Thursday, March 09, 2006

You Know It's Hard Out Here for a Ho

Do you think there's any connection between/among the promotion of black men as the "pimp" & black women as willing "ho" and the global emphasis on and anxiety around sexual slavery as practice, as commercial enterprise? In each case particular underlying economic (and other) factors, interests, causes are repressed. Think, for example, of Nicholas Kristof of the NYTimes and his "purchasing" (abolitionist emancipation) of Cambodian prostitutes and his new focus on prostitutes in Calcutta. In his focus on prostitution Alexander Cockburn writes that he ignores that, "India has endured more than a decade of virtually unimaginable rural torment consequent upon imposition of neoliberal "reforms" editorially endorsed and endlessly hailed by Times reporters" and the relationship of "women's issues" to the "agrarian crisis." (See: The Nation (Nick Kristof's Brothel Problem).)

OK. Now the production of black man as pimp and black woman as (willing) ho stands in marked contrast to those who struggle to free themselves from prostition, who experience prostitution as degradation and not as "style" qua authenticity. Does this become a way again of making black bodies (and in particular black female bodies) incapable of being violated? Is this another return of the body (the subject) impossible to rape?


At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Jodi said...

Good post. Paul has been using Ranciere's idea of the partition of the perceptible lately. I like it as an alternative to rhetorics of inclusion/exclusion or visible/invisible. Reading your post makes me think of the politics of perceptible and the politics involving in how black bodies are seen. An extra perverse twist: there are parties at HWS where the students dress and pimps and hos--so the women all show up in their Victoria Secret's lingerie. This enables them to eliminate race and class from thinking about pimps and hos.

Finally, on trafficking--I've thought of it as a symptom of neoliberalism. That is, those who don't want to acknowledge the extended horrors of globalization focus on one specific aspect as a singular crime as if confronting and eliminating this crime would render the entire system healthy.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Thivai Abhor said...

Interesting post in light of the acclaim and celebration for the Oscar Winning Best song...

At 1:32 PM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

Yes. I had hoped the reference to the Oscar Winning Song would be a given. This license to call black people pimps and hos has been loosed on the world.

I, for one, am already feeling and witnessing its sting.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who don't suscribe to The Nation, you can read Alexander Cockburn's article at for free. It's a couple weeks back though.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

Jodi, the pimp and ho parties are going strong. A blackface performance without the cork––the pimps and hos are always black aren't they?

The fetishization of the criminalized as authentic blackness.

At 4:10 AM, Blogger Nate said...

This is a great post. It would be interesting, though depressing, to see if there's any statistics on people turning to sexwork as living standards continue to drop in the US, alongside the trends you're talking about.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

Thanks Anonymous for the link to the Cockburn article.

Nate that would be interesting.

At 3:46 AM, Blogger sexy said...








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