As a teenager I am impressed by the amount of social media activism that takes place online. I'm excited to see my peers engaging in hard discussions on these platforms. But this does not mean that this is the entirety of what is going on online.
As I scroll through social media I often see a lot that disturbs me, for example teenagers making light of pimp culture and sex trafficking. In fact, many people who do this consider themselves feminists. This confuses me.
I see prom pictures described as "pimping." I see birthday posts telling someone to "keep pimping." I hear about students going to "pimp and hoe" parties. This is glamorizing and making light of an industry that violates human rights in every way.
Some of the same people who make these comments would probably be horrified to see someone joking lightly about American slavery. Sex trafficking is modern day slavery, and pimps are slave owners. How is it funny in any way to talk about owning another human being?
My purpose is not to restrict people's speech or writing. All I really want is for people to be aware of what they are saying and to realize that even small comments make a difference.
People must realize what a huge problem sex trafficking is. It is a global issue that is just as relevant in the United States as it is in other countries. In the United States over 100,000 children are trafficked every year. The number is obviously much higher when taking into account adults who were trafficked as children and got trapped in the industry. There may be children being trafficked a couple of blocks away from your school. Children who are at high risk for sex trafficking include girls who have already been abused, or who are homeless or in foster homes. Pimps often control them and take all their money, threatening to hurt them or loved ones if they try to escape.
Children under eighteen who are trafficked are supposed to be viewed under the law as victims of the crime of sex trafficking. However, this is not always the case. Instead of helping children under eighteen, and seeing them as crime victims, they are often tried as adults and sent to jail.
It is disturbing to see the blatant and blind privilege of the people making the jokes. Somehow our culture is teaching people that it is cool to use the word pimp. By doing this we are normalizing sex trafficking, and thus saying to survivors that what they lived through was not a big deal.
Also this is not just a teenage issue, but I see that this issue is extremely relevant in teenage culture.
I never see anyone pointing out what's wrong with such comments. No one ever says "I don't want to be pimping" or "I'm not going to keep pimping because I'm not a pimp." If a person were to do this they would be mocked or targeted as "sensitive." We need to discuss the harmfulness of the normalization of "pimping," and its implications.
People pimping, selling other people, is not cool. Making it cool elevates the pimp and normalizes this horrible violation of human rights. Taking a stand is cool.