Monthly Archives: November 2013

Who’s Your Daddy?

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WORDS M.K Smith & Regina Featherstone

There is a growth of sugar babies among university students. They provide companionship to sugar daddies or mamas in exchange of tuition fees and/or living expenses. M.K and Regina expose the secret life of these students. As much as the Grapeshot editors are excited at the prospect of a new income stream, we have not forgotten our morality and integrity. 

While we all praise the gloriousness of mi-goreng (which we gave out a lot of during O-Week) and the wondrous day that is ‘Tight-Ass Tuesday’, apparently some students feel more desperate for cash than others. Let’s face it – paying for rent, food, drinks, textbooks, phone bills, transports, gym memberships and costumes for theme-nights at Ubar all adds up. Concerning, isn’t it? Recently mamamia.com.au featured the growing trend of online sugar daddy and sugar baby relationships with an alarmingly growing number of university students participating. It seems immoral for a dating site to provide superficial ‘relationships’ where young adults are paid for sex. However, for some it may actually be a legitimate way to pay their bills – all whilst being wined, dined and sixty-nined (We hope our editors skim over that last bit). You may opt out the sex if you wish, as long as you both agree on each other’s expectations.

The average sugar daddy’s profile tells of his love to travel, exercise, read and converse, all whilst making $5 million a year. He is looking for someone to spend ‘quality’ time with. We’d like to say that the typical sugar daddy is an unlucky-in-love, wealthy silver fox akin to Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, but after our intensive investigation, we found this is simply not true. Sadly, he does not have the hair of Mr Gere, and we’re not too certain on how much he exercises. Often he lists himself as married. He expects his baby to be funny, beautiful, smart and above all else, sexy. When we searched for sugar daddies in Epping and surrounding areas, we received an astounding 1,000 profiles. That’s a lot of rich businessmen searching for a sugar baby, seemingly not too concerned about exposing their private lives. There are also sugar mamas on the site but in far less numbers. Both sugar parents are willing to spend up to $5,000 a month on their babies, which they state clearly at the top of their profiles.

A sugar baby is a young person (predominantly female) financially supported by a sugar daddy or mama in exchange for companionship and ‘intimacy’. You can create a profile by inserting a quick and flirtatious ‘about me’, your nicest selfie and your cash-flow expectation. It must be said that there is no legitimate qualification needed to be a sugar baby. If you are equipped with symmetrical facial features, an amiable personality and prefer to be ‘strapped’ than strapped-for-cash, then perhaps you are sugar baby material. Statistics show that there are over 1,400 Australian university students registered as sugar babies, 42 of whom attend Macquarie University. Look around you Macquarie students, sugar babies walk among us.

Before we all get too bogged down with words like ‘prostitute’, the site assures us that it is a “mutually beneficial agreement” between two consenting adults. The site’s spokesperson argued that the ‘relationship’ distinguishes a sugar baby, who seeks a certain type of relationship, from a prostitute, who conducts a transaction with a customer. We’re not sure if we agree with that. After all prostitution is still a limited relationship where payment for sex is involved. The sugar babies do not get paid until they fulfill their part of the deal regardless of their stimulating conversation.

Comments on Mamamia.com.au show that a lot of people feel uncomfortable with this scenario, they’ve deem it immoral and therefore not ‘hard work’. Many argue that, with the array of honest work, perhaps young men and women become sugar babies for narcissistic and self-indulgent reasons. With prostitution already prevalent in society it is difficult to determine if this arrangement is further decaying societal values due to its premeditated, selected and almost contracted characteristics.

These relationships are mutually agreed upon from the beginning. These young men and women are not Anna-Nicole Smith-league gold diggers; they’re students who want to live a lifestyle that is seemingly unattainable with their current situation. They’re living through the impoverished student phase of their life, and it’s understandable that they would want to take advantage of their youthful vivaciousness while it’s still profitable. For them, keeping up appearances with their sugar daddies may be much easier than doing a thankless shift for minimum wage. Nonetheless, a thankless job doesn’t present potential violence and manipulative control. One sugar daddy profile states that, “I expect our relationship to be exclusive. I am very possessive of my girls.” No doubt his inbox has been flooded.

Individuals enact certain levels of control upon each other, but when you consider the wealth and power of the sugar daddy over their baby, things become lop-sided. It’s difficult to exploit the person who has control over the flux of your finances, and more so to have autonomy when your income is based on how good you look in a rich man’s arm. It’s important to remember that these sugar parents are alone and desperate enough to plaster their name and face all over a website looking for younger partners.

This mutual arrangement website also states that anthropologists would tell us that humans are naturally attracted to wealth, beauty and power. So we asked Dr. Greg Downey, senior anthropology lecturer at Macquarie University, about his thoughts on the matter. He replied, “The desire for something new in sex is also balanced with an appreciation of loyalty and the familiar. For many people (not all), over time, the desire for novelty is less strong than the desire for other sorts of things: consistency, trust, support, etc.” The traits listed by the website are not the only characteristics one looks for in a companion. Sugar daddies are often middle-aged and listed as married or divorced, suggestive of unhappiness in their relationships. Downey explains that places the desire for novelty at the top of the heap.

Pointing out the irony, Downey says that the site itself should be an indicator of negative traits such as incompatibility, untrustworthiness and emotional manipulation. The site seems to slide past any discussion of immorality as the creators have made a closed group for like-minded people where normal checks on behaviour are non-existent. This is shown with one sugar daddy who has recently started experimenting with leather and another who expects his companions to be ready for ‘work’ with a half hour’s notice.

Now before everyone gets too dizzy up there on their high-horse have you stopped and considered whether you, yourself are a sugar baby and perhaps had not realised it? If you have a Centrelink number and receive a lovely addition to your bank account once a fortnight, well dear friend, you are a sugar baby to the biggest sugar daddy, Centrelink. Yes, we play by those government rules, provide our details and report our earning. We bitch and hate the process, yet has any one of us walked in and said, “Hello, I don’t want your money anymore?” No… because most likely the line was too long. Although most have a tale of mistreatment and utter incomprehensible stupidity from Centrelink, we keep coming back and reporting those piddly earnings (unless of course you are a legitimate sugar baby then you probably have more of a cash-in-hand type situation).

Being a sugar baby may be morally questionable but ultimately both parties are exploiting each other’s personal circumstance of loneliness or financial uncertainty. Next time you see everyone dressed up in their graduation outfits, maybe look again to see whether that very affectionate guy is her dad, or sugar daddy.

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The Blind Leading The Blind: iPhone a Friend

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WORDS M.K Smith

Whenever I’m hanging out with my friends it seems like they would rather play on their phones than speak to me. This is a trend I’ve observed with other groups of people too. I find this behaviour really rude, am I being unreasonable?

Having recently shirked my Luddite ways and upgraded from a dumb-phone, I certainly understand why everybody is so obsessed with their phones. You’ll never get lost again with GPS! You’ll never be bored on the train when you can catch up with the news on your phone! You can prove your friend wrong when debating the birth country of Fabio! Yet, no matter how tempting it is to stay glued to your phone, O Captain, My Captain, social protocols still apply.

There is nothing unreasonable about asking your friends to actually pay attention to you when they’re in your presence. Can you imagine what their reaction would be if you pulled a book out in the middle of a meal? What about if you procured a piece of paper and started writing a letter, longhand, while they picked at their salad? I’m sure if you kept popping off to a payphone to make calls your friends wouldn’t be very pleased either. If these square-eyed individuals really are your friends then I’m sure they won’t mind if you ask them to put their phone away for an hour.

If you’re a non-confrontational soul, you can just fiddle with your phone as well and throw out an “I’m sorry, do you mind if I use this for a second? I’d feel terribly rude if I sat here ignoring you without asking first”. Hopefully your friends will pick up on the hint and put the Apple product down.

It’s easy to seethe when the only dish your friends are interested in is the one they’re picking a filter for on Instagram (if they choose ‘1977’ they should be sterilised). But you can’t help that your friends are stupid. Just be polite and don’t forget your manners, it’s more than you can say for your pals. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my phone. If you own a smartphone and you don’t check it every ten minutes, it ceases to exist.

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The Blind Leading The Blind: A Sticky Swiftuation

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WORDS M.K Smith

I’m a guy and a huge Taylor Swift fan. Is there something wrong with me?

Part Swedish milkmaid, part overgrown 14-year-old girl and part insane person, Taylor Swift is a complex entity.
She captures the exquisite heartbreak of adolescence like a lightning bug in a jar. She wears sparkly dresses with cowboy boots. She won’t shut up about her ex-boyfriends. She’s happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. She is also very, very popular.

She is popular because a lot of people like her music, and for the most part, these people are of the female persuasion. According to your query, you are not.

I’m not going to take the very tempting bait and say that liking Taylor Swift in the first place is your problem*, because I’ve taken two gender studies units and I want to break some shit down right now.

Can you think of any perpetual-man child musicians that are marketed solely to boys? Nope, because there isn’t one. Girly stuff, like your girl Taylor Swift, is meant to elicit a resounding “yuck” from the fellas because so many girl-centric icons are pegged as lame, insignificant and embarrassing.

It’s not fair that matters of personal taste are derided just because girls’ interests are deemed less socially acceptable. Just like what you want to like, because your iTunes doesn’t know what you’re packing in your underpants. People probably don’t even care that you’re a Swiftie, and you can just use it as a quirky addition to your pulling arsenal anyway.

Do you know how many young ladies would appreciate a boyfriend that can empathise with Abigail and root for the bleacher-bound girl who wears t-shirts? You should be able to listen a twee, yodelling, ash-blonde nymph if you want to without worrying about being emasculated or God forbid, seen as more feminine.

It seems to me that the person that has the biggest problem with a man liking Taylor Swift is, in fact, you. Grow a pair (of ovaries) and be confident in your taste. Taylor would probably want it that way.

* If this was a tween girl’s Tumblr, I’d be best described as a ‘Taylor hater’. Team Kanye forever.

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The Blind Leading The Blind: My Slutty Friend

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WORDS M.K Smith

One of my best friends got badly dumped by her long-term boyfriend a few months ago and has started acting really promiscuous since. It’s starting to bother everybody in our group because she has no shame and everybody is discussing her sex life behind her back. She is giving herself a really nasty reputation. Should I do anything about it, or just keep my poker face? It’s making me lose respect for her.

I feel terribly for your poor friend. She’s not only been dealt the ghastly card of heartbreak, but also been dealt the ‘shitty friends’ card. I’m sure that bluffing her way through recovery from a nasty breakup has left her a little blind, and all of her chips are down (okay I’m sorry, I’ll stop with the poker puns now – but you started it). If this behaviour is new for your friend, perhaps she’s just acting out because NEWS FLASH, breakups suck!

Why is everybody in your peer group merely discussing her proclivity for casual nookie instead of, oh I don’t know, making sure that she’s doing fine? I’m sure by gossiping about her antics behind her back you are only adding to the reputation, not detracting from slander. And why do you care so much about who she’s sharing her swimsuit areas with? There’s this little thing called catharsis, and if this is what she wants, just let the girl be. But it’s also your job as a friend to make sure she’s using protection, not being taken advantage of by creepers, and actually happy with the choices she is making. Talk to her, not about her. After all, she has to make her own choices, as do you.

Will you be a supportive friend and try to understand if she is doing this for her own pleasure, or will you let your lack of “respect” get in the way of helping out someone you care about? Stop bottom dealing your friend if this is a relationship that you want to Texas Hold’on to, and I bet that, with a little understanding, your friend will feel like she’s hit the jackpot (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist).

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The Blind Leading The Blind: Sister, Sister

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WORDS M.K Smith

I’m friends with my 15-year-old sister on Facebook and I’m starting to worry about her. Her posts are way too personal and her photos are way too provocative to share with all 1,200 of her “friends”. She often fights with her school friends and bitches about her teachers on her public profile. I’ve tried to tell her that she’s not only embarrassing herself but leaving an online legacy behind her as well. She won’t listen to me. What should I do?

I saw the words “15-year-old” and peed myself, died of a heart attack, rose from the dead to gouge my eyes out with a crowbar and then cried blood before even thinking about answering this question.

The point is: teenagers are scary and weird and worrisome. The vast majority of 15-year-olds are as dumb as a brick shit house, and they smell like one too. I know this because I was as stupid and stinky as them, once upon a time. This unique experience makes me an expert.

Here are some options. You could add all of her friends and get freaky with the “@” button. Tag her in hundreds of old family photos or embarrassing statuses, for example, “MY LIL SIS JUST DID A NUMBER 2 LOL SMELLS SOOO BAD LOL WOT #SWAGTASTIC”. If there’s one thing teenagers fear, it’s being shamed into submission by their cool elders. You could wait until she leaves her page open and go on a deleting spree. You could report everything incendiary on her page and hope Facebook administration notices. You could tell your parents or at least threaten to. If you resent her, like most sisters do, you could report her to the school and get her expelled for trash talking her teachers.

All of these viable options, however, are going to make her hate you a little bit. Hopefully one day she will appreciate your concern for her. For now you can only hope she steps away from the computer and instead does what 15-year-olds should: wear crop tops, ship Larry, and annoy the shit out of everyone on the train.

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The Blind Leading The Blind: Adele Overdose

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WORDS M.K Smith

 I can’t stop listening to ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele and thinking about my ex. We had a nasty breakup a long while ago but I’m still not over it. How does one get over an ex and just move on from heartbreak?

If there was a fool proof, safety guaranteed way of getting over someone who broke your heart then I wouldn’t have spent so many hours curled up under blankets self-indulgently listening to “I Know It’s Over” by The Smiths on repeat. The only things that help the hurt are time, good company, and burning some effigies.

Though, you do have to ask yourself why you’re still thinking about this person. Do you actually miss them? Or the way they made you feel? Most relationships that culminate in horrific breakups usually weren’t that swell beforehand. It’s easy to view the ghosts of relationships past with nostalgia, but your relationship ended for a reason.

Look, sometimes it lasts in love, and sometimes it hurts instead. I have no doubt that you’ll find someone else, I’m not sure what their likeness to your ex will be, but that doesn’t matter. If you don’t find someone else, it’s probably because you keep listening to ‘Someone Like You’, cuz that shit got old fast. So don’t despair, it won’t feel like this forever. If a broken heart is everlasting, then it’s probably a quite serious medical condition so please get that checked. I wish nothing but the best for you.

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The Blind Leading the Blind: Mean Boys

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WORDS M.K Smith

 I’m not sure if my boyfriend is treating me the way a girlfriend should be treated. We’ve been fairly happy together for a year but he’ll occasionally talk down to me or just plain insult me and claim “it was just a joke!” I always feel like I need to prove myself to him. I’m not sure he knows that he is doing it though and I don’t want to jeopardise anything because I really love him. What should I do?

Your boyfriend sounds like a garden variety, grade-A douchecanoe and I’m inclined to tell you to dump that crusty arsehole. Being in a caring relationship means there has to be a sense of equality and consideration. If there isn’t, then you’re just engaging in passive aggressive monogamy when, alternatively, you could be bumping uglies with someone who doesn’t make you feel like you have to make an effort to feel cared about. You know you’re with the ‘right’ person when you don’t have to waste any energy trying to convince them that you’re lovable.

There is always the chance that you could, you know, talk to him seriously and tell him to quit being such an abrasive dickwad. But I have a feeling that it’s probably best to rip off the proverbial band aid and end it; cry for a week into some frozen yoghurt/red velvet cupcakes/someone else’s groin, and step away from the unappreciative boyfriend. Let it go, life is much too short to be with someone who is not only mean, but thoroughly unfunny.

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