Tuesday, October 5, 2010

small victories

Last week the laws around prostitution in Ontario were changed (perhaps only temporarily). You can read the full details about it here.

Several years ago Sex Professionals of Canada launched a constitutional challenge on laws that made it illegal to "communicate for the purposes of prostitution". The argument being that if sex workers were robbed, assaulted or raped on the job then reporting these crimes was self incriminating.

The courts agreed and felt that the laws were both unconstitutional and added more potential violence and danger into sex worker's lives.

About seven years ago i wrote a song called Pimp Killer for The Endless Blockade; it's the first song on the Come Friendly Bombs ep. As ever at it's heart was a sense of frustration and inability to change things i personally felt were wrong with the world.

I recognise that language is in an almost permanent state of flux and one of the reasons that English is such a strong language is its ability to constantly adapt (obviously discussions on colonialism and language can be skipped here).

I guess my issues with the word pimp came at a time when quite by chance i was involved in several different projects that involved sex workers. I'd delivered several housing workshops to different groups of sex workers and one of the community development projects i was leading involved taking a popular education (Paulo Freire and all that jazz) approach to empowering groups to form their own coalitions and advocacy groups that included several sex workers in their numbers.

And if you can mediate a group of active drug users into politicised roles you can pretty much do any group facilitation...

Anyway, someone around this time referred to my handsome pitbull (who was at the time wearing a slightly altered child's fleece with a Man is the Bastard patch sewn on the back; it was winter time) as "totally pimpin'!" Quite what that actually meant i have no idea but at the time there was clearly a move in our society to change the word pimp (Pimp My Ride for one other example).

Having moderated several groups in Toronto involving sex workers and the amount of crisis intervention work i did in Glasgow with sex workers who'd had the shit kicked out of them buy their johns, pimps and lawyers (an ugly story indeed) i wasn't impressed by this move and wrote a completely emasculated song from this perspective.

And slightly related the song Black Economy on our first LP was inspired in part by Alan Young's book Defiling Justice (he was the lawyer for SPOC)

A music related post coming later this week, i promise.


Invisible Oranges said...

This *is* music-related, because your music relates to life!

Music isn't paper, plastic, and vinyl - it's feelings, thoughts, passions, and experiences channeled into sound.

A post like this sheds more insight into your art and music than you realize.

Thanks for sharing! And I agree about the wonderful plasticity of the English language.

Survivalist said...

it's my English self deprecation coming through loud and clear.

The book Watching the English; the Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox sheds a suprising amount of light on this particular facet of my personality.

Ryan Page said...

I appreciate your honesty in this post, particularly "As ever at it's heart was a sense of frustration and inability to change things i personally felt were wrong with the world."

I think I feel the same way, except maybe I'm a bit more selfish. The evolution of english is always contentious. If I were to venture a guess about the word "pimp"'s current use, it would probably refer to it's aestheticized 70s connotations, and corporate hip-hop (I feel so out of touch that I debated mentioning it at the risk of sounding 80).

Vegas said...

I saw a movie called "very young girls" or something along those lines, about girls coerced into prostitution by their pimps, who they were emotionally dependent on.

The woman who was in charge of the support group went on stage at some award ceremony and expressed her outrage that a song called "pimpin' ain't easy" won an academy award.

So yeah, fuck pimps.

Anonymous said...

my ex partner is part of sex professionals of canada. i used to work with lgbt youth (particularly transgender/intersex/transsexual) sex workers in portland through an agency called outside in.