Monday, April 2, 2007
I don't know about pimps.
I wanted to write a blog about how the recent usage of the word "pimp" as a verb meaning "to render fancy or flashy" (made popular by MTV's Pimp My Ride, I think) has been getting on my nerves lately. I understood the word to mean "a man who manages prostitutes, and profits from their earnings." Without really thinking about it, I have always regarded such men to be parasites or predators who exploit women. Maybe it's a bias I've picked up from T.V. and movies in which pimps beat up women who don't have their money--I actually don't know any pimps personally. I wanted to say that if prostitution were legalized and regulated, pimps would quickly become obselete, and the exploitative relationships would dwindle or disappear. But then I thought that maybe prostitutes would just end up paying income tax instead of paying a pimp, and that surely there must be situations where a pimp's "protection" comes in handy, like when your trick decides he wants to make a lampshade out of your skin, or maybe just to slap you around and get his money back. So I guess it's really hard to say.
Back to the original point: According to the dubious American Heritage Dictionary, the origin of the word pimp is unknown. The OED, via Wikipedia, suggests that it may be related to the 16th century French pimper, which meant "to dress elegantly."
Gah! Not only am I unable to claim that pimps are bad without taking refuge in a chickenshit smokescreen of equivocation, but the gods of etymology have seen fit to rub salt in my wounds by giving MTV's obnoxious use of the word a stronger pedigree than "traditional" meaning of one who procures customers for prositutes.
This makes a good argument for the necessity of thinking things through and even doing a little research before launching into a tirade fueled by self-righteous moral outrage. I post this a humbler man. Sorry, pimps.