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From the Edge: Editorial

 by Megan Irwin  published on Thursday, March 2, 2006


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I'll admit it. I used to kind of giggle when I heard the phrase "happy ending." For those of you not hip to sex industry, masturbatory lingo, a happy ending is a type of massage where the masseuse performs some kind of sexual favor at the end of the massage in return for a higher tip.

It sounds like something totally made up for the letters page of some porno rag. It sounds like something to roll your eyes at while making snarky comments about desperate businessmen, or the punch line to an off-color joke.

Actually, it sounds a whole lot like prostitution. It also sounds, at least judging by the information in this week's cover story (Parlor Games, page 8), like something degrading to women and dangerous to immigrants.

That's the problem with the sex industry -- it's easy to joke about, easy to classify as "victimless" and easy to shrug off. It's much harder to address the reality of what these massage practices represent: an entire industry based on the idea that women ought to service men. An entire industry that perpetuates the lie that the best thing a woman, especially a foreign woman, has to offer this country is her body.

Sadly, according to experts, most women working in these massage parlors are immigrants, most often from Asia. Now, I don't think any young woman, or old woman for that matter, sits at her home in Thailand or China dreaming of a better life, picturing herself a sex worker. And I don't think anyone goes through the trouble to move halfway across the globe only to serve the sexual desires of sweaty businessmen looking for a quickie on their lunch breaks. Hand jobs have never been packaged as part of the American dream.

It makes me sad that we live in a society where women and minorities are still so disrespected that for some people the only way to survive is to degrade oneself, day in and day out. Suddenly, "happy ending" isn't even worth a smile, let alone actual laughter.

Immigrants come to America looking for better financial opportunities and a way to help their families back home.

It's just sad that if you're young, female and don't speak the language well, opportunity is spelled S-E-X.



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