Gold-digging has become a guilt-free 'career' for SA's young women

A quick perusal of social media will show that plenty of young women now have no qualms about using their charms to secure a filthy-rich guy

16 June 2019 - 00:00 By REA KHOABANE
Illustration: Nolo Moima
Illustration: Nolo Moima

The video clip shows a man going down on his knees and asking his girlfriend to marry him. "We can't secure this bag any more," somebody has posted on Instagram. The "bag" is taken.

There's nothing new about fake boobs, tiny bikinis and accessories that cost more than the president's salary being flaunted in cyberspace.

But things have gone a step further in the blatant competition to secure the "bag" - an objectified word for "rich guy" - whose worth is proven by his ability to provide expensive treats.

Now attractive young South African women are using the Popcorn movie-streaming app and private Instagram accounts tagged #SecureTheBag, where members are open about their goal: spending time with a rich man in exchange for lots of money.

In an Instagram story streamed on Popcorn, Lady KG gives her sisters advice: "All rich men in Pretoria East. Thank me later ladies."

In another post she boasts: "You don't always get to buy a Louis Vuitton bag on top of the water."

The image shows the prized accessory. In the background one of Singapore's ultra-modern buildings looms over the sea.

Six days later she's back with a video of a heap of cash - more than most of us get to touch in one heap in a lifetime. "One hundred thousand to wipe away my tears. Not so bad. Blessed life." (As usual, the cybercats are ready to pounce and a day later Lady KG's video is reposted anonymously with the remark: "100k looks like 10k these days.")

We'll never know what happened between Lady KG and her man except that she received lots of money to console her for some wrong. She is one of a group of young women who have "secured the bag". She's found a rich guy who will spend lots of money on her for her company.

In another post, Gorgeous Mbali poses in a skimpy black bikini warning her sisters that nobody can take her boyfriend away from her.

SETTING THEIR OWN PRICE

Since early in the last century women have marched for equal rights. So why do so many young women still feel they need to use sexuality and good looks to get ahead instead of making a career for themselves?

"Every generation of men and women creates the parameters of how money and sexuality intersect," says historian Hlonipha Mokoena, a Wits University associate professor. "When the media sexualises women it's regarded as OK, but when women choose to sexualise themselves, they are labelled as somehow being immoral."

It's been several years since Inno Morolong, known as the "Turn Up Queen", built her career out of introducing men to young women.

"My first trip to Joburg, I took a R50 hike from Welkom to go visit a friend. I remember seeing girls dressed up in cocktail dresses, high heels and long hair," she says.

"The same night Khanyi Mbau walked in and she was the most flamboyant woman I've ever seen."

Morolong wanted that glamour and fame, and has since made a name for herself offering services as a club host.

"The club will call us and tell us they have clients or guests who want to have a good time and we pitch and have fun. We require payment upfront and bottles of champagne when we arrive at the club."

Morolong says what happens afterwards is up to the individuals concerned.

She has used the money she has received for her services to get an education, earning a BA in communications at the Central University of Technology in the Free State.

She says her parents never approved of her lifestyle but once she graduated they have let her do as she pleases. "The concept is very foreign for them but they understand it's business."

Khanyi Mbau at a movie premiere in 2019.
Khanyi Mbau at a movie premiere in 2019.
Image: John Liebenberg

Dubbed "the Queen of Bling", Mbau was the first South African celebrity who was open about dating men for money.

While she was married to Mandla Mthembu, who is 30 years older than her, they were regularly seen in Joburg in matching yellow Lamborghinis. Their short-lived marriage ended in divorce.

Mbau told talk-show host Anele Mdoda in 2017: "I have a relationship with money. I just think money recognises me, money is comfortable around me, money likes me, money feels like when it needs someone to talk to, it will choose me in the crowd, and it will come and sit next to me"

Mokoena says: "Money drives the behaviour. I think that feminists, especially, have been late to the game of understanding how economic wellbeing, perceived or real, can dramatically change a woman's choices.

"The old hierarchies reassert themselves. No matter how much a woman may try to 'polish' or 'upgrade' her social status, if she acquired her wealth through 'transactional' relationships, that stigma remains.

With the rise of social media we've seen terms such as "stoko", "blessed" and "slay queen" used to label these young women.

Mokoena says women should have as much power as men to use money to acquire and/or "secure" a romantic partner. In reality, the scales are always skewed and emphasise the subordinate position of women.

"For poorer women, the limited range of choices means that even if the woman wanted to choose differently, she may be forced to think of her body as an exit from poverty and thus she chooses a partner accordingly."

KNOWING THEIR OWN WORTH

Sunday Times sex-advice columnist and gender activist Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng says: "There's no increase of women sexualising their bodies to empower themselves - it's just that we now see it more. What social media has done is to allow people to share their daily lives."

Mokoena agrees, saying there is more acceptance of women who make no secret of flaunting their attractiveness in the quest for a financially well-endowed partner.

Instead of being seen as passive victims in the gender game, these women are controlling how they wish to be seen and what they have to offer.

"The game-changer has obviously been social media, which makes it possible for women to control, to some extent, the manner in which they are depicted," says Mokoena.

Back on Instagram, there are plenty of men who show their willingness to be the "bag" and have no problem with the idea of being objectified.

In one post, a guy shows a Louis Vuitton sports bag filled with cash.

Yenzeka, another potential "bag", posted a message: "Hi you all, can I please ask to spoil you with R100k for shopping, so that you accept to sleep with me."

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