I do sometimes worry about making jokes about characters’ habits, that it will be taken the wrong way. Like somebody is sitting at their computer saying “Oh, Bob loves to eat. We get it. How dare you. Obesity is no laughing matter.” And I might point those hypothetical people to my own chubs and my love of food and say it’s okay for me to joke about being fat because I’m… kind of… not thin. #dadbod But actually that’s bullshit. Being fat doesn’t give me the right to joke about being fat, just like not being fat anymore wouldn’t take away my right to make jokes about it. People can joke about people. We’re all just flawed creatures stumbling through life. Men and women, young and old, fat and thin, we’re all just stumbling. I, a fellow stumbler, can create fictional people with fictional foibles and poke fun at those foibles knowing I too can foible with the best of them. I share some of those specific foibles, an unknown quantity. I feel like that’s the contract you enter into with the sitcom writer. I don’t want to populate my sitcom with people identical to me in sex, body-type and lifestyle just to ensure I’m making jokes from an imaginary position of safety.

That said, there is still a part of me that dreads one day being tarred and feathered by social media for (whisper it) slut-shaming. Especially now I’m a father, I’d hate after I’m dead for my descendants to read granddad’s funny comic book and come away the sense that I’m anti-woman or anti-promiscuity.

So, sue me, this anxiety about being branded a slut-shamer was the inspiration for this strip and the one that follows, which explores Amy’s concern about being branded a slut herself. I hope you like it.

And, future grandchildren, if you are reading this, I’d like to set a few things straight from beyond the grave. In case you’re wondering, like the fat thing, if grandpa ever had a relationship that was just about sex, to that I say: a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell, and a grandpa avoids grossing out his grandkids. But whether I did or I didn’t, grandpa still maintains that he had the right to crack jokes about it either way.

And if, looking back, grandpa’s jokes are now seen by contemporary eyes as constituting slut-shaming, in spite of grandpa’s best intentions at the time, may I remind my stupid grandchildren that it’s not in fact possible to shame or misrepresent fictional characters. They are whatever I say they are, damn it. Now run along and play.

But, joking aside, let’s get real and drill down even deeper.

This whole thing where women are labelled as one thing or another based on how mainstream culture perceives them, that whole thing, Amy is the embodiment of that tendency. She name-calls, she belittles, she labels even as she tries to avoid being labelled herself.

So while there’s no shame in having casual sex, Amy thinks there is. The only character who cares about who is and isn’t a slut is her.

I think there’s something to that. I don’t know.

Please don’t think less of grandpa. I was… going for something here.