(A Journey of a Leap of Faith)
Remember a world where African-Americans were depicted with ape like characteristic in cartoons and everyone laughed and it was OK because, after all, it’s a joke and it’s funny and African Americans didn’t really mind/matter? I know I remember a world where “f*g” and “retard!” were thrown around on the playground without a second thought for the depth and scope of those words and the power they held.
As they say “the pen (word) is mightier than the sword”.
We now live in a world where the word “pimp(ed)” is used to as a positive ‘hip’ reference (Urban Dictionary defines ‘pimp’ as follows: 1. N – a man who buys and sells prostitutes. 2. N – Someone who is cool or has swag. 3. Adj – Meaning “awesome”) where Lady Gaga (who I do admire and has established an astonishing platform for gay rights and for the underdog) uses the term “I ‘hooker’ for pop” without thinking about what and who a ‘hooker’ really is.
This post has been germinating in my mind and heart for a while. Given the recent New York Post ignorant and tactless cover and E!’s Fashion segment “Starlet or Streetwalker” segment and as the protests in response to it eloquently vocalized so many of the thoughts I was having, I’d like to clarify/explain/drive home exactly what a pimp is:
A pimp is a rapist; a horrendous and persistent emotional, psychological and physical abuser, a drug addition enabler, a current day slave owner. A stealer of daughters, sisters, friends and of lives. And should the “trick” deserve it, a pimp is also a murderer (I could post a link here to examples of this but, frankly, scrolling the multitude stories made me want to cry. Feel free to research at your own risk).
“Pimps often do not offer protection, and they are not benevolent managers. These images of a pimp are often romanticized and glamorized and are far from the actual reality of how pimps behave. Instead, pimps usually take all of the money and typically establish nightly monetary quotas that women and children are forced to earn in order to avoid violent repercussions. Pimps even “brand” those under their control with tattoos of their name to demonstrate ownership”. (Polaris Project)
A pimp or pimping or any such version of the word has nothing to do with positivity. Or helping someone.
Hooker/Prostitute/Streetwalker/Ho/Whore/Bitch: The list of demoralizing and dehumanizing names for women who are caught in “the life” goes on and on (if I have missed any, I am sure the majority of rap songs out there can bring you up to speed). “These women [are] poor women, desperate women, drug-addicted women, women under the control of a pimp, women who are victims of violence and exploitation” (Rachel Lloyd of GEMS) are dismissed as less than human by those who pimp them, those who buy them and use their bodies as their own personal entertainment center and by the majority of society.
A few Statistics:
Today 2.5 million women and children are sexually enslaved. (End Trafficking)
According to one study, 65% of female sex workers sustain serious physical internal injuries, 24% experience head injuries , and 12% report broken bones. (US Department of State Report 2005).
Sex trafficking victims are forced into pornography, prostitution, stripping, live-sex shows/sex tourism. (End Trafficking)
Investigators and researchers estimate the avg. predator in US can make more than $200K/year off one young girl. (End Trafficking)
600,000 – 800,000 people are bought and sold across international borders each year; 50% are children, most are female. 50,000+ are trafficked into the USA. (SCTNow)
The estimated life span of someone from the beginning of sexual exploitation is 7 years. (Coalition Against Human Trafficking).
Female sex trafficking victims experience a significantly higher rate of STD’s, risk of contracting HIV is increased tenfold, tuberculosis and permanent damage to their reproductive systems. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
68% of female sex trafficking victims meet the clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Prostituted women have long been considered “fair game” for… gang-rape, “kinky” sex, robbery, and beatings. (Criminal Practice Law Report, Dr. Phyllis Chesler)
A pimp is someone who creates and perpetuates all of the above statistics.
I know those who have used the word ‘pimp’ in a jocular way in no way support sexual exploitation. I used to throw that word around myself. But whether the intention is pure, the word and what it represents is not. Exposure to something normalizes it. Normalization of it minimizes it. And in a country who turned a blind eye to human trafficking until it’s become a pandemic, we cannot run the risk of normalizing anything that has to do sexual exploitation.