Motive behind massage parlour ads could be disturbing

Published on February 22, 2013

I write in response to the Jan. 31 CBC story “Prank behind massage parlour ad, councillors believe.” My Take: real? No big deal. Hoax? That’s not a joke.

In recent weeks, there was a sudden outcry, particularly from women on the Memorial University St. John’s campus, regarding an ad posted throughout the campus looking for young women to work in a massage parlour.

This ended as quickly as it began due to the ads being believed to be hoax — or some kind of “practical joke.” The ads for the job did not bother me, nor did the outcry against them, but what did bother me was how quickly the story disappeared from the radar as soon as it was believed to be a hoax.

If it really was a hoax — which it does appear to be — that is something that needs some serious consideration.

My mind instantly wondered as to why someone would play a practical joke such as this — what would their motive be? A pathetic attempt at the even more pathetic act of “slut shaming” perhaps? Not that that would be acceptable, but of the two outcomes that I came to, the realization of that one is the more favourable.

The disturbing reality of this being a hoax presents an immediate danger to the young women who might have responded to this ad. Consider the following: one of the potential aims of hoax such as this could be to target young women, entrapping them in a potentially dangerous situation (i.e. sexual violence), in which they would be even less likely to report given the nature of why they would have been in such a location. If a young woman was to respond to that ad and show up thinking she was going for a job interview for a massage parlour such as the one described in the ad, she may be considerably less likely to report being sexually assaulted or raped — especially when considering the statistics of crimes of this nature being reported without this context.

This is not a difficult line of logic to follow and one that should have been considered in the immediate aftermath of this ad being revealed as a hoax. The potential danger of episodes such as these is real and should be considered as such, not simply ignored and forgotten once the “offending” piece of paper is removed.

Shannon Conway

St. John’s