Letter to the Editor: The Hullabaloo should not promote sugar dating


To the editors of The Hullabaloo, my fellow Tulanians:

I am often an avid reader of The Tulane Hullabaloo. As a student who beams with pride at my university, I try my hardest to stay involved with and aware of what is happening on Tulane’s campus. While studying abroad, The Hullabaloo played a crucial role in this endeavor. I am writing to you because I have seen the power and vastness of The Hullabaloo’s reach. I marvel at the depth and diversity of its staff and the poignancy and ‘realness’ of its articles. Recently, however, I have been shocked and disappointed to see certain articles featured on its site, and as a member of this community, I cannot stay silent.

On Sept. 26, The Hullabaloo published “Sugar daddy websites set up sweet deal for students.” In this article, it recounts the benefits of sugar dating and highlights the website Seeking Arrangement. The process of becoming a sugar baby is depicted as an easy, consequence-free way to make money, and this depiction appeals to the many students suffering from crippling college debt. The Hullabaloo’s argument is convincing, exciting and provocative. It is also incredibly dangerous.

Sugar dating is not a no-strings-attached commitment. Many sugar babies become subject to manipulation, coercion, physical and emotional abuse. When a woman is bought and sold like property, she is seen and treated as such. What is at first perceived as agency is often just that, a perception. The moment money is exchanged, that agency is taken away. As my boss and mentor Lauren Hersh, the national director of World Without Exploitation, explained to the New York Post, “Very often it’s sexual violence and physical violence … When there’s a price tag, very often the buyer feels that they can do whatever, whenever and however.” Sugar dating is one of the biggest online threats to women today. It is the new frontier of sexual violence the modern-day gateway to human trafficking.

Over the summer, I worked with various organizations to create the World Without Exploitation Youth Summit, where more than 200 young adults gathered to learn about sexual exploitation and become the next generation of advocates. An important pillar of the summit was the workshop held on sugar dating. Through undercover research, sugar babies disclosed the coercive behavior they have been subjected to by their “daddies.” Gifts, travel and cash have been held over their heads in order to do something they do not want to do. Women have been raped after refusing this manipulation. Behind closed doors, the “freedom” women are promised online is stripped away. Sugar dating is dangerous, and though Seeking Arrangement has claimed to work towards minimizing this exploitation, at this point, they have failed.

By promoting such a dangerous practice, The Hullabaloo is putting its fellow Tulanians at risk. We attend a university that has an incredible financial discrepancy and a culture of spending — both things I have learned from its articles. Proposing sugar dating as an alternative way to make money is appealing to many who are struggling financially. But by doing so, The Hullabaloo perpetuates an exploitative system that poses too much risk. Too many students can fall into this trap. How many students will be coerced, violated and harmed before enough is enough?

To the editors of The Hullabaloo, I implore you to retract this article and to educate students on the dangers of this practice. I encourage the entire Tulane community to make itself aware of the dangers posed by online exploitation. I am hoping to start an initiative at Tulane to educate students and create the next generation of advocates. I hope you will join me in this endeavor.

Tamar Arenson

Junior at Tulane University