Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Claire M. Renzetti


Interest in transactional sex, or the provision of a sexual relationship in exchange for gifts and/or money, has increased in recent years among researchers, nongovernmental organizations, and law enforcement officials as increasing numbers of women self-identify as hypergamous, indicating their interest in forming heterosexual partnerships with men of higher status. Hypergamous women may identify as sugar babies, spoiled girlfriends, or high-value women. A sugar baby is a woman providing romantic companionship to an older man, known as a sugar daddy, in exchange for money and/or gifts. A spoiled girlfriend is a woman whose partner provides her with money and/or gifts as a condition of the relationship. A high-value woman may best be described as a woman seeking to improve herself and her life circumstances, or “level up,” with the objective of establishing a relationship with a “high-value man,” which has different definitions for different women.

This study sought to answer the following research questions: (1) What are the online behaviors of self-identified hypergamous women? (2) What are the similarities and differences among sugar babies, spoiled girlfriends, and high-value women? To answer these questions, I conducted a digital ethnography of sugar babies, spoiled girlfriends, and high-value women on Tumblr and conducted a mixed-methods textual analysis on scraped TikTok posts associated with sugar babies, spoiled girlfriends, and high-value women.

Results show that hypergamous communities use social media to share advice, often about relationships and gender performance. Postfeminist sentiment is common among sugar babies, spoiled girlfriends, and high-value women, but there are significant distinctions between the three groups, particularly regarding their theories and praxis related to social class. This research demonstrates trends in intimate relationships that have implications for political and social inequalities.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)