I had a celebrity client in my private practice a couple months ago and when his session was up he sat up on the massage table and said quite politely, “can we have sex now, please.” I was taken aback by the request and wasn’t sure I heard correctly, so I said, huh? He repeated his request and I jokingly responded “not today, maybe next time” with a nervous giggle and kept on giving my follow-up care suggestions. Well, he was friendly, very open to the energy and therapy I delivered and let’s face it, most people will be in a “very loving head space” at the end of a really good massage. I didn’t want to abruptly change that. He returned for one more session, but I am now wondering whether he did so because I said “maybe next time” rather than respond that sex was not on my menu of services. Since I was a little surprised by his request, joke or no joke, I decided that I would always refer clients to my Menu of Services, and remind them that I am not licensed to practice anything else, especially that which is illegal.
Earlier this week, I put the word out on my fan page that I was in the hunt for a new place to reopen for business. I would be open to suggestions that afforded foot traffic, signage and which was low-budget and unencumbered by anything porn related. A male colleague sent me an email, reiterating his earlier advice that I get out of any business connected to the porn industry since landlords are less willing to rent space to these businesses. This, although my colleague knows I am not doing pornographic massage, and that there are legal and reputable places here for legitimate bodywork. He has not been to my practice, because he prefers to have a happy ending after his massage and so he goes to these other places that offer that. Not really “my loss”….
At a stage in my career/business where I, as a single woman with no support from anyone, am struggling to survive along with everyone else who don’t want to “cross over,” these suggestions sort of well…break my heart. It isn’t enough to be concerned that some psychopath or pervert is going to request a massage that I get chosen to go out and do; or worst, maybe he comes to my home for the massage and does something to ruin my sacred space. I am not better than doing pornographic massage and actually I would make better money and live better if I were to cross over. This I have been told by many of the male colleagues in this area. Some people I played poker with were very frank with me and indicated that if I offered happy endings, they’d be there three times per week. I am a good-looking woman and I can’t change that this is how men think and it is mostly who request massages. How disheartening for those who want their chosen field of work to be anything but salacious, lecherous, and pornographic. All I want to give is clean, healthy, therapeutic healing and rejuvenation delivered by a healthy, clean conduit with amazing, loving hands and heart. These scenarios are the reasons I despise the words masseuse and masseur. They imply erotic touch, something immoral and, well,…shameful…unless you are a “person of the night,” an escort, a prostitute who is proud and happy about being that. I AM A MASSAGE THERAPIST, OFFERING MASSAGE THERAPY; NOT THE SAME THING AS THESE PROUD PROSTITUTES.
Understandably, the Wikipedia says: “Those who practice massage as a career are referred to as masseurs, masseuses, or, if certified, as massage therapists.” The words masseuse and masseur are from a French word, Masser, which means “to massage,” “to knead” (as in bread), “to rub down,” “to mass or to throng together.” Hence the masseuse (female) and the masseur (male) does the “rubbing down” or [therapeutically] “mass or throng together” your broken spirits, bodies, energies, so that you heal, become whole again to go back out and face your challenges. These are the sentiments behind my massage practice. I desire to help people become whole again, if even for a moment, so that they can heal little by little and face their challenges with a loving feeling and maybe loving thoughts in their hearts. This was the original import of those words, although somewhere along the way they became popular in the whore houses of Europe, Asia and the Americas.
I belong to a religion in which modesty is a big deal. I have told many therein that I am a massage therapist and I watch for the look on their faces. Some have taken my card/number, possibly to “investigate” while others take it but will never call. Others have chosen not to associate with me because well, (1) I wear dreadlocks, which is to some an immodest, rebellious hairstyle among other things; and (2) they imagine that I am doing something “unholy” in my massage business and God knows where else I am unholy in my path and hence I must be ruled a bad associate. If I say I am a therapist, they instantly assume “physical therapist”…and that’s o.k…, but not massage therapist…they don’t know about that….
I have wondered what they would do if I said I was a gynecologist or urologist. Hmm…I wonder whether they would have a similar reaction. After all, these professionals look at vaginas and penises, etc. all day! These are the same people who go to the doctor and strip down for examinations and have no idea whether the doctor is a pervert, child molester, rapist, or whatever or care whether he or she shares their beliefs. They simply trust that he or she is a “doctor”, hence it’s fine and they assume no sexual connotation to this job title. Yet, our society has become so debased that people believe that sex and sexuality must be attached to every loving feeling or touch outside of that. It is “normal” to believe that one cannot touch another in a massage setting with only “therapeutic, non-sexual intentions.” One client told me I was being “absurd” and “unbelievable”, when I responded that I wasn’t thinking about any such thing when I massaged him or any other client. He couldn’t believe that I could have no sexual reaction to him or any other sexy men or women for whom I provided therapy. How unfortunate….
Recently, I renewed my certification with the California Massage Therapy Council. The recertification questionnaire asked the following questions (among others), the answers to which would determine my, and any “legitimate therapist’s”, legal qualification:
“Step 2-Professional Status Questions: A “Yes” answer to any of the following questions requires a separate statement explaining in your own words the complete details regarding the incident or event. All supporting documentation must be attached to your recertification application at the time it is filed with the California Massage Therapy council (“CAMTC”). CAMTC reserves the right to request additional documentation as needed. Failure to disclose information is considered an attempt to procure a certificate by fraud, misrepresentation, or mistake and is grounds for denial, suspension, or revocation of a CAMTC Certificate. All questions are required to be answered before being allowed to continue.
1. Since the date you signed and dated your initial application for certification to CAMTC, have you received an administrative citation related to, or been refused a license, or license-renewal to practice massage therapy or any other profession in any city, county, state, country, or jurisdiction?
2. Since the date you signed and dated your initial application for certification to CAMTC, have you had a license, certificate, or permit to practice massage therapy, operate a massage establishment, or had any other license, permit, or certificate to practice any other profession revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against (including administrative citation, probation, fine, reprimand, or surrender of license, permit, or certificate)?
3. Since the date you signed and dated your initial application for certification to CAMTC, have you had, or is there currently pending against you in any city, county, state, country, or jurisdiction, a complaint against your professional conduct (sexual misconduct or otherwise) or professional competence?
4. Since the date you signed and dated your initial application for certification to CAMTC, have you been arrested and had criminal charges filed against you for penal code section 647(b) or any other act punishable as a sexually related crime?
5. Since the date you signed and dated your initial application for certification to CAMTC, have you been convicted of any offense other than a minor traffic violation? Convictions MUST be reported even if they have been adjudicated, dismissed, expunged, or if a diversion program has been completed. The definition of “conviction” includes a plea of nolo contendere (no contest), as well as pleas or verdicts of guilty. You MUST include misdemeanor as well as felony convictions.
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, please give us your written statement describing the complete details regarding the incident or event.”
This one was exceptionally notable: “I understand and agree that renewal of my CAMTC certificate may be denied based on unprofessional conduct if I practice massage at a massage establishment, or own a massage establishment, that advertises in any adult and/or sexually oriented section of any form of media, whether print or digital.”
Yes, some people will lie in response to these questions, but for how long, since it is the D.O.J. and F.B.I. that are behind the CAMTC and our documents are scanned. It is then, very clear to me that there is a mass movement to garner a greater respect for the craft of massage therapy and for legitimate therapists to stand united, separate from the “rub ‘n tug” houses with their masseuses and masseurs. If you are not French, then don’t use “masseuse or masseur” to describe your therapist unless they perform erotic massage. Heck, even if you are French and you know these words have a negative connotation in the field of bodywork, don’t use them to describe this legitimate craft. Follow the lead of the CAMTC and set the bar for your practice and for what you, as a consumer, expect of your massage establishments.
Therapists must consider whether they are providing a service they can be proud of in any discussion? Are you a very happy and willing rub ‘n tug masseuse/masseur? Set the bar and draw the line. Do you want patrons to respect you and your skill set. People say who they are in the same breath as saying what they do. I’m Dr. So and So; I’m Professor so and so; I’m Detective Jones. Never once have I inquired what someone did for work and the response was that they were an escort, erotic masseuse, etc. I proudly declare I am a legal and certified massage therapist. I have no desire to do anything shameful in this business. I seek to nurture and build a clientele that appreciates what I do for them, their health and who is generous in spirit to keep the circle of love going. I seek clients who have not sold into the idea that loving touch must be sexual. Together, maybe, we can contribute to healing the world, one body at a time and make it so that love, loving, healing touch becomes such a positive and popular thing that one doesn’t need to associate it with sex regardless of the parasympathetic responses to this well-needed therapy.
I gave my card to someone I met just days after writing this post and he called to find out “how long have I been a masseuse.” When I said I wasn’t a “masseuse”, he corrected himself and asked what’s the difference…. Hopefully, this discussion helps to clear up many things for the other inquiring minds and help to dignify those that are real and legal.
JL Campbell is a CAMTC Certified, Licensed, Therapeutic-Based Massage Therapist and Owner of Health Conscious Spa & Wellness, which will reopen shortly in Sherman Oaks, CA. Current independent practice is “in/out,” private, legal and professional, and as needed at a local spa. Please visit [http://www.healthconsciousspa.com] for massage and body scrub descriptions, hours of operation, travel requirements for out calls and pricing.