The danger of so called “gold-digger” mentality


To celebrate Mother’s Day, I would like to highlight the importance of instilling a thinking of independence and confidence especially when it comes advise passed down from mothers to daughters.

At a time where there are high levels of unemployment, poverty and lack of resources, some mothers are teaching their daughters to date men for money as a way to get ahead or survive.

As absurd as that sounds, I recently overheard a conversation between a mother and her daughter. A 46-year old mother and 19-year old daughter.

“Mom, don’t expect me to be home tonight- I will sleep at my boyfriend’s place”, says the daughter. She and the Boyfriend apparently matriculated from the same school last year. The boyfriend is currently studying at the University of Johannesburg, while the girl took a gap year after struggling with getting funding.

“I will lock my doors and sleep peacefully as long as when you come back you’ll have R45 to buy “Chicken Chunks” and some money to buy electricity”, said the mother ignorantly.

“But mom, he is still a student”, contested the daughter.

“Then find a man who will take care of you and your family. Someone who will provide for you whenever you need money”, said the mother bursting into laughter. Some ladies joined her and they laughed about the matter.

That conversation occurred at a salon where I was doing my hair. I stared at the big mirrors you find at a salon, zooming curiously on that mother and daughter chat and couldn’t figure what exactly had just flooded my ears.

Maybe they were joking, I don’t know.

Not to judge, but as someone who grew up in the villages, that type of conversation was a new thing to me. Since I come from a background where you are allowed to discuss your man with your parents only when he has sent a letter to pay Lobola, such a ‘mother and daughter’ conversation shocked me. That’s when I truly understood what they mean by “Culture Shock”. 

I am not saying my way of knowing things is the correct one, especially because how things are done in the villages isn’t the same as what happens in the urban areas. I am however, worried and fearful of the danger of the so called “gold-digger” mentality instilled by some Mothers to their daughters.  

My fear is rooted in the fact that when a young man provides for a girlfriend, he starts thinking he owns his partner. He mostly begins to think he has the right to dictate any step his woman takes mainly because he provides for her.  

Some men even begin to disrespect and undermine the parents of their partners as they feel their duties towards the women gives them the power to do so. These duties should not be fulfilled by men. Parents need to be fulfilling these duties to avoid women from falling into these situations.

These young men regard themselves as overall providers and that’s when they take their partners for granted.

As the relationship grows, women become fully dependent on their partners. They enjoy the fact that everything must be provided by them and in that way, they have full control over their partner’s lives.

The more some men have control, that’s when bullying begins to crawl into the relationship. Some men would just expect things to go as they command. At this point, abuse tends to enter the relationship particularly verbal abuse which then becomes physical abuse.

Women’s vulnerability to violence has increased as seen in the rising levels of femicide. Abuse results often leads to femicide especially when young men realize they are losing power to control their women’s lives.

So, when I heard that mother and daughter conversation, all those aspects struck my mind severely. And I noticed the mother wasn’t aware of how she was influencing her daughter’s life whether directly or indirectly. 

I am not saying, the ladies who have been killed by their boyfriends were dating their men for money. Rather, I am stating that if a mother teaches her daughter to get a man for money, this may increase a woman’s vulnerability to all forms of violence.

In south Africa a woman is murdered every four hours, half of whom die at the hands of their intimate partners.

Meanwhile, the health survey carried out by Stats SA reveals that 21% of women over 18 in South Africa – or one in five women – have experienced violence by their partner. For 17% of young women, between 18 and 24 years old, partner violence is something they’ve experienced in the previous 12 months.

And further states, women between the ages of 14 and 29 accounted for about 39% of femicides, and African women accounted for about 78% of these. Almost 61% of femicides took place at the women’s homes.

These statistics are terrifying; I believe we cannot afford to entertain such “gold-digger” mentality as it has serious repercussions for young women.

Mothers need to be mindful when offering guidance and advise when it comes to women and relationships. So, I urge mothers to please groom young women who are independent, self-sufficient and confident.

Siwaphiwe Myataza, a Political Science graduate from the University of the Western Cape. Currently, a content producer at the Media and Writers Firm.