Having a sugar daddy is not prostituting, say sugar babies at Wits

WHO'S YOUR DADDY?: Photo lifted from a website where women can find sugar daddies.  Women students at Wits have admitted to having sugar daddies.

WHO’S YOUR DADDY?: Photo lifted from a website where women can find sugar daddies. Women students at Wits have admitted to having sugar daddies.

A number of Wits women students have admitted to being sugar babies – having recruited sugar daddies to meet their material needs.

These young women are into the high life, and aren’t afraid to put out to get it.  They favour the more extravagant lifestyle and admit the easiest way to meet their material needs is to get themselves a “papa bear”. They said the term was less “stigmatised” and they could use it freely in public conversations.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to four young women with sugar daddies and each knew of several more.

Kiano Mohlala, a 20-year-old Wits medical student, admitted she had a papa bear, but not because she needed money. She came from a well-off family.

“Honestly, I love money. I know some probably do it to pay for school and stuff but that’s not why I have one.”

Mohlala has both a white and a black papa bear, but would not disclose the identity of either. Her white sugar daddy is 42, but she would give no information on the other. She admitted the ideal situation would be to have a platonic relationship, but these were rare.

“People liken having a papa bear to prostitution, but it’s different. These men are paying for my time and, quite frankly, I don’t mind selling my time.”

Mohlala told Wits Vuvuzela the most expensive gift she had received from her white papa bear was an all-expenses paid trip to Namibia with her friends. “Me and friends wanted to go to on holiday and he paid for the trip, accommodation, and I got pocket money so that was cool.”

There was general consensus among the women approached by Wits Vuvuzela that varsity “boys” were inadequate. Another medical student, who asked not to be named, went so far as to describe campus men as “idiots” and “immature”.

“Res boys are broke and immature. Ain’t nobody got time for that.” She said there was a general misconception that sugar babies were dim-witted and poor, but she was neither.

“Quite frankly, there are a lot of us and we get good grades. Maybe because we don’t have to worry about money,” she said, laughing. “I don’t regret my choice in having a papa bear. There are certain things I need in my life that they can give me.”

“People liken having a papa bear to prostitution, but it’s different. These men are paying for my time and, quite frankly, I don’t mind selling my time.”

She said she wouldn’t date a varsity boy, but some of the “others” had boyfriends from Wits and surrounding colleges.

Asked where they scooped their papa bears, all the women approached said it was either through the WeChat app, or by seeing a blog on Tumblr, which explained how to find a “mutually beneficial” relationship.  They admitted it initially took a sizeable investment in their own appearance.

“When we go out to, like, Rosebank and Sandton, you have to make sure you look really good and expensive. You teach people how to treat you so, if you treat yourself like a million bucks, people will do that too,” Mohlala said.

She activated WeChat in Sandton because that was her target market. “I’d never download WeChat and do it here in Braam [fontein], never. Braam is filled with students and broke niggas. Not my type.”

SUGAR?:  Photo lifted from website.

SUGAR?: Photo lifted from a website where women can find sugar daddies. Young women have opted for a “papa bear” to lead an extravagant life.

When the app is installed, it shows people who are close to you. One party initiates a connection and the other must accept the contact to start a conversation.

According to a number of websites for potential sugar daddies, these men tend to be specific about what they are interested in and are very particular about the kind of girl they want. “Youth, fun and a voracious sexual appetite” appear to be major pluses.

“I am very naughty but always in a nice way,” according to HANKAFB, a financial director. “I like to make a woman feel special yet drive her wild. I am looking for no strings fun to start with … and the dark fruit.”

He finds it worth mentioning that his net worth is well over R2-million and that he is willing to spend up to R20 000, plus gifts, on his chosen sugar baby.

Gentle Gentleman advertises himself this way: “I’m self-employed, young at heart, still love partying and haveing [sic] fun and love to get laid. Sorry very blunt I know.

“I’m married with two children and all is calm in the housing situation.”

In fact, a large number of potential sugar daddies on these sites admit to being married and still living with their spouses.


Sex exchange

Men feel entitled to sex and obedience from women if they provide for them financially, according to a Wits researcher.

A recent study revealed how heterosexual men in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal perceived sex with prostitutes, their partners and other women. The study was published by a team led by Wits Public Health professor Rachel Jewkes.

Their research suggests that men, especially lower income, lower-educated coloured and black men, conform to the traditional gender role of the “provider”. Women are expected to offer sex in return for what men provide. This could be cash, items for children, school fees or money for bills, but it could also include food, clothes, cell phones, transportation, accommodation, cosmetics, or handyman work.

“It is very easy to see how these social expectations put pressure on men, especially in the context of unemployment, and may be strongly resented by men who have little or no money,” say the authors of the article.

Although exchanging sex for money and material items seems like a form of prostitution, these men view the “provider role” as very different from paying for sex from a sex-worker. Two-thirds of men engaging in such “transactions” denied having sex with a prostitute.

The authors suggest that women may use the conservative gender role of men to their advantage: “…it is possible for a woman to feel empowered by ‘exploiting men’ whilst the ‘exploited men’ view themselves in a conservative gender role.”

The study also found that men were unlikely to pay sex workers later in life if they had not done so at a young age. Their research confirms findings in the UK that “if a man had not paid for sex by the age of 25, he was less likely to do so in the future”.

Jewkes and her team say their study is important for South Africa because transactional sex and prostitution play a role in HIV infections. It is also significant because the country is in the process of reviewing its laws around sex workers.

Men have not been well research in this context, so understanding how men see themselves can help to reduce transactional sex by changing their perceptions.

Do you think men should provide for women in return for sex? Comment below.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela, May 18, 2012