Friday, May 30, 2014

What’s in a word?

The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” can be traced back to The Christian Recorder, March 1862. It was once used as an “uplifting” avenue to fight back against bullies. A lot can change in 150 plus years. Words are the way in which we, as a society, communicate and define subject matter. Words are used to define who we are.

For instance, if I were to tell you a story about a 12-year-old girl who was a “child prostitute” versus telling you a story about a 12-year-old girl who’d been commercially sexually exploited, your idea about this 12-year-old would change from a “girl gone wrong” to a true victim. Which brings me to my point. Merriam-Webster, the number one trusted source of definition for American English, defines the word pimp as “a man who solicits clients for a prostitute.”

Nothing could be further from the true definition of this word. Let’s begin with the fact that in today’s society a pimp can be male or female. In regard to “soliciting clients for a prostitute,” pimps are people who first solicit girls, women and boys by using manipulation and grooming and then use fear and coercion to force these victims to perform sexual acts on “customers/victimizers”. These are the same tactics that pedophiles use on their chosen victims.

A woman from New Jersey, named Danielle D., is working to change how we understand what a pimp truly is. A victim of human trafficking, Danielle knows full well precisely what a pimp is and is asking that Merriam-Webster update their definition of the word pimp to fall in line with its true meaning. Human Trafficking is a crime that occurs right here in the United States. Despite a good amount of media attention focused upon this heinous crime, many Americans don’t understand the true nature of human trafficking.

In order to better understand our society we must have a true and correct definition for the words that we use to convey information. Danielle has started a petition on and is asking for a very simple request from Merriam Webster’s. For more information about this particular petition, visit at “Merriam-Webster: Change the Definition of"pimp" to a realistic definition.

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