By Dr Brooke Magnanti, formerly known as Belle de Jour
A man allegedly behind the Sponsor a Scholar website, which is said to offer tuition fees in return for sex, has been arrested, but Dr Brooke Magnanti doubts the sorry mess is a prostitution ring.
News reports claim that a person allegedly behind the notorious Sponsor a Scholar website has been arrested.
Mark Lancaster, who was released on police bail, has been arrested on suspicion of inciting prostitution. It is claimed that he set up a website for female students looking to have sex with men who would pay their fees. As part of the site’s process, this apparently entailed an unpaid “practical” session with an “assessor” to determine the young woman’s intimacy quotient.
Reportedly a few women didn’t decline this request, but also didn’t find themselves introduced to any rich sugar daddies, either.
As someone who reached the end of her studies with – shall we say – more erotic capital than liquid assets, I’m unsurprised that students would consider the sex trade to meet their expenses. The tuition fees for home students in England and Wales are now almost at the level of what they were for overseas students like me when I started studying.
With a lot of bills to settle but not a lot of free time, you’d be bonkers to imagine a couple of shifts at the local hostelry could even begin to touch the sides of the yawning chasm of student debt.
In the last few years, not only have the number of students in erotic entertainment become more visible, there has also been a corresponding rise in the coverage of people seeking arrangements. Sugar babies and sugar daddies, while there is obviously money and sex involved, are often quick to deny it’s prostitution. But you can’t deny that a transaction is definitely taking place.
Interestingly, the whole Sponsor a Scholar mess has been reported as if this is some sort of prostitution ring. As far as I can tell from the reports, it’s not. No money appears to have been promised for the sex acts that took place and no money seems to have actually changed hands. It seems instead that whoever was “assessing” the female students was a common-or-garden con artist and not a pimp at all.
Whatever the outcome of the Sponsor A Scholar brouhaha, one thing’s for certain: this is a ruse that may have worked for one guy, but smart money says it won’t work again. Girls who had sex for free – well, I don’t see how they can possibly prosecute anyone for ‘inciting prostitution’ in the circumstances – must be kicking themselves.
Take it from a real pro… the assumption that agencies hold “auditions” of sexual skills in potential escorts is right up there with the myth of “fluffers” in porn. They may make for titillating media coverage, but they really do not exist.
Cash up front is the name of the game where real sex work is concerned. If you aren’t prepared to say “show me the money” before getting down and dirty, then maybe it’s better to take a loan instead.
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