is using a prostitute. What say you to that? What about his children? They don't give their consent for their father to be out whoring. People are hurt by prostitution. Answer the questions.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I find your equating of prostitution with being a construction worker to be the straw man. And your ad hominem attacks and trolling to be boring.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Honestly? If you mean she is shacking up with the boyfriend, both options make me shudder with horror.

I really enjoyed your selections, by the way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, that's not what I mean. I mean she has a boyfriend who LOVES her -- you know, a REAL relationship that is mean to lead toward marriage.

I'm glad you liked my links.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, I'm sorry I misunderstood you.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who is to say that a sugar daddy might not love her sugar baby, and vice versa?

Money becomes involved in these relationships because there are a ton more older men who want younger women than younger women who want older men. This creates a supply/demand imbalance that can be settled with money. But that is far from saying there are no younger women who would enjoy a relationship with an older man.

The real problem with your comment, though, is that you compare this kind of relationship with an ideal that doesn't appear to exist. I think some of your own columns have covered hookup culture, where women chase after attractive guys who use them for sex and dump them unceremoniously. Furthermore, many other men tend to be apathetic and unambitious. Falling in love seems to be out of style.

It seems to me the sugar daddy/baby relationship is actually more likely to turn into something lasting and worthwhile than a typical college hookup. It tends to be a relatively long-lasting, stable relationship pattern where both parties learn from each other and gain valuable experience that will serve them well in future relationships.

So if I were a parent, would I be happier if my daughter had a relationship with an unambitious, video playing young guy, or a successful older man with ambition and drive? Not to mention the ability to help pay off her pesky student loans, which would otherwise be a millstone around her neck for the rest of her life ...

You make the call.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The real problem with your comment, though, is that you compare this kind of relationship with an ideal that doesn't appear to exist."

It doesn't appear to exist that a young, college age woman could have a real, monogamous, non-hook-up-culture relationship with the the intent of getting married? I find your dualistic, either/or framing of choices between young loser hook-up culture in which she gives it up for free Vs Sugar Daddy paying off her student loans for it to be strange. Why only those 2 choices?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, like anyone believes a well-to-do gentleman is going to shell out umpteen-thousand bucks to a girl to provide him with "arm-candy" for a few nights out a week. And what middle-aged man is going to run around with a chick half his age or less for the sake of sparkling conversation, please.

I think the "sugaring" business deserves more detailed reporting. What little I've read about it makes me suspect the sums changing hands tend to be heavily weighted to the lower end of the scale and the services provided involve more than nights out. It's a buyers market after all, and I'm imagining some decidedly flinty, unglamorous transactions being hashed out. No Richard Gere lookalikes, that's fer sure.

By the way Dave, the best ever, most realistic movie about prostitution has got to be "Working Girls", specifically, the little-known, low-budget movie of that name from 1986 directed by Lizzie Borden about a day in the life of an upscale whorehouse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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