Jeanemarie Almulla is an accomplished woman. She speaks 3 languages, has a degree in International Relations, has written a book and won pageants. She also speaks to Girl Scouts about confidence, has survived an abusive relationship, fled an arranged marriage in Abu Dhabi, worked with an NGO teaching English to Palestinian refugees and is a firm advocate of self-love. Jeanemarie is also a self-proclaimed feminist who says she wants to empower women.
Occupation: Sugar Baby.
Jeanemarie Almulla has recently been all over the news discussing her line of work. She’s a Sugar Baby; an occupation that sounds like it belongs in a lolly factory. What is actually is, though, is quite different. Using a website similar to a dating site, she is available to make dates with wealthy men who then financially compensate her for her time. This job enables her to live a pretty lavish lifestyle and funded her penthouse overlooking the water in Miami. If her Instagram account is anything to go by, she spends a lot of time partying and living the high life.
Not an Escort or Prostitute.
The Sun reports that Almulla has “slammed” comparisons to prostitution or escort work. She says that “A sugar baby is nothing like that, a lot of the time sex isn’t involved, it’s not expected.” I’m no expert but it does sound similar to escort work. However, if she says it isn’t, I’ll take her at her word. There are parallels, though.
I went onto the Seeking Arrangement website that Almulla uses to find out exactly what a Sugar Baby is. The primary difference seems to be that Sugar Babies have relationships with their Sugar Daddies. Being a Sugar Baby, they say, is not a profession but a lifestyle choice. It involves dating wealthy men who can provide the lifestyle they desire. Depending on where you look for information, a Sugar Daddy (the men who engage Sugar Babies) are often (sometimes considerably) older than their companions as well as being very wealthy.
Seeking Arrangements says that Sugar Baby/Sugar Daddy relationships are “often” monogamous and that sex is never a requirement, only an “aspiration”. Almulla is currently juggling 3 Sugar Daddies while other Sugar Babies profiled by The Sun mention short term arrangements only- so I guess its up to the individual to do what works for them. Each to their own, right?
Feminism is a broad church. There’s no hive-mind or set of rules that all feminists must adhere to beyond the basic belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men.
One of the most commonly discussed aspects of life in modern feminism is inflexible and outdated gender roles that harm men and women. Jeanemarie Almulla calls herself a feminist but is she really?
In the Sun article, she recounted her first meet with a Sugar Daddy who gave her money to help her get on her feet. This lead to a realisation that other men would find her attractive and be willing to pay for her company. In this short video, she talks about Instagram and says that her pictures are key to appealing to men, saying “the sluttier, the better.” And while she looks amazing, she’s no fool and clearly knows what will appeal to the kind of men who can and will pay for her time. Despite her education and personality, it’s seems she’s trading primarily on her appearance.
With other statements like “Men are supposed to be caregivers and take care of women”, Almulla reinforces the very stereotypes that feminism, at its core, opposes. Most people are aware that women can take care of themselves entirely without men. She says that “Being a Sugar Baby is about knowing that you’re valuable” however I get the impression that the value she speaks of is a literal, monetary value. I am not a Sugar Baby and yet I know I’m a worthy person, even without paid dates.
Good for her, not for me.
To paraphrase Amy Poehler, I can see that Jeanemarie Almulla’s choices may be good for her without being good for me. I can’t hold her choices against her, either. She’s the product of her life experiences. Almulla is also the result of a Patriarchal culture that sexualises and objectifies women. A culture that has treated us as property for centuries. The men who pay her for her company are perpetuating this culture. And she is one of many, many women who are complicit in it. It’s not in me to hold this against her; we’re made by the experiences we’ve had and the communities we are part of. So I don’t judge her for her lifestyle or her decisions, even if I’d do things differently. The thing I have a problem with is taking the Sugar Baby lifestyle and calling it feminism.
Many believe that the current wave of feminism is all about choice and it kinda is. However, you can’t just choose whatever you want and call if feminist.
Choosing to believe that men are obliged to financially support women isn’t feminist. Deciding to believe that your value lies in how much a man is willing to spend to be with you isn’t feminist. Jeanemarie Almulla sounds like she’s done some truly great things in her life and I applaud those. I don’t even judge her for going on dates for cash. I just object to the idea that her Sugar Baby lifestyle is somehow feminist and empowering to women. Feminists all over the
internet world spend countless unpaid hours each year explaining that no, feminism isn’t man-hating. Factor in the yes, we still need feminism arguments. Not to mention the wage gap, domestic violence, bodily autonomy debates and everything in between.
Feminism is a lot of things but seeking rich, older men to pay you for dates? No. It’s just not that.
#IBOT @ Capturing Life.