Monday 29 May 2017

Chester Brown: "Daniel Read"

Paid For It (2016)
by 'Chesty Matt' aka Joe Matt
(being a satire of Chester Brown's "Paying For It")

Daniel Read
by Chester Brown
(first posted on Patreon, 27 May 2017)

In response to my Sex-Work Pride piece (April 15th, reposted on A Moment Of Cerebus on April 17th), Sean Michael Robinson posted (on A-M-O-C) an anti-prostitution article by Daniel Read. I posted a short assessment of the article on May 1st, which was reposted on A-M-O-C on May 2nd. Read saw it there and responded in the comments section.

I noted that one of his sources — Melissa Farley — has been discredited. Read half-heartedly defends Farley — who is an academic — by putting down the source I linked to: Maggie McNeill. Read tries to invalidate Maggie’s perspective by noting that she’s not an academic. That is correct; while Maggie did receive a university education (and worked for a while as a librarian), she is not an academic. She’s a sex-worker and has been one for many years. Thinking that Farley knows more about sex-work than Maggie is just ridiculous. Farley’s interviewed some sex-workers, but Maggie knows the business inside-out and has many sex-worker friends (and fans) all over the world. Maggie is obviously going to be much more knowledgable on the subject than Farley. As for my charge that Farley has been discredited: once the courts start to dismiss an academic's “research” as being too biased to be useful, I’d say it’s fair to say that that academic been discredited. (Here’s the link again to Maggie’s piece on Farley, which includes a quote from Justice Susan Himel of the Ontario Superior Court on why she considered Farley’s work to be of little substance.)

Apparently Read worships academics and doesn’t recognize that they’re humans who are capable of being biased, making mistakes, and even lying. Do academics know more about the professions they study than the people who are in those professions? If an academic claimed to understand cartooning better than I do, I’d be sceptical.

As for Read’s other sources: point-for-point, Read’s statistics are countered by Maggie’s. Anyone who thinks Read’s partisan stats are convincing really should look at the other side’s numbers.

“Vapid” and “semantic” are the words that Read uses to characterize the idea that there’s a difference between legalizing sex-work and decriminalizing it. It’s not a semantic matter to prostitutes.

All of the legalization systems that I’m aware of have required that prostitutes register with the government for a licence. All people engaged in the work without a licence would be breaking the law. In the 1960s homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada — one didn’t need a licence to engage in gay sex, one just needed the consent of an adult partner. What if, instead of decriminalizing homosexuality, the government had legalized it, requiring gay people to acquire licences to have gay sex. Homosexuality was heavily stigmatized. (It still is stigmatized, but the stigma was much more intense in the 60s.) A lot of gays would not have wanted to go to a government office to admit their private sex-life to some bureaucrat. Could they trust that the law wasn’t going to change? Could they trust that the information would be secure? No, if the Canadian government had legalized homosexuality in the 1960s, most gay people would not have registered for licences, and so they would have continued to be criminals for engaging in consensual sex.

Sex-work is as stigmatized now as homosexuality was back in the 1960s. In regions where governments have legalized sex-work, the majority of the workers have refused to register for licences. The result is that a few workers are legal and the majority are still working illegally and are subject to the dangers of working illegally, including the greater likelihood of encountering violence.

Many years ago I asked Denise if she would get a licence if sex-work was legalized. Of course she said no. And why should she? It’s none of the government’s business what she and I do in the privacy of her bedroom — we’re not hurting anyone. The negative consequences of requiring prostitutes to have licences outweigh any potential benefits. Indeed, I don’t even see any benefits.

Decriminalization would allow any adult who wants to engage in sex-work to be able to do so without needing anyone’s permission. And it would allow anyone to pay such a sex-worker for consensual activities. In other words, sex-for-pay should be like all other sex — you should need the consent of your sexual partner (or partners) and that’s the only person (or people) you should need consent from. On the other hand, legalization requires sex-workers and their clients to also get the consent of the government. That’s a big difference, not an inconsequential one as Read seems to think.

Read chides me for ignoring the part of his article that dealt with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the supposed widespread “trafficking” of eastern European women that resulted. I ignored it because, from a 2017 Canadian (and American) perspective, it’s irrelevant to the subjects of decriminalizing sex-work and the morality of the profession. The majority of sex-workers in Canada are not from the former U-S-S-R and have not been forced into the work. Criminalizing ALL prostitution because a small number of prostitutes have been forced into it makes no sense. Police should endeavour to identify who has been forced into the work, punish whoever did the forcing, and leave willing sex-workers and their clients alone.

In my May 1st post, I wrote this about Read’s piece:
“Read’s article boils down to a familiar argument: because SOME prostitutes SOMETIMES encounter violence, ALL prostitution is wrong. Why is it wrong in instances where there’s no violence or force? Read avoids that question, no doubt because he doesn’t have an answer for it.”
Read avoided answering that question in his article, and he avoided answering it when I directly posed it, even though he saw that I’d posed it. I’d say that pretty much proves that he doesn’t have a rational explanation for his negative opinion of sex-work.


In my May 1st post I asked the A-M-O-C anti-prostitutionists who think all prostitution is morally wrong to explain what’s morally wrong about about my sex-for-pay relationship with Denise. Most of the A-M-O-C anti-prostitutionists ignored the question. Perhaps they’ve gotten bored with the discussion, but I suspect that they don’t have an answer to the question. Only the individual going by the name A Fake Name addressed the question. He-or-she writes:
“[I]f you and her [sic] have found a way this works and are both happy, then I’m glad for you, as glad as I can be for someone I’ve never met. I’m not condemning your relationship.”
On April 20th at 19:38 A Fake Name wrote that “paying/charging for sex is pathetic/scummy.” On May 4th at 19:58 A Fake Name wrote that sex-work is “damaging in the long term for both men and women.” A Fake Name WAS condemning my relationship with Denise — he-or-she called it pathetic, scummy, and damaging. If A Fake Name genuinely thinks there’s no problem with my sex-for-pay relationship with Denise, then he-or-she is either contradicting him-or-herself or he-or-she has changed his-or-her mind on the matter. (And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with changing one’s opinion, but A Fake Name doesn’t seem to be acknowledging that that’s what he-or-she is doing.)

If someone wrote that gay people are pathetic, scummy, and damaged, almost everyone would recognize that person as a homophobe. If someone wrote that black people are pathetic, scummy, and damaged, almost everyone would recognize that person as a racist. A Fake Name has a prejudice, and so do the other anti-prostitutionists on A-M-O-C, and so does Daniel Read.

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...

I recently posted this under Part 6...

---Prostitution is damaging to men because it’s saying they can’t attract a woman on their own.

---Instead of honest self-assessment and fixing things within themselves, they’ve 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. 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.

---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? Wasn’t there a funny line in Cerebus about prostitutes and credit…

---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.

——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, Dave Sim being one, 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.

—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.

---Where do I get off telling women how they feel and I don’t understand and etc.? Well, I’m not. I don’t harangue prostitutes, I’m not making government policy, I’m simply expressing my opinion on this topic.

Having sex, surrendering an intimate part of themselves to men who pay for it is mentally damaging in the long term. In my experience, I’ve yet to meet a woman who doesn’t want to be in a relationship, not one where the man pays her for sex, but one in which she actively desires him on multiple levels. Bypassing this desire for money again creates a dissonance.

I don’t think prostitution should be legal (but I have changed my mind on this prior to ever seeing A Moment of Cerebus so I may again) but nor do I think the prostitution that Chester speaks of should be bothered by those in law enforcement.

A Fake Name

Anonymous said...

Same with this...

So, I think prostitutes/john are bad for men, keeps them from cultivating a better version of themselves which makes them automatically more attractive to women, makes them feel better about themselves and improves their lives. For women, I believe it damages them emotionally in the longterm and has them creating all sorts of rationalizations for what they do, instead of accepting they’re taking money to get a guy off since it’s easier than a real job and pays well. Also being a prostitute could potentially interfere with their long term biological drive for a man and a regular, normal, heathy relationship. I have no proof for this, other than observing and participating in male and female interactions. No sites to source, this is my opinion.

For society I think it 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.

Reading Tony Dunlop’s recent post made me realize how tired I am of this topic. I think I’ve made my points over and over and did my best in responding to the counter-arguments.

——Aside from saying that no man would be happy having their relative as prostitute, and that underneath these pro-prostituion arguments, is a need for validation because on a deeper lever Chester and others feel something is wrong with using prostitutes——aside from those two points of presumption and my own speculations on the the topic, I’ve done my best to stick to peoples’ written arguments only. No personal attacks, no wild inferences on others’ character.

To sum up, my points have been: Whorephobia is a shit term/prostitution is damaging to men and women in different ways and is not something to aspire to/disbelief if men claim they’d be fine with their relatives being a whore/consenting adults should be free to do what they want/I’m concerned about legalizing, billboards etc. because of unforeseeable damages to society on the slippery slope.

I don’t think I have anything else to say about this. If this helped someone’s insomnia, I’m glad it achieved something.


A Fake Name

Anonymous said...

Chester wrote:

A Fake Name wrote that “paying/charging for sex is pathetic/scummy.”

No. I wrote:

"I think because underneath it all, deep down inside, both prostitute and client believe there’s something pathetic about paying for sex and something scummy about charging men for sex."

I speculated on the internal state of prostitute and client.

Chester wrote:

A Fake Name WAS condemning my relationship with Denise — he-or-she called it pathetic, scummy, and damaging.

---No. I did not condemn your relationship. Where do I say I think Denise and Chester are pathetic, scummy or damaging? I voice my skepticism as to the validity of a relationship with prostitution as its foundation but again, I did not call Chester/Diane scummy etc.

Chester wrote:

If someone wrote that gay people are pathetic, scummy, and damaged, almost everyone would recognize that person as a homophobe. If someone wrote that black people are pathetic, scummy, and damaged, almost everyone would recognize that person as a racist. A Fake Name has a prejudice, and so do the other anti-prostitutionists on A-M-O-C, and so does Daniel Read.

---No. I said the action of paying for or charging for sex, not the people doing the action. A low opinion of a person's specific action is not a condemnation of that person. I did not call the people paying for nor charging for sex "scummy". I find smoking disgusting. That doesn't mean I have anything against smokers as people.

A Fake Name

Anonymous said...

Chester wrote:

Perhaps they’ve gotten bored with the discussion, but I suspect that they don’t have an answer to the question.

---As noted, I eventually responded but I'm not surprised if my comments were missed seeing as they were posted a day or so ago.

But yes, I am bored with this discussion and hopefully have said my peace on this topic.

Good luck with your comics, Chester.

A Fake Name

Anonymous said...

---Well, I was speculating on what the clients/prostitutes think deep down inside regarding the scummy comment. Just now I wrote:

"No. I said the action of paying for or charging for sex, not the people doing the action. A low opinion of a person's specific action is not a condemnation of that person. I did not call the people paying for nor charging for sex "scummy"."

I'm splitting hairs here. The point is, I've a low opinion of prostitution and any criticisms of it refer to the actions involved but again, this is not a blanket condemnation of the people doing these actions. I refer to my smoker example.

All Right, again, thanks for reading. Or closing this on your browser.

A Fake Name

Jeff Seiler said...

For the most part, I've stayed out of this "conversation". Gladly so. But, I do have a few thoughts:

1. I stand by my earlier comment that the majority of sex-workers I've ever seen have dead eyes. The eyes being the window to the soul, draw your own conclusions. BUT, this being America, where prostitution is legal only in one state, I've only ever seen strippers. A strip club is usually a very, stultifyingly boring place, especially for the strippers and staff. So, "dead eyes" could translate to "bored stiff" (no pun intended).

2. I think that if you live in a country (or city) in which prostitution is legal, and you are a physically and/or socially unattractive male or female, but you have the resources to hire the services of a prostitute, and masturbation or celibacy just aren't cutting it for you, then I think hiring a consensual (healthy) partner is a viable alternative. And, no, Fake, for some people, using those same resources to make themselves more attractive to the opposite gender is not viable. Having said all of that, I remain blissfully single and primarily celibate.

3. 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." Conversely, and yet peripherally, I believe that the vast majority of married men and the vast majority of men in a long-term sexual relationship also are paying for sex, just indirectly. And, the sex that they are paying for is not "on-demand" (a la Netflix), but is irregular and subject to the whims of their wives or girlfriends. All of that is why, when I received my modest inheritance, I vowed, "No woman will ever get her hands on this money."

Okay, have at me, Chet and Fake.

Anonymous said...


1. I pretty much agree about strip clubs. Don't they consider themselves dancers or entertainers, not sex-workers, though? I don't really get the point of strip clubs.

2. Understood your point about a viable alternative but look at it this way; some men can at least try improving themselves first and see what happens. Just deciding there's no chance and going straight to a prostitute is selling themselves short, in my opinion.

3. Whelp, there's a can of worms.

Go on and turn this place into A Moment of Cerebisn't, why don't you?

. Wouldn't one-night stands be exempt from what you're talking about?

I don't really care.

I'm sticking to the direct level of prostitution Chet has been talking about, not human trafficking and not the costs for both parties involved in dating/relationships.

A Fake Name

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

I must point out that "A Fake Name" was repeatedly dishonest in the previous discussion, avoiding Chester's assertions by saying that Chester didn't really think that.

Given Jeff S.'s other unsubstantiated conclusions about women (eg. inventing from whole cloth a history of abuse), his "dead eyes" comment can be completely disregarded as of zero worth.

I do not think Chester is correct that someone practicing in a field will automatically know more than an academic who studies that field. In this case, I do agree with him that Melissa Farley has been discredited.

-- Damian

Jeff Seiler said...

Damian--To repeat the words of one of our greatest presidents, "There you go again."

By that, I mean, twisting my words.

I didn't write that "dead eyes" means, necessarily, a history of abuse, although it very well could; I wrote that it often signifies boredom. I believe that I wrote before that strippers have often been sexually abused, and I stand by that. The culture of strippers and sex-workers, whether they are conducting their business legally or quasi-legally, or illegally, includes a lot of damaged people. It also includes, I think, a lot of undereducated women who want to make a lot of fast money as fast as they can before their expiry date.

They generally are good people who come from unfortunate circumstances, who are (usually...sometimes) trying to make enough money, as fast as they can, to move on to a better life.

There are, of course, the career professionals, but I believe (with no empirical evidence) that they are in the very small sample size.

Now, Chet, before you get all up in my face about that last paragraph, let me stipulate that I'm writing about America. If, because, it's legal where you live, then hey, knock yourself out. Have fun. Maybe they are, too.

But, if you were to pay her, say, 250,000 dollars (CAN) for one week of unlimited sex, would she be back next week?

I'm guessing you pay her, in real life, just enough money, sweetness, and sexual prowess to keep her coming back night after night. However many nights (and other...lovers) there are in between.

I'm not judging you, Chet, I'm simply saying that your construct, while (apparently) viable (and I do not think that it is a viable construct in the long run), is not normal. It is not the norm (at least, here in America), except in one state.

But, hey, if you've managed to turn a prostitute into a quasi- (healthy) girlfriend, then good on yer.


Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Jeff S.: I'm sorry, I actually didn't mean to be that rude. I meant that your chain of thought contains so much subjectivity that it is not useful. You gawped at some strippers (a statistically insignificant sample). You look at their eyes, and they look "dead" to you (a completely subjective interpretation). You infer from these "dead eyes" a whole backstory, with no evidence (making it up out of whole cloth). Then you treat this as fact, just as much as an academic's research or an activist's experiences. But those two sides are not different evidence; one is actual evidence, and the other is something some guy made up. And I'm afraid that this time that guy is you.

(To bring it back to Cerebus, this is a common type of "thinking" employed by Dave.)

I don't think I was twisting your words, although I do see that someone might read my description of your statement as being about prostitutes (or possibly strippers). If I remember correctly, the history of abuse you invented without evidence you attributed to your Crazy Canadian Lady.

(Sidenote: I was alive during Saint Ronald of Reagan's (p)residency, and I would dispute that he was one of your greatest presidents. He was more an actor playing the president on TV. We can take that up in private correspondence if you'd like, rather than on someone else's blog on cartooning.)

-- Damian

Jeff Seiler said...

Damian, for once, I will not engage with you. (Margaret is quietly jumping up and down, excitedly.)

My words above speak for themselves.

Tony Dunlop said...

Damian: "You infer...a whole backstory, with no evidence (making it up out of whole cloth). Then you treat this as fact, just as much as an academic's research or an activist's experiences. But those two sides are not different evidence; one is actual evidence, and the other is something some guy made up."

Sounds exactly like what a man Jeff calls "one of our greatest presidents" did throughout his political career.