Blessing laid bare

2017-10-01 06:00
Angela Makholwa and Jackie Phamotse explore the rise of the sugar daddy. Picture: Supplied

Angela Makholwa and Jackie Phamotse explore the rise of the sugar daddy. Picture: Supplied

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the social phenomenon of blessers, but there are those who feel these transactional relationships are harmless and beneficial to all parties involved.

Government has taken the stance that older men using their economic status to get attention and sex from young women is a form of abuse.

Two writers, Jackie Phamotse, in her book Bare, and Angela Makholwa, with The Blessed Girl, interrogate the pros and cons of blesser-blessee relationships.

The books mention the reasons blessers give and the justifications blessees advance for doing what they do.

“It’s one of those strange South African things, socially. I began to question it as it became more common,” Makholwa says.

“I am surrounded by lots of young women and it was introduced to me as something negative. But slowly, I saw young, beautiful women aspiring to this kind of relationship. It was a rapid shift from ‘I wouldn’t’ to ‘well why not find a man who can support me?’.

“I was curious and it says a lot about our country and how rapidly our moral compass can shift.”

For Phamotse, the risks involved are grave.

“The danger comes with young people from rural areas not being familiar with the life in cosmopolitan areas and they aren’t even familiar with terms like sugar daddy,” she says.

During her research for her book, she found a wealthy couple living in Bryanston who pay a twentysomething-year-old woman to be their “chef”. She is however expected to join the couple in their bedroom as part of her duties.

“What about that 20-year-old? The couple views it as empowerment, but the young girl is in this position as she has no choice. It’s either this or she won’t be able to afford her tuition.”

"It’s an ego boost"

Both authors note that people date for different reasons. Some do it for the emotional and sexual benefits and others to improve their lifestyles.

Makholwa says men are usually the blessers and for them “it’s an ego boost, an exchange of sex for a lifestyle alteration”.

Phamotse says the emotional and mental turmoil involved with these relationships is not something that is easily overcome. Yet it is something that those who fall victim to this lifestyle choice hardly give any thought to.

“I have seen these relationships end in dramatic fashion. As much as a blessee lusts for material gain, a blesser is always on the lookout for younger, fresher women.

“You have to make room for the fact that a newer model could be around the corner,” Phamotse explains.

Both books explore the sordid side of blesser and blessee relationships and it is clear the authors have done their research.

To get to hear these stories is easy. All one has to do is head to upmarket malls in suburbs like Sandton and Rosebank, where young women congregate.

The authors are not quick to judge those involved.

“I don’t judge. But being a mom of a five year old, I would not want her to be someone who uses her physical attributes to further herself.

“I would rather she use her intellect to do so,” Makholwa says.

In a society where lavish living and overspending are encouraged and made to seem desirable, and discussions about empowerment and self-reliance take a back seat, it seems difficult to change attitudes.

Phamotse says the psychological damage many of these young women will suffer may only emerge as they get older and look back at their lives.

She says the way back to one’s self might be more difficult than the journey to a “blessed” life.

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Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  angela makholwa

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