Whether we like it or not, sugar-parents are essentially like banks: inspired, motivated, involved.

MASENTLE NTHOLENG

Whether we like it or not, sugar-parents are essentially like banks: inspired, motivated, involved.

They are inspired by your needs (they are willing investors), motivated by your youth and ready-to-jump-into anything attitude, and are heavily involved in your financial activities. Think about it: every sponsor needs to know where his or her funds are going, and with that, some want a form of return.

Varsity is a great breeding ground for sugar babies and sugar-packs. Potential investors are very aware of this, and you are only one nightclub or bar away from finding one of them. All you need to do is look young. The rest is negotiable.

Ithuteng Mashabela, a second-year journalism student and sugar parent protestor, sheds some light on the whole business, “What the sugar babies don’t understand is that the sugar parents have way more experience under their belts. They have had so much experience with the youth that they know that in order for them to seduce and con you into such a lifestyle, they need to act as malleable and easy as possible.” According to him, the sugar baby feels as though he or she is in control, when in reality, the sugar parent is the one in command of the relationship. Unfortunately, you will only discover that later when you are under their control and financial muscle.

Urban Dictionary defines a sugar parent as a woman or man who gives money or gifts in return for sex. Now we all know that this is a controversial statement, but how true is it? Piet* shares his story: “For some of us, it isn’t merely about the luxuries of having a financial sponsor that isn’t your parents. It is a means to an end, and my end is my engineering degree. Financial aid is hard to come by, especially if you made it into a faculty by the skin of your teeth. My parents think I have a bursary, but I actually have a sugar mommy who pays my fees. The currency is sex, and I really don’t mind because, unlike a younger lady, my older woman is more likely to be faithful.” Piet bravely tells Perdeby that being a sugar pack is sometimes not about choosing between being broke and living a luxurious lifestyle, but choosing between living in complete poverty and having a secure future by having the finances for your academic ventures taken care of.

Historically, the whole pairing of the young and old is an established tradition. In western culture, you would have parents who encouraged their sons to get sexual experience with older women, while the young women were encouraged to preserve their virginities. In Africa and India, you have the age-old traditions where older men married younger girls, with ridiculous age gaps between the couples.

Pop culture has recently glamorised the phenomenon, with reality shows like The Cougar and fictional shows like Cougar Town finding success.

But the realities of such a relationship might be infinitely less exciting.

Lina Siti, a psychologist from Durham University, said, “Such trends have essentially been culturally instilled, where young people [are so used to] these social relationship trends, by the time they grow up and are placed in such [a position], they see them as the only way out of a dire situation. Such social conditioning places people in danger, as these so-called sugar parents have multiple sugar packs. Safety is essential, and if you are struggling, you need to know that there are places you can go for any kind of assistance.” We can all agree that there is nothing wrong with being a little sweet. But how you use it might become particularly problematic if it puts you in danger or traps you in an inescapable situation. Then agai

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