Sex Isn't The Answer To The Student Loan Crisis

The student loan crisis is not a good excuse for promoting prostitution-adjacent activities.

And yet last week in the Atlantic, there was this:

In recent years the rising cost of student debt has given birth to an odd phenomenon: a population of ostensibly generous older men who appear poised to solve the higher-education crisis, one student at a time. Once a relatively underground subculture, this benevolent group of men is coming to the rescue across the country, essentially volunteering to subsidise the students’ tuition costs. But that description could be, shall I say, sugarcoating it.

Wait — “benevolent group of men”? I would be shocked if I hadn’t read nearly the exact same narrative in a press release I got a few days ago:

The cost of attending college in New York is the highest in the nation. Between the steady rise in tuition, and New York City having the highest cost of living in America, the outlook for students seeking respite from education debt is bleak… College students account for 42 per cent of SeekingArrangement’s overall membership. Enticed by the average monthly allowance of $US3,000 most Sugar Babies receive, as well as job opportunities and mentorship brought on by wealthy benefactors, over 1.4 mil. students use the site.

This is how the website, Seeking Arrangements, offering this service — a large monthly allowance for young women in exchange for an unclear type of relationship with an older man — advertises on its student-specific site website:

Let’s be clear: there is a student loan crisis. Sex isn’t a good way to solve it.

Sure, there’s nothing about sex on the website. There’s even a girl out there who claims she’s never had sex with a man on the site. But she does say she gets sexual requests all the time (“At one point there was a guy who asked me to meet him at a hotel room dressed as a nurse and just spank him. He was offering a lot of money for that. I just, I wasn’t into it.”).

The imagery plastered all over the promotional materials is straight out of porn. And it’s also the site where the escort accused of killing Google executive Forrest Hayes met him.

So let’s say that the company not-so-subtly gestures toward sexual relationships for money in its promotional materials.

I’m not here to comment on the legality or even the morality of those kinds of relationships. But advertising to young women (and sometimes men!) that submitting to a highly imbalanced and potentially dangerous power relationship is a good way to pay off student debt is infuriating.

It’s not like having sex for money is a new thing. It’s a choice. A lot of people do it. But paying young women for companionship should not be considered a “benevolent group of men… coming to the rescue across the country.”

Plenty of people have student debt. Most of them find jobs that don’t include feeling like they are being pressured into sex in order to pay it off.

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