We’re not holding back in the latest episode of Culture Conversations – Powered By Reebok South Africa. In this episode, our host Robyn Galloway (Unfiltered Youth) engages with international award-winning and bestselling author, Jackie Phamotse (@JackiePhamotse), to dive into the controversial blesser and blessee culture in South Africa, as well as her own personal experience.

Here’s Jackie on:

The dangers of engaging in a blesser/blessee relationship

There’s a wide array of dangers. They can be obsessive and controlling. There are health issues too, like HIV and STDs. A lot of rapes happen; human and organ trafficking; and illegal abortions. Soon, you feel like you’re in a lifestyle you can’t control… because you are with this person 24-hours, you are literally on call.

Yes, you get the luxury things like holidays, clothes, phones and gadgets but it’s rare that they will pay for your education. They will use you as a trophy or entertainment. The pros are less than the cons. At some point, they make decisions on your behalf and the lines of consent are blurred in these relationships.

The intention of the blesser/blessee relationship

A lot of girls are comfortable with having access to things and people from the blesser, even though they’re not in a romantic relationship with them. It’s important to think about whether the intention is to have access [to things] or to have a relationship. Many blessers are married and have multiple blessees.

Some might say that it sounds like prostitution because you are sleeping with or providing a service to someone, in return for money or a phone. However, some may say that their boyfriend should provide those things too. If your intention is to trade, then it takes on a different definition.

 

How social media can drive people into these relationships

Blessees are good at faking a lifestyle online because the blesser/blessee relationship requires you to be seen in a certain light. The lifestyle can be very alluring online. Someone can DM you and eventually ask for a weekend away, but you are not aware that you are being trafficked. You don’t know if you’re coming back.

 

How that lifestyle impacted her own life

There are so many things that I feel like that lifestyle destroyed in me. I was in a very dark place, but destiny called and I was able to change that misfortune into something else. I knew what my intention was and once I got out, I refocused. So, writing became an opportunity for me to say how I feel… and I used it to heal myself.

 

Her organisation

In the publishing company, The Fairy Tale Company, we host workshops at schools and universities that help young people create their own writing pattern and teach them how to write. We discuss topics like confidence and peer pressure as well.

 

Her advice for young people in blesser/blessee relationships

If you feel like you need to leave the relationship, follow your gut. If you need to report it, do it. Don’t feel like you don’t have power because someone is dominating you. Find a support structure. Believe in truth.

Culture Conversations is sportscene’s talk show dedicated to having meaningful discussions on relevant social issues. We invite panelists to engage in topical discussions on narratives surrounding gender, race, identity, empowerment and social politics.