By Josh Harkema, January 24 2017 —
Recent media reports have highlighted an influx of post-secondary students in Alberta seeking ‘sugar daddies’ online. A Postmedia story from Jan. 14 focused on the website seekingarrangement.com — a dating site that mainly connects young women with wealthy older men. To find out more about the site, the Gauntlet spoke with second-year English student Jane Wishart, one of 47 University of Calgary students signed up for Seeking Arrangement according to Postmedia.
The Gauntlet: Why did you sign up for Seeking Arrangement?
Jane Wishart: A girl I follow on Twitter called @slutever [Karly Sciortino] had an article about it. She writes for Vogue and she’s very well known. She wrote an article about how she was chatting with this girl who had done it while she was in school and how it had benefitted her. I was just really curious about it. So almost as a joke, I signed up for it.
G: What was the response after you signed up?
W: It’s weird. People can see when you’ve looked at their profile and you can see when they’ve looked at yours. [People] just message you. A lot of them beat around the bush, just chatting, but some of them get right to the point, like, “I am willing to offer you $500 to come meet me at this place at this time. And I want to be able to text you throughout the week.” Things like that.
G: So the terms are kind of like a business?
W: Yeah, and some of it was weirdly sexual, like, “you’ll come to my hotel room and this is what will happen.” At that point I’d think “uh, no.” A lot of the time, it was men who didn’t have pictures who were overtly sexual. A lot of married guys as well.
G: What was your overall impression of the people messaging you?
W: Just so sad. There’s this aura of desperation that comes with it. But a lot of them just want companionship. They say, “I’m always in Calgary for business. Let’s have dinner.” I don’t know if it’s me being naïve, but it sounded genuine [in those cases]. A lot of people always said they wanted “adventures.” That was a huge theme in [the] bios.
G: The article you read was enough to pique your curiosity?
W: The woman [interviewed in the Vogue article] was going on about how [Seeking Arrangement] wasn’t a sexual thing and how it wasn’t a scary thing to do. She gave an example of how she would meet with this guy and he would pay her and they would just have coffee and talk. I was like, “sure, I’m down to listen to a 40-year-old man talk to me about his day and have coffee with him for obscene amounts of money, that sounds great.” I thought, “let’s see what this is about, first-hand.”
G: Did you respond to anyone?
W: Mostly it was me rejecting them. A lot of it was they were too old or they were married. It’s already a dramatic thing to do. I’m not going to throw a marriage into the mix.
G: Did you ever feel it was exploitative?
W: No, because you’re very in control as the woman in the female-male relationship. I was very in control. The site gives you tips — reminders to not share your personal bank information [and to] be careful of faulty cheques. It’s very supportive for that side of things. And they have background checks for some people and you can search only for people who have been background checked. If anything is sketchy about it, it’s the men — not the website.
Edited for brevity and clarity