This week, I was given a compliment on how I dress at work. Someone said I looked like a “pimp”. I was at work. It took all my energy not to back-hand smack him like a pimp.
I like to dress just a LITTLE bit better for work, even though most people take the idea of “business casual” more to the “casual” side. I definitely stuck out in the sea of khakis and New Balance sneakers-donning code monkeys. Let me tell you: I had no idea there were so many varieties of shirts of wolves baying at the moon. Usually, the only people who wear ties at work are the senior managers and me. The first few months of work, I would even occasionally wear a three-piece suit, to look professional in a major engineering firm. i looked like a fat model for Joseph A. Bank or Men’s Wearhouse. People liked the way I looked. I guarantee it. Unfortunately, the only way their pleasure about my aesthetic fashion choice was to not to say I look like I’m dressed for success, but that I’m dressed like a sex trafficker. Thanks.
It kind of reminds me of the “life hack” meme. Why is it when a white dude does something ridiculously cheap, it’s a “life hack”. When I do it, though, it’s “ghetto”.
“You don’t need a plate for Chinese takeout! just take off the wire handle and spread out the box!”
“Use soda can tabs to hang more clothes in your closet!”
“Who needs a Bluetooth when you can just staple your phone to your ear?”
“Save on body lotion by using your own tears to lube when mastrubating!”
When Trevor* suggests them, #LifeHack. When Antron suggests them, #Ghetto. The truth is that they’re both cheap lazy bastards who don’t feel like washing dishes or running to the store.
Anyway, the idea of the word “pimp” as a compliment for a well dressed man is not new. I am not sure when it came about in mainstream vernacular. I would like to blame Katt Williams, but that is only because i want Katt Williams to shut the f*** up and just sit on the money he’s already earned perpetuating stereotypes and leave us all alone. There are plenty of songs about “pimpin’”. Too $hort made a career of singing about it. All my roommates had movie nights when we watched old gems like The Mack and Pimps Up Ho’s Down, all while listening to Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’”, both LP and video versions. It’s a very innocuous term, and I admit to being oblivious to its impact when I was younger. However, it needs some examining.
One problem I have with this term is the term itself. A pimp, as an occupation, is an agent for sex traffic. Various common requirements of the job are abducting girls as young as 12, beating the tar out of them if they don’t make their quota, keeping them hooked on any number and combination of drugs and alcohol to keep them docile and dependent, and the most important thing: forcing them to have sex with a variety of different partners who may or may not very high regard for hygiene or sense of their humanity, day in and day out. If one woman runs away or dies, there is no severance package or life insurance. A pimp just needs to find himself another person. It’s somewhat of a Kleenex-based economy: once one is used up, just pull up another one. Except make sure you mind-f*** the Kleenex so that she won’t run away. How is saying that someone looks like a person who would do such things supposed to be a good thing? How am I supposed to take that as a compliment? Hopefully this doesn't come off as a sex-negative rant. If there were a way for the prostitution industry to flourish where all parties were truly consenting and respectful ADULTS, and pimps were actually nothing more than agents who took 5% or something for promoting, then I wouldn't really care so much. The truth, though, is that there are hundreds of thousands of women, children, and even men kidnapped and forced into the industry. That is just in the USA. Pimps perpetuate this, so f***them.
Another problem I have with the term as a “compliment” is that is is disproportionately used to describe well dressed brown men and well dressed men who like to emulate certain brown men’s perceived subcultures. White men are dressed for success when they dress up nicely. I don’t think I ever hear, “Hey Trevor*, nice suit! You look like you’re about to go gorilla on some b****es and replenish your stable!” I hear, “Wow, Trevor*, nice suit! You look like you’re about to take on the world!” Black men who dress like Trevor*, however, are dressed like they are about to exploit women sexually for money. They could be wearing exactly the same suit. So Trevor* is about to be a captain of industry, but I'm about to establish an exploitative human trafficking trade. No. Just...no.
I know that one rant from someone with maybe 20 followers on Twitter is not going to change all society when it comes to complimenting people. I do know that I can tell you all to warn your friends that should anyone say I look good and I look “pimpin’”, one day my less reasonable side will take over my motor functions, and I might slam them into a wall and take 80% of whatever money they have in their pockets and scream, “HOW’S THAT FOR PIMPIN’, MOTHERF***ER?!” I think it’s only fair.
Too $hort sucks, anyway.
*No Trevors were harmed in the making of this article. I only know one Trevor anyway. I'm pretty sure he's doing fine...I should call Trevor...