I patiently ran through a group of young African ladies from different backgrounds and different ages and asked the following burning question: Do you think having a blesser compromises the principles embedded in woman empowerment?
You see, the thing with our community is that we put people in boxes and begin to classify them in a certain category based on their sex, their race, where they grew up, what language they speak and their level of education. We assume that this is meant to quickly show us what type of person they are and how far they’ll get in life. This allows us to ultimately decide whether they are worth associating ourselves with or not.
Society has encouraged us to steer clear from that notion because as we grow from generation to generation we ultimately realise that the past really doesn’t determine anybody’s future. We simply need to be able to put in that work.
To bring us back to the topic at hand, here are illustrative examples of women who’ve been able to put in that work and in the process change the future of many women today, irrespective of the history preceeding them.
A young girl based in a small African village, who’s father didn’t believe in sending girls to school to get an education as he deemed it unnecessary, her husband would provide for her. She sincerely begged her older siblings for the opportunity to go to school and eventually became the first female to work for government.
To the the young lady who misunderstood the concept of having men act as woman on television screens when a woman could simply do the job herself. She bravely questioned the system and be became the first female actress.
Then the first female African president who first endured the hardships of exile prior to becoming worth her title.
To the women who viciously fought against females being viewed as nothing more than sexual objects and introduced feminism.
Empowerment is defined as increasing the political, social and economic strength of an individual. Where one may argue that having a blesser does ultimately increase the economic strength of a woman. Especially for those who use the money to pay for their education or bring food to an unemployed family of 6. The question we begin to ask ourselves is, is being empowered irrespective of the process?
In my conversations I learnt that most women associate woman empowerment with the following principles: independence, self sufficiency and being looked at as having more to offer than being in the kitchen or having babies.
The essence of women empowerment is that it has allowed us to steer clear from the notion that we need to be provided for because we cannot provide for ourselves. Women empowerment has entitled us to the right to education because we always knew that knowledge was power and without it, we could never compete. It has given us access to every job imaginable, it is simply up to us to ensure that we acquire the correct skills to perform that job. Female miners, soldiers, presidents, actresses and CEOs are all a result of women empowerment.
Now ask yourself this question, if we lived in a society where as a woman, you always had to sleep with a man during a job interview to get a job. Would you then feel qualified to do the job? Would you even waste your time going to school? Would you feel that the notion of women empowerment has been achieved? Or would there be turmoil and an uprising of women fighting not to be reduced to sexual objects? This shows us that women empowerment is quite dependent on the process.
A blesser essentially implies that you have nothing else to offer him in return for his money, except your body. And because he pays you for it, a sense of entitlement, a sort of power over you (often with little respect) is achieved. Some even go further and describe it as “professional prostitution”
Why can’t he “bless you” with a job and then pay you for your services based on your set of skills?
My biggest fear however, is the message that’s being sent out to our Dear African Girls. Whether we believe it or not, having a “blesser” is a an old term once referred to as a sugar daddy. It is only beginning to trend now because the youth have adopted it and unashamedly blasted it on social media. They have found an easy way out of long classes and boring assignments. An alternative route to tiresome job hunting and street hustling. A “get rich quick” scheme at what they deem to be the lowest cost with the highest returns of fancy cars and Gucci handbags. School becomes a second option. They are unaffected by his wedding ring or his 2 children. Family and matrimony has been reduced to nothing but a business deal. They are, once again, being provided for by simply opening their legs and then calling it self sufficiency.
They forget the women who tirelessly fought to prove that women, in themselves, have so much more to offer for a fare wage than their bodies. If this continues, they will never understand the essence of women empowerment and unknowingly allow their power to be taken away from them again.
So I ask again, to you this time, does the idea of a blesser go against the principles embedded in women empowerment?