Why do I spend so much time on comics I know people are going to hate?
You know those tests done to figure out why people where so complacent in undertaking the Nazi regimen’s orders to put people to death? The one where they took people and put them in a room with a guy in a lab coat and another actor wired up with fake electrodes that supposively could deliver a lethal level of electricity but couldn’t be seen. If you remember 6 out of 10 people continued raising the amount of electricity to the point where they thought the actor had died… even when they heard him begging to stop and then go quite. All it took was some guy in a lab coat saying that it was “necessary” for them to continue the experiment. They thought they where testing to see how negative reinforcement effected learning, just so you don’t think it was anything of any importance. Just to reiterate: 60% of people would fry you even if you begged and screamed just because some authoritarian prick told them to.
They found during those study’s that the people who commonly told the lab coat guy to fuck off where the “disagreeable” ones. The nice ones would fry your ass so everyone could get along.
To answer your question: don’t be dense, you know why do you this.
Great comic. I don’t know if I agree with the message, but that is another conversation.
This is crazy well done. Color me impressed.
Well I liked it.
because you know you’re wrong
so much for my “unique” idea of calling prostitution consenting rape
Damn… fuck those people who hate your comics.
You are awesome; don’t let the haters get you down.
As always, I love it. And need some time to sit here quietly.
I wouldn’t worry, i think you make comics for people who hate everything ELSE. Speaking from the Audience part of my brain, I love your work because it offers what most comix do not.
I like stuff i can learn from, that offers new ideas, that doesn’t talk down to people, that leaves me not sure what to think (but at least sure that the artist isn’t pushing some tiresome ideological agenda, possibly because he/she isn’t sure either), and i like stuff that talks about something besides pop culture and/or Working A Job You Hate and/or I HAVE KIIIDS and/or I Also Have Cats. I like goddamn SINCERITY– that thing that’s been out of fashion for what feels like forever because it involves so much personal risk (mentally, that is). And speaking as an artist, I like stuff that’s smarter than i am, that i actively enjoy being jealous of, and you are it. Plus you draw backgrounds.
Huge fan, anyway– very grateful for your ongoing efforts. I remember reading your stuff years ago before i even had my own webcomics, and knowing that it was something Cool. Intimidating, but in a good way. Huge fan.
I liked it.
It got me thinking. I really like the idea that deviance from social norms is internalised, which results in harmful effects to the person.
I think you can even take it further and think about a person’s “perceived” deviance. I’m thinking if we just “see” ourselves as different, rather than needing to be different, then we feel the effects.
A bit like the comic you did where the guy wants to feel beautiful and the girl wants to be beautiful. The feeling matters, and it can arise even if we aren’t different.
I’m not sure I agree that sex without desire is rape. I think rape is sex without consent. Even if the consent is bought, it’s still OK. If a man’s wife decides to have sex with him to make him happy, and she isn’t that into it, but decides to do it to make him happy because she loves him, I don’t think that’s rape.
I think if you needed desire for things to be kocher, then work without desire would be slavery – and many people do jobs they don’t enjoy.
On the other hand, you could take it further and think along the all sex is coercive path – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Dworkin#Intercourse
I’m also thinking there may be other ways prostitution can be seen by those involved – which may change your thoughts on prostitution transaction. For example, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/feb/12/disabled-people-valid-sexual-partners
Anyways, great comic. I love them.
There are two ways of reading this comic. One reading is that Jordi is explaining how he perceives his job to someone who has a similar job but perceives it differently. I’m not sure what bpatrick intended, but I take Jordi to be an underage adolescent who was forced out of his home by abuse. Jordi may or may not be homosexual, but he survives by having sex with men. As soon as he’s old enough to get a job he can live on, he’ll drop the prostitution and go on to something else, but right now small time drug dealing and sex work are all he’s got. Among underage runaways who do sex work, there may be some who experience it exactly as Jordi describes it.
However, the other way of reading the comic is that Jordi is bpatrick’s mouthpiece, and bpatrick is lecturing sex workers on their work. That’s a problem because Jordi’s reasoning relies on factual error and non sequitur. The factual error is the claim that sexual assault is worse than other forms of assault. Go to any VA hospital and talk to people wounded in battle who are getting physical therapy. They can tell you all about assault that is as bad or worse than sexual assault and has consequences as far reaching. Getting blown up by an IED can leave you just a emotionally scarred and do far more damage to your body. Outside of war, all forms of assault are harmful. Rape is a particularly nasty form of assault, but it’s simply not true that rape is always worse than anything else.
The non sequitur is “‘I’ll consent to it because you’re going to pay me.’ So you’re consenting to rape.” By definition, rape is non-consensual. Consensual sex may be unpleasant, and a person may consent to unpleasant sex with someone they don’t like for a number of reasons, but it isn’t rape unless it happens without their consent. Underage runaways often have access to shelters where they can sleep overnight. Some of these shelters have bad reputations; staff members sometimes rape the kids who stay there. Rather than risk rape in a shelter, kids often find a client they can stay with overnight. However unpleasant the sex may be, it’s nowhere near as bad as real, actual rape. Actually, there are a number of different reasons why runaway kids avoid shelters and seek clients, which is to say there are a number of things that are worse than paid sex.
Assuming that Jordi is a runaway, he could turn himself in to the police, who would either return him to the home he ran away from or put him is a program for runaway youth. I think we all agree that this would be better than rape. I think anyone in Jordi’s position would agree also. And yet Jordi continues to sell sex. So selling sex is better than the home he ran away from or a runaway youth program, and both of those in turn are better than rape. Jordi’s behavior makes it difficult to believe that he really thinks that selling sex is the same as being raped.
For the roughly 10% of prostitutes who are forced into prostitution, the sex is non-consensual and therefore rape. The remaining 90% generally have alternatives to sex work, but continue selling sex. So selling sex is better than the alternatives, which are better than rape. As Jordi points out, sex workers internalize stigma. Everyone I’ve talked to who has ever been a prostitute acknowledged struggling with their self image at some point. But this is true for the HIV+, for transgender people, for homosexuals, for poor people, for people who lack education, for the Roma, and for any other stigmatized group. Sex workers aren’t unique in being stigmatized and the stigma associated with their work doesn’t make it rape.
The biggest problem with Jordi’s reasoning is that he rejects his friend’s understanding of sex work and insists on the universality of his own. The reality is that there is no universal understanding, and probably no single understanding shared by even a majority of sex workers. Talk to five sex workers and you’ll get five different sets of experiences and at least six different ways of understanding those experiences. Even if Jordi’s reasoning were not based on error and non sequitur, and even if it were consistent with his own behavior, it would still represent his experiences and perceptions and not the experiences and perceptions of all sex workers everywhere.
I’ve been a fan for a while, but I feel that this is one of your most philosophically interesting comics, at least for modern times. I love the post and love the comics in general. Some more commentary on the idea from the reaction to it when I posted it to facebook http://screencast.com/t/nATV4fGidQN
A very good comic. Didn’t understand the end much (is that supposed to be a punchline? What does it change that it’s the guy who’s actually a prostitute? Maybe I’m already too LGBTA for my own good), but powerful thing, with wishful thinking. Right up there in the best Eat shit and die comics, with the Philosophy supermarket (how people develop their ideology to fit the way they already live) and the broken hand (how people don’t understand depression).
Thanks a lot for those two, too. Those are more meaningful than one may realize.
P.S.: Oh my god, the author of one of my favorite webcomics is reading another of my favorite webcomics!
Who do you make art for? Your audience? Yourself? The critics? I think, as an artist, you don’t owe anything to anyone apart from yourself.
Now hurry up and finish Curious Urgency already.
I think the idea is that the prostitute is raping her-/himself to get the money. However, I have known sex workers who claimed to enjoy the work. And anyone who works for money instead of love or enjoyment isn’t all that distinct from those whose work is sex.
Wow, you guys are the best.
Making comics everyone hates is what I do but I was sure this one would be disliked by even the most forgiving readers. Obviously I don’t know anything.
Thank you so much! My best-hoped-for scenario regarding the response to this comic was discussion. And I readily admit to talking out of my ass here. I make a point of not researching comic ideas like this. I don’t want it to turn into a thorough report on the topic with the goal of providing information. I want it to be conversational. I was about to go into how I came up the idea for this comic but I don’t want to ruin it for people who somehow don’t hate it. I’ll just let it stand. Though if you’re interested email me and I’ll be happy to tell you.
@Kyle: At first I was thinking you were referring to the characters in the comic but then I realized you meant me and making comics everyone hates. Awesome. Thank you. I hope my not-so-niceness is as helpful as you suggest it can be.
@James: Thanks! I’d like to have that conversation.
@Mo: Thank you!
@rapchee: Thanks for taking a minute to disagree! It is very likely that I am wrong. About many things.
@ColiFox: Thank you! I’ll try not to.
@Winston Rowntree: Wow, thank you so much! Coming from the master of smart, sincere, challenging, interesting comics with crazy-good backgrounds that is an amazing compliment and I’m inexpressibly grateful.
@David Collett: I always love your comments, thank you! I think there are ways to coerce consent and there are cases of consent under duress that would still register somewhere on the rape-spectrum. All rape isn’t violent. Exploiting an imbalance in power to obtain sex is at least harassment, maybe assault, possibly rape and an economic imbalance would qualify in my mind. Your point about work without desire being slavery is interesting. I don’t entirely disagree with it although I’m sure anyone who has actually been a slave would call me an idiot.
@Ren Galskap: You hit upon my worst fear regarding this comic. In no way did I intend to lecture sex workers or anyone on anything, especially not how they should feel. I’m speaking from a place of relative ignorance. I just wanted to present some ideas I thought were interesting. As far as sexual assault being more traumatic, I only meant it’s usually more traumatic than a comparable physical assault. Most people would rather get punched in the prison yard than raped in their cell, I would think. Cuts and bruises from a rape are not the same as similar cuts and bruises from kicks and punches. Sure there are things more traumatic, but the addition of a sexual element seems to increase the severity of the crime exponentially. I’m sure there are sex workers who are perfectly happy and wouldn’t change a thing. I just wonder how many people being exploited and sexually assaulted is an acceptable amount. I think if you actually gave sex workers the sex/bat option at least you’d have some assurance the consent was not coerced. Thank you for an awesome comment!
@Mark D: That is exactly the type of discussion I was hoping for. Thank you for posting that. The article your friend posted was very interesting. For a while now it’s been my opinion that buying, not selling sex should be illegal. I’ve never looked into it and I had no idea that this was an actual model being used in Europe. Jailing people for being exploited seems doubly wrong to me. That was very enlightening and exactly the type of article I avoid before writing comics like this because it reveals how complicated the issue is and would shame into silence for certain. Thank you!
@Cauchemar: It’s not a punchline and doesn’t really change anything unless one were coming to the comic with a certain kind of bias that I admit I was trying to exploit and subvert somewhat. The philosophy supermarket is one of my favorites! Thank you!
@Leo W.: Point well taken, Leo W. And thank you. And I’m trying! I would love to finish it.
@Anarcisse: I absolutely believe there are sex workers who are perfectly happy. And I think you make a great point. I think anytime you exchange something invaluable for a dollar-amount you’re going to feel regret. Putting a price on the priceless is always going to make you feel cheated, right? But if sex is just another skill/product then stealing it is no big deal or making it a requirement for employment in general, demanding it of your employees if you compensate them with the dollar amount determined by the market. I’m tumbling down the slippery slope here but…
Thanks for commenting!
Hey, I have been reading your stuff for years. Your insights on depression and society helped me move back into a healthy life.
This thing you made is no small act. It is a huge issue. And you have taken a crazy persons stance on it. I think you have taken the right one too.
Thank you. You are kinda a hero to me.
@Anarcisse: i wouldn’t be terribly surprised to find that those sex workers lie to themselves. I cant imagine being comfortable with having sex with strangers on a daily basis, but then again i’m not very comfortable with touching other people, so it might be just me.
@bpatrick. You’re welcome.
I agree that there is a rape spectrum. For example, you could say “I only have sex with other people because of biological urges. If I didn’t have those urges, I would choose not to have sex. Hence, I don’t really freely choose sex, so I don’t really consent ever and all sex is rape.”
You could probably spend a life time exploring the ins and outs of it. I think it all revolves around “What is it to freely choose something?”
I found an answer to the question “Why do I spend so much time on comics I know people are going to hate?” and “Why do I (David) spend time thinking about things that no-one else cares for?”
Hope it makes you smile. Take care.
I never comment enough. But based on your comment under the comic, I felt I had to. I have loved every single comic of yours I have seen so far. I tell people at work to read this stuff. It is all a lot more ‘real’ than anything else I’ve read in a long time. Keep it up. I may not always comment, but I’ll always be lurking and appreciating!
The sex workers I have discussed sex work with did not seem to be lying to themselves. Two of them were professional dominatrixes, and you can’t really do that kind of work right if your heart isn’t in it. Another was a specialist in providing ‘girl friend experiences’ (that’s a thing) to other richer women who could pay for them, but she genuinely liked having sex with women, especially rich ones. The fourth started out as a college student who was doing sex things with a lot of other people as some college students do, then at the behest of someone who offered to send her screened customers, did some prostitution, and then, realizing that many people who seek out prostitutes have some kind of problem, changed her major to clinical psychology and became a sex therapist. We probably want to remember that big, fundamental things like love, sex, money, power, desire, and social coherence exhibit many, many branchings, facets, ambiguities, and paradoxes. Which is one of the reasons I liked the particular comic we are discussing.
I agree that there’s really no difference between prostitution and rape except what we call it and how we treat it, so I loved this cartoon. It reminds me of the absolute illogical bullshit prostitution advocates say on a daily basis. “It’s just another form of work!” “choice is inalienable!”
The difference I see in rape vs prostitution is the ability to say no, or stop. A sex worker can refuse a client or an act. Once that choice is gone, then it’s rape.
There’s a ton more psych and social things to consider of course. I can’t get into on mobile, and I should avoid creating a wall of text anyway.
I feel like every time you say everyone will hate a comic I love it even more. I love that your comics can challenge and make me think about something that I never would have before or from a point of view I may have never considered. If I told my parents I get more intellectual stimulation from reading a comic than talking to some of my friends I’m sure they’d be surprised hahaha… Please keep them coming!
Is the punchline that this is Jordi from ES&D 221?
I’m… Not enitrely sure what the message here is. It’s like watching a ripple in a deep, dark pool, and knowing there’s something there just beneath the surface- but you can’t quite make it out, can’t quite understand it… And fear that if you try to reach out and grasp it, you’ll find out it bites.
The switch at the end has a interesting kind of horror. It’s not so much that it’s playing on the gender stereotypes. It’s revealing that the person who considers prostitution the worst thing in the world* is the one who actually has to engage in it.
It’s not the person who just saw it as a job.
*akin to working the meat counter I presume
Damn son. You smart.
In answer to your question I would imagine that you make comics for the same reason that (most) artists make art; because you enjoy it, because you make it for yourself, because you ‘feel’ like it.
Now, what if you make money out of your comics (or any form of art)? You have given consent, in exchange for money, for your creation to be passed around, to go from person to person affecting each one in a different way.
Is this similar to the message in this comic? I don’t think so, but before I started typing I had a different idea about that.
I’ve been trying to articulate this for years. I had many friends in the industry, though I was not. I saw them all crash and burn and it broke my heart. They told me that it was a choice and no big deal and that it was positive. I would gently try and say something very very much like this but could never get all the way there. Thank you for crystallizing it for me.
Hey, I am quite late to the party, it has been a year and some since I last came by this way. I just wanted to stick my head in the door and let you know that I still love your comics, and they still make me thing and go “ah!” or just make me feel better. So hey, thanks a lot.
I just started going through your comics. I love the cerebral debates and your existential angst (I have some of that). And your “nothing we do matters” debates.
I think we should decriminalize prostitution.
I think more women are damaged by society’s rejection of them for doing or having done sex work, than the work itself.
A former porn star, Bree Olson, said “porn didn’t hurt me, the way society treats me for having done porn hurts me”.
It’s been 18 months since I first read it and I still can’t get over this comic. While it doesn’t encompass all my feelings and opinions about the sex industry, it illuminates one of the key points that is so hard to try to convey to people: that maybe “sex is different”. And maybe it’s okay that it’s different; but we have to keep that in mind when we begin talking about sex as a commodity and sex workers as vendors of that commodity.
Thanks for your comics, always. Some are saved to my computer; some I refer friends to during philosophical conversations; and some (like this one) just stick in my head and refuse to go away.
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