Issues With Sugarbook’s M’sian University Student Sugar Babies Statistics
Sugarbook again sparked heated discussions among internet users, starting with an infographic that the sugar dating platform posted publicly on media sites last week.
By now you probably know what the infographic was about, given that Malaysia’s major news organizations were quick to release the statistics.
Vulcan Post also received these statistics, but we have decided not to publish them blindly. I’ll explain why below.
Before I continue however, I want to say that while our editors are entitled to have their own personal opinions on the app and lifestyle, Vulcan Post as a media brand is not against Sugarbook, its services and its right to advertise as a registered trademark. Business. Instead, we oppose the abusive marketing and indiscriminate advertising of sugar dating, both of which are present in this debacle.
With the news spreading widely now, we thought it was all the more important to raise this discussion.
1. It’s a publicity stunt that feels exploitative
I think what went wrong with me at first was that the infographic revealed what I thought should be P&C information.
I cannot confirm if this information was taken from users’ initial registrations, voluntarily provided by users on their profiles, or if they responded to a survey by Sugarbook that asked them which university they were from.
Whether or not students consented to having their university name publicly revealed is an issue, another is why Sugarbook even felt it necessary to provide university names in the first place, and let alone how many students came from.
What was the point of doing it? Who was this supposed to benefit?
Sugarbook claimed in the press release that the reason for the infographic was due to a 40% peak in student enrollment on Sugarbook as of January 2021.
But the release of this unverified data almost seems to instigate a FOMO backlash among students at these named universities.
Given that this was a marketing strategy for the team (or a publicity stunt, as some may call it), the answer may be obvious that it was on purpose to attract the ‘Warning.
With so much media covering it at the time of its release, it was achieved, in addition to ruffling a few feathers along the way.
2. It could have caused unnecessary conflict in families and among peers
One thing I can’t forget is how parents of students at 10 universities are reacting to the news. No student names have been made public, but if I was a parent in this case, I would probably wonder if my child was one of those sugar babies.
For those who are already living with abusive families (which may be the reason they turned to sugar dating in the first place), this could make matters worse for them. They can be severely punished or extorted by their own family, if it is revealed that they have received money but are keeping it to themselves.
While we have yet to hear of any such cases when it comes to sugar dating specifically, to deny that these results are possible would be ignorant.
Also, other college students may now be wondering who among their peers is a sugar baby. This could lead to shame and intimidation from some students who peers suspect to be a user of the sugar dating app.
Victims of bullying may then develop depression, ADHD and become antisocial, among other things, which could have a negative impact on their personal and school life.
3. It’s an irresponsible promotion of a lifestyle that’s not for everyone
Dating with sugar is still a taboo subject not only in Malaysia or the East, but even in the West. Personally, I am all for freedom of choice, but I believe that even that choice should come with a lot of understanding and weighing the pros and cons.
I strongly disagree with the blatant promotion of the lifestyle to the general public. I believe that if it is to be promoted, it is on the basis that everything that the arrangement involves and its potential effects on a person’s life must be made very clear.
Take, for example, the smoking lifestyle. It is not publicly advertised or promoted for the sake of public health and well-being, so people are not encouraged to take it.
When you see a packet of cigarettes being sold, you are struck by pictures about the health risks of smoking, so you cannot pretend to be ignorant of its effects. Because it’s also not publicly promoted, those looking for the lifestyle are people who understand the risks, but decide to do it anyway.
However, sugar dating is not as understood a concept as smoking. Not everyone understands the full implications of sugar dating and the effects it can have on their mental and emotional health, let alone their self-confidence and self-confidence.
It is irresponsible that a registered business has chosen to promote sugar dating as if it were a simple product or service that does not have potentially lasting effects on those involved.
4. Marketing is predatory on students
This is where the biggest problem with the whole situation lies. Sugarbook’s goal of releasing these statistics was not just to showcase the demographics of sugar dating in Malaysia.
It was also to encourage more students to register on the website as Sugar Babies. In the press release, Founder and CEO Darren Chan even said this:
“Times are hard. Our platform offers the opportunity to find economic relief in these volatile times. Meeting someone who is more successful or more experienced has its perks, and financial incentives are just one of them. They manage to get in touch with wealthy people and further their careers. “
He used words like “economic relief,” “financial incentives,” and “career advancement,” which serve no other purpose than to emphasize that dating with sugar is in fact still women trading their intimacy (whether sexual or not) for cash rewards.
Promoting a lifestyle like this using such words is misleading, especially for students who may not be financially responsible or emotionally mature enough to explore the many different facets of dating in the world. sugar.
In many cases, those who enroll as sugar babies tend to be already vulnerable in some aspect of their life, whether it is mentally, financially, or emotionally. They are now misled into thinking that dating sugar will be their best way to solve problems as it is portrayed as a glamorous lifestyle that is all for and without cons.
As you research real life experiences of sugar babies on the internet, you will find that many of the disadvantages listed tend to mention that they are living:
- Possible loss of self-esteem,
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more.
We have to state that while there is still a lack of research on the specific risks of being a sugar baby, various studies have been conducted to explore the dynamics and outcomes of the sugar dating lifestyle.
Usually a sugar dating arrangement consists of an older, richer provider (usually a sugar daddy) and a younger beneficiary who is in need of money (sugar baby). A simple glance at the previous sentence should clearly show the power imbalance in such a relationship.
Therefore, marketing it without any limits or clear awareness to vulnerable young students is unethical, even if a company has to do its dough.
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Sugarbook has since been banned in Malaysia, but they are still accessible through a different URL. This likely means that they won’t be able to publicly advertise their services that easily anymore, but there is yet another aspect of this controversy to be addressed.
One of the reasons that this marketing stunt spread so far and so quickly was the indiscriminate publicity that many media sites gave it.
Vulcan Post conducted an interview with Darren in 2017 on Sugarbook and its services. We wanted to have a concept-neutral story by presenting Darren with common perceptions of the lifestyle and presenting his take on it. This way, readers were able to decide for themselves if this was a lifestyle for them, with an objective mindset.
Topics like these will shed light on the media industry and how we choose to report on current events. On our side, we hope to do our part and bring value and perspective to our content. We don’t always pretend to make the best choices, but we also have our readers and audience holding us accountable and in control.
- You can read our previous coverage on Sugarbook here.
Featured Image Credit: Darren Chan, Founder and CEO of Sugarbook
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