Teh Heterostoopid: “Sugarbabe” needs an insulin shot–and a dose of hard reality

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So there I was, this dark and stormy, just bopping around the web, when I chanced on this interesting little interview at Lemondrop. Seems that some cute young bit of fluff, supposedly a psychologist, has written a book saying that “women who cross their legs deserve to be cheated on”, and arguing in favor of “negotiated infidelity”. Also that young women should screw their way ahead at work! (I really wish I was kidding, but I’m not. She went there.)

Oh yeah, and did I mention she is, or rather has been, a professional Other Woman? Anyhow, her sugar-coating of the awful world of hurt that is a cheating husband really could put you into a diabetic coma.

So, here goes. Doctor Bina is gonna put on her white lab coat, snap her rubber gloves, dissect the argument, and inject some reality here, before anyone swallows too much of this latest trend in junk-food psychology…

Lemondrop: Define what you mean by the term “sugarbabe.” And what does it take to be a successful sugarbabe?

Hill: For me, a sugarbabe is like a sex worker in many ways, except she only has a single customer. She also provides a lot more services, such as the three C’s: cooking, counseling and conversation. The most successful sugarbabes are those who have the wives’ permission! It would be lovely to negotiate with “Mrs. Sugar Daddy” and find out how you could complement each others’ efforts to ensure the (common) man in your lives is happy and healthy. Personal attributes [of a sugarbabe] should include generosity, high self-esteem, excellent conversational skills, reasonable looks — if you’re a “stunner,” you’re at a disadvantage, because sugar daddies don’t want to attract too much attention — and you need to be a good lover, of course.

I see. A “sugarbabe” is basically a one-man prostitute who cooks for her one man and provides counselling on the side. But if he already HAS a wife, what does he need another one for? And why does the real wife’s permission make the prostitute (let’s not mince words here) successful? And if it’s counselling he needs, why mix sex into it–why not pay a conventional therapist and get more direct results? This isn’t explained in the interview. I should hope that the book goes into much more depth than this, but somehow I doubt it.

Now, as to the attributes of the prostitute: “Generosity” is an interesting term, considering that she’s being paid for her favors. Real generosity is about giving it away for free, as the actual wife has been doing (apparently unsuccessfully, if her man feels he must cheat on her) for years. A woman taking money (and other favors) for sex isn’t being generous, she’s being PAID. The only thing to distinguish her from a callgirl is that she doesn’t keep a trick-book.

“High self-esteem”: Again, interesting use of words, considering that women who sleep with married men, knowingly or not, generally suffer the opposite. Many of them say that they feel like nobodies unless they’re stealing moments with someone already spoken for. Some feel like nobodies FOR stealing moments! But maybe being paid to do it boosts your sense of worth in some perverse way. I dunno. Personally, I’d feel creeped out…and even cheaper if I had to negotiate with his poor, sad, teeth-gritting wife. No, thank you, my self-esteem is high enough that I’d settle for nothing less than a man without marital baggage. Too high, in other words, to be a “sugarbabe”. (Or to negotiate with one, come to that.)

As for looks and conversational skills, whatever. I’m sure they come in mighty handy no matter what you’re doing or with whom. But good at sex? Well, here’s where we hit a snag–and a sexist myth badly in need of debunking. I’ll get to that in a bit. I’ll just ask you to imagine how ridiculous this whole scenario would look if the genders were reversed, and it were a juicy young gigolo negotiating with a cuckolded husband for the favors of his sex-starved wife

What about the other term you coin in the book, “negotiated infidelity”? What does this mean, and how many couples can honestly make it work?

Negotiated infidelity is about negotiating some sort of sexual alternative for your partner if you have unmatched libidos. It’s about formally establishing a set of rules and boundaries for your relationship. For example, I’m unprepared to share intimacy with other women, so my partner may sleep with every woman in the WMBA for all I care, but he’s not permitted to spoon any of them. For his part, I’m not allowed to wear any of the clothes that he’s purchased for me when I’m with other men. Every couple is unique and the rules don’t have to go both ways — unless we want them to.

Interesting argument in favor of double standards, eh? And yeah, there’s that sex thing again. But she still doesn’t go into it in depth, and this “negotiated infidelity” thing doesn’t convince me very much. Actually, it sounds like a terrible drag:

Asking all women to be comfortable with open infidelity is a tall order. What suggestions do you have for women not willing to go this route?

Start laying the foundations for negotiated infidelity instead. This means total honesty, open communication, and looking your partner in the eye and asking if they’re “getting enough.” If he/she says no, it does not mean throwing a fit, but instead saying something like, “I am not prepared for you to break our monogamy vows, but is there something else that could assist? Could we lift the pornography filter from the computer at night, or get some time away from the kids, so you can masturbate without fear of being seen?” If you love someone, you try and meet their needs, not scoff at them and deny they exist.

Okay. I’m all for trying to meet the other person’s needs, within reason. Letting him whack off now and then if he feels he must is fine. But suppose I have needs that HE is not meeting, and his whacking off (or worse) is the reason they’re not being met, hmmm? What “negotiations” does our “sugarbabe” suggest in that case?

Well, she doesn’t suggest any. At least none that I can see actually working for me:

Define “naughty feminism,” which also pops up in your book. And how can women who have a sugardaddy really be considered feminists?

Naughty feminism is about exchanging vulnerability for power, so it’s definitely a feminist concept! Let’s face it — if life gives you a lemon, you make lemonade. Genetic modification might be OK for fruit, but not for guys. That means we have to use men’s biology to work for us, rather than against us. Naughty feminism is walking the dog on a leash rather than letting it escape through a hole in the back fence. It doesn’t necessarily mean negotiating other lovers, either — it could be pornography, a lap dance, or even being allowed to perve himself stupid.

“Exchanging vulnerability for power”? WTF is that supposed to mean, exactly? It sounds to me like she’s suggesting that we all bow to the old sexist excuses–that guys have higher libidos than we do, that this is the reason they cheat, and the best thing to do is just bow to it and make fucking lemonade. How is bowing to sexism a “feminist” thing to do?

It isn’t. It’s not “naughty”, either. It’s just the flip side of the old “good girl” coin; it’s not a
whole ‘nother coin at all. You’re still doing what the man wants, not what YOU want. But I guess, if you can winkle a mink stole out of him in exchange, more “power” to you. Hope it keeps you warm when he moves on to the next one, dear.

Tell us about your tenure as a sugarbabe. How long did you do this, and do you now consider yourself one of those “sluts who make better lovers” you talk about in the book?

The sugarbabe experience lasted about 12 months and was condensed for the book. I’m proud to call myself a slut in that I’m now a sex writer. I couldn’t think of anything worse than getting sexual advice or reading sex scenes from someone who isn’t doing it a lot. Never trust an unpromiscuous sex writer, I say!

I can just picture all the happily monogamous sexperts out there rolling their eyes at this one. Please, somebody, tell this poor girl what fantasies are, and why you don’t have to live them out in order to be able to write convincingly about certain things. Does it take a fiction writer like me to explain imagination? I’m writing a novel about a former Marxist guerrilla, from a masculine point of view, and I certainly didn’t feel any need to put on a penis, much less take to the hills of Latin America and get myself shot at!

Why did you focus exclusively on wealthy men? What’s wrong with having a fling with a blue-collar guy?

Find me a blue-collar man who can afford $1,000 a week for a sugarbabe, and I’m his gal!

A mere thousand a week? By call-girl standards, that’s cheap, honey–just ask Elliot Spitzer’s paid “girlfriend”.

And please, don’t make me pull out my Marxist class analysis on your chirpy response, either. Your bourgeois butt wouldn’t be able to take it.

All right, let’s skip down a few questions (they’re a bit more cotton candy than I can stomach; you can click on the link to read them, and analyze them yourself if you’d like). Here’s the part that really set my alarm bells clanging. See if you can tell me why:

One of your statements, “Women who cross their legs deserve to be cheated on,” seems to intimate that women who aren’t sexually promiscuous are basically asking for disappointment. Do you really believe that?

Women who cross their legs — and most of us have every right to do this at some time in our lives — and don’t provide some sort of sexual relief for their men WILL be cheated on. We all make jokes about blueballs, but they are real. This means we must negotiate an alternative, which could be pornography — anything as long as it enables him to get his rocks off.

You say that women shouldn’t take infidelity too personally. Yet so many of us do. So, why is this the case?

Women have sex for things like love, cuddling, kissing and so on. Men have it for pressure relief, a cheap thrill or because their wives have crossed their legs. The problem lies in the fact that women project values onto men. Our cheating husbands don’t love the people they are having sex with. In fact, half the time, they don’t even want to know their name. Nature made men and women this way, and without thousands of years of evolution, we will continue to fail in marriage 50 percent of the time. If you don’t change the recipe, the end result will always be the same.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? If you said “bad biology and worse psychology”, pat yourselves on the back, kiddies. That’s exactly it.

There is so much unregenerate sexism in this so-called “naughty feminism”, and the use of the old blue-balls myth as biological backup is just plain reprehensible. (Especially in a trained psychologist, who should know better!)

Sure, an unresolved erection hurts momentarily (so does unresolved arousal on the part of a woman–surprise). But then it subsides. That’s right, it just goes away! It doesn’t keep right on hurting and raging until the poor bastard simply must stick it into something or die. This silly woman makes it sound as though committed women have tied men’s hands and forbidden their partners to masturbate. In reality, that’s not the case. If the guy really needs relief that badly and his wife has rolled over and gone to sleep on him, he can just close the bathroom door and have at it. But even if he doesn’t, it’s not as though his sperm will just back up on him and stagnate in his testicles. Those wily little wigglers have ways of getting out.

Worse, though, is the way she just wholeheartedly swallowed the myth that men cheat because women deprive them of sex. In fact, most cheaters are getting plenty of sex from their wives; “my wife doesn’t understand me” is in fact the oldest, hoariest and most bullshit-stinking pick-up line in the book. And the poor, long-suffering wives willingly cater to and feed the ego-monsters who are hurting them! I know; I was the girlfriend for five years, on and off (mostly off) of a mean drunk who flagrantly cheated on me even though I was more than willing to sleep with him. And, stupidly, I forgave him, and got my hopes up, time and again, for nothing. He was impotent where I was concerned. I guess willingness on my part wasn’t the real issue after all. Good thing sexual frustration doesn’t do real physical harm, or I’d have died before my 25th birthday.

But don’t take my word for it. Irish playwright Peadar de Burca did his homework on the matter. He wanted to write a play on infidelity, and he needed material. So he interviewed literally hundreds of cheating men (and dozens of cheated women), and his findings may surprise you…if you subscribe to the “sugarbabe” philosophy, that is:

I come from a long line of cheating men. Several of my uncles were womanisers and it destroyed their families. Their wives were always at loggerheads with them and their children grew up insecure. Similarly, many of the lads I grew up with have turned into womanisers.

But I wanted to be different. I knew I wanted to settle down and find what seems elusive these days: a happy, committed, faithful marriage.

So five years ago I embarked on my quest to find out what makes men cheat. Are some men programmed to be unfaithful? Is it something in their DNA, an overdeveloped sex drive or irresistible charm?

What I discovered was much more shocking. After meeting hundreds of adulterers, I’m convinced they cheat because they can get away with it.

I talked to more than 250 men from all walks of life – doctors, dentists, lawyers, bankers, footballers, teachers and the odd millionaire.

All had cheated on their wives but, incredibly, only 40 of them had been found out. The others got away scot free and are still at it – as are many of the men who were found out and forgiven.

I also talked to 60 betrayed women. All except three have stuck with their cheating husbands.

When women don’t have the courage to stand up for themselves, it’s virtually a cheat’s charter.

I’ve been left ashamed by the dirty tricks my fellow men get up to and horrified by the way women let them get away with murder. Quite simply, women deserve better.

[…]

The betrayed wives all had one thing in common – a
lack of confidence. They were at least as attractive as the mistresses and a great deal more intelligent. But they let their men walk all over them.

[…]

The male’s capacity to boast about his sexual prowess knows no bounds. Once they started reeling off their conquests, it was impossible to shut them up.

Aged from 25 to 65, some were handsome, some were downright ugly, but most were successful. I imagined they’d be living exciting, glamorous lives. But nothing could be further from the truth.

If one thing’s certain, affairs don’t make you happy. Once I’d dug beneath the boasting and bravado, I was stunned by just how insecure most of these love cheats were.

Most admitted they weren’t even driven by sex. They just wanted something to fill their empty lives.

Emphasis added.

Well. Doesn’t THAT just throw cold water all over the cotton-candy fluff from Ms. Sugarbabe? And we all know what spun sugar does when water hits it, don’t we, kiddies? That’s right…it melts. Just like the Wicked Witch of the West.

One evening, my research took me to a bar, where I met a married man in his 30s and his girlfriend. Like most of the mistresses I met, she barely had two brain cells to rub together. A decade younger, she was obviously attracted by the money and didn’t seem to care whether he was married or not.

When she went to the ladies, the man passed me his mobile phone to show me photos of his children. ‘I love my family. I know I’m ruining everything, but I can’t help myself,’ he sobbed.

He was so pathetic I almost felt sorry for him. But having spoken to all these men, I wonder if they’re capable of love — I’m not sure they even love themselves, so how can they love their wives? If they did, would they risk inflicting such pain on them?

And yet, Ms. Sugarbabe would have us believe that it’s the woman’s duty to cater to her man. Even through gritted teeth, she is supposed to “negotiate” his infidelities, put that dog on a leash, and walk him, lest he slip through the hole in the fence and find a bitch in heat on the other side.

Until I started this project, I hadn’t realised how devastating it is for a woman to know her husband has been unfaithful.

The wife of a serial cheat told me: ‘You see yourself for the first time through this unforgiving mirror. Suddenly every little fault and imperfection is exaggerated.

‘I used to feel good about myself because I thought I had a husband who loved me and was faithful. Now that’s all gone. Even though I know he’s to blame, I’ll never feel as good about myself again.’

Would anybody in good conscience tell THAT woman she should have “negotiated”? I wouldn’t. In any case, the man probably wasn’t interested in “negotiations”; there was another reason for the fillip, and it wasn’t sex:

It’s a cliché, but a lot of men start cheating when they hit middle age. They realise they’re never going to be David Beckham or Bill Gates, but they can have a fantasy life with another woman.

[…]

The simple truth is that most cheats are cowards. They are not brave enough to admit there might be problems in their relationship.

Instead, they embark on affairs that involve secrecy. When they are caught out, it’s normally down to something as clichéd as lipstick on their collar or a scratch mark they can’t explain.

And if their wife forgives them, they believe they’ve got carte blanche to carry on.

[…]

Having spent years trailing serial philanderers, I can’t believe why more women don’t read them the riot act. By and large, these men had fantastically attractive women at home who were prepared to be treated like dirt.

And that’s the problem. If men think they can get away with cheating, they will.

Now, this rings a lot more true. Peadar de Burca isn’t a trained psychologist and Ms. Sugarbabe is, but I’d say he has her beat nine ways till Friday for solid insights. She experimented with the airy-fairy concept of “negotiated infidelity” for just 12 months; he went out and talked in an unsterile real world to hundreds of men and dozens of women afflicted by un-negotiated infidelity over a period of many years.

Who do you suppose understands the subject better?

The secret to keeping your man faithful couldn’t be simpler: be confident, demand attention and make it clear he is lucky to have you and won’t get a second chance.

Hard and cold as it sounds, this is the only kind of “negotiation” that I’d be willing to do. Why? Because it’s not cutesy, it’s not material-girly, it’s not classist, it doesn’t rely on perpetuating sexist patterns, there’s no pandering involved, and oh yeah, it just plain WORKS. When the mean drunk who slept around on me kept calling me his “future fiancée”, but still proffered no engagement ring and no commitment (and still no sex!), I got sick of his sugar-coated bullshit. I decided that I would be happier alone. And I was! I showed him the door and kept it shut to him, and found myself opening it again–this time to better men. I’ve dumped and been dumped several times since, but I’ve never had to hold my nose through another episode of infidelity–“negotiated” or otherwise.

And I am strong and confident enough to fully expect that I never will.

Music, maestro…

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