Explorations in the Theory and Practice
Male Issues in Practicing Massage Therapy
One of the most common questions that I get is "Will I have trouble as a male working in the massage profession?" My answer is "If you think you will have trouble, then you will."
In the massage profession, men seem to be the minority. People who want massages are most likely to want to have one from a woman. Men don't want to be massaged by men because of some projected issues of what that means- homophobic fears or whatever it may be. Men will prefer the nurturing of a woman. What is creating this situation? Are people less trusting of men in general?
I for one have seen men create this themselves by playing into it. While it is essential to create a safe environment and honor clients' requests to be worked on by a person of their choice, it can often undermine the efforts of a male therapist. If a male therapist assumes that a woman (or any client) will prefer a woman therapist, they are already setting themselves up for failure.
Men are great massage therapists. From a female perspective, it can be very healing to build a relationship with a male massage therapist and learn that men can be nurturing and sensitive. There are men and women who actually request to be worked on by men. Men are an essential part of healing for many. While there may be specific cases of women and who are absolutely are not able to have a man work on them, I would think that people who have such issues are working on them and may eventually be able to allow a man to touch them.
There are many men who become great teachers in our profession too!
Part of the problem is that there are many men who do give the wrong idea and present themselves questionably so men are faced with a negative public image. There are many misconceptions like male massage therapists must be gay and want to work on gay men for the purpose of a sexual relationship. It is created by a few men who do exactly that.
But women are faced with the same thing. Do men go to women expecting to have a sexual act performed on them during the massage?
What is essential is that we start talking about this issue. Male massage therapists need to come out of the closet (so to speak) and get support in dealing with such issues. Clarifying who your personal mission statement and ideal client is may be an essential part of building a practice if you are a male massage therapist. This can be done in the process of supervision or peer supervision groups. The only way to get past this issue is to go through it. Talking about it with other massage professionals is essential in healing this in our profession. We can't change what we won't acknowledge.
Male Massage Therapists -by Ryan Hoyme, licensed massage therapist, Minnesota. Also a teacher at Minnesota College
Uniquely Male -by Charles Wiltsie III of Haddam, CT.
Male Bodyworker Issues: Bridging the Gender Gap http://www.massageandbodywork.com/Articles/AugSep2004/gendergap.html
A New Beginning: Massage Therapy Students Tell Their Stories
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