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Rent A Buddy Service, An Empowerment or Subtle Sexual Exploitation?

Credits: unfiltered sg, Youtube

A video released by unfiltered sg a few weeks back spotlights the rent-a-friend gig that’s getting popular lately. 4 women were invited to discuss their “dates” that they got off RentBabe, a website that allows one to sell their time in exchange for money.

The video was shot on the premise of real vs impostor where the participants had to guess who was a legit Rentbabe and who wasn’t. The women also shared how they were solicited for sexual services by some who were willing to pay SGD5000.

Netizens had a field day in the comments section by being their savage selves.

Some were calling it cap, SGD5k being too exorbitant for a simple service.

THE QUESTION

Are women willingly objectifying themselves in the name of self empowerment as they monetize their services as a rent-buddy/companion? A quick look at the website shows more women than men offering their companionship services. The members get paid between the range of SGD150-200 to go on a fully paid date with a stranger but no hanky-panky is allowed.

Rebranding an old trade to make it trendier does not change the fact that at a subconscious level, these people are being exploited and manipulated in a subtle manner. Only now, power is given back to them by allowing them to set their own prices for the services they’re willing to provide.

Red Flag Alert: A quick look at the website shows members who are mostly below the age of 26. The youngest being 18 because it is the legal age here in Singapore.

The women were between the age of 19-23 and they did it willingly as a side hustle to earn money in exchange for their time.

Credits: unfiltered sg, Youtube

Red Flag Number 1

They also mentioned that most of their clients, mostly lonely older males, are between the ages of 30-40 plus that were looking for companionship.

Credits: unfiltered sg, Youtube
Credits: unfiltered sg, Youtube

Red Flag Number 2

As always with such arrangements, these young women have been solicited for sexual services by some clients. One had allegedly been offered up to SGD5000 for oral sex.

Credits: unfiltered sg, Youtube

Much like social escort services, such arrangements come with danger especially when one cannot discern the intent of the clients buying the service. One may argue that it gives back power to the women because they control how and what they earn but where does one draw the line?  Sexual predators and criminals can easily hide in plain sight with such arrangements.

Credits: unfiltered sg, Youtube

While the website states that it is strictly platonic, the members are not protected as there is no legal protection involved with the platform. They are merely a platform that facilitates meetups but anything that happens after that is between the member and the “buyer”.

And they cannot guarantee that one won’t get catfished.

More terms can be found on their T&C and FAQ page but the gist of it is that once you enter such a contract, you are on your own and you absolve them of any responsibilities should anything untoward happen during the dates.

Since the market for gig economy is booming right now in the pandemic, many are turning to various platforms online as creators and service providers. However, some services are as dangerous as their previous incarnations. The only difference is that they have been rebranded to appeal to the youths.

In the age of monetization, has real human connection lost it’s value?

Reporter’s Opinions: How do you sell yourself as a service provider when you are the product? This is a good lesson in marketing as it opens up conversation for the fine lines that lie between marketing oneself and outright selling (sex work). 

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If everything is a transaction, there is no distinction between a rent-buddy, OF creator, sugar baby and an escort. All are about being paid for the services you provide but with the latter, these people understood what they signed up for and they are under no delusions.

You Know Reaction GIF by MOODMAN - Find & Share on GIPHY

Before you come for me, listen up. I am not saying that these people are selling themselves for money but this is a new form of social escort services with extra steps.

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Let’s call a spade, a spade shall we? None of these fancy bullshit terms that you use to encourage “empowerment.”

You put yourself out there in your best outfit for random clients to choose you and pay you for your time. Most of these “dates” will end up being dinner and drinks with older men and women because they are the ones who are in need of companionship. Desperate enough that they are willing to pay you for it. At least that is what the video covered.

It is rare for one to pay for companionship for the sake of making a new friend with no strings attached. 

Is nothing sacred anymore in this age of monetization? Whatever happened to real human connection and sincerely spending time with someone you intend to befriend? Why must everything be a transaction?

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Belalang Biru

Written by Belalang Biru

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