Paying For It by Chester Brown

Paying For It: A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being a John
by Chester Brown
Drawn & Quarterly, 2011

Ah ha ha urrgh… on one hand, an extremely brave and honest account of what it’s like when a man gives up on girlfriends entirely and decides to pay for sex instead. On the other, far, far, too much information about Brown’s private life.

The legal status of prostitution in Toronto during the time covered in the book (1996 to 2004) is far different from modern New Zealand (only “outcall” prostitution was legal, so sex workers couldn’t work safely and legally from a specific location), but attitudes are probably similar – it’s something that lots of men do, but rarely talk about or analyze. Or write a whole damn book about.

This somewhat dispassionate account is divided into chapters named after the woman concerned  – Brown budgets so that he can see someone every three weeks or so, despite the disapproval of his friends and ex-girlfriend. He thinks through things extremely carefully – there’s a total of 23 appendices, with short essays on the subject of sexual rights, power, objectification, taxation, and even notes from fellow cartoonist Seth concerning how he’s been quoted at various points.

Not at all pleasant read, but certainly a well-thought out one.


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