Dear America’s Influencers,
We have fourteen year old boys telling their friends they want to be a Pimp when they grow up. We have teenagers all across the country watching Snopp Dogg discuss his life as a Pimp, or listening to 50 Cents P.I.M.P on replay, or watching pimps be romanticized in movies, comedies, and TV shows. We have college aged students going to ‘pimp and hoe’ parties. We have normalized the act of pimping, and in turn we have created a positive term for a criminal act.
We have created a society where it's OK — cool even — to use the word pimp in this way. We have a habit of glorifying pimps; creating the notion that it’s socially acceptable to prey and recruit some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in our country.
Here's the thing though-- This language trend is extremely dangerous. It perpetuates stereotypes that are harmful. Pimps target the vulnerable. They use force, fraud, and/or coercion to exploit others. They sell them on the streets, take their money, and sometimes physically abuse them, all the while making them believe that this act is out of care and love. At the bottom line, pimps are glamorized when they should be criminalized. Pimps are often human traffickers, and exploitation is at the core of what they do.
A few years ago, when a pimp was arrested for running a prostitution and heroin ring out of his Long Island home, officers found a hand-written rulebook that he wrote on how to pimp, titled “Rulez 2 Da Game of Hoez”
Among them, are:
- "Make sure you own there mind’s, body’s, and souls."
- "Always make them need and depend on you so you have power over them. (Power is control.)
- "No matter how much you like or care for 1 or any of them, don’t trust none of them."
- "Make them understand that you don’t need them they need you, and they are replaceable."
- "Always try 2 know whatz going on (make them tell on each other)."
Similar to this handwritten account, there are books on Amazon that will teach readers how to successfully recruit and then exploit women- ways to manipulate women, techniques on how to keep women under their control, and examples of power dynamics played out. This should disturb you. This should anger you. But, arguably just as disturbing, are the hundreds of legitimate books written by well-intentioned writers on topics other than exploitation on how to “pimp out” other areas of your life. There are books on how to Pimp your LinkedIn Profile, how to Pimp Your Finances, and even how to Pimp your Written ability.
Pimps are not funny, or cool, or entertaining. Pimps are human traffickers. Pimps should not be glorified; their stories should not be entertaining, and we shouldn’t be creating a positive term out of a criminal act. These are people who sell other human beings. They use emotional and psychological manipulation, physical abuse on their victims, most of them being women and girls. This is happening every single day. And to me, that isn’t the least bit cool.
I ask that you, whoever you are - a songwriter, a rapper, a professional athlete, an author, a company selling chain food, a TV network,- I ask that all of you, to please stop glorifying pimp culture. Please re-consider using “Pimp your _____” as a way to draw consumers to your product. Please re-consider objectifying women and promoting the recruitment and selling of people in your song lyrics. Please – seriously, please—re-consider selling “Pimp costumes” for children to wear at Halloween.
I’m relying on you all to help – those of you who young boys and young men look up to; those of you who write songs, or act in movies, or write books. I’m relying on you all to help change our harmful social norms. You are America's influencer's- and you have the power to shift the dialogue.