Cambridge nightclub in ‘Pimps and Hoes’ scandal

Exclusive: Promoter at Revolution copies controversial club night theme amidst accusations of sexism

Can fancy dress go too far? Innumerable college bops suggest not, but a ‘Pimps and Hoes' themed club night which has been touring UK universities and last week featured in Cambridge has attracted derision from media commentators and students alike for perpetuating misogyny and making light of the exploitation of women.

The company running the club night, Carnage, which on its website features plaudits from Loaded and Nuts magazines, has been touring since 2004 and is scheduled to appear this year at 44 universities. This year's controversial choice of theme, however, has already attracted a storm of media coverage and even implicated politicians. MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield denounced it for ‘trivialis prostitution and violence towards women' when the club night was hosted in his constituency last week, while 31 female Labour councillors on Liverpool City Council called on local businesses to distance themselves from the event when it took place in the city last Saturday.

This wave of controversy, however, does not seem to have stopped clubs in Cambridge taking on the theme, with club organiser UpFront Parties hosting its own Pimps and Hoes themed event at Revolution last Monday. The Facebook event page for the club invites girls to ‘get out your miniskirts, fishnets and stilettos' and ‘lads' to wear ‘suits (preferably purple!) and gold chains, big hats and pimp canes' to qualify for reduced entry of £3.

CambridgE University Students' Union Women's Officer, Susy Langdale, expressed her disappointment that the ‘Pimps and Hoes' theme was being perpetuated by Cambridge clubs. "Club nights with themes like Revolution's "Pimps and Hoes" rely on a glamorised misrepresentation of the sex industry. The word ‘pimp' is used to suggest a wealthy, powerful man whose position stems from his ability to control prostitutes in order to take their earnings. By definition, pimps are violent exploiters of vulnerable women and should not be glamorised. The word ‘ho' is a pejorative word that objectifies and degrades women, subsequently encouraging violence towards them. By encouraging enactment of the roles of ‘pimp' and ‘ho' in an alcohol fuelled environment, the Women's Campaign is certain that this night is dangerous for women as well as being a damaging normalisation of sexual exploitation."

Students have echoed this disapproval. Second-year Trinity Hall student Megan McPherson said "My problem with the theme is that whilst men don't have to wear revealing clothing, women are dressed in a highly sexualised and provocative manner; there's a disparity in the students' sexualisation". Others, however, have been keen to stress that such themes should not be taken too seriously. Linguistics student from Girton, Jack Pulman-Slater, noted that "whilst I would never go to such a party, is this theme any different to the tradition of Tarts and Vicars?"

Meanwhile, the anger surrounding the theme has been such that the Cambridge Women's Campaign has been driven to take action. "The Women's Campaign is currently in contact with Upfront Parties and have asked them to adopt the Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment policy that many club nights around the country have adopted," Susy Langdale told The Cambridge Student. "This would ensure that nights like last week's "Pimps and Hoes" night would not happen again and that there would be a clear point of contact for any woman who felt unsafe on a night out."

The Cambridge Student approached both Carnage and UpFront Parties for their views, but both declined to comment.

Louise Ashwell - Deputy News Editor

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