Statue of a young 19th-century prostitute with her pimp
A pimp is an agent (usually male) for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. This act is called procuring or pandering. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing, and possibly monopolizing, a location where he or she (i.e. the prostitute) may engage clients. A woman who runs a brothel is known as a madam rather than a pimp.
Like prostitution, the legality of certain actions of a madam or a pimp vary from one region to the next. Pimps may punish johns for physical abuse or failure to pay, advertise services to potential clients without alerting police, and enforce exclusive rights to 'turf' where their prostitutes may advertise and operate with less competition. In the many places where prostitution is outlawed, sex workers have decreased incentive to report abuse for fear of self-incrimination, and increased motivation to seek any physical protection from clients and law enforcement that a pimp might provide.
The pimp-prostitute relationship can be abusive and possessive, with the pimp/madam using techniques such as psychological intimidation, manipulation, starvation, rape and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use and the shame from these acts. Pimps can be arrested and charged with pandering and are legally known as procurers.
In 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all countries remove bans on prostitution and homosexual sex, because "such laws constitute major barriers to reaching key populations with HIV services". In 2012, the UN AIDS commission convened by Ban Ki-moon and backed by UNDP and UNAIDS reached the same conclusions, also recommending decriminalization of brothels and procuring.
The word pimp first appeared in English in 1607 in a Thomas Middleton play entitled Your Five Gallants. It is believed to have stemmed from the French infinitive pimper meaning to dress up elegantly and from the present participle pimpant meaning alluring in dress seductive. Pimp used as a verb, meaning to act as a pimp, first appeared in 1636 in Massinger's book, The Bashful Lover. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term was commonly used to refer to informers. A pimp can also mean "a despicable person". The term can also be applied to a person who is considered a ladies' man.
The verb "pimping" came up in the early 17th century. Rapper Nelly tried to redefine the word "pimp" by saying that it is an acronym for "positive, intellectual, motivated person." He created a college scholarship with the name "P.I.M.P. Juice Scholarship". Dawn Turner Trice of the Chicago Tribune argues that there is "something truly unsettling, to say the least, about attaching such a vile word to a scholarship" and expresses concern about the glamorization of the term.
In the first years of the 21st century, a new meaning of the word has emerged in the form of a transitive verb pimp, which means "to decorate" or "to gussy up" (compare primp, especially in Scottish usage). This new definition was made popular by Pimp My Ride, an MTV television show. Although this new definition paid homage to hip-hop culture and its connection to street culture, it has now entered common, even mainstream commercial, use.
In medical contexts, the verb means "to ask (a student) a question for the purpose of testing his knowledge". In the US military, the verb can be used to express a superior reminding a subordinate of a task that the subordinate forgot to accomplish.
Business of pimping
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Pimping is sometimes operated like a business. The pimp may have a bottom girl who serves as office manager, keeping the pimp apprised of law-enforcement activity and collecting money from the prostitutes. Pimps recognize a hierarchy among themselves. The least respected, or newer pimps, are the "popcorn pimps" and "wannabes". A pimp who uses violence and intimidation to control his prostitutes is called a "Jonas pimp", while those who use psychological trickery to deceive younger prostitutes into becoming hooked into the system are called "finesse pimps". An important part of the business is obtaining and maintaining a selection of prostitutes. Losing one's prostitute to another pimp is known as being "peeled". Informing a pimp that one of his prostitutes has switched pimps is a professional courtesy, and any attempt to respond to this courtesy with violence will quickly get the violent pimp labeled a "Gorilla" or "Godzilla". Prostitutes who move between pimps often are labeled as a "Choosey Susie". In addition, a prostitute may "bounce" from pimp to pimp without paying the "pimp moving" tax.
A large percentage of pimps in the United States are also documented gang members, which causes concerns for police agencies in jurisdictions where prostitution is a significant problem. Pimping rivals narcotic sales as a major source of funding for many gangs, this is particularly true with African American gangs. Gangs need money to survive, and money equates to power and respect. While selling drugs may be lucrative for a gang, this activity often carries significant risk as stiff legal penalties and harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws exist. However, with pimping, gang members still make money while the prostitutes themselves bear the majority of the risk. Pimping has several benefits to the gang that the pimp belongs to. These benefits include it helps the gang recruit new members because the gang has women available for sex and the money brought in by prostitution allows gang members to buy cars, clothes and weapons, all of which help to recruit younger members into the gang by increasing the reputation of the gang in the local gang subculture. The presence of gangs (and weapons and drugs) is a virtual guarantee when prostitutes are present, which is why many law enforcement agencies advocate taking an aggressive stance against prostitutes. Many vice units work to ascertain if the prostitute they have arrested has a pimp, and if so they pressure them to provide information about their pimp and the gang involved. This information can then be used to go after the more serious and violent offenders.
The pimp business has an internal structure – built around violence – for dealing with rule breakers. For example, pimps have been known to employ a "pimp stick", which is two coat hangers wrapped together, in order to subdue unruly prostitutes. A variation is a "pimp cane", used for similar purposes. Another punishment for disobedient prostitutes is to "trunk" them, where the pimp locks the prostitute in the trunk of a car. Although prostitutes are supposedly free to move between pimps, this movement sometimes leads to violence. For example, a prostitute could be punished for merely looking at another pimp; this is considered "reckless eyeballing". Violence is also used on customers, for example if the customer attempts to evade payment or becomes unruly with a prostitute.
Use of tattoos
Many pimps tattoo prostitutes as a mark of "ownership". The tattoo will often be the pimp's street or even his likeness. The mark might be as discreet as ankle tattoo, or blatant as a neck tattoo, or large scale font across the prostitute's lower back, thigh, chest, or buttocks.
Since the Internet became widely available, it has become the preferred medium for prostitution. Prostitutes increasingly use websites to solicit sexual encounters. In turn, pimps have used these sites to broker their women.
The use of the Internet for prostitution as well as other changes in the sex industry have resulted in the disintermediation of prostitution, allowing prostitutes to deal with clients directly. This has rendered pimps largely superfluous, at least in the United States. In 2011, Wired reported that of 11 pimps working out of New York's midtown Manhattan in 1999, all were out of work within four years.
Loverboy is slang for young men (boys) who lure underage girls into prostitution. It is a significant problem in many countries including the Netherlands and it is estimated there are 1,500 victims a year. One of the factors is that immigrant groups of boys leverage their sexual sophistication over the native Protestant Christian population. Even though loverboys use kidnapping, gang rape and other coercive and intimidating techniques on their victims, politician Jamila Yahyaoui notes as of 2009[update] only 5 cases led to convictions. Because of the young age, fear and emotional dependence of the girls and the vagueness of what exactly happened, many times loverboys and their associates can only be charged with having sex with a minor and get short sentences. The socialist party ROOD wants police to remove obstacles to girls reporting abuse and not to lose contact, while some municipalities are educating front line workers to identify victims better.
- American Pimp, a 1999 documentary by the Hughes Brothers consisting of first person interviews with people involved in the pimping lifestyle in the U.S.
- Pimp tenure, a form of feudal land tenure
- Procuring (prostitution)
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- U.S. DOJ guide to street prostitution
- Pimp Anthropology, radio show from This American Life featuring an interview with a former pimp.
- Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell, From Victims to Victimizers: Interviews with 25 Ex-Pimps in Chicago, The Family Law Center Report, September 2010