So you might have seen the term ‘blesser’ floating around on social media and blowing up your timeline… But what exactly does it mean and what does the ‘blesser’ and ‘blessee’ relationship entail?
The term ‘blesser’ began to take off on social media around 2015, particularly on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It has increased in popularity since then, with many women labelling themselves as #blessed on posts that display extravagant luxuries like expensive shoes, clothing, and handbags.
Many women are also boasting hoards of cash, but the question is: where are they getting the money from to support these lavish lifestyles?
Older males who can financially maintain women by showering them with expensive gifts in exchange for companionship and sometimes sexual favours are called ‘blessers’. This term is an extension of the traditional ‘sugar daddy’ role.
In some cases, these ‘blessers’ are usually married, but still choose to secretly engage in extramarital affairs with younger women. In extreme cases, younger girls also get involved with these men to support their lifestyles.
Society is divided on how to perceive this type of transactional relationship, and this has initiated many debates on whether this form of transactional sex can be equated to prostitution.
In many instances, ‘blessers’ choose to engage in these relationships for sole companionship and it often never goes any further than spending time in the company of the other. This way of connecting has become so popular that there are a wide range of websites dedicated to the pursuit of finding the perfect ‘blesser’.
Nomazulu Singata, a Master of Arts graduate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal found this discussion to be so interesting and complex, that she dedicated an entire dissertation to understanding these types of relationships through the viewpoint of students.
According to EWN, Singata explored the attitudes of students, their reasons for engaging in these relationships, as well as the opportunities and constraints. The research emphasised on the relationship between the ‘blesser’ and ‘blessee’ and revealed the difficult circumstances female students have to endure such as poverty, unemployment, peer pressure and gender equality.
“These structures have an impact on their [female students] ability to make their own decisions,” said Singata.
“The relationships ultimately produce their own structures, which can be both positive [financial needs and education] and negative. The negative [can] lead to gender-based violence as well as health issues that impact on the ‘blessee’s’ agency,” she added.
Singata hopes that society would consider the causes and reasons behind becoming a ‘blessee’ and believes that finding solutions for these issues could prevent unequal relationships from forming.
Professor Deevia Bhana, an expert in gender and childhood sexuality at the University of KwaZulu-Natal outlined that young girls are subjected to poverty in South Africa, which makes it easier for the ‘blesser’ phenomenon to follow its course, SBS explains.
“As long as we have these kinds of inequalities, Blessers will thrive because young women’s aspirations toward those middle-class lifestyles are easily accessible through Blessers. So, we need to address unemployment,” Bhana said.