Today's Big Stories

Why the 'Blesser craze' isn't so black and white

Wits lecturer Dr Danai Mupotsa says the so-called 'blesser phenomenon' is more complex than many perceive it to be.

What is a 'blesser' or 'blessee'?

'Blesser' is the buzzword used to describe an older, wealthy person (often a man) who provides material and financial support to a sexual partner.

'Blessees' or the 'blessed' are the recipients of the gifts and expensive luxuries during the courtship.

A blesser's level or status is defined by material means they can provide.

While the term 'blesser' has gained social currency recently, the 'blesser' role and relationship has been around for many years, Mupotsa explains.

She says the latest term 'blesser' has made the trend more desirable, replacing the less appealing notion of a 'Sugar Daddy'.

I think with a new word, things become cool... It helps us expand our language.

Dr Danai Mupotsa, Wits lecturer

A whole lot of 'grey' areas

While 'blessers' and 'blessees' have been strongly condemned, Mupotsa says the moral policing of these relationships often establishes double standards.

If we're gonna talk about money and power, then we must talk about sex and money and power - without sticking something dirty onto certain forms of relationships because of a moral impulse.

Dr Danai Mupotsa, Wits lecturer

In some cases, social inequality and patriarchy may be underlying issues in such relationships.

However, Mupotsa explains that there are different sets of conditions experienced by blessees - not all are driven by economics.

The experiences vary; some blessees may be economically oppressed while others are not structurally marginalised at all.

Mupotsa maintains that is important not to deny 'blessees' of agency, power, choice or desire.

She elaborated on the structure of romantic love, and the links between power and high risk sexual behaviour.

While the 'blesser phenomenon' may have invoked a moral panic, Mupotsa suggests that some marriages may be as equally unsafe.

She concludes that there is no singular experience or narrative when it comes to the craze.

Some listeners and blessees shared their opinions and stories of living the 'high life':

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