*The existence of pimps is a function of the patriarchal society setup by Judeo-Christian values.
According to the documentary “American Pimp,” the men engaged in this trade agree that a female sex worker who solicits men in public spaces needs a man to watch over her or she’ll be a victim of violent crimes. This belief is a 20th century application of the idea that women should not be in the public sphere unescorted which has its roots in the Old Testament.
The history in the Bible mostly gives the accounts of great men. When women appear in the narrative they are married or soon to be married (good), or not looking to be married (bad). Even in the New Testament Jesus becomes the suitor for any women who are unattached thereby setting up the understanding that anyone who does not accept Jesus is automatically bad. Throughout history in Western civilization good women have always been assumed to be attached to a man – their father, their husband, or Jesus (nuns).
Pimps use this paradigm of women in public to convince prostitutes that they need to be attached to a man to retain any hope of “goodness.” Psychologically it works because women, like all humans, have a desire to be accepted into the group. In terms of practicality the idea of a pimp works because there is real danger for women engaged in illegal activities in public. Should prostitutes be victimized they have few legal means of restitution because they themselves are breaking the law. A pimp becomes their knight in shining armor.
One key component in this equation is the legal status of prostitution and as that continues to evolve the necessity for pimps decreases. As sex and sex work becomes more legitimized, through dominatrix, escorts, and the prevalence of digital pornography, the prohibition of prostitution will eventually become a thing of the past. Prostitutes will be able to seek law enforcement remedies to crimes perpetrated upon them. In addition the normalization of women in public spaces without men will make the prostitute-pimp relationship further unnecessary.
By any account pimps bring very little of value to their relationships with prostitutes. Soon enough they will become obsolete.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.