Especially for Parents

News and Commentary by Sharon Secor September 2004

Big Pimpin’ For The Shorties

It’s probably not surprising, in a cultural climate in which porn inspired phrases as “the money shot” or drug-dealer slang as “re-up” have come to be used so commonly that they regularly show up in newspapers, to find the concept of the pimp becoming normalized, even venerated as a pop icon. But pimps for kids? That should more than surprise us. It should anger us.

Pimp and ‘ho” Halloween costumes for children, sold online by Brands On Sale, a company out of California, recently made national news. In addition to being available online, according to a article of August 28, 2004, some of the shopping mall chain stores are also carrying such items. Matching adult and child pimp suits are being sold at some Spencer Gifts. The costumes have sparked outrage throughout the country. This, however, is merely one of the most recent and more blatant examples of pimp culture for kids.

Pimp Juice, a noncarbonated energy drink that we can thank the rapper Nelly for, made more than one million sales in less than four months, according to a January 28, 2004, report on Where is the outrage?

While there was a bit of protest when the beverage began to move from concept to product, it evidently faded fast. On July 12, 2004, reported that Pimp Juice would move beyond its 60 distributors in 32 states and 81 markets to achieve full national distribution, as well as distribution to a variety of other countries, including Mexico, Japan, China, and Israel by fall of this year. 

Nelly says his product is for people from “ages 50 right down to 9”, though it seems difficult to imagine any mature adult stopping by the local beverage center to pick up a case of Pimp Juice. It is not at all hard to imagine, however, with the huge youth audience for hip-hop and rap music, teens and even preteens picking up a case.

Since 1992, Original Pimpgear has been selling clothes. In addition to their original line, they also sell Pimp, Pimpgirl and Big Pimp brands. Naturally, these are urban and hip-hop inspired designs. And, who are they popular with? Presumably, it’s not typically grown ups running around with the word ‘pimp’ scrawled across their chest.

The list goes on and on. Who watches MTV’s Pimp My Ride? Who plays urban set pimp video games?, a “free web browser based game,” combines—to use the new vernacular—pimped out, “hippity hoppity” low-rider prize cars (what today’s fashionable gangster-pimp drives) and a ghettoized setting in which a participant plays at being a “ruthless pimp” and tries to “master the art of pimping” what are referred to as “hoes.” 

In another free computer game, Pimp’s Quest, the player tries to “avoid getting shot” and “pimp out” the town. The only female character is described as follows: “Yolanda first got into stripping as a toddler. From there, she graduated to mutual masturbation at 12, outright whoring a 18, and at 21 holds the record for most guys at one time.” Supposed to be funny, I guess. This game comes with a companion craps game.

This pimpin’ is fun, pimpin’ is cool mentality comes directly from hip-hop culture, one of the most popular music genres among today’s youth. Many of the top rappers embrace the persona of the pimp, in addition to that of the pornographer, gangster, drug dealer, street thug and ex-con.

Yet, hip-hop is no longer confined to popular youth culture. Despite the fact that hip-hop royalty is made up of people who, according to public record, have been convicted of or are currently charged with murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, perjury, robbery and drug trafficking—as well as of pornographers and self-admitted pimps—we even see them welcomed into our schools.

The poetry of Tupac Shakur, “the drug-dealing, baseball bat-wielding, cop-hating, Black Panthers-worshiping, convicted sexual abuser who made a fortune extolling the “thug life” before he was gunned down in Las Vegas eight years ago,” as described by Michelle Malkin in a June 30, 2004, column, was on this year’s summer reading list for public school children in Worcester, Massachusetts. According to Worcester public school officials, it will be indefinitely, as it’s “popular with the kids.” In Palm Beach, Florida, school board member Debra Robinson hopes to see Shakur’s work in their public school classrooms, as well.

The bottom line, however, is the parents. Even rapper Nelly doesn’t want his ‘shorties’—a 10-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son—watching some of his music videos, according to a September 11, 2004 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. Yet, throughout the nation, parents finance and permit their children’s immersion in a poisonous culture. They buy the clothes, the music, keep the cable television, and don’t insist upon sanity in education. Why is there so little outrage?

“I know some people will make a big deal about it,” said one mother who purchased pimp costumes for her 10-year-old and 11-year-old sons, according to an August 29, 2004, New York Post article. “But come on, it’s Halloween. Let’s not take things too seriously. One son makes straight A’s, the other A’s and B’s. They’re good children who wanna get a laugh.” 

This parent, then, along with the many others who bought such costumes for their children—sizes began at 4, with infant’s sizes promised for next year—sees nothing wrong with kids playing at pimping. Finds it to be funny, in fact, a joke, something to be laughed at.

The teen girls pimped, forced into prostitution, probably aren’t laughing. On August 24, The New York Post reported on one of countless similar stories throughout the nation. A Long Island man is facing “charges that include kidnapping, promoting prostitution, assault, rape and performing a criminal sexual act” for his role in forcing girls who were 13 and 14 years of age at the beginning of their three year ordeal into prostitution. It is alleged that the man had his name tattooed on the older girl, marking his property, and it is also alleged that he—taking his pimping seriously—demanded that she perform $500 dollars worth of sex acts per night, beating her if she failed.

In a New York Times article published on September 15, 2004, Leslie Kaufman writes of the fate of a 12-year-old prostitute in juvenile court, who’d already been released once before on a prostitution charge when the pimp paid the fine. Citing the research of Margaret Loftus, doing work for the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York, Kaufman points out that the new child prostitutes, in addition to those victimized by international trafficking, “seem to be coming from neighbourhoods where they have been recruited by expanding numbers of gangs.” Kaufman also reports that Loftus has found that “the pimps themselves are getting younger, drawn to some degree by the life sometimes glorified in rap culture.”

The child-sized pimp and ho costumes are indeed vulgar. But, the real outrage is that we have accepted, even welcomed, the cultural movements that have brought them into being. We permit pimps and thugs to be a part of our children’s formative years and public school experience. We’ve allowed ourselves—and our children—to be tricked out by pimp culture.

Source:ObscenityCrimes.orgSeptember 2004

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