Created By: ElaineRose on May 17, 2011 Last Edited By: ElaineRose on January 18, 2013

Pimping Is Relative

One character promising member of his family (or friend) to a third party for profit

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Trope

Up for Grabs

In some cultures, it is not only acceptable but expected that family members arrange whom their children will marry. This of course leads in fiction to characters who abuse this policy for fun and profit.

Due to cultural precedent, it is not prostitution in this case to say "My daughter will go out with you if you give me this," but rather the family dynamic in action. Often a Comedy Trope, though it is not impossible for this to be used in more dramatic situations and still not played for Squick. This can also include friends

Not to be confused with Platonic Prostitution. If a Tsundere is involved, expect to see a weapon of some sort as she defends her right to choose. Also Arranged Marriage is worth mentioning, thoughd ue to Values Dissonance it contains some Unfortunate Implications. Please use Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement in adding Real Life examples.


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Ranma : It happens several times in both manga and anime with Soun Tendo and Genma Saotome promising marriage with one of their children when they get into a particularly tight financial bind. It's hilarious with Genma because in the anime at least he does this more often with only one child. Fanon has taken this character trait and Flanderized it to the point where both fathers (but especially Genma) promise their children to just about anyone for even the slightest consideration.
  • Zoids: The Doc has a habit of promising Harry Champ dates with his daughter whenever he needs something that's a bit... pricey.
  • Berserk: Farnese is promised to merchant captain Rodrigo by her ne'er-do-well brother. She's pretty much okay with this, as her traveling companions really needed a ship at the time.

Live-Action TV
  • M*A*S*H: a Chain of Deals Hawkeye made included getting Radar a date with a certain nurse.
  • The Bachelor and The Bachelorette - Let's take one person, a studio budget, and a whole bunch of "potential soul mates," and set up as many romantic situations as we can, including the Fantasy Suite and suggest that they have sex there. It's not pimping--it's Reality TV.
  • 24 season 1, Sherry sending a campaign assistant to go help her husband deal with some stress.
  • On One Episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Loomer Kidnaps Ned and Cookies's baby and wants Ned to do this trope to get change to work together with Moze on a separate partnered project.
    • On another occasion Loomer made another trade with Ned, in which Ned will help Loomer to get a date with Moze (not just arranging the date, also helping Loomer convince Moze he means it) in exchange for Loomer not bullying Ned.
  • On Game of Thrones, and presumably in the book, Viserys sells his sister Daenerys to the barbarian chief Khal Drogo in exchange for an army.
    • It is apparently common for Westeros culture (true to medieval spirit). King Robert offered Ned to marry Joffrey to Sansa without asking their consent and it wasn't portrayed as something wrong. They seem to be okay with it, but by modern standards that wouldn't be nice.
  • In The Best Years, Sam needs to sell calendars, so she offers dates with Devon to the girls who buy them. This is an interesting case, though, since she had Devon's full permission to do so.

Film
  • In the Awful American Sex Comedy Hot Times the boys run across a girl who gives them a naked show for $1 each. Her brother takes the money as her "nookie bookie." She'll do almost anything but have actual sex, because she's saving that until she turns 15 "and then it's gonna cost a Grand." [$1,000]
  • In Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire the main character exchanges a date with his sister for concert tickets.

Music
  • Tom Lehrer touched on this in "Be Prepared":
    Don't solicit for your sister / that's not nice! / ... unless you get a good percentage / of her price!

Literature and Fairy Tales
  • There are a few fairy tales (e.g. Beauty and the Beast) where a father will give up his daughter in exchange for his life.
  • Referred to obliquely in Sourcery where Rincewind finds the Klatchian bazaar full of street urchins offering to sell him things, act as guides or "introduce him to nice relatives".

Western Animation
  • Family Guy: Peter paid off his tab at Mort Goldman's pharmacy by saying his daughter would go out with Mort's son.

Real Life

Just to reiterate, use Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement for all Real Life examples.

  • There are several Western expressions relating to wanting something enough to "sell your own mother for it."
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • May 17, 2011
    SKJAM
    The Ranma one is largely fanon; Genma did that once (Ukyou) in the manga, and another in an anime filler (though that one did imply a third transaction.) Souun also did this once (The Chardin family) in both the manga and anime.

    • Berserk: Farnese is promised to merchant captain Rodrigo by her ne'er-do-well brother. She's pretty much okay with this, as her traveling companions really needed a ship at the time.
  • May 17, 2011
    ElaineRose
    ^ Any proposals for a change of wording to the Ranma example?
  • May 18, 2011
    Fanra
    Let me get this straight...this is prostitution without sex? Or not for cash?

    So offering to sell a stranger some sex with your sister is not this trope but agreeing to let your classmate have a date with her in exchange for them helping you on your exam is?

    I am confused.
  • May 18, 2011
    ElaineRose
    You've basically got it there. Since this is generally a comedy trope (Tsundere: "You promised me to whom? *Hammer Time*), it doesn't usually get that serious. While Westerners are very quick to jump at the concept of "Paying for a date is prostitution," a lot of cultures aren't that way about it. I'll tweak the description to see if I can make it a bit easier to understand.
  • May 18, 2011
    Damr1990
    maybe we can expand it a little bit to friends, i remember some cases where a guy exchanges something for the promise of gettig a date with one of the protagonist female friends
  • May 18, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • ^MASH: a Chain Of Deals Hawkeye made included getting Radar a date with a certain nurse.
    • Family Guy: Peter paid off his tab at Mort Goldman's pharmacy by saying his daughter would go out with Mort's son.
    • Emperor Wang Guhn (a Korean Historical Drama about the first emperor of Korea): a nobleman gives Wang Guhn his daughter for the evening, telling his wife that he'd rather his daughter be Wang's whore for one night than have her live forever pure as a nun (or something like that, it's been 10 years since I've seen it).
  • May 18, 2011
    ElaineRose
    ^^ Expanded to friends, definitely, but it needs to be a definite case of "promised Alice to Bob without her consent," rather than just playing Wingman.

    ^ Like above, is Hawkeye playing wingman for Radar, or does he have some means of making the nurse do this? (Does she owe him a favor, etc?) And with the Korean drama thing, if he's calling his daughter a whore, then there's not too much relativity there, at least from my standpoint. Was it played as "It's not prostitution! It's Daddy making sure his daughter gets a chance at the social ladder!"? Then it's more of a case of Prostitution Is Relative.

    I'm thinking that a possible rule of thumb here is think "Would a particularly stringent moral guardian look at this and say 'That's basically prostitution!'?"
  • May 18, 2011
    SKJAM
    Rewrite possibility:
    • Ranma One Half: Genma and Soun do this once each in the manga, promising their child to Ukyou and the Chardin family respectively. A Filler episode of the anime has Genma doing this a second time, with a third occasion being implied by the ending. In Fan Fiction, writers tend to run with that, having the fathers (but especially Genma) promise their children to just about anyone for even the slightest consideration.
  • May 18, 2011
    ElaineRose
    A very good possibility for replacement. I'd say compare the the current one (revised from the beginning), and I'll get a rewrite in the morning.
  • May 18, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^^re M*A*S*H: Like I said, Chain Of Deals. [Deal list snipped]...In order to get a cake for Frank's birthday party, he has to get Radar the date. In order to get the nurse to go on the date he has to get her a hairdryer. He gets the hairdryer from Klinger, who wants him to get Frank & Margret to sign his Section 8 papers. At the end the chain falls apart, so she doesn't go on the date.

    I really do think Emperor Wang Guhn counts, but I won't press the matter since I don't have a perfect recollection of the scenes involved.
  • May 19, 2011
    ElaineRose
    Well, like I was saying, it's subjective to context. If it was treated as no big deal by context (as in, in Korea it wouldn't be nearly as big a deal as it would be in the West), I believe it should qualify.

    And thank you for clarifying the MASH example. =)
  • May 19, 2011
    Damr1990
    • On One Episode of Ned's School Survival guide, Loomer Kidnaps Ned and Cookies's baby and wants ned to do this to get change to work together with moose, subverted because Mose wanted another project partner because the wan he choosed was just a pretty face and did not work at all
      • On Other Ocation Loomer Did make another trade with need, in which he'll help him to get a date (not just makin the date, also helping bloomer conveince mose and be a proper prospect) in exchange for him not bulling him
  • May 21, 2011
    ElaineRose
    Sorry, but I'm not terribly familiar with the full cast of the show--when you type "Moose" do you mean "Mose"?
  • May 21, 2011
    batgirl1
    For the record, the tile made me think of that Law And Order:SVU episode where a family sends their daughter with a cousin to go live a better life in America and...well, it's SVU. o_O
  • May 22, 2011
    ElaineRose
    Are you suggesting a title change?
  • May 22, 2011
    batgirl1
    Well, if the trope isn't about actual prostitution, then yeah, probably. Unfortunately, I can't yet think of anything decent.
  • May 22, 2011
    ElaineRose
    I've found that the examples provided tend to change the shape of the trope. At the moment it's basically "one culture thinks it's all right, while a much more critical eye might look at it in a bad way." The trope isn't going anywhere very fast, and we'll see where it goes. At the moment it encompasses several examples involving sex (which seems like it would put this fully into prostitution), some services that seem to go just as far as playing Wingman for a bro, and some childhood marriage promises. I'd say if it fits the qualifier of "in one culture it's not bad, but in a more critical light it's not all good," then it should work. The trope above needs some work, I freely admit.
  • May 22, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    The picture doesn't demonstrate the trope.
  • May 23, 2011
    ElaineRose
    May I ask for a suggestion for a better one? And from Ranma 1/2, these two are pretty much the worst offenders.
  • May 23, 2011
    Glucharina
    Arranged Marriage should be mentioned. Due to Values Dissonance it contains too much Unfortunate Implications.
  • May 23, 2011
    batgirl1
  • May 23, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In the Awful American Sex Comedy Hot Times the boys run across a girl who gives them a naked show for $1 each. Her brother takes the money as her "nookie bookie." She'll do almost anything but have actual sex, because she's saving that until she turns 15 "and then it's gonna cost a Grand." [$1,000]
  • May 24, 2011
    Duncan
    There are a few fairy tales (e.g. Beauty And The Beast) where a father will give up his daughter in exchange for his life. Would those count?
  • May 24, 2011
    ElaineRose
    Yes they would.
  • May 24, 2011
    amazinglyenough
    • On Game Of Thrones, and presumably in the book, Viserys sells his sister Daenerys to the barbarian chief Khal Drogo in exchange for an army.
  • May 24, 2011
    elwoz
    Tom Lehrer touched on this in "Be Prepared":
    Don't solicit for your sister / that's not nice! / ... unless you get a good percentage / of her price!
  • May 24, 2011
    Glucharina
    ^^It is apparently common for Westeros culture (True to medieval spirit). King Robert offered Ned to marry Joffrey to Sansa without asking their consent and it wasn't portraited as something wrong. They seem to be okay with it, but by modern standards that wasn't be nice.
  • May 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    FYI Hot Times is Film, not LATV.
  • May 25, 2011
    ElaineRose
    Many thanks for the examples and corrections.
  • May 27, 2011
    JonnyB
    There's an English expression for when you really want something badly, that you'd "sell your own mother for" it.
  • May 28, 2011
    troacctid
    "Pimping" doesn't work well here because it means something else. (See Pimped Out Car, Pimped Out Cape, etc.) I'm calling Needs A Better Title.
  • May 28, 2011
    JonnyB
    The word "pimping" has developed a secondary meaning. It's primary meaning is selling someone sexually for profit, but it's secondary meaning is that of being ostentatious, as a pimp's wardrobe, the meaning you're referring to. In it's primary meaning, the title works just fine.
  • May 29, 2011
    ElaineRose
    I would prefer to keep it as "pimping" because "Prostitution Is Relative" would make this an entirely different thing (where it's the person him or herself selling him or herself for profit, not a third party).
  • May 29, 2011
    troacctid
    We can't rely on that meaning to be clearly communicated. It's ambiguous. It needs something clearer.
  • May 29, 2011
    JonnyB
    I disagree, I think it's very clear. Pimping generally means just this. "Pimped out" generally means the other.
  • May 30, 2011
    ElaineRose
    I'm really sorry, but I'm not understanding how "Pimping Is Relative" could be taken to mean "it's [[YMMV relative]] whether the Pimped Out Car is pimped out or not." Wheras the title is a Snowclone of such tropes as Incest Is Relative, Age Is Relative, and Size Is Relatve. But if you can get two people to agree with you that the title needs to change, we can definitely look at a title change.
  • May 30, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Just A Face And A Caption - and it doesn't say & isn't even linked to the work in question.
  • May 31, 2011
    JonnyB
    Agreed, the picture doesn't really say much about the topic unless you understand the anime it goes to.
  • May 31, 2011
    ElaineRose
    Agreed. If anyone could help me find a picture that includes all three parties (the, as it were, pimp, person being promised, and the beneficiary), that would be extremely helpful.
  • May 31, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • Referred to obliquely in Sourcery where Rincewind finds the Klatchian bazaar full of street urchins offering to sell him things, act as guides or "introduce him to nice relatives".
  • May 31, 2011
    thewriter
    If this includes none familial examples, doesn't that show that Pimping is not relative?
  • May 31, 2011
    originalhobbit
    • In Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire the main character exchanges a date with his sister for concert tickets.

    • In The Best Years, Sam needs to sell calendars, so she offers dates with Devon to the girls who buy them. this is an interesting case, though, since she had Devon's full permission to do so.
  • June 1, 2011
    JonnyB
    ^^ It should only contain familial examples.

    Following up on the "sell my own mother" expression, at the end of "Cup Of Brown Joy", Professor Elemental says about his love of tea, "I'd sell me own grandma for a cup. Well... I'd sell your grandma for a cup."
  • June 1, 2011
    NetMonster
    In The Mentalist, one suspect is revealed to have pimped out his wife to settle a gambling debt.
  • June 1, 2011
    JonnyB
    Inverted in Indecent Proposal, where a rich man offers a down-and-out gambler a million dollars to sleep with his wife.
  • June 3, 2011
    ElaineRose
    In The Mentalist, what goes to making this relative? Same with Indecent Proposal. Is it played as no big deal?

    And the trope is now Up For Grabs, but I'd say that it doesn't necessarily have to be only family examples.
  • June 3, 2011
    JonnyB
    Well if it isn't family examples, then it just comes down to pimping, does it not?
  • June 3, 2011
    StarryEyed
    I can see how a tight-knit organization/group doing this to their own could be a similar trope. (Is a guy joking about selling dates with his sister really that different from a a guy joking about selling dates with his close female friend?) But I agree if we open it to non-familial examples, it will quickly become just plain pimping. Plus, there's a distinction when it's done by a family member, because many ancient cultures held that women were owned by their fathers (or brothers in absence of a father) which gives a pimped them out a sort of legitimacy (in a twisted, Values Dissonance kind of way). But on the flip side, these are the people that should be protecting the woman from situations like this, not forcing her into them. So there's a lot more going on than a regular pimping situation.
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump; is this done? I don't especially like the title.
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