Social media is lighting up with stories shared by young women engaging in a new type of exchange of “sex for goods”. Yet many are questioning whether they are not just being exploited by rich men offering economic emancipation.

Now trending: the hashtags #Blessed and #Blesserfinder. A reference to people talking about or looking for sugar daddies online. There are those who are flashing how much they can splash on their ‘Blessees’ and those who flaunt how much they are being ‘blessed’ with.

At first glance it seems like innocent fun between consenting adults, but a closer look reveals that there is more to the trend.

A Tshwane mother has labelled her 22 year old daughter’s 54 year old Blesser as a curse in her daughter’s life. She has gone as far as kicking her daughter out of the house and requesting that the Blesser leave her daughter be. The response was reportedly that he would ‘release her’. The Blessee is said to have been neglecting her studies by opting to spend time with Blesser, rather than in class.

It is hard to prove the value of education and hard work when our youth see so many struggling graduates and there seem to be all these ‘short-cuts’ to the good life. How can we prove the value of being economically capacitated and active in your own right, when the lifestyle provided by the sugar daddy seems so glamorous?

The allure of the instantly gratifying remains ever enchanting. Why study when Blesser-Bae can sponsor a lifestyle far better than what could be afforded on an entry-level salary or the pittance that many entrepreneurs profit in the first year or two of trading? It seems the struggle for economic emancipation is a little too real.

But aside from where a Blesser-Blessee relationship involves minors, is there really anything wrong with it? If both parties are happy, why is this still such a controversial topic? The answer is in the question. Are both parties happy? If a man must buy a woman’s attention or affection and if a woman sells her attention or affection, is that happiness? We’re talking about a ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ arrangement. Yet the #Blessee is essentially a commodity, which questions their agency in this relationship.

In principle, there is nothing wrong with free individuals engaging in a licit relationship with one another. However, we may want to spare a thought for the hereafter… what happens when a new, more desired Blessee comes along? One with a more desired price tag? Will the old Blessee be chucked to the sidelines? If it’s all just about bang for buck, this relationship establishes a hierarchy of power where women’s bodies are commodified and the sugar daddy end up holding all the cards.

And what if the Blesser runs out of means by which to bless? Would the Blessee find another, richer Blesser? Finally, what about the social good that comes from a society where men and women are economically capable? Women have been working long and hard at gaining equality on all fronts. It would be a shame to quit now.