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“Sugar Daddy” is so last season. “Benefactor” is such a dispassionate and archaic term. Long overdue is a fittingly New Age appellation for that other tale as old as time, one that involves sexual relations between a younger woman and an older man in exchange for financial support.
Enter the “Blesser.” Defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a new age sugar daddy,” the Blesser is the perfect term for these hashtag-blessed-obsessed-times. For what could be a better, more beautiful blessing than an older man with means and a younger woman somewhat economically challenged but open to creative solutions, united by desires both altruistic and sexual?
Indeed, this sugar daddy for the 21st century, according to the Urban Dictionary, “will ‘bless’ young beautiful women leading un-lavish lives with money, vacations, and a work-free lifestyle in exchange for ‘dating’ aka sex.”
Perhaps not all these relationships are purely transactional, but then again, as we have seen countless times, even the ugliest or shortest or feeblest or most leathery-skinned man becomes infinitely more attractive if his net worth is impressive. As Kanye West and Jamie Foxx famously sang, this kind of woman “ain’t messin’ with no broke n***as.”
Such women have been called everything from social climbers to aspirational to gold diggers, feigning affection or even attraction for what they consider to be the real prize: his money. Women like every 20-something Playboy bunny who’s taken up with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion, for example. Women who’ve married Donald Trump, too, could reasonably be included as an example. And women like Anna Nicole Smith, the former Guess model, considered to be “the most obvious case of gold digging imaginable,” according to The Richest. Anna Nicole was 26 years old when she married the 87-year-old wheelchair-bound oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall. She may have been his third wife, but not his heir, because when he died a year after their marriage, he left her nothing in his will. “She went to court, obviously, and fought legal battles for years trying to get close to half a billion dollars. She brought the suit against Marshall’s son and the two engaged in a seemingly never ending dispute. The case got as far as the Supreme Court. Smith died in 2007 while the legal war was still going on.”
To imply that this relationship is deliberate and calculating only on the part of the woman, however, is unfair and misleading. Wealthy older men have been known to enjoy the boost a young, attractive woman can provide to their egos, not to mention parts of their anatomy that had perhaps been dormant for decades. Each party is looking for a trophy to show off, clearly; it’s just that each party defines that trophy differently. One could be looking at Double Ds, while the other is focused on at least six zeros. Supply and demand, really. There would be no Blessees if there were no men willing—and happy—to take on the role of Blesser.
The sugar daddy morphing into the Blesser is largely an African phenomenon. The term originated in southern Africa, and for a significant number of women, it would appear to be a viable way of life to be so blessed. In fact, there are a number of dating sites that cater to both Blessers looking for new young ladies to, well, bless with his largesse, and women waiting to be matched with the right Blesser who’ll fund her university studies, send her off to shopping trips to Dubai, and set her up in a nice flat in Cape Town. Suddenly #blessed takes on a whole new meaning.
Not all who are blessed get equal benefits, however. Just as there are all kinds of mistresses—from the entry-level piece on the side to the fully subsidized queen concubine with the shadow household—there are different levels that would indicate your status and value to the Blesser. And like Candy Crush or the corporate ladder, you can always work your way to the top. This is an arena that rewards patience, persistence, cunning, and resourcefulness; there’s always room for upward mobility if you play your cards right.
Think of it from the point of view of the Blesser, who, incidentally, doesn’t have to be extremely wealthy or powerful, though a number of high profile political figures are alleged to be Blessers. He just needs to be generous and better off than the woman who wants to upgrade her life; for a woman who struggles to cough up the fare for public transport to and from work every day, a $150 monthly allowance from her Blesser goes a long way to making her daily commute more comfortable.
Thus, there are apparently four Blesser levels. Level one gets the Blessee airtime and data for her phone. Level two gets her clothes and expensive hair and beauty treatments. Level three gets her iPhones and cars, while level four gets her trips overseas and even an apartment.
It’s not much different from the sugar daddy of yesteryear. And while a woman doesn’t necessarily have to be poor or disadvantaged to be blessed, the Blesser phenomenon exploits social and economic inequalities in a society, highlighting the dynamic between sex and poverty, money and ambition.
As Professor Deevia Bhana of the University of KwaZulu-Natal remarked last year at a conference on Teen Pregnancy in Durban, “Blessers will thrive because young women’s aspirations toward those middle-class lifestyles are easily accessible through Blessers.”
#Goals? Depends on how #blessed you want to be.
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.