China is debating exactly how legal “happy ending” massages actually are. Prostitution is illegal in the country, but its boundaries are being discussed in a rare, and very public, way.
Normally, the People’s Daily newspaper spends its time lecturing party members and talking about obscure ideological issues. However, the paper’s headlines have taken on a different tone lately.
One recent headline wrote, “Various places have different standards for whether masturbation services are a crime; judicial interpretation urgently needed.”
For those who aren’t already familiar with the term, often used jokingly in the US, “happy ending” massages refer to sexual services provided by employees of usually low-end massage parlors or hair salons.
While they are typically disguised as colorful add-on services, like “hitting the airplane” and “breast massage,” it isn’t a secret what they actually goes on.
Two cases in the past year have forced the issue to light. Both involved saloon staff who were arrested for providing sexual services. While they were charged with “organizing prostitution,” the charges and sentences were thrown out.
The heart of the happy ending massage debate in China is what constitutes prostitution. Currently, such services are not actually considered prostitution, because there is no intercourse. However, the court is pressing the legislature to clear the matter up. The court explained that, while no law prevents happy endings, they “significantly damage social order and have a certain degree of social harm.”
While the court has concluded no prostitution is taking place, police in Beijing, southern Guiyang, and elsewhere disagree. More than that, the debate also brings to light a rare occurrence. The discrepancy in views between the police and the courts is unusual for the communist society, whose government branches are normally completely in sync with each other.
More than that, sociologist and sex expert Li Yinhe added that the public debate over happy ending massages shows that the country has come a long way in the past 20 years. While organizing prostitution, including happy endings, was once punishable by death, it appears that the society is relaxing.
Do you think that China’s “happy ending” massages should be considered prostitution?
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