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“They want the perfect girlfriend—in their eyes,” says Miranda, the young woman at our table.* “She’s well groomed, cultured, classy, able to converse about anything—but not bringing into it any of her real-world problems or feelings.”Miranda is 22 and has the wavy bobbed hair and clipped mid-Atlantic accent of a 1930s movie star; she grew up in a Texas suburb. He gave me money to help out with my living expenses.”It ended when she went on a school year abroad and started meeting men on Seeking Arrangement, the Web site and app which match “sugar daddies” with “sugar babies,” whose company the daddies pay for with “allowances.” Now, she says, she has a rotation of three regular “clients”—”a top Austin lawyer, a top architect, and another tech guy,” all of them married. “I signed up for Seeking Arrangement when I couldn’t pay my rent.
“I’ve learned how to look like this, talk like this,” she says. She adds, “Their relationships are not my business.”She confesses she isn’t physically attracted to any of these men, but “what I’m looking for in this transaction is not sexual satisfaction. But I was held back because of the stigma if anyone finds out.”“What right does anyone have to judge you for anything you do with your body? The most surprising thing about Miranda’s story is how unsurprising it is to many of her peers.
“People don’t call it ‘prostitution’ anymore,” says Caitlin, 20, a college student in Montreal. Some girls get very rigid about it, like ‘This is a woman’s choice.’ ”“Is Prostitution Just Another Job?
” asked magazine in March; it seemed to be a rhetorical question, with accounts of young women who found their self-esteem “soaring” through sex work and whose “stresses seem not too different from any young person freelancing or starting a small business.” “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?
They give advice on how to alleviate the pain of bruises from overzealous spanking and what to do when “scammers” refuse to pay.
They ask questions: “How do you go about getting started in sex work?
“They want the girlfriend experience, without having to deal with an actual girlfriend.”“The girlfriend experience” is the term women in the sex trade use for a service involving more than just sex. People who make seven dollars an hour are oppressed by the patriarchy.”“She’s in control of the male gaze,” says another woman at the table, Erin, 22.“I thought about doing it,” says Kristen, 21, tentatively.“And it’s kind of a joke, but it’s also not because you actually . You just need a computer.”“Basically every gay dude I know is on Seeking Arrangement,” says Christopher, 23, a Los Angeles film editor.