Saturday, 17 June 2017

Chester Brown: Reasons For Thinking That Sex-Work Is Wrong


Cerebus In Hell? #4 (April 2017)
by Dave Sim & Sandeep Atwal

A Fake Name's Reasons For Thinking That Sex-Work Is Wrong 
by Chester Brown 
(first published on Patreon, 14 June 2017)

In response to my request, the individual who goes by the name A Fake Name has politely explained why he-or-she thinks sex-work is morally wrong and should be illegal over on A Moment Of Cerebus.

When I'm quoting other people in this piece, I'll do so in italics, but I'll put A Fake Name's positions in bold type, like this:
"Prostitution is damaging to men because it’s saying they can’t attract a woman on their own."
In relation to this proposition, we can broadly divide the clients of sex-workers into four types of guys.

Type One: According to sex-workers, the majority of their clients are men who are married or are in a romantic relationship. They’re not guys who can’t attract a romantic partner, they’re guys who have attracted one and yet want to have sex with sex-workers for a variety of reasons.

Type Two: Some guys can get romantic partners, but see sex-workers in-between serious romantic relationships.

Type Three: There are also guys (like me) who are not in a romantic relationship, who do not want to be in romantic relationships, and who prefer being with sex-workers. I've had girl-friends, so I know the difference between being in a romantic relationship and paying for sex, and I like the latter better. So it’s not emotionally “damaging” for me (and other Type Three guys) to pay for sex, quite the opposite.

Type Four: Of course, there are some guys who want romantic partners but can’t attract them and visit sex-workers as a substitute. But sex-work and sex-workers have not caused the problem there. The problem is the inability of those guys to attract romantic partners. Blaming sex-work for that is misplacing the blame.

(Not all clients of sex-workers fit into those four categories. For one thing, some clients are women. And some clients have unusual circumstances, like the guy who was a virgin, got cancer, and wanted to get laid before he died. His story, written by his twin sister, can be found at SexWorkClients.org under the name MsLeigh, posted March 1st 2017.)
"Instead of honest self-assessment and fixing things within themselves, [the clients of prostitutes have] chosen to pay for a fleeting illusion, knowing any orgasm and accompanying feelings are based on a financial transaction, creating a mental and emotional dissonance. In place of self-improvement, putting in the effort to be a better version of themselves, thereby increasing their confidence, achieving more in life and thus attracting women they’d want to have sex and relationships with, they’ve settled for a damaging shortcut."
The assumption here seems to be that, if sex-work didn’t exist, Type Four guys would be forced to better themselves and would then be able to get romantic partners, so, therefore, sex-work is bad. The thing is, Type Four guys want romance but can’t figure out how to get it. Even if all sex-workers magically disappeared from the planet, the majority of Type Four guys would still not be able to get romantic partners. I have a friend who’s a Type Four guy who pays for sex regularly. Believe me, he put lots of effort into trying to find a girlfriend before he resorted to paying sex-workers. Sex-work wasn’t responsible for his failure with women. He doesn’t feel “damaged” by sex-work — he’s glad it gives him a way to experience sexual intimacy despite the fact that he can’t find a girlfriend.

There are actually some guys out there who were Type Four guys and who, through their interactions with sex-workers, were able to learn how to be with women, and, as a result, were then able to attract girlfriends. (There’s a story very similar to this at SexWorkClients.org but it’s about a woman who was having difficulty relating to men but wanted a romantic relationship. So she hired a male sex-worker, and her experiences with this guy led her to feel “at home in my body, able to not just tolerate another’s touch, but enjoy and relish the sensation of skin on skin.” As a result, she was able to start dating and found a guy she’s now been married to for two years. Her story’s under the name Sheila and was posted on April 23rd 2017.) Far from damaging, as I've said before, sex-work often has therapeutic value.
"On top of that, men risk developing feelings for a prostitute, deluding themselves and missing out on real opportunities with the opposite sex. Unrequited love is bad enough without having to pay for it.”
It does happen that some clients fall in love with sex-workers, and such a client can imagine that his sex-worker loves him back. A lot of sex-workers wouldn’t lead on such a client, but some would — this happened to two guys I know. (Neither of them is the friend I mentioned above.) But these sorts of guys sooner or later figure out that the sex-worker doesn’t really romantically love them. (Having to continue to pay for sex is usually a clue.) If such a guy has “real [romantic] opportunities with” non-sex-workers while he's in love with a sex-worker, then he’ll likely still have real opportunities after he realizes that the sex-worker doesn’t love him. The two guys I mentioned who fell in love with sex-workers and were taken advantage of by them? Both of those situations happened several years ago. One of the guys hasn’t seen a sex-worker since then, but, even though he wants a girlfriend, he hasn’t found one in the intervening years, so I very much doubt he missed any opportunities for real love during the few months that he was in love with that sex-worker. The other guy has seen a few sex-workers since then, but not many. He’d like a girlfriend too, but knowing this guy well (he’s a friend) I can assure you that his inability to attract women has nothing to do with seeing sex-workers. I’m completely positive that he didn’t miss any romantic opportunities while he was in love with a sex-worker.

And this says nothing about the profession in general. The fact that some sex-workers can exploit the emotional vulnerability of some clients doesn’t mean that all sex-work is wrong. There are people who pretend to be in love with someone in order to marry for money, but that doesn’t mean that all marriage is wrong.
"While it’s quite possible one can switch from prostitute/client to a relationship, I’m skeptical since the beginning of the relationship comes down to: Would she have fucked you if you hadn’t pay her? […] I doubt any relationship in which the man directly pays the woman can ever be as legitimate as those who don’t, the obligation casting a shadow over any and all interactions."
I have a female friend (who is NOT a sex-worker) who has a well-paying job and, many years ago, was able to buy a relatively large condo. She met a guy who seemed very loving and affectionate. He didn’t make as much money as she did, but that wasn’t an issue for her because his personality seemed so wonderful. So they decided to live together, and he moved into her place. (Given his financial situation, he’d been renting a much smaller apartment.) They seemed like the perfect couple. Only years later did she admit to me that, as soon as he moved in, his personality changed — he became cold and unaffectionate when they were alone. She didn’t speculate about this to me, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever loved her. It seemed to me like he'd been pretending to be a certain kind of guy in order to get her to want him to move in with her. Once that was accomplished, and he was ensconced in a nicer setting (one in which he didn’t have to pay rent), he felt able to be his real, unloving self.

What I'm saying is that financial concerns also cast a shadow over a lot of romantic relationships between people who have no connection to sex-work. There are a lot of romantic relationships between people who are financially unequal. Even romantic partners who are financially equal can and do fight over money. Despite the experience of my above-mentioned female friend, there are good romantic relationships between financial unequals. If one can recognize that that can be true for romantic relationships, then one should also be able to recognize that there are good (non-romantic) relationships between sex-workers and clients who are financial unequals.

Aside from my own experience with Denise, I’ve read many sincere, heartfelt declarations of affection for their favourite clients written by sex-workers in various books and on the internet. I don’t doubt that sex-workers can genuinely like their clients. An example can be found in this interview with Annie Sprinkle
“I had this client I’ll call Samuel. […] I saw him steadily for twenty years [….] Over twenty years you really get to know someone. […] He was someone I wouldn’t be having sex with had he not been paying me. But I cared about him deeply and genuinely wanted to know about how his life was going. […] Looking back I’d have to say it was definitely a type of long-term relationship. The only reason it ended was because I moved out of New York. He was a great guy. […] He was a client, and also a friend. Such things are more common than people might think.”
Since Annie’s relationship with Samuel sounds very similar to the one I have with Denise, I know she’s right that “such things are more common than people might think."

It’s inconsistent to use financial dependence as a reason to dismiss real connections between sex-workers and their favourite clients while ignoring that financial concerns also affect romantic relationships. If one uses financial dependence to argue that all sex-work is wrong, one should be condemning all romantic relationships for the same reason.

Another thing to mention is that the financial inequality between sex-workers and clients often goes the other way. Many of the escorts I used to see (maybe all of them) made more money annually than I did (probably much more for most of them). When I first met Denise, she was certainly earning more than I was. An individual client, even a wealthy one, doesn’t really have much financial power over a popular sex-worker who already has many regular clients.
"What about the damaging effects on women? My experience is women are happiest inside a relationship if the man is perceived as worthy of their emotion and time. Sure prostitutes can compartmentalize clients from boyfriends/relationships but I still think they want to be loved. The romantic cliches exist because they are true and fundamental to how people are. There are always exceptions […] but most women want to be in a relationship. Brazen Lee said she’s a “…romantic at heart.” So even someone who sells sex for money still retains the primal drive to date, be in love. From a strictly utilitarian point of view, most men won’t be interested in a woman who has the level of sexual partners that a prostitute has. It may not seem fair, but I’m being honest, most men would be turned off. So, by being a prostitute she’s running the risk of ruining a shot at a real, longterm relationship.”
Sex-work is wrong because sex-workers are risking "ruining a shot at a real, longterm [sic] relationship”? Not all sex-workers want a conventional romantic relationship. Some of the ones who do want such relationships have been able to find them. Still, A Fake Name is right that sex-workers who want romantic partners have challenges finding them, but that doesn’t mean that sex-work is morally wrong — it means that our society has screwed up sexual values. A Fake Name states that people have “utilitarian” reasons for not getting romantically involved with sex-workers. From a utilitarian perspective, what is a romantic partner for? Sex-workers can be and usually are loving people. The prejudice against having a sex-worker for a romantic partner has nothing to do with their value as individuals or their ability to be loving partners and everything to do with an emotionally insecure reaction to the idea of a romantic partner having sex with someone else. This isn’t something to condemn sex-work for, it’s a reason to condemn our society’s immature sexual values. A change in our values — a change that would recognize and honour sex-workers for what they do — would make it easier for them to find romantic partners (male, female, or gender-fluid, depending on the orientation of the sex-worker). (A Fake Name seems to strangely assume that all female sex-workers are heterosexual.) (Would A Fake Name be making this argument about male sex-workers? And if he-or-she wouldn’t, does he-or-she think male sex-work is okay and should be legal?)

Since this is part of his-or-her justification keeping prostitution illegal, what A Fake Name is calling for here is social engineering. A Fake Name thinks that law-makers should recognize that, because most women supposedly want to be in monogamous heterosexual relationships, the law should force women to make choices that increase their chances of ending up in such relationships. For most sex-workers, engaging in the profession earns them more money than they could get doing any other sort of work. Sex-workers are aware that their occupation reduces their chances of finding a romantic partner. The ones who want such partners know that they’re balancing money against romance and that is a choice that should be left to them. No one else can say which they should be valuing more. Law-makers should not be trying to influence the choice by making one of the options illegal.

Stripped down to it’s essential point, A Fake Name is saying that sex-workers are making a mistake in choosing money (career) over romance, but these days lots of women who aren’t sex-workers are doing that. It’s not immoral for women to choose to focus on their careers at the expense of their love-lives.
"For women, accepting money for sex is saying you have no other way to generate money other than on the most base level of existence. That’s not mentally healthy in the longterm. […] Having sex, surrendering an intimate part of themselves to men who pay for it is mentally damaging in the long term.”
The assumption here is that sex-work is base and that all sex-workers would agree that it is. That’s not the case. Here’s ex-sex-worker Norma Jean Almodovar on the subject:
“On a scale of pain or pleasure human beings can inflict on each other, if murder, rape, and torture are the worst, certainly giving another person an orgasm must be among the best. I cannot fathom how one could think that making another human being feel good for a fee could be degrading or demeaning [….] I derive a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I’m turning some guy on”. [From the 1993 book Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do by the late, great Peter McWilliams.]
A sex-worker who agrees with A Fake Name that sex-work is base might find sex-work mentally damaging, but they might not. I’m sure there are people who clean toilets for money and consider it to be base and yet aren’t mentally damaged by doing that work. What mentally upsets people is going to vary widely from individual to individual. I heard a piece on the radio recently about the high incidence of violence that nurses face and how many of them are experiencing P-T-S-D as a result. The fact that some people in a profession will experience mental health problems as a result of doing that work doesn’t indicate that the profession as a whole is morally wrong and should be outlawed.

When there’s a stigma against a certain activity that causes mental health problems in people who engage in that activity, that doesn’t demonstrate that the activity itself is necessarily “base". As I wrote in Paying For It:
“Many gays prior to the sexual revolution experienced shame, depression, guilt, and disgust about being gay. That doesn’t mean that homosexuality is wrong, it means that, at a certain point in time, homosexuality was reviled, and many gays internalized the gay-negative values of the culture they lived in. Today, many prostitutes internalize the whoring-is-bad attitude of the culture we live in. That doesn’t mean that sex-work is bad.”
Counter-balancing the potential negative mental problems is the fact that sex-work can also benefitthe mental health of prostitutes, in large part because earning good money is good for one’s mental well-being. An article that addresses this is this one by ex-sex-worker Mitzi Poesner. From that piece:
“[C]ontrary to popular view of sex work, it is not a one way ticket to a breakdown. […]

“What drove me to sex work was a need to exist without aching poverty, to have time to see my many doctors, to work on being as healthy mentally and physically as possible, and to be able to claw back my life from the jaws of zero hours contracts and gaping overdrafts. You may see those things as separate to my mental health, but let me tell you: if you have never been poor you cannot understand the grip money holds you in. […]

“Sex work was messy, dirty, weird, confusing, and scary. It took me to places I wasn’t sure I wanted to visit again. But it also scooped me out of abject poverty and enabled me to start living life with joy.”
There can be other mental health benefits to being a sex-worker. In the interview with Annie Sprinkle that I linked to above, she says this:
“My johns adored and worshipped me, therefore they empowered me. When I was 18, 19, and 20, I had a poor self-image and needed attention. It’s hard for people who haven’t been prostitutes to imagine, but I think it’s often true.”
Back to A Fake Name:
“For society I think [prostitution] could damage civilization in ways I can’t quite explicate. A society with billboards advertising prostitution would be a place further down a spectrum of degradation.”
As Norma Jean implied in the quote that I reproduced above, consensual sex is generally good for people. A society that decriminalized prostitution would be a society in which more people would be having their sexual needs met. I think there’s a lot of unrecognized healing work going on in sex-work that benefits society in subtle ways.

As for the matter of billboards, there’s plenty of sexually suggestive advertising out there already. Using sex to sell sex seems more honest than using it to sell cars or beer. Such billboards wouldn’t have to be any more explicit than advertising already is.
"I don’t think prostitution should be legal […] but nor do I think the prostitution that Chester speaks of should be bothered by those in law enforcement.”
The easiest way to make sure that “the prostitution that Chester speaks of” isn’t “bothered by those in law enforcement” is to decriminalize sex-work between consenting adults. Why not? Especially since A Fake Name was not able to come up with good reasons for keeping it illegal. Let’s review A Fake Name’s reason’s again:
  1.  — Prostitution damages the clients who can’t attract a romantic partner.
  2.  — Clients fall in love with prostitutes and miss opportunities for real love.
  3.  — A sex-for-pay relationship can’t be as legitimate as other relationships since money can influence the sex-for-pay relationship.
  4.  — Women need romantic love and are less likely to get it if they’re prostitutes.
  5.  — Being paid for sex is base, so being a sex-worker it is mentally damaging.
  6.  — Decriminalized prostitution will “damage civilization”.
Reason One isn’t true. Reason Two is unlikely. Reason Three ignores the influence of money on other sorts of relationships. Reason Four is partially true, but societal attitudes are to blame for the problem, not sex-work. Reason Five is partially true, in that some sex-workers might feel that sex-for-pay is base, and they might, therefore, find the work to be emotionally difficult, but that’s offset by the fact that many other sex-workers do not think of prostitution as base, and many of them report that the work actually improves their mental health. Regarding Reason Six, A Fake Name honestly admits that he-or-she does not know what civilizational damage could result from decriminalizing sex-work.

A Fake Name doesn’t have strong reasons for thinking that sex-work should be illegal, but I appreciate that A Fake Name has made the attempt to explain why he-or-she thinks the profession is wrong, even if I don’t find his-or-her reasoning persuasive. And I admire A Fake Name’s civil (if sometimes exasperated and weary) tone throughout all of his-or-her comments on my posts. I hope A Fake Name has a sexual partner who brings him-or-her as much happiness as Denise brings me.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////

In the same comments section, Jeff Seiler writes:
“While it is an old, old joke, the statement remains valid: ‘You don’t pay a hooker for sex, you pay her to go away afterwards.’ "
Yes, it’s an old joke, but it has limited validity. I’m sure there are clients who, after their orgasm, want the sex-worker they’ve hired to go away, but almost any sex-worker will tell you that a sizeable percentage (probably the majority) of her-or-his clients would be only too happy to spend as much (unpaid) time hanging out with the sex-worker as she-or-he would allow.

According to Seiler:
“The culture of strippers and sex-workers […] includes a lot of damaged people."
It seems to me that we're all “damaged” in some way. Are sex-workers more damaged than other people? Not in my experience. People are at their most vulnerable — literally naked — when having sex. We’re more likely to see the damaged aspects and insecurities of our sexual partners — particularly of partners we’ve been having sex with for a while — than of people we meet in more superficial circumstances. Yes, I can see ways that Denise seems “damaged”, but I’m sure that I seem just as damaged to her. And she doesn’t seem more damaged than the non-sex-workers I’ve slept with. She’s actually a remarkably well-adjusted person.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Damien Lloyd writes:
“I do not think Chester is correct that someone practicing in a field will automatically know more than an academic who studies that field.”
I tend to think that real learning comes from doing, not studying, so that a cartoonist who’s created comics for many years will understand the medium better than an academic who’s never created comics but who’s read a lot of them and has interviewed creators. But I can imagine that a very intelligent and well-read academic could understand the medium better than a stupid and untalented cartoonist, so I concede the point to Lloyd.


Chester Brown has been writing and drawing comics and graphic novels since the 1980s: Yummy Fur, Ed The Happy Clown, I Never Liked You, Louis Riel, Paying For It, Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus. You can help provide him with a stable source of income while he works on his next graphic novel by donating at Patreon.

37 comments:

Jeff Seiler said...

A person who needs no introduction here recently said to me, over the phone, that it's pretty amazing that the letters from Dave Sim to me would be banned from a website that purports to be devoted to the work of Dave Sim, but that that same website would devote multiple days of lengthy space to Chester Brown's apologetics in support of prostitution.

Of course, in a completely different phone call, I informed him that he and I are both, apparently, E-bay morons.

So, maybe we both are just really out of touch with the real world. C'est la vie.

Jake Capps said...

I'm not sure what this is. Why is this a thing on a site I frequent?

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Jeff/Jake - I can only apologise for not getting your approval in advance before posting this. I'm so sorry about that. Tomorrow, I'm running a "Swords of Cerebus" introduction. Is that okay with you both? Please do let me know if you have any problems with that. "The customer is always right" etc, etc.

Jeff - Rather than constantly whining, why not actually get off your butt, do something positive and publish those letters on your own blog. Blogger is free, so you have no excuse... or is that too much trouble for you?

So why is Chester Brown appearing on AMOC? Hmmm, let me see: he is an award winning cartoonist who has expressed admiration for Dave Sim's work; Dave Sim helped research "Paying For It" while he was still on good-terms with Chester; reportedly Dave and Chester often debated similar issues when they met each other in Toronto back when they were still speaking; Chester Brown name checks Dave in the notes to "Paying For It"; The "Cerebus In Hell?" strip above that references Chester is from the latest AV publication... but despite all that, and more importantly, Chester Brown appears on AMOC on a regular basis, purely and specifically to piss-off Jeff and Jake.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

"You aren't going to prevail in this discussion with Chester, guys, I don't think. It seems to me that you either consider fornication and adultery wrong and don't do them (and, my theory anyway, atone for them by not doing them: another year or so to go until I've atoned, chronologically, for 1976 to 1998) or you "buy into" fornication-and-adultery-as-lifestyle. If it's a lifestyle, there's no reason you can't charge for it or pay for it. There's no effective argument against bestiality or any other sexual preference once you've crossed that Applied Philosophy Rubicon. "
~ Dave Sim (from AMOC, awhile ago back in Part 3)

Jeff/Jake - If it helps, the pain will end so long as no AMOC reader argues with Chester and provokes another lengthy discussion. Given the apparent need everyone has in this internet age to have the last word, I wouldn't hold my breathe if I were you. I can only recommend that you both stop dropping by here if you find reading views you don't agree with too disturbing.

Barry Deutsch said...

Jeff, I don't think I've commented on this before, but I'm 100% on Tim's side. He's right, you're wrong. No question.

It's Tim's blog. Tim made a decision.

Tim has made it clear that he's not going to reconsider the decision.

That should be the end of it.

And it would be the end of it, except that you keep on bringing it back up!

This is Tim's blog. It's his space. He's requested that you drop this topic. Your refusal to respect his wishes is both inconsiderate and ungracious. And it's generous of him to allow you to keep whining about it, rather than just simply deleting any of your comments in which you bring the matter up.

***

Personally, I enjoy reading Chester's essays, and will keep reading them as long as Chester cares to write them and Tim cares to post them. If you don't like reading them, there's a very simple solution: don't read those posts.

Barry Deutsch said...

As for who knows more, academics or participants: I think it depends on what the specific question is. If the question is statistical in nature - "what percentage of comics published in the 1940s were romance comics?" - then it's easy to imagine that a good researcher might have a better answer than a good cartoonist. (Of course, some people are both.)

One problem with discussing prostitution - as an academic essay I linked several posts ago argued - is that the scholarship on this subject is often terrible. And I wish it were better.

Any legitimate policy discussion about prostitution has to include sex worker's voices - either as direct participants, or through people in the discussion listening to what sex workers themselves say. But good academic work could have a lot to offer, as well. What proportion of sex workers are street workers, versus brothel workers, versus hotels and homes, versus truck stop workers, etc? No one can answer a question like that based just on their individual experience, but good research might be able to answer it.

Jeff Seiler said...

Tim--I'm not whining, at least not in my comment above, I'm simply relating a comment from a semi-interested (yet, involved) third party.

Yes, Barry, it is Tim's website. We all know that. And, yes, Barry, he is exceedingly kind in having only partly banned my participation on HIS website. As for my continuing to "bring it up", Barry, I think I've only remarked on it here three times since being banned (IIRC). Well, now, four. Furthermore, the above-mentioned person who here needs no introduction obviously agrees with me. That person has been exceedingly supportive of the fact that this is Tim's blog, to do with as he likes. Nevertheless, he obviously agrees with me.

BTW, I also enjoy reading Chester's posts. He's clearly an intelligent and articulate man. I just don't fully agree with him. Why does my disagreement upset everyone so much?

And, finally: Tim, you're suggesting that I should NOT exercise my right of free speech and dissent in arguing the fine points of Chester's apologetics and that I really should just go away? Because Chester is an award-winning cartoonist and I'm ... not? Because Chester has supported Dave Sim in the past? Because the person who...er, strike that...Dave Sim has supported Chester Brown in the past? I've supported both of them, but my voice doesn't count?

Yeah, run that idea of me NOT (partially) dissenting with Chester by the person who here needs no introduction.

See what he thinks. My guess is that he'll say that it's TIM'S blog and that Tim can block my dissent all he wants. Not that that makes it right.

BTW, Tim, I am well aware that bloggers, like journalists and newspaper editors, are always hungry for material to fill the space, and I'm also well aware that Chester provides that in spades. I just don't always agree with his (well-articulated) point of view.

Oh, and, yeah...the Swords thing tomorrow? Sure. Why not? S'okay with me. Can't speak for Jake, though.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Jeff,
You need to take a moment and reread what I said back there. At no point did I say you should not voice your opinion on this subject. By all means go ahead. My point was that ANY arguing with Chester by ANYone will prolong his posting on AMOC, which is what seemed to be upsetting you originally. I'm noticed this trait in you before, your ability to misread quite simple concepts, which is surprising given you pride yourself on your proofreading abilities.
Tim

Jeff Seiler said...

Tim, I'm not holding my "breathe" at all. If you wish to have the last word, then so be it.

I am simply trying to speak truth to the "power". Your "power" is well-established and much-appreciated. Truly. However, I will always defend Dave Sim and his words, as I understand them, regardless of how others interpret them.

If you run a website that purports to honor everything that is Simian (to borrow a phrase), should you not, then, honor a person who only seeks to defend the views of the person (Mr. Sim) whom you purport to honor?

Why are you so vehemently against me?

Jeff Seiler said...

Just for the record, Jake, were you asking that about the post or were you asking that about my comment?

I'm only asking because I think you may have inadvertantly been lumped in with me.

If so; sorry about that.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Jeff,
Whoa! You went off at a tangent there buddy, completely ignoring the points I raised.
Let me see if I've understood your position correctly. You're saying that:
1. Because I post articles by Chester Brown on AMOC for some reason you think I should be posting your letters from Dave.
2. Although your letters from Dave are of interest to AMOC readers, you couldn't be bothered setting up you own Blogger account.
3. You seem to think you are above any criticism because you are unique in your understanding and support of Dave.
None of the above makes any sense to me. I honestly don't know how to respond. Sorry.
Tim

Steve said...


In those immortal words of Wimpy:

"Let's you and him fight!"

And oddly enough, while I have not taken the time to read Chester's essay, I have read through these comments twice now.

Any input from me would be little more than meddling in an argument which is not my own.

OK, I know - like that's ever stopped me before.

Steve

Steve said...


Oh OK, just one meddling:

Jeff, if you're referring to Dave Sim, then simply say that.

This business of a 'person who needs no introduction here' comes across (even if it's not your intention) as some sort of brown-nosing, self-important pat on the back on the quality of the ... non-friendship that you share with Dave.

Just sayin'.

Steve

A nameless friend of a friends friend said...

here here!

Jeff Seiler said...

The reason why I didn't type his name was because I hadn't asked his permission to do so. I pretty much assume that anything he says to me is okay for public consumption (he has only ever once asked me not to relay something). But, I was trying to be delicate, not coy. Well...a little bit coy, but mostly delicate.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Jeff,
Okay, I get it. You and Dave think I should stop posting Chester Brown's articles and reinstate your regular feature. I'm sorry to disappoint you both, but in the absence of any coherent reasoning, that's not going to happen. I am still curious as to why you couldn't be bothered posting your letters from Dave on your own free Blogger site.
Tim

Tony Dunlop said...

On Jeff: When I open the AMOC page, there's a teeny, tiny little link in the upper right corner of the browser page saying "Create Blog." I, for one, would read a "Letters from Dave Sim to _________, with contextual annotations" blog. How about it?

On hookers: I think Dave, as quoted by Tim, gets it right. One you allow sexual contact to be just something people can do whenever both (well, or more, I guess...ick) want to, then it's pretty hard to defend "unless money changes hands" from a moral standpoint. As a traditional-minded Christian, I don't share the former view; to me, sexual contact is morally licit only between a man and his wife (or a woman and her husband, if that's your perspective), so the latter question doesn't apply (except in the situation in which, say, a wife won't "put out" unless she gets a fur coat or something - and that, of course, is a purely private matter between the married couple, unless he tries to force the issue...oh dear, I've wandered off into the wilderness...).

AMOCers, the hooker posts are going to keep coming (oh, excuse me) until the commenters can lay off of them (kind of like scratching a mosquito bite) - if you don't like them, stay out of the comments box; that's the only way to stop 'em!

Barry Deutsch said...

Wow, an on-topic comment!

Tony, as you said, once people are free to have consensual sex without legal consequences, it's hard to defend outlawing prostitution.

So what would you like to happen, policy-wise? Should sex outside of marriage be illegal again, in your opinion? And if the answer is "no," then how can a ban on prostitution be justified?

I mean, I get that you, personally, are a traditional-minded Christian. And that's fine with me. No one is saying that you should be forced to hire a prostitute, and I certainly would never tell your church what church members should believe. All of that is strictly your business.

But the moment you start talking about what public policy should be, it's no longer your business.

One of the last safe jobs in America is being a truck stop prostitute. These women hang out in the parking lots and go into trucks with strange men. If the man is violent, she has no recourse - she doesn't know his name, there's no one to yell for to help, and because she's a criminal it's very risky for her to go to the cops.

Contrast that with an alternate world, in which prostitution is decriminalized, and she works at a truck stop brothel. The clients have to show IDs and walk in front of security cameras to get in the brothel; there are other brothel workers there, and a bouncer, so she can yell for help if she needs it. And it's safe for her to call the police if necessary. Also, she's got a job that might come with medical coverage, and which is certainly creating Social Security credit for her (if she's in the US).

Is this a perfect life for her? Very possibly not. Maybe she doesn't like the job. But we can't pass a law that will make her life perfect. Making her life perfect is not on the menu of possible policy options. So that's not the right comparison.

The right question is, is she better off in the parking lot, with no protection and no legal standing, or in the brothel? Those are our policy choices.

Believe what you want in your church. But I don't think it's right for Christians to use the law to force their morals on everyone else - especially not when what those laws do is endanger people.

P.S. I like these discussions and I'm going to continue contributing to them when I want to (and have time), unless Tim asks me to stop. If you don't like, why not skip reading these threads?

And Jeff, I'd be perfectly happy for you to contribute to these discussions if you want. If I seemed to say otherwise, then you misunderstood what I meant.

But you also said "And, finally: Tim, you're suggesting that I should NOT exercise my right of free speech and dissent in arguing the fine points of Chester's apologetics and that I really should just go away?" No, Tim didn't suggest that at all; you misunderstood. But also, if you'll forgive me being a pedant: You have no free speech right to participate on someone else's blog. You do, however, have a free speech right to create your own blog.

Barry Deutsch said...

Aaargh, I screwed up two sentences badly, and what I wrote isn't what I meant.

"But the moment you start talking about what public policy should be, it's no longer your business." Should have said: "it's no longer ONLY your business; it's now everyone's business."

"One of the last safe jobs..." should have said "one of the LEAST safe jobs."

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Hi Barry,
I was going to let this go, but since you've mentioned it... the irony of Jeff invoking his right to free speech is not lost on me. He is the only commentator on AMOC to date who has asked for another person to be banned from commentating and he later urged another to restrain their comments as in his eyes they were getting above themselves. I can't stand hipocracy like that and, in a nutshell, that's why I'd prefer not to work with Jeff.
Tim

Tony again said...

I don't have any public policy views about prostitution. I personally don't care if it's legal or not, just like I don't care whether heroin is legal or not - neither is anything I'm interested in. I think they're both bad ideas (for different reasons), but I leave questions of legality to the democratic process, which in the West is accelerating in a libertarian direction. I think this unwise, but I'm just one person.

It becomes my business when people start leaving used rubbers or needles lying around my neighborhood, which is middle-class enough that they don't. NIMBY? You bet, but otherwise I'm "imposing my morality on others," and that's bad news.

Erick said...

Dammit Barry,
I was going to stay out of this until you posted. I will not comment on the "Should sex outside of marriage be illegal again", because that is an obvious Reductio ad absurdum. I will say this though, morals matter.
Whether they are mine, yours or someone else's. We may not agree with the professed morals of others, but having a moral compass, a center if you will, is necessary for any society to be able to survive. Prohibitions on: Murder, child abuse, incest. These are almost universal. Have they always been so? Of course not. Are they adhered to universally? Of course not. Are they routinely broken? Of course they are. But are they abhorrent to most society? Yes. Why? Because over time, we as a society have seen the how destructive they can be if left unchecked. Do I equate prostitution with those aforementioned? No. I do not see prostitution as an evil, or an abomination. I do not think that a mentally stable, consenting adult should be prevented from selling themselves sexually - as long as no one is harmed. Shocking? Why am I against it then? Because my morals see it as wrong. My moral compass can not reconcile my intellectual acceptance of a person being able to do as they please with their own bodies - caveats accepted, with the general degradation - and we can argue all day whether that is subjective or objective, of their chosen profession. There are some things we as a supposedly polite society, condemn. At times that is hysterically hypocritical. I am not perfect, society is not perfect. But this prohibition has been in place across most cultures and civilizations for as long as man has been around. Why? Notice I said prohibition. There are many abhorrent, but at the time sanctioned, things that humans have done, that we no longer do. And some that we continue to do. Times change. But there are some things that I hope will always remain. Chester has no choice but to offer up the most reprehensible of defenses - his statements of support for his mother or daughter to be sex workers, because otherwise he would be admitting that it is not a choice of profession that he would be proud having his mother or daughter to be a part of. Or maybe he really would be. In which case, the question is: does he have any moral center at all? What about you Barry? Would you be ok with a close family member being a sex worker? A euphemism for a whore? I am sorry for having phrased that question that way to you Barry. In our brief dealings with one another, I genuinely find myself liking you. My apologies if I have offended.

Erick said...

Forgot to add: Jeff can go pound salt. That is attacking low hanging fruit, but there ya go. Start yer own blog jeffo, or are you afraid no one would read it? Fear is a great motivator, come up with something compelling other than relying on a great creators work and your tangential connection to it, or someones else's blog about said creators work as your platform. Create your own damn platform and make it more than just about trying to grasp some shine from someone else, and maybe it will be compelling. Do you have it in you? Do you? Prove it. Otherwise, stop whining. I guarantee you this: If you create it and it is good, you will find an audience.

Jack said...

Are Erick's posts incredibly tedious? Yes. Are they poorly written? In my opinion, absolutely. Does the thing where he keeps asking questions and then answering them make me want to slit my fucking wrists? I would have to answer in the affirmative.

Barry Deutsch said...

Erick:

Thanks for your response.

Regarding murder etc: I agree, I'm glad there's a consensus that these obviously harmful crimes are immoral.

Regarding "I do not think that a mentally stable, consenting adult should be prevented from selling themselves sexually - as long as no one is harmed": I take this as meaning that you favor decriminalization of prostitution? If so, then we agree on the most important issue.

Re: "But this prohibition has been in place across most cultures and civilizations for as long as man has been around. Why?"

You could say the same thing about slavery, and husbands raping their wives, and the prohibition of homosexuality, and non-Democratic forms of government. The lesson I take from this is, just because a lot of civilizations have believed something, doesn't make it right.

Why are things changing? I think the growth and spread of democracy and a widespread acceptance of civil rights - imperfect as it is - has a lot to do with it. People are simply more free to organize, and to question the foundation of moral beliefs, than they once were.

A belief like "homosexuality should be illegal" or "sex work should be illegal" is easy to maintain when there's very little freedom for most people to publicly question those beliefs. When people are freer, then those beliefs that are not logically supportable might be undermined. More logical beliefs - like "murder should be illegal" - are not as vulnerable to being destroyed by a free society.

More recently, I think the emergence of the internet has helped,too, by making access to communication (and the ability to organize) easier than every before.

Re: What if a close family member of mine were a sex worker? If the person were happy and safe, I'd have no objection. But of course, "happy and safe" is more likely for sex workers if we decriminalize prostitution. So I think that if someone I loved were a sex worker, I'd be much more passionate about decriminalizing prostitution than I am now.

The question of if Chester (and now, presumably, me) have moral centers seems like an ad hom attack, and also ridiculous. Both Chester and I have have been making statements based on moral principals since this discussion began; could we be doing that if we had no moral centers? I'd say we both have moral centers (by which I mean "central moral principals"), but that ours are not the same as yours.

My turn to ask you a question: Suppose that a close relative of yours were a sex worker. For the purposes of this question, nothing you say or do can prevent them from being a sex worker. But you can choose whether they work in a world in which sex work is illegal and less safe, or a world in which sex work is legal and safer. Which world would you want for them?

Erick said...

Hi Barry,
My feelings on the prostitution question are similar to my feelings on the abortion question. I am morally opposed to both, and that will never change. But I do not think that the government should regulate what a woman can do with her body, nor do I think that the government should regulate what mentally stable, consenting adults should do with their bodies as long as no one comes to harm. My objections has always been and will always be based upon my own sense or morality, of which I make no apologies for. I posed the question about murder, incest etc. to show that there are some absolute boundaries to societies tolerance. That has certainly changed over time, with some things waxing and others waning. I can not predict if society will ever fully embrace whoredom. I can predict that I never will. Does that make me intolerant? Some may say so, but I believe that there must be limits to what we accept as a free society. Not everything goes. Not every indulgence is permissible. Some prohibitions must and should stay intact.
As to your question about safety if one of my family members was a whore. That is a no brainer and borderline insulting: Of course I would want any family member and for that matter anyone in general to be able to work in a safe environment.

Jeff Seiler said...

Erick--I think you're missing the point. I was originally approached by Dave, asking me to post his letters or excerpts thereof on Twitter. Neither of us had ever utilized Twitter, but I quickly found that it was a terrible, untenable format for his letters. Thus, I approached Tim to see if he would want to run them here. He jumped at the chance, as he is always looking for more material for AMOC.

The manner in which I posted the letters was, as much as possible, chronologically and with very little or no comment from me. I experimented briefly with posting both my letters to Dave and his letters of response, but most readers here didn't care for that format, so I ended that experiment.

At no time did I attempt to use or urilize those posts as a "platform" for me or my views, despite what you and Tim assert, unless you want to call me having my name attached was a "platform". Since nearly anyone who posts anything here has their name attached, that would be a specious attack on me.

At no time did I ever "blog" here, or anywhere, by posting Dave's letters. I don't want to have a blog. Never did. Probably never will.

I was simply attempting to fulfill Dave's request.

Jeff Seiler said...

Dammit. "utilize" not "urilize".

Jack said...

If it's all about fulfilling Dave's request by publishing his letters and has nothing to do with giving you a platform, then why do you care?

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

"I don't want to have a blog. Never did. Probably never will."

Jeff,
If that's the case, please do us all a favour and stop whining like a little girl.
You have made your point multiple times now and it has become tedious.
In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, "Just shake it off".
Kind regards,
Tim

Erick said...

Jeff,
Why do you think it is important to publish letters from Dave Sim to you?

Jeff Seiler said...

Erick-- Because he asked me to.

Jack--Again, not giving me a platform. Posting letters from Dave to me (or anyone--would you all be writing this to Margaret {sorry, M.} --if she were posting letters?)--is because it was requested of me, by Dave. Or, technically, regarding this website, requested and approved, at least initially by both Dave and Tim.

Tim-- Not whining, and no one has ever mistaken me for a little girl. Do you seriously want a picture!?! :)

I did "shake it off", (although I prefer Katy), but people keep bringing it up.

I seriously think that all of this kerfluffle has to do more with your distaste for the words that were reprinted, from Dave's letters as they became increasingly more anti-feminist, than they have to do with your distaste for me and my personal viewpoints. Which personal viewpoints I seldom, if ever, aired in those Saturday reprints of Dave's letters.

That's the first, I think, that I've mentioned that, but I think that I am correct, Tim.

You agreed to wake (or, reawaken) the Sim "dragon", in his letters to me, and then you got tired of its...(breath?)..(Benedict Cumberbatch tone?)...(insousiance?)...fire?

Use YOUR platform as you will, Tim. Just please stop villifying me when I respond truthfully to your attacks on me.

Kind regards,

Jeff

P.S.: I agree, Tim, and everyone else, that I *could* set up a blog elsewhere that might (?!?) even be attached to AMOC, but I'm tired of the whole posting letters thing. I think that, if he were in my position, Dave might agree.

Posting a weekly or daily blog, especially when one is transcribing, is very time-consuming and kind of a pain in the ass. Tim is remarkably dedicated to it.

I'm done with transcribing those letters, especially when most people don't want to read them.

Wait for the books Dave puts out. Or, buy the online reprints from Kickstarter.

So, there's your answer, guys (and, girl?), as to why I don't set up my own blog, away from here.

Sorry, to those of you who still wanted to read Dave's words (not mine, but to me).

Jack said...

Me: "If it's all about fulfilling Dave's request by publishing his letters and has nothing to do with giving you a platform, then why do you care?"

Jeff: "Again, not giving me a platform. Posting letters from Dave to me (or anyone--would you all be writing this to Margaret {sorry, M.} --if she were posting letters?)--is because it was requested of me, by Dave. Or, technically, regarding this website, requested and approved, at least initially by both Dave and Tim."

Does that reply make sense to anyone? To me, it just seems like word salad. And I hope I'm not telling tales out of school by revealing this, but a person who needs no introduction here--or, indeed, anywhere else, because this is a major celebrity I'm talking about--just said to me, over the phone, during the most recent of the very frequent phone conversations that I have with this individual, whose identity I refuse to reveal for the sake of propriety, even though it would totally blow all of your freaking minds, that he agrees with me. *cough*robschneider*cough*

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Hey Jeff,
"Just shake it off"
Tim

Dominick Grace said...

Jeff said, "people keep bringing it up." In this case, at least, Jeff, it was you who brought it up. That's not so much shaking it off as picking at the scab. I enjoyed the letters posts, and I imagine many other readers here did, but the decision was made, and quite some time back. It's back in focus now because YOU put it here.

By the way, I think your suggestion that the "real" reason the feature was dropped was that the increasing antifeminist tone of the letters was a problem is ... what? a tad paranoid? I mean, really, Jeff, on a site specifically devoted to Dave Sim's work, mostly frequented by people well-versed in that work and the opinions embedded in it, you think that Dave's anti-feminism is a deal-breaker? Really, Jeff?

Erick said...

Tim, I have always preferred "Just be a Duck", it will roll off your back.
Jeff, just be a duck.

Tony again said...

Wait, Jeff is "tired of the whole posting letters thing"? Then why bring it up way back in the first comment on this marathon thread? He's upset that he can no longer do something he doesn't want to do anymore?

And: "no one has ever mistaken me for a little girl. Do you seriously want a picture!?!"

We've seen one; even in full Carmen Miranda regalia, NOBODY would mistake our Jeff for a girl.