Pimps and Hos costumes no laughing matter

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

In a nation in which prostitution employs hundreds of thousands of women, many of them under the age of 16, it is appalling that the Taiwanese Student Association (TSA) would choose ?Pimps and Hos? as a party theme for their annual Halloween bash.
?Ho,? a slang term for whore or prostitute, is the role assigned to women at this party. Men are pimps, people who sell other men time with the prostitutes. Finding humor and enjoyment in the plight of prostitutes and the purchase of a woman?s body by a man is just as hilarious of a party theme of Nazis and Jews or white slave-owners and black slaves. Just as the campus community would be outraged at a party based around one of these themes, the campus community should be outraged by a party themed around the exploitation of women?s bodies by men.
TSA?s party encourages female students to take on the role of a prostitute. Men are assigned the role of pimp. Almost as shocking as the party is that students would willingly take on these roles. Just as no student on campus would dress as a black slave, no student should want to dress as a ?ho.?
The party sends out the message that it?s fun to be a prostitute, that women should want to sell sex for money, and that women are items for male consumption. Parties like this reinforce themes of male domination and female objectification that have no place at Carnegie Mellon. And before you object that TSA, like any group of students, has the right to do whatever it wants, remember that TSA is a funded organization and this party was paid for in part by your student activities fee.
TSA is not the only group to choose ?Pimps and Hos? as a party theme. A few years back it was the theme of the annual SPIRIT Ball. Why organizations, especially minority cultural organizations, choose to celebrate with the theme of women?s oppression is a mystery. Perhaps the members of TSA are so sheltered that they have never encountered a prostitute; they may be under the incorrect assumption that women want to be prostitutes. This is almost never the case; over 90 percent of prostitutes surveyed desire to get out of prostitution. It is certainly not race that has made students blind to prostitution ? it?s class.
The students who organized this party and the people who have organized parties like it in the past almost always come from a class position that fully separates them from the harsh realities of prostitution and of being pimped out. Perhaps they do not know of the fact that many prostitutes are children when they start, a large number of them are victims of incest, and that pimps exploit these women even further. The people who organized this party have obviously never been in a position where their resources are so limited that prostitution is their only option.
TSA is completely unaware of the realities of prostitution. In their own country of Taiwan the government conservatively estimates that there are over 30,000 minors in prostitution, the majority of them sold into prostitution by their parents. Other sources estimate the number of child prostitutes to be around 60,000. Pimps in Taiwan often give their child prostitutes hormone injections so that their bodies will develop faster, earning them more money. If a prostitute is the victim of theft or assault, she has very little recourse open to her. The U.S. State Department?s website on Taiwan also declares prostitution, especially child prostitution, to be a problem there. No decent person would consider this crisis to be an appropriate party theme.
In reality, there is nothing glamorous or fun about being a prostitute. It is an outrage that this party took place and even more appalling that money from the student activities fee was spent on funding it. It is appalling that Carnegie Mellon students could be so ignorant about the plight of a victimized group of women that they would allow such a party to take place.