Archive for May 26th, 2011

Oh, I know they exist.  Ok well I’m pretty sure they exist.  I’ve never seen or met one that I know of.  I’ve seen videos on YouTube and JohnTV.  I’ve read newspaper accounts of them and heard the horror stories from women who have been controlled by pimps.  So I’m pretty sure they are out there.  Kinda like the Chupacabra.  –  Brandy Devereaux

For international readers who maybe unfamiliar with the American legend, the chupacabra (from the Spanish for “goat sucker”) is a cryptid (a legendary animal like the yeti or Loch Ness monster) said to live in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the American Southwest.  The legend is of relatively recent vintage (March 1995) but spread quickly through Hispanic communities; reports describe the animal as being canine, rat-like and hairless, and its name derives from its habit of drinking the blood of livestock (especially goats).  Though the critter has attained a considerable reputation, its reality is both smaller and far more pragmatic:  every carcass brought in to scientists as that of a chupacabra has been identified as that of a coyote, mutant coyote or hybrid coyote with an advanced case of sarcoptic mange.  Yet the legend persists, because it’s more exciting to believe in a fantastic monster than a rather mundane reality.

The exciting myth

This is, as Brandy so astutely observed, exactly the mechanism involved in the legend of the pimp.  Like the mythical chupacabra, the storied pimp is a common and powerful bloodsucking monster who can be found nearly everywhere, leaves a trail of exsanguinated victims and evades every attempt to stop him.  But in reality, he is either a fairly rare (morally) diseased individual or else a rather normal and mundane creature misidentified as a monster by those who love a good tall tale.  I’ve written before about this syndrome; the short version is, “When an outsider looks at a whore’s life, he tends to interpret every non-customer male who has any kind of relationship with her as a ‘pimp’, because of course everybody knows that all whores have pimps.”  I’ve estimated the prevalence of all prostitutes encumbered with the stereotypical abusive, controlling pimp (of which prohibitionists are so fond) at 1.5%.  That’s roughly the same as the percentage of women who report that their husbands or boyfriends are “extremely violent” (1.2%) and not-dissimilar to the percentage who say he is “extremely controlling” (2.3%); in other words, pros have roughly the same rate of abuse by their pimps as amateurs have with the men in their lives, yet I don’t see politicians hurrying to outlaw marriage and heterosexual relationships because of it.  And lest you think my figures are too low, I advise you to consider the recent study discussed in my column of April 29th which found that only 8% of underage prostitutes in New York City had been forced into prostitution by a “pimp,” only 10% currently worked with one and only 16% had ever even met one.  Considering that I think we can all agree that underage girls are probably more vulnerable to abuse and manipulation than adult women are, and that these figures represent ALL pimps of underage prostitutes rather than just abusive, controlling ones, it may be that my 1.5% figure (derived as it was from a base estimate of 10% of all streetwalkers controlled by pimps) was actually too high!

But those are statistics for advanced, Western countries; surely it’s higher in the so-called “third world”, right?  Well, no.  Brandy discussed this in her column of May 19th:

…I’m not talking about a manager who helps hookers out with security (like a bodyguard) or with helping her find clients and ensuring that they aren’t cops.  When I say pimp I’m talking about the typical stereotype – violent, knocks women over the head cuz honey didn’t make him any money, supplies drugs, forces them on the street – you know, like in the movies and those 70′s tv shows.  The Farleys want you to believe that every hooker MUST have a pimp that they allow to find men to rape them.  No woman in her right mind would choose sex work.  No man that works with or for a hooker has any other motive except to beat the snot out of the woman and steal all her money.  They push this ‘research’ they have done into most news stories and papers and arguments against prostitution.  It’s ALL trafficking, we are all VICTIMS, and someone must be controlling us by force/coercion…Why then are women around the world, yes even third world countries where we all KNOW it’s all about minors and forced prostitution, standing up for their rights as prostitutes (sans any “pimp”)?

The mundane reality

She follows this up with numerous links backing up her point, which is the same as mine:  actual pimps (as opposed to husbands, boyfriends, managers, escort service owners, bodyguards, drivers and male friends who are accused by “authorities” of being pimps) are actually pretty rare all over the world.  There are indeed chupacabras, and they do pose a danger to livestock.  But they’re not 70-kg monsters who occur in vast numbers and mercilessly decimate herds while evading all attempts at capture; a few are underfed, mangy coyotes which prey on the weak, and the rest are simply normal coyotes, wolves, dogs, foxes and other creatures which are mistaken for chupacabras by hysterical monster-hunters.

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