Re: Influencers

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Victoria Marinelli (vmarinelli@hotmail.com)
Wed, 07 Oct 1998 18:08:51 PDT


John Davies writes:

"...I have met sex work managers who were very exploitative and abusive,
I have met others who have been very supportive and generous. "
 
VM replies: Pimps are generally on their best behavior for those to whom
they most need to appeal, or at the very least, appear benign. Unless
Mr. Davies has personally been "managed" by such a "sex work manager",
I'm afraid the assessment is not all that credible.

JD: "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."

VM: I agree that labor laws could have helpful applications in some
situations, much as Band-Aids are nice to have on hand when someone has
a boo-boo. A few years back, some strippers at Deja Vu in Minneapolis,
who had to put up with thoroughly abusive working conditions, were able
to use labor laws in order to win a judgement against the management,
and I'm very glad they had access to that strategy. I also agree
wholeheartedly with Carol Leigh that the criminalization of prostitutes
is a form of state abuse. Unfortunately neither decriminalization nor
labor laws satisfactorily address the harms inflicted by systematized
sexual abuse, aka prostitution.

JD: "I don't think Pimp is a good description when it can apply to
someone's partner, mother, manager, agent, etc.."

VM: I understand Mr. Davies' concern on account of the fact that my
partner was erronously believed by some persons in my life to be pimping
me, which she was not. We were both on the street, and we were both
prostituted. On the other hand, bonafide pimps truly count on, and
appreciate the fact that they can pass their exploitation off as a
benign relationship: "partner, mother, manager, agent, etc." Some of
the most exploitative pimps are the ones who ARE family members, etc. --
and because they do not fit a stereotype (because they are women and/or
white, and/or are related by marriage or blood to the prostituted woman
or child) they are not seen as suspect. If anything, I think we ought
to be more suspicious of those situations, not less suspicious.
Remember, I am saying this as someone who was on the receiving end of
INAPPROPRIATE suspicion of just this kind.

JD: "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... 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."

VM: I think you could substitute the phrase "sex work manager" for
"pimp" in this sentence and the statement would be just as credible, if
not more so. A person who lives off the earnings of someone else's
prostitution is a pimp. This isn't a big, bad, scary postmodern piece
of flippant jargon, this is your basic dictionary stuff. Pimps have
been mythologized and glorified by pimps and the result is some general
discomfort with the term. Black pimps have been vilified by whites who
don't want to think about the fact that they are counting on pimps of
all varieties to provide the sexual access which they require of a
certain caste of women and youth. Black pimps are also vilified by white
pimps who are very happy to see such inordinate attention placed on the
former group, since this effectively disguises the fact that the white
pimps are making a hell of a lot more money through operations which are
highly organized, operating with the co-operation of other whites who
are established in law enforcement, government, and corporations. In
the process, "Black Pimp" for many has come to be synonymous with
"Pimp". In my experience, THIS is the reason behind the discomfort that
many people feel about using the word "pimp" -- they are aware of the
inherently racist connotations the word can carry, even though those
connotations are based on lies and distortions. A pimp is a pimp. "Sex
work manager" is a postmodern rhetorical invention/ distortion.

-- Victoria Marinelli

______________________________________________________
Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
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Dear all,

Personally for me the word 'pimp' is one which I would only use in a
humorous context. For example, joking with a friend that he or she were
my 'pimp' for taking a phone call or refering a customer. I think it is
quite legitimate to poke fun at people's preconceptions about the
industry.

The term pimp has no other useful meaning for me. When speaking about
unethical business owners and managers in *any* industry I would simply
call them "unethical business owners and managers" and then describe
exactly why. Otherwise the statement has no meaning. Similarly with the
sex industry in any country-if I refered to a manager or agent as a
'pimp' what would that mean? It could mean that the manager simply
facilitates transactions (because all prostitution is 'violence against
women'), it could mean that the manager forced workers to do something
against their will, or took most of their money, or it could mean that
the manager had a personal relationship with a particular worker. Often
the terms pimp is used to describe boyfriends and husbands in
perjorative way. Since it is so hard to unpack the meaning of the word I
would urge everyone to use terms which convey their meaning when
speaking formally. In informal contexts where you do not necessarily
care or need people to interpret what you say, use 'pimp' to your
heart's content.

Erato

Carol Leigh wrote:
>
> >Hello John Davies,
> >
> >This issue has been subject to a long standing, still undecided debate.
> >I'll try to give you some of the results we have come up with.
> >
> >Pimp: we only talk about pimps when it concerns individuals who use force
> >or are violent. In other cases we are talking about partners, sometimes
> >business-partners.
>
> One of the problems that concerns me about the use of the term is that,
> given the problematic aspect of anti-pimping legislation, using the word
> pimp as a negative without mentioning the adverse way the anti-pimping laws
> effect prostitutes tacitly supports the anti-pimping laws. This may be
> more of an issue in more criminalized systems than the Netherlands?
>
From Tanya@tesco.net Thu Oct 8 13:04:18 1998
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From: "John Davies" <Tanya@tesco.net>
To: <stop-traffic@solar.cini.utk.edu>
Subject: Re: Influencers
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998 18:08:46 +0100
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Dear Victoria,

Your dismissal of my assessment of sex work managers as not credible unless
I had been managed by such a manager, was premature and prejudicial. I am
neither naÔve or simplistic in my engagement with such managers. Your
suggestion that I have been duped by such a group appears to be an
illegitimate attempt to discredit my observations, rather than having to
apparently accommodate a part of the debate that doesnít appear to fit with
your own assessment. As a 13-17 year old child of a sex worker I was legally
a pimp, it is possible that while I was 18-19 adult and at University that I
also received income as a legally defined pimp, from my motherís sex work. I
do not believe I abused my mother as a pimp. I do not usually self-identify
as a pimp.

Labour laws have been used to effectively address some of the greatest
social ills that related to exploitation and abuse in every sort of work
place. Slavery like practises in any form should be unacceptable and the
laws that eventually allowed elements of social justice to be afforded to
other abused workers should be extended to sex workers so that they might
also access such redress against abuse. Effective labour law and
organisation is not a Band-Aid, it is also not a panacea, however it does
offer a proven framework that should be available to sex workers.

Prostitution is not always systemised sexual abuse, some prostitution could
be considered systemised sexual abuse, other forms of sex work are not
necessarily abusive. If your view requires all prostitution to be considered
by default to be abusive, we will quickly reach a philosophical impasse.

If pimp was really just a technical term that was widely understood and
applied only as a legal definition I would be happy to use it, but because
it is so contentious I must wonder at the motives of those who insist on
using the word in a way that only appears to add unnecessary fraction to the
debate.

I do not believe that sex work manager carries the same opprobrium or
rhetorical weight as pimp and your suggestion that by substituting SWM for
pimp in part of my original message the same result could be effected does
not convince me.

The North American concern regarding a racist note to the use of pimp is
mirrored in Europe by the myth surrounding ethnic minority SWM. However my
concern has not root in that matter, it is that the basic dictionary use of
pimp is distorted and devalued by other baggage that has been attached to
the word. As such it is not a helpful word when considering the role of
influencers, a pimp is no longer just a pimp for many, many people. Sex work
manager eschews the rhetoric and allows us to address issues with greater
clarity.

Most people on the list call me John so please write to me as John, and you
can be assured that I share your great concern to confront abuse and address
it effectively. If we are unable resolve this issue there should still
remain considerable common ground for us to form effective alliances against
abusers.

Yours truly,

John Davies

-----Original Message-----
From: Victoria Marinelli <vmarinelli@hotmail.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <stop-traffic@solar.cini.utk.edu>
Date: 08 October 1998 16:07
Subject: Re: Influencers

>John Davies writes:
>
>"...I have met sex work managers who were very exploitative and abusive,
>I have met others who have been very supportive and generous. "
>
>VM replies: Pimps are generally on their best behavior for those to whom
>they most need to appeal, or at the very least, appear benign. Unless
>Mr. Davies has personally been "managed" by such a "sex work manager",
>I'm afraid the assessment is not all that credible.
>
>JD: "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."
>
>VM: I agree that labor laws could have helpful applications in some
>situations, much as Band-Aids are nice to have on hand when someone has
>a boo-boo. A few years back, some strippers at Deja Vu in Minneapolis,
>who had to put up with thoroughly abusive working conditions, were able
>to use labor laws in order to win a judgement against the management,
>and I'm very glad they had access to that strategy. I also agree
>wholeheartedly with Carol Leigh that the criminalization of prostitutes
>is a form of state abuse. Unfortunately neither decriminalization nor
>labor laws satisfactorily address the harms inflicted by systematized
>sexual abuse, aka prostitution.
>
>JD: "I don't think Pimp is a good description when it can apply to
>someone's partner, mother, manager, agent, etc.."
>
>VM: I understand Mr. Davies' concern on account of the fact that my
>partner was erronously believed by some persons in my life to be pimping
>me, which she was not. We were both on the street, and we were both
>prostituted. On the other hand, bonafide pimps truly count on, and
>appreciate the fact that they can pass their exploitation off as a
>benign relationship: "partner, mother, manager, agent, etc." Some of
>the most exploitative pimps are the ones who ARE family members, etc. --
>and because they do not fit a stereotype (because they are women and/or
>white, and/or are related by marriage or blood to the prostituted woman
>or child) they are not seen as suspect. If anything, I think we ought
>to be more suspicious of those situations, not less suspicious.
>Remember, I am saying this as someone who was on the receiving end of
>INAPPROPRIATE suspicion of just this kind.
>
>JD: "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... 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."
>
>VM: I think you could substitute the phrase "sex work manager" for
>"pimp" in this sentence and the statement would be just as credible, if
>not more so. A person who lives off the earnings of someone else's
>prostitution is a pimp. This isn't a big, bad, scary postmodern piece
>of flippant jargon, this is your basic dictionary stuff. Pimps have
>been mythologized and glorified by pimps and the result is some general
>discomfort with the term. Black pimps have been vilified by whites who
>don't want to think about the fact that they are counting on pimps of
>all varieties to provide the sexual access which they require of a
>certain caste of women and youth. Black pimps are also vilified by white
>pimps who are very happy to see such inordinate attention placed on the
>former group, since this effectively disguises the fact that the white
>pimps are making a hell of a lot more money through operations which are
>highly organized, operating with the co-operation of other whites who
>are established in law enforcement, government, and corporations. In
>the process, "Black Pimp" for many has come to be synonymous with
>"Pimp". In my experience, THIS is the reason behind the discomfort that
>many people feel about using the word "pimp" -- they are aware of the
>inherently racist connotations the word can carry, even though those
>connotations are based on lies and distortions. A pimp is a pimp. "Sex
>work manager" is a postmodern rhetorical invention/ distortion.
>
>-- Victoria Marinelli
>
>
>______________________________________________________
>Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
>


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