Massage Therapy Bias
As with any profession, there is some gender bias that comes with male and female massage therapists. Gender bias can be associated with getting a job, how much pay you are going to receive, and how far you will go with your job. While it’s unfair, this is the awful truth of our world today. While we should be considered for employment based on our skill and our qualifications, it doesn’t always happen like that. While it seems that mostly women are discriminated against in the work force, men are discriminated against more so in the massage therapy field.
The main focus of a massage is to relax, but some people feel as though they cannot do so if a person of a certain sex is the one who is supposed to massage them. More than 85% of massage therapists are female, according to the American Association of Massage Therapy. Men are discriminated against in massage therapy with finding jobs and with people feeling uncomfortable about having a male as their massage therapist. There a number of different reasons this happens today.
Why Do Woman Feel Uncomfortable With a Male Masseuse?
Some women do not feel comfortable in their own skin, they pick apart their flaws, and they most definitely do not want a male seeing them without clothes. Because all or most of their clothes are off, some women think that men are equating them being naked with sex. Some people believe that men are only becoming massage therapists so that they can prey on or touch women. On top of insecurities, women who are victims of assault or domestic violence may feel more comfortable with a woman due to their fear of being hurt by a male. The woman would automatically feel safer with a woman than with a male. Also, married women have an issue with being massaged by a male for fear of disrespecting or upsetting their spouse.
Why Do Men Feel Uncomfortable With a Male Masseuse?
A lot of men have a hard time being massaged by another male. Not only do they have to get pretty much naked in front of them, but they also are being touched in various places. Without knowing, men automatically believe that these massage therapists must be gay if they want to touch men, even though the massage therapists are just there to help all of their clients. Along with having a woman massage therapist, men also are worried that they will get an erection while receiving their massage from a male or that their massage therapist will get an erection. This is just a psychological response and is not meant to be taken personally. Consequently, some men see the session as a homosexual experience.
Gender Bias That Happens to Massage Therapists While Working
Another huge issue with men in the massage therapy field is that they may face sexual harassment claims. These claims should always be taken seriously, but something as small as a hand slip or a graze could make someone feel uncomfortable, so it’s best to be completely careful while you are giving a massage. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be sexually harassed by a client. This includes making derogatory comments, exposing themselves, inappropriate touching, etc. It’s important for men and women to set boundaries before and during the massage, if necessary. If the massage therapist feels uncomfortable, they are allowed to stop the massage.
While it can happen in any job, there are a few individuals that act inappropriately and they help feed the fear of people getting massages by men. The sad truth is that not everyone acts accordingly and some people may take advantage of their position and make a client feel uncomfortable, which adds to the gender bias.
Massage Envy — Multiple Sexual Assault Claims All Over the US
For example, a franchise massage therapy chain, Massage Envy, has been receiving tons of sexual assault complaints over the years and instead of reporting them and firing people, they documented the assaults and nothing ever came of them. People began flooding in calls of their sexual assaults from all over the country. This resulted in at least 180 women coming forward about sexual assault at these multiple chains. It was reported that these people who were known to sexually assault women were actually being recommended to clients. After the initial 180 victims, about a year later, even more victims came forward about being assaulted even after Massage Envy revised its policies.
While it’s more likely for a male to be discriminated against in this field, women too can be discriminated against. Because men are typically stronger, clients who are searching for a deeper massage or they are dealing with a sports type injury usually prefer a male massage therapist. This is because people see women more as nurturers and men as strong protectors. This is why males can succeed with athletes in sports massage. Athletes don’t usually care who is giving their massage, they just want to work out their muscles and get back into playing their sport.
Avoiding Sexual Harassment Claims
There are plenty of ways men can protect themselves from sexual harassment claims. The massage therapist should be sure to tell the client that they can disrobe to their comfort level. When they do decide to be nude, or mostly nude, proper draping is 100% necessary. They should make sure that the client’s genitals and breasts are securely covered. If their massage requires touching of the upper inner thigh, the massage therapist should be careful to how far up they are going and verify that everything is correctly draped so nothing becomes exposed or accidentally touched. Male massage therapists should also be very careful of how close their body is to the client to avoid accidentally touching them inappropriately as they lean or move over to massage you.
Work Hard and You Will Reap The Benefits
Although employers are not allowed to base your job qualifications off of your gender, they surely find a way to. In most job forces, women are actually the ones who deal with discrimination and bias. While it may be hard for men to push through all of the challenges they face, they are certainly capable of building a solid client base and becoming a successful massage therapist. If you are skillful at your job and you continue to live by your ethics and morals, you will succeed in your career as a massage therapist.
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