Monday, June 18, 2012
No Romance: Paying For It
Chester Brown's highly-publicized Paying For It drew a lot of controversy for his views on the legalization of prostitution. To be sure, he spends much of this book discussing his experiences as a john and discusses the pros and cons. He backs all of this up with a detailed set of appendices arguing his points further, making the book less a memoir than an out-and-out polemic. I would argue, however, that the view he's arguing most vehemently is not in favor of prostitution, but against romantic love. To be sure, he has to move the goalposts several times in order to precisely define what he's opposed to with regard to romantic love, eventually settling on "possessive monogamy" as the villain of his book. I don't use the word lightly, given that he out-and-out declares marriage and romantic love to be "evil", an assertion that he argues almost entirely by anecdote rather than reason or statistics. As a philosophical argument, arguing by anecdote tries to make universal one particular personal observation. However, asserting that fire is bad because one person you know got badly burned is an erroneous leap of logic. By the same token, Brown's own miserable experiences in romantic relationships naturally prejudice him against the very concept of "possessive monogamy".