Following the recent controversy surrounding the ‘Pimps and Hoes’ theme used by student night Carnage, Final Year Sociology BA student & Feminist Society Coordinator Eleanor Broadbent argues that events such as this trivialise serious issues faced by women today.
There are two obvious problems with the ‘Pimps n Hoes’ carnage theme. Firstly, the dichotomy of ‘Pimps n Hoes’ is an obviously gendered power imbalance – it represents the idea that men are directly in control of a woman’s sexuality. A Pimp is someone whose power is rewarded by taking the money earned by female sex workers and controlling it, making men in control of women’s bodies and their finances. Pimps keep their power status by continually raping and controlling sex workers. This theme trivialises the problems that women face with sex work in the UK. Workers do not have the same rights as in other industries, so their workplaces are unregulated and dangerous. Similarly, there is a lot of sex trafficking as a result of the sex industry, meaning women are literally working as slaves to benefit those who use prostitutes. This happens in Leeds, as it does in all the cities Carnage tours. Prostituted women are also often underage, which is in itself statutory rape, but this issue is never addressed as prostitution is still fundamentally illegal. We have heard in the news recently about men grooming vulnerable underage girls into the sex trade, not forgetting that these women had reported their groomers to the authorities, but as is typical with sexual assault, nothing was done to help them. These issues are still relevant today.
By promoting this theme as a ‘novelty’ it forgets all the women whose lives are destroyed through sex work. It continues a culture of sexual abuse being jovial and doesn’t allow real discussion into the problems women face. Finally, mixing all these power imbalances with alcohol doesn’t bode well for the safety of the women at Carnage or on the streets of Leeds on Sunday night. Many nightclubs in Leeds already rely on objectifying imagery in their promotional materials that show women as sexually promiscuous and available to men, in order to fill up the clubs. Bars on the Carnage route obviously benefit from the ‘scandalous’ dress code expected of the women taking part – because dressing up as a ‘hoe’ is promoted as something fun and sexy, but who is this sexy for? The entire theme is based upon tired and inaccurate ideas about commodified sexuality and the sex trade. It’s not new for Carnage to rely on what the women taking part are encouraged to wear, in order to draw in the crowds, but this theme is particularly blatant and insensitive. Don’t support Carnage’s glorification of what is a violent and dangerous sex trade, and a constant celebration of our patriarchal society.
Image: Becki Bateman