Saturday 18 March 2017

Chester Brown: "Dave Sim Again"

Art by Chester Brown

Dave Sim Again
by Chester Brown
(from a Patreon Update, 14 March 2017)

Tim of A Moment Of Cerebus reposted my March 4th post about Dave Sim, so Dave responded again in the comments section. And I feel compelled to respond to some of those comments.


I had speculated that Dave had been "affected by the whorephobia that surrounded him as he grew up". He denies this:
“Far from being a “whorephobe”, my parents were fine with me buying PLAYBOY magazine when I was 14 or 15 and were fine with me reading my Dad’s copies of PLAYBOY from about the age of 11.”
Plenty of people who read Playboy are whorephobic. Liking to look at pictures of naked women doesn’t mean that one does not have a problem with the idea of paying for sex. Nevertheless, I didn’t say that he was a whorephobe when he entered those strip clubs forty-or-so years ago, I said that he’d been affected by the whorephobia that surrounded him as he grew up. It’s possible that, if someone had asked him about prostitution before he ever walked into a strip club, he would have been either in favour of legalizing it or wouldn’t have had a opinion one way or the other. But he’d encountered countless negative depictions and accounts of sex-work in movies, books, songs, and television shows and had also heard the things that people around him said about strippers and prostitutes. All of that was in the back of his mind and influenced his perception when he looked into the eyes of strippers and imagined that they looked dead.


To prove that I wasn’t really his friend, Dave recounts an incident from an event that he attended:
“Seth [was] interviewing Chester onstage. And, at some point, Chester mentioned that although he’s a Libertarian, all of his friends were Liberals or Socialists.”
And because Dave isn’t a leftist, he therefore supposedly thought that I was indicating that I wasn’t his friend. I was exaggerating for effect (rather like Dave does later in his comments when he writes that "anyone from Toronto is going to think I’m a misogynist", even though many Torontonians have signed his petition). I do have friends who are not leftists, like Jason Kieffer (who I’m almost positive was there that night) and Ella (who I knew back then and who would actually agree with Dave about sex-work). Dave came up to me after the onstage interview with Seth and mentioned my statement that all my friends are leftists and, with a smile, pointed out that he isn’t a leftist. I thought he might be joking in implying that I didn't consider him to be a friend but, in case he was serious, I apologized and affirmed my friendship for him. 
Dave seems to think I was trying to keep my friendship with him some sort of secret:
"[Y]ou definitely don’t want to admit, publicly, that Dave Sim is your friend. And there was no danger of that happening with Chester.”
No one around me was in any doubt that I considered Dave to be a friend. I certainly didn’t avoid talking about him to my other friends and didn't hesitate to make my real affection and admiration for the guy clear. And if I was trying to keep my friendship with him secret from a wider public, then why would I have mentioned that I was his friend on page 163 of The Little Man? (That would be page 163 of the 2006 second edition.)


Some guy going by the name Sean R defends Dave's position about sex-work:
“Individual lives have value, and pain is real, ergo, actions that cause pain and decrease that value are morally suspect”.
Sex-workers are no more likely to experience physical pain during the consensual sex that they have with their clients than non-sex-workers do with their sexual partners, so (unless he sees allsex as morally wrong) Sean is presumably talking about emotional pain, and is assuming that sex-workers hate their jobs and experience emotional pain as a result of doing them. That assumption is not necessarily true. In this piece, sex-worker and blogger Maggie McNeill references various studies showing that significantly high numbers of escorts report increased self-esteem after taking up the work and that their lives had improved. According to the Canadian study referenced in a report from the National Post, “70% of sex workers are satisfied with their jobs”:
" 'They talk to us about the amount of control they have over their work situation,’ said researcher Mikael Jansson. ‘They have a lot more control over the timing of their work, the pace of their work than journalists.’ " [National Post, 23 September 2014]
Britain's newspaper The Independent reports that a Leeds University study discovered that, of the sex-workers that were surveyed for the study, “over half find their job ‘rewarding'."
Yes, there are sex-workers who hate their jobs — but so do lots of people in all other jobs. There are cops, dentists, and lawyers who experience emotional pain as a result of their jobs, but that doesn’t mean that it’s therefore wrong to use the services of cops, dentists, and lawyers. Sex-worker-rights advocates point out that their right to do the work should not be contingent on enjoying the work. 
Sean R further writes:
"To Mr. Brown […] what are the incidences [sic] of mental illness among sex workers? What percentage of that population was abused as children? How does the life expectancy of a sex worker compare to a non-sex worker? Do you think any of these issues are causal, or just correlated with that choice of profession? How many of these things do you expect would change with legalization, and how would such a legalization scheme avoid the problems with essentially indentured servitude seen under the German legalization scheme? [...I]t doesn’t take much exposure to the sex economy for an empathetic person to see the damage that’s being done ”
The website Tits And Sass (which posts material by sex-workers about sex-work) had a good piece recently titled We’re Not Crazy For Doing This: Sex Workers With Mental Illness. Here are two excerpts from the essay:
“People diagnosed with mental illness frequently have their decisions invalidated and undermined by the dominant culture. Many individuals who do not have much experience with mental illness will attribute any socially unacceptable behaviors to “mental illness.” In much the same way, people who have never been in the sex industry tend to sideline the decisions of sex workers by inferring that trauma or abuse must have predestined them to a life in the sex industry. When people who are neither mentally ill nor in the sex industry say these things, they are robbing us of our ability to exert agency.[…]
“Sex work is not a dysfunctional behavior stemming from our disease. Rather, it is often the best choice we can make to adapt to our mental illness. In truth, many people with mental illness find sex work helpful in a variety of ways as an occupational choice. It gives us a less rigorous schedule which allows for more emotional stability. Sex work can affirm us as something we can excel at when mental illness has hindered our success in more traditional pursuits.”
I recommend reading the whole article. While I don’t know what percentage of sex-workers have mental problems, I strongly suspect that the majority are completely sane — certainly Denise is. (She’s the sex-worker I’ve been seeing regularly for fourteen years now.)
As for Sean R's implication that a high number of sex-workers were sexually abused in childhood, I wrote this in Paying For It:
“I think we’re stepping into dangerous territory when we start saying that certain adults are not allowed to make choices because they had bad childhoods. If women-who-were-abused-in-childhood aren’t competent to make the choice to engage in paid-sex, then are they competent to make other sexual choices? Regardless of what happened to them in childhood, adults should have the right to make sexual choices”.
It’s probably not even true that a particularly high number of sex-workers suffered such abuse. Maggie McNeill has this to say on the subject:
“The original source for this claim [that 85% of prostitutes report childhood sexual abuse] was a 2004 study of incarcerated street workers which actually claimed that 45% reported sexual abuse and 85% physical abuse. Furthermore, there are serious methodological problems with the study, which is typical when biased researchers use an unrepresentative convenience sample and then extrapolate the results to a much larger population with which it does not correlate to any meaningful extent.”
In asking "How does the life expectancy of sex worker compare to a non-sex worker?” Sean R is presumably implying that sex-workers have shorter lives because they’re exposed to dangerous clients. Let’s say that it could be established that taxi drivers experienced more violence and tended to have shorter lives than accountants. Would that mean that it’s wrong to use taxis? Should it be illegal to drive people around? It’s wrong to use violence against taxi drivers and prostitutes, but that doesn’t mean it’s morally wrong to peacefully ride in a taxi or pay money to a prostitute and have consensual sex with her (or him). 
The laws against sex-work exacerbate violence against sex-workers: criminals know that prostitutes are vulnerable because they’re reluctant to go to the police. Decriminalizing sex-work wouldn’t completely eliminate violence against sex-workers (any more than violence against taxi drivers has been completely eliminated) but it would be easier for sex-workers who’ve experienced violence to go to the police if those sex-workers knew that neither they nor their clients could be charged with committing a criminal offence.  
It should also be pointed out that the vast majority of johns are not violent, and most interactions between sex-workers and their clients go as they’re supposed to. (Denise, for example, tells me that in the years that she was working as an escort she never had a violent incident with a client.)
As for Sean R’s mention of the problems associated with the German form of legalization, I completely agree that the German system is bad — all legalization schemes are bad. Maggie McNeill says that “legalization is criminalization under a different name”. Sex-worker-rights advocates support decriminalization, not legalization. The government should repeal the laws that affect sex-workers and their clients, not set up new legal regulations to control them.


Carson Grubaugh writes in the comments section for that same Moment Of Cerebus post:
“Started reading Paying For It for the first time last night, thanks to this discussion. Entrancing book. I had to force myself to put it down about halfway through because I needed to go to bed.”
Did I mention that, even though I disagree with his opinion of life, I like the work by Grubaugh that I’ve seen? 
“If sexual release is all there is to it I default to the classic cynical viewpoint of Diogenes, take the most expedient route and just jerk off.”
I seem to remember that there are stories of Diogenes visiting brothels, although, flipping through my books on the Cynics, I can’t locate them at this moment.
I hope the ending of Paying For It makes it clear that I’m experiencing more than just "sexual release" with Denise.
Grubaugh makes these two observations in relation to Paying For It:
“I am much more interested in getting the woman off than I am in getting off. I need that aspect to enjoy it. It doesn’t seem like that would be a big focus of the interaction in prostitution. Like does Chester ever perform oral sex?”
“[Chester] never really addresses the woman’s sexual gratification in Paying For It”.
From what I’ve read in accounts written by sex-workers (and I’m sure there are exceptions), they tend to find it annoying if their clients want to sexually please them. They’re doing the work for money, not pleasure. They see the job as satisfying the desires of the client, not satisfying their own desires. That said, after I had been seeing Denise for a while, she began to tell me what I was doing sexually that was annoying her and what I should be doing instead to make the experience more pleasurable for her. I suspect that she wouldn’t want me going into the specific details of our sex-life here, like whether I perform oral on her. But I’ve always been very willing to perform oral on sexual partners who’ve wanted me to.
I’ll also add that physical pleasure doesn’t just come from sex. One day, many years ago, Denise complained that her back was a bit sore. I offered to give her a massage. She was so satisfied with that massage that now I always have to give her a massage when we get together. I massage her for as long as she wants, which is always much longer than the amount of time we spend having sex. A few weeks ago she called me up out of the blue to ask if I could come over to her place and give her a massage because she wasn’t feeling well. I was happy to do so — we didn’t have sex and no money was exchanged -- this was just about helping a friend feel better. We had a very pleasant afternoon together. (Sook-Yin and Amanda also frequently ask me to massage them. Sook-Yin tells me that I’m a much better at giving massages than Adam. If only I’d given Dave massages he'd have wanted to stay friends with me.)

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


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Brown,

There's no such thing as "whorephobia."

No one is afraid of whores. If this is some kind of long term comedic bit to drum up responses, then congratulations, it worked. But if you're sincere in using the term and hope it will catch on, I'm aghast.

I shudder to think my comment will be further fuel for you using this term, and is a reason I hesitated in responding. (Perhaps you'll think the quality of this post should've been sufficient reason to hesitate...!)

I believe in free will.

If someone wants to be a whore or to pay for one, that's their business. But I doubt anyone would be proud to know one of their family members was a prostitute. And whenever someone says they wouldn't have a problem with their sister/daughter/mother being one, well...I don't believe 'em.

As to surveys among sex workers, well...I'm skeptical that everyone questioned was being honest. Doesn't mean that there weren't some that were being honest, I just doubt the figure represented.

You want to use prostitutes, that's your business.

But please don't fabricate a stupid term to paint those who think differently from you in the hopes of stifling criticism. Because that's the end goal of attaching "phobic." The hope that the people who disagree with you will eventually be shunned by "right thinking" people.

So not only is whorephobia one is afraid of's also malicious in the long term and intellectually my opinion.

I think paying for sex is nothing to be proud of. It's no achievement.

Is there the possibility that you chose this term because deep down inside, there's a part of you that knows it's not right and this is your attempt to justify it to yourself?

I don't know about all of this though, part of me still thinks it's is an attempt at performance art or something. Or to be contrary for contrary's sake.

I didn't think I'd break my lurking for this of all things but it struck a sour note.

As regards your friendship with Dave, for whatever it's worth, I'm sorry that you're not friends or acquaintances or even friendly peers. I arrived at your work through Dave's interview with you in the back of Cerebus. You're a talented artist and though I'd never even heard of Louis Riel before, I found your graphic novel interesting.

I guess that's it.

A Fake Name

Anonymous said...

One more thing.

Dave's right, strippers do have dead eyes.

I still remember the disappointment at the whole experience when I first went to a strip club for a co-worker's birthday. Over the years on different occasions, whenever I've set foot in one I was struck by the miserable looking men and women around me.

There's a HUGE difference in the genuine smile from a woman who's interested in you from the plastic grin of the stripper.

Being there feels wrong in a way that may be difficult to express, it just feels wrong.

Consenting adults, free will blah blah blah. But their eyes man...their eyes don't lie.

A Fake Name

Carson Grubaugh said...

Wow. Praise from Chester Brown! Thank you. I wish i did share your idea of life. It sounds easier to live with!

It would not surprise me if Diogenes had paid for sex as it is the most expedient way to get the real thing. I just love the stories of him jerking off in public and wishing hunger were as easy to overcome. It appeals to my love for expediency. Anything that frees up more time for art.

I was glad to see that Brown found a stable transaction. The idea of long-term, monogamous, prostitution makes a fair amount of sense to me. The thing that would bother me the most about paying for sex, as a germ-a-phobic person, is the fact that other johns were being seen.

My point about the woman's pleasure was that I personally need to consider a lover's pleasure to obtain pleasure myself. I understand that the prostitutes are not worried about it, and may even be annoyed by attempts at it, which means the set-up of the transaction would leave me sexually unsatisfied. I WANT to perform oral sex, etc. If a partner did not want me to it would be a turn off. This is not an argument that anyone else should not use prostitutes. It just doesn't sound like it would be worth the money for me.

Working with Dave Sim sure does get one involved in interesting discussions. Love it!

Tony Dunlop said...

"_______phobia" is a rhetorical stunt intended to put one's opponents on the defensive. Nobody really believes "homophobes" are afraid of gay people (or of things like themselves, which is what "homophobia" should mean, if language still worked) or that "transphobes" are afraid of transsexuals. But it's a lot easier not to listen to your opponents' arguments if you can just paint them as cowards.

Germophobia, on the other hand...

crazyyears said...

Dear Lurking Anonymously,

The definition of phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.
I will point out that much of your comments exhibited specifically that part of the definition that follows the word "or", rather disproving your point that there is no such thing as whorephobia.

Dear Mr. Brown,

I haven't read your work but I've certainly been aware of it. I should do so.
Your comments here are at the very least clearheaded and concise. I also appreciate that you bother to cite sources or indeed look outside your own experiences at all when addressing these questions. Far to few of us bother to do so.

Dear Carson,

I can appreciate the expediency you suggest is inherent in masturbation but I could not help but think of one of the aphorisms offered by Lazarus Long in Robert A Heinlein's Time Enough For Love:
"Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrong-doing--and you don’t have to go home in the cold. But it’s lonely."

Tony again said...

Crazy et. al.,
I wasn't aware of the alternate "aversion" meaning of "phobia." I don't have an OED, but interestingly, my Webster's New Collegiate includes "…or aversion to" in the suffix "-phobe" but not in the noun "phobia," which is defined only as an "irrational fear."

But the "aversion to" meaning is a much less powerful rhetorical tool with which to cut off one's interlocutor. After all, lots of people have an "aversion to" brussels sprouts, without being afraid of them. Having an aversion to, say, prostitution is very different from being afraid of it. Also, it sounds more plausible that one can be talked out of an aversion than of a fear. Either way, though, "phobia" sets up the terms of the conversation in such a way that the "phobe" is the one with something to overcome.

Anonymous said...

crazyyears: Tony Dunlop hit the targets I aimed for, in his two comments.

"Either way, though, "phobia" sets up the terms of the conversation in such a way that the "phobe" is the one with something to overcome."

Well said. This is exactly what he's doing. I think it's crap.

A Fake Name

Unknown said...

Tony & A Fake Name - Yes, I agree that that's the situation with the indiscriminate use of the suffix "-phobe". That it's used to silence dissent and "end" arguments but is essentially an intellectually dishonest attempt at "short-cutting" to a lay psychiatric diagnosis. That is, "the only reason that you believe what you do is because you're clinically insane on that subject."

Of course, it seems to me that the bottom line is that the prostitution ship has sailed. It's hard to imagine any circumstance where prostitution in the G7 countries would ever again be addressed from a traditional moral perspective and all that anyone who thinks prostitution is a Bad Idea (like me) can do is to trudge over to where the new goalposts are located and attempt to deal with the new location on its own terms ("From what I can see, the new goalposts are on the left side of the field, between Exit 7 and Exit 8. The right goal post is in Seat 25 Row EE and the left goal post is in Seat 49 Row GG").

In the prostitution situation, it seems to me that what that translates into (in Canada anyway, according to our Supreme Court and, I assume, in the rest of the G7 in one form or another) is: 'WE MUST KEEP OUR HOOKERS 100% SAFE FROM PHYSICAL HARM!!"

Which is why I offered the body-cam solution: record prostitute/client interactions from beginning to end with client ID cards which identify the client on body-cams which the prostitute can either a) delete if she has no complaint with how the interaction went and b) e-mail to the appropriate authorities if she wants the John charged with anything. 100% safety with 100% justice at any violation of that safety.

You don't HAVE to participate -- client OR prostitute -- but that would be the only way that it would come to the attention of society. If you don't participate, you're on your own in a very unsavoury field of endeavour.

Carson Grubaugh said...


Ha-ha. Never read that before, but great quote.

My initial point was that if sexual gratification is all one seeks it seems easier and safer to jerk-off. It didn't occur to me that prostitutes would be used for anything other than achieving sexual gratification but it seems Chester Brown is not just buying sexual gratification, or at least not any more. I cannot see myself solving the loneliness problem with cash, but more power to him if he can.

Jeff Seiler said...

The Crazy Canadian Lady, when I met her, had a professional degree from a well-respected southern Canadian university and had been established in her job for several years. She was (is) smart and good at her job.

It occurred to me, a couple of years after we broke up, when I found out that prostitution is legal in Canada, that she probably had been a sex worker. I know that she had been sexually abused as a teenaged babysitter (rides home from babies' dads, according to her).

But, the thing I remembered most, from near the end of our relationship, was when she told me out of the blue (I used to call her the Queen of non-sequitors), "I did what I had to do to get to where I am today."

She was very good (skilled) in bed, but crazy and damaged. Making her way in the world as best she could (can).

My point is, IF she was a sex worker, it was not something she was proud of and, I believe, it contributed to her mental anguish.

Just adding to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

I looked at one of those links and Whorephobia was used there as well so it's not something Chester is using as performance art.

I still think the same about it though and have nothing else new to say on this topic.

Unknown 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.

The only thing that makes sense, to me, is the body-cam. Bad things happen to girls and women because there is no record of private one-on-one interaction. If Jeff's Canadian Lady had had a body-cam and her parents insisted it be turned on 24-7 when she was babysitting NOTHING would have happened on those "rides" home. It's beneath, in my opinion, the dignity of our Courts and outside of our Courts' competence to determine the reality in "he said/she said" cases. 100% safety entails 100% loss of SELECTED privacy. If parents are the only ones who have access to the body-cam footage, then it's a simple matter of the girl checking the time and saying, "I think you need to see this conversation that I had with Mr. Chalmers when it was only him and me." Odds are, if he knows she has a body-cam, that conversation won't take place. Adjudicate verifiable footage and accept that you can't successfully adjudicate anything else.

Jeff Seiler said...

Yup. Body-cams are definitely a good thing. The Minneapolis police are phasing them in over a few years, but they will make a difference. Unfortunately, the police department says that they get to say who can and cannot have access to the footage. Joe Citizen has next to zero access, even if he is on the footage.

For the record, the Canadian Lady, after a while, started walking home. Even in the dead of winter.

ChrisW said...

I'm totally in favor of body-cams, but I think they introduce more problems. Just recently, I've been reading about punishment for police who turn off their body-cams. Even taking the argument for face value, the body cam is there for protection of the citizen, it should never be turned off. But on the other hand, I don't want to take away the right of cops to grant leniency, 'you've had a few too many, we've all been there, we'll make sure you get home safely.' There are valid reasons to support that right for cops to make those decisions and valid reasons to oppose giving cops the right to make those decisions.

Giving those rights to the city government will just complicate things more, or the state government, or the federal government.

I totally support body-cams on police officers, but many laws will have to be re-written to properly accommodate body-cams.


Unknown said...

With cops, I think it's a matter of the lethal force involved. If, as a society, we give someone a loaded weapon and the authority and discretion to use it, then I think we need to have the most accurate documentation of that person's actions and words while he or she is in possession of that lethal force (i.e. on duty). And we might as well face, at a judicial level, what cops actually do on the beat.

I also think you have to make the footage available to any defendant. If a cop arrests you, you should automatically get an e-mailed copy of the bust. We, as a society, have to work our way TO that past the Police Unions who obviously don't want their members "hung out to dry". Lethal force, to me, is the dividing line. As a society we can't just -- SENSIBLY -- give you a loaded gun and then have to take your word for it when "shots were fired".

Unknown said...

Body-cams for hookers or for women generally are, to me, a different legal issue: which is, that it's beneath the dignity of our Courts and outside of our Courts sphere of competence to determine who is right in a "he said/she said" situation. If you have a smaller, weaker, sexually desirable being moving into isolated proximity with a Rapist (which is what we're talking about) then you need irrefutable proof of what happened between them IF you want to make it a criminal prosecution.

Women are offended by the "smaller, weaker, sexually desirable" characterizations, but to me that a) is the central reality and b) isn't the legal issue.

The legal issue is Canada's Supreme Court mandating 100% safety for hookers. Well, okay, we can DO that but the only way we're going to hit 100% -- safety OR judicial retribution "0" or "1" no other option -- is with body-cams: SELF-limits on freedom and privacy. Your call. Whoever you are. You want to hit on women and date women and not get charged with rape? YOU wear a body cam, too. "Here's my entire history with her. YOU tell ME. Am I a rapist or is she nutty as a fruitcake?"

Unknown said...

The advantage that I see is, executed properly, we can move all of this stuff into its own realm. Chester and his Happy Hooker Universe can exist in its own...what's a nice word for it?...exceptional context and never again have to come to the attention of society, in general, as it did when it clawed its way up the Feminist Theocracy ladder to the Supreme Court.

Here. This is how you keep hookers 100% safe.

Can we now STOP talking about hookers, like, forever?

Jeff Seiler said...

You know me, Dave, ever the contrarian. Soooo:

There is a popular misconception that the U.S. Regular Army Major-General "Fightin' Joe" Hooker was the source whence the term hooker was derived, because of the gaggle of prostitutes that would follow his division when it was on the march. Camp followers was a kinder term.

But, in point of fact, the term first arose some twenty years earlier, in New York City.

NOW we can all stop talking about hookers, like, forever, God willing.

Anonymous said...

Hey did you all see those guys in the ice warehouse using their tools to skin those fish while they were being moved on giant... chains? Weren't those guys awesome? Such great workers, doing things that women won't do. I just wish there was a more concise term for their line of work.

Barry Deutsch said...

1. The suffix "-phobe" is commonly used in English to indicate "dislike or prejudice" - and that's been a common usage for decades. So, for example, defines "transphobia" as "Dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people," and use the same construction for "homophobia." Merriam-webster includes the fear aspect, but only as one of three possibilities, not as a necessary aspect: they say a homophobe is "a person who hates or is afraid of homosexuals or treats them badly," for example. American Heritage defines "homophobia" as "fear, hatred, or mistrust of lesbians and gay men."

So when Chester Brown refers to "whorephobia," its likely he means something like "dislike or prejudice of people who engage in prostitution." He is not claiming that people are "afraid of whores," as A Fake Name and Tony Dunlop claimed. Nor is it a "lay psychiatric diagnosis" or a claim that someone is "clinically insane," as Dave says.

2. The claim that by using "whorephobia" Chester is attempting to shut down discussion seems ridiculous on its face; Chester's tone throughout his comment was reasonable, respectful, and open to disagreement. The same can't be said about Fake's, Tony's, and Dave's responses, which mostly consisted of accusing Cheaster of having malicious intentions - of attempting to "silence dissent," of pulling a "rhetorical stunt," of being "malicious" and "intellectually phony in my opinion."

Chester simply did not attack any of the three of you personally, nor did he say any of the things you attributed to him. In contrast, the three of you accused Chester of a lot of nasty stuff.

3. Similarly, it's obvious that Chester is eager for discussion, so the claim that he's trying to shut down discussion is false. In contrast, however, Dave is saying things like "Can we now STOP talking about hookers, like, forever?" which is pretty clearly an attempt to shut down this discussion (unless Dave was joking).

4. None of you addressed Chester's arguments in any substantive way; in contrast, Chester actually addressed arguments in his comment.

5. Dave, Canada AG v Bedford did not, by any plausible reading, stand for the proposition that "WE MUST KEEP OUR HOOKERS 100% SAFE FROM PHYSICAL HARM!!" In fact, the court explicitly said that's not what they were ruling. From the decision:

" Nor is it accurate to say that the claim in this case is a veiled assertion of a positive right to vocational safety. The applicants are not asking the government to put into place measures making prostitution safe. Rather, they are asking this Court to strike down legislative provisions that aggravate the risk of disease, violence and death."

6. Dave, the standard of certainty for criminal law in Canada is "beyond a reasonable doubt," not "irrefutable proof." I don't see any reason rape law should be any different.

Virtually all the arguments you three make on this thread are based on premises that are clearly untrue. If this were a formal debate, Chester would be winning by several miles.

I've never hired a prostitute and I don't think I ever will. Legalizing prostitution would not benefit me personally at all. But if the arguments in this thread are any indication, then I can see why the "legalize" side is winning; they simply have better arguments. (Not unlike the "legalize same-sex marriage" side winning its debates.)

Unknown said...


I don't think the Supreme Court established HOW the legislative provisions "aggravate the risk of disease, violence and death". As is usually the case with feminist jurisprudence, there's just the flat assertion masquerading as a proof.

[I've toyed with idea of doing a CANADIAN LIBERAL SUPER-HERO who fights crime by making everything legal. I think this is just another example of that.]

I think the rest of us are discussing the REALITY of disease, violence and death and you and Chester and the Supreme Court just want to make hookers a subject fit for judicial discussion -- which I don't think they are -- as a means of corrupting society to your own level. I can understand you wanting to do that given the nature of your thinking. But I don't think YOU understand why WE (who don't agree with you) don't WANT you to do that and why WE -- if we're going to be forced into acquiescing into capitulating to your (to us) immoral standards (which is happening everywhere in the G7 at a faster and faster rate), WE want to do it in such a way that sequesters you and your (to US) peculiar obsession. Allowing YOU to do what you want without making US societally culpable for it or rubbing our noses in it as if what you are rubbing our noses in is GOOD for us. Because WE don't think it is.

You can only push the normalization of immorality so far before you're going to get push-back.

Here's a hypothetical question: if prostitution is "just another job". Let's say I need a ditch dug and I go to the local food bank or soup kitchen and say "Say, anybody here want to make $200 digging a ditch?" I get a volunteer or I don't. Is it the same thing if I go to the food bank or soup kitchen and say, "Say, you're cute. How about you give me access to your vagina for an hour and I'll give you $200?"

Or just going up to someone on the subway and making the same offer. "I'll give you $400 to have sex with me. You should be flattered, usually I only pay $200."

SHOULD she be flattered?

I think you're making yourselves ridiculous suggesting that she should.

Anonymous said...


I think I'm just going to say the same thing in different ways but since you addressed me, I thought it proper to respond:

Even if the term is being used as dislike or prejudice instead of fear it still remains an attempt to shut down criticism, not to engage with people who think differently. That's why it's intellectually phony. Chester may have well considered arguments but labeling those who think otherwise as Whorephobic is a cheap tactic.

Tony's words: "...phobia" sets up the terms of the conversation in such a way that the "phobe" is the one with something to overcome"

really nails the intended effective of someone being called Whorephobic. No one wants to be known as a "phobe."

Not only am I not afraid of prostitutes, I don't hate them either.

When I perused some of the writing on those links I noted others using the term as well in what I believe is an attempt to legitimize it.

I did not attack Chester personally, I attacked the term he used (I actually thought he invented it...!) and asked if the possibility exists he believes on some level that prostitution is not right and is over-compensating. That was a legitimate question, not a personal attack.

I ended my initial comment with a compliment about his art and sadness (as sad as I can get about this situation involving strangers online) about him and Dave's friendship.

I think I understood Dave's point in not discussing "hookers". It's not a very interesting topic and past a certain point, once everyone has laid out (pun intended) their arguments, where do you go? You paid money to have sex. So? Reading Paying For It (years ago) didn't make much of an argument in favor of, so much as highlight the 'mechanical' element of the act and made the whole thing seem skeevy.

For those interested in this debate, again, I think saying someone is "Whorephobic" is a dishonest tactic and should be avoided.

I don't think the government should be chasing after prostitutes and clients, throwing them in jail and so on but nor do I think it is something to be proud of. If this is how some adults choose to live, then I hope both sides of the transaction are as safe as can be.

But the idea that it's be something to be proud of, and it's not because of fear, dislike or hatred.

And I still doubt anyone would be happy to know their family member is a whore.

It may seem strange, but perhaps the feeling of shame attached to it is a good thing. Maybe it's one's conscience saying mistakes have been made in life and work on fixing those, instead of paying (or charging) for sex.

A Fake Name

Anonymous said...

As a male vs. female issue, I think women should be pushed to be the ones defending the 'smaller weaker' side. The more men they have to enlist to defend them, the weaker their argument becomes.

In general, men are chivalrous to women, often to a fault, and I completely agree that women should be defended against unchivalrous men. I also accept that women put themselves in positions which no chivalrous man should be required to defend. That said, prostitution is a further grey area. Best for men and women to stay away from, no doubt, but we don't have laws and morals to decide what's best, we have them to decide what actually exists. A couple hours ago, I finished reading a book about Johnny Carson by Carson's long-time laywer, and Carson was totally a 'grab them by the pussy' kind of womanizer. Do we judge him by the standards of the 1970s-80s, do we judge him by today's standards, or do we accept that there are right and wrong ways for a rich famous man to treat woman that women totally love being treated?

Carson was so rich and so famous for so long, he didn't know any other way to treat women. Any woman who wasn't totally eager to give it up to Johnny Carson was prostituting herself by giving it up, and she was fine with that. So was he. If she got any benefits afterwards was up to him.

Lower the standards, is any cheerleader on the high school team seriously going to deny the quarterback? How is that not the equivalent of prostitution? For him, it's another notch, for them, it's another step closer to turning him into Al Bundy.

Barry Deutsch said...

Dave, earlier you claimed that the Canadian Supreme Court had ruled that "WE MUST KEEP OUR HOOKERS 100% SAFE FROM PHYSICAL HARM!!" There was no such ruling made. Do you concede that your earlier claim was untrue?

Dave: "I don't think the Supreme Court established HOW the legislative provisions "aggravate the risk of disease, violence and death"."

Well, yes and no. The Supreme Court can't legally gather evidence and draw factual conclusions; that's not their role. That's the job of the application judge. But, contrary to what you seem to believe, a lot of evidence was gathered in this case - "The evidentiary record consists of over 25,000 pages of evidence in 88 volumes" - and the Supreme Court was legally required to defer to the application judge's findings on all factual questions when making their ruling.

(Or, at least, that's my understanding; I'm not a lawyer, as you know.)

But yes, the Supreme Court did explain at length - both in their own words, and by quoting the application judge - how it is that the three provisions in question aggravated risk for prostitutes.

For example:

"With respect to s. 210 , the evidence suggests that working in-call is the safest way to sell sex; yet, prostitutes who attempt to increase their level of safety by working in-call face criminal sanction. With respect to s. 212(1) (j), prostitution, including legal out-call work, may be made less dangerous if a prostitute is allowed to hire an assistant or a bodyguard; yet, such business relationships are illegal due to the living on the avails of prostitution provision. Finally, s. 213(1)(c) prohibits street prostitutes, who are largely the most vulnerable prostitutes and face an alarming amount of violence, from screening clients at an early, and crucial stage of a potential transaction, thereby putting them at an increased risk of violence.

In conclusion, these three provisions prevent prostitutes from taking precautions, some extremely rudimentary, that can decrease the risk of violence towards them. Prostitutes are faced with deciding between their liberty and their security of the person. Thus, while it is ultimately the client who inflicts violence upon a prostitute, in my view the law plays a sufficient contributory role in preventing a prostitute from taking steps that could reduce the risk of such violence."

None of these evidence-based findings are surprising. I mean, OBVIOUSLY if a few sex workers can work in a building together, watch each other's backs, screen clients, and hire a bouncer, generally speaking that will make them safer than if it's illegal for them to do these things. Do you believe otherwise, and if so, why?

(Out of space; to be continued in the next comment.)

Barry Deutsch said...

(Continued from previous comment.)

"I think the rest of us are discussing the REALITY of disease, violence and death and you and Chester and the Supreme Court just want to make hookers a subject fit for judicial discussion -- which I don't think they are -- as a means of corrupting society to your own level. I can understand you wanting to do that given the nature of your thinking."

As I understand it, the fact-finding for this case was based on a great deal of evidence, including police reports, published research, and interviews with sex workers about their real-life experiences. How is that not discussing the REALITY of the dangers sex workers face? What alternative source of information would you suggest?

And of course prostitution is a fit subject for judicial discussion. In a free society that uses a judicial system, any matter pertaining to the law is potentially a fit subject for judicial discussion. To say otherwise would be to say that the legislature should be able to pass laws without fear of judicial examination. And if that were the case, what prevents the legislature from simply ignoring the Canadian constitution when they pass laws?

Finally, I doubt you understand my thinking at all.

I have no desire to rub your nose in anything, Dave. Nor do I want to make you participate in prostitution in any way at all (nor do I participate in prostitution in any way at all).

I do think that living in a free society requires a certain amount of live-and-let-live - so if Lucy wants to sell sex for money, you don't have to approve, but neither should you be able to legally forbid Lucy from hiring a bouncer so she can be safer. Similarly, if you want to stand in the public square and read aloud from the Bible, Lucy doesn't have to approve of that, but she shouldn't be able to legally stop you.

If that's what you mean by being "socially culpable" for Lucy's actions, then okay. But I don't think just leaving Lucy alone and letting her hire the bouncer makes you "socially culpable."

"I think you're making yourselves ridiculous suggesting that she should.

I never made any such suggestion; you literally just made that up, Dave.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Dave, Chris W., and AFN might benefit from learning that believing something very strongly is not the same as that thing being true.

-- Damian