It's really, really hard to find a way to link the sexual slavery of women and girls all over the world with the monotonous household chore that is laundry. But the folks at Sun Products Corporation who make Wisk detergent have managed to do it, with their new "Pimp My Laundry Room" contest. Maybe the people at Wisk don't realize that by using the word "pimp" to mean "improve," they're glamorizing what pimps really do -- sell and exploit women and young girls in commercial sex. You can tell Wisk they need to get a better slogan, 'cause pimping is never cool.
You can see Wisk's Pimp My Laundry Room Contest homepage here. The contest itself is exactly what you might expect from a detergent brand -- you send in a video for a chance to win a laundry room makeover. It's not the contest, but rather the offensive and tacky use of the verb "pimp" as a synonym for "to make cooler" that is a huge FAIL for Wisk. The website also features a video that sends a clear message: laundry is for women. It's a woman's chore, and a laundry room is a woman's room where women spend a whole lot of time (so it should be nice, right). The incredibly sexist ramifications of such a message aside, if Wisk's new contest is all about creating a good space for their primary customers (women), then why would they choose to name their contest after people who harm and abuse women?
Perhaps Wisk has bought into the rise of the "pimp and ho" culture which is happening all over the country, as more and more "Pimp My ..."s are cropping up in pop culture. Perhaps they have forgotten that, by definition, a pimp is someone who exploits another human being sexually for his own profit. Perhaps they just don't know that up to 100,000 American children are at risk for exploitation by pimps each year, and that pimps regularly recruit children as young as 12 into prostitution. I hope Wisk chose this name for their contest out of ignorance, and not because they don't care that they're supporting the glamorization of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
I'm all about room makeovers, but Wisk needs a new contest title. There are a huge number of words in the English language that actually mean "to improve" that they could have chosen. They had to choose the one that really means "to sell, exploit, and enslave." The savvy, passionate women in America whom Wisk is targeting with this contest don't want to buy a product associated with pimping in any way. They want to buy products which support and empower women, not celebrate then people who exploit and control them.
You can sign a petition asking Wisk to change the name of the contest to something, anything, which doesn't glamorize pimping and use the word "pimp" to mean "make better." Because pimps make the lives of the women and children they use and exploit for profit much, much worse. And I for one don't want to give my money to a company that's ok with pimping.