John Davies (Tanya@tesco.net)
Tue, 6 Oct 1998 13:27:11 +0100
I have arrived late to the discussion regarding the exchange about pimps, however I believe that the exchange shows the inadequacies of the language used in the sex work discourse.
I have been greatly concerned that we are unable to effectively distinguish between various managerial participants in sex work and specifically we are unable to separate the individuals involved as beneficial, benign, or abusive to other participants in sex work.
I have met sex work managers who were very exploitative and abusive, I have met others who have been very supportive and generous. I don't think pimp would be a good description of either, even if it is used to self-identitfy. I worked for several years before and while at University in catering and I met similar sorts of managers there.
I believe that sex work's exclusion from basic labour law protection allows abusive managers to continue in their abuse and to engage in more brutal exploitation than if labour law was applicable. These abuses should be acknowleged and then confronted, however I find the appellant Pimp not very useful when trying to address the issue.
I don't think Pimp is a good description when it can apply to someone's partner, mother, manager, agent, etc.. It makes any discourse strain under the burden of its opprobrium and as such can easily prevent effective discourse.
I believe that Cheryl Overs has supplied us with an excellent generic title with the word "influencers" , and I believe manager or agent would also suffice as both allow for qualification by such prefixs as abusive, exploitative, or excellent.
I believe Pimp lends itself too easily to rhetoric, and by allowing offence to be genuinely taken or imagined it appears to be a hinderance to the debate. I realise that there is a move within North America and parts of Europe to reclaim the use of such words as prostitute, whore and pimp, but I find such reclaimation to be a minefield when applied unevenly to a wider audience that extends beyond the reclaimers.
In conclusion, I do not believe that Pimp is a very useful word in the debate around abuse in the sex work environment and I would encourage everyone to consider alternatives.
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