Thesis

Sugar culture and SeekingArrangement.com participants: What it means to negotiate power and agency in sugar dating

Since 2000, the Internet has quadrupled in size and Computer-Mediated Dating (CMD) websites have become multibillion-dollar businesses (Wysocki & Childers, 2011). The Internet has been able to accommodate increasingly smaller niches, speaking to a variety of individual needs, wants and desires. One such niche website is Seeking Arrangement (SA). Launched in 2006 and with over 3.6 million users, “SeekingArrangement.com” is a site that pairs “Sugar Daddies or Mommies” (older, wealthy men/women) with “Sugar Babies” (younger and poorer women or men) who seek financial assistance in exchange for “companionship” in what has been termed a “mutually beneficial relationship” (“Press & Media,” 2014). This kind of relationship is also known as “Sugar Dating” or “Sugar Culture.” Critics such as Miller (2012), Abigail (2014), and Motz (2014) argue that Sugar Dating is a euphemism for prostitution, while others such as Motyl (2013) argue that it is a combination of prostitution and dating. Regardless of how Sugar Dating is framed, questions about its nature remain, particularly with regard to its juxtaposition to current feminist theory. Specifically, what are the reasons women and men become Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies? How do women and men characterize an “arrangement”? And how is power and agency exercised and practiced within the lived experiences of female Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies? Therefore, this thesis seeks to critically examine the Sugar Dating site Seeking Arrangement (SA) in various aspects. Critical and feminist theory will be used to analyze the data, which will be collected through in-depth interviews of SA participants. The results will address compelling topics such as agency and what it means for the modern individual to possess agency, as well as Foucault’s explanation of power and how it affects the actions of individuals. Specifically, the study will explore the balance of power in Sugar Dating arrangements and how female Sugar Babies negotiate power within arrangements with their older wealthier Sugar Daddies. Ultimately, however, it examines Sugar Dating within the larger context of heterosexual relationships and determines where it lies on the spectrum of patriarchal discourse.

Thesis (M.A., Communication Studies)--California State University, Sacramento, 2015.

Since 2000, the Internet has quadrupled in size and Computer-Mediated Dating (CMD) websites have become multibillion-dollar businesses (Wysocki & Childers, 2011). The Internet has been able to accommodate increasingly smaller niches, speaking to a variety of individual needs, wants and desires. One such niche website is Seeking Arrangement (SA). Launched in 2006 and with over 3.6 million users, “SeekingArrangement.com” is a site that pairs “Sugar Daddies or Mommies” (older, wealthy men/women) with “Sugar Babies” (younger and poorer women or men) who seek financial assistance in exchange for “companionship” in what has been termed a “mutually beneficial relationship” (“Press & Media,” 2014). This kind of relationship is also known as “Sugar Dating” or “Sugar Culture.” Critics such as Miller (2012), Abigail (2014), and Motz (2014) argue that Sugar Dating is a euphemism for prostitution, while others such as Motyl (2013) argue that it is a combination of prostitution and dating. Regardless of how Sugar Dating is framed, questions about its nature remain, particularly with regard to its juxtaposition to current feminist theory. Specifically, what are the reasons women and men become Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies? How do women and men characterize an “arrangement”? And how is power and agency exercised and practiced within the lived experiences of female Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies? Therefore, this thesis seeks to critically examine the Sugar Dating site Seeking Arrangement (SA) in various aspects. Critical and feminist theory will be used to analyze the data, which will be collected through in-depth interviews of SA participants. The results will address compelling topics such as agency and what it means for the modern individual to possess agency, as well as Foucault’s explanation of power and how it affects the actions of individuals. Specifically, the study will explore the balance of power in Sugar Dating arrangements and how female Sugar Babies negotiate power within arrangements with their older wealthier Sugar Daddies. Ultimately, however, it examines Sugar Dating within the larger context of heterosexual relationships and determines where it lies on the spectrum of patriarchal discourse.

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