Massage Therapy as “Party Talk”
It can be pretty awkward for me to go to a party when I don’t know anyone. It’s even worse when, face to face with an unknown guest, I’m asked, inevitably, ”So, what do you do?”
I gather my courage and reply, enthusiastically, ”I’m a massage therapist.”
“OH WOW, ” says the stranger, who then quickly goes silent, as her discomfort and awkwardness begin to show. ”You are a masseuse?”
“No there is a difference," I explain. "We don’t use the term masseuse anymore, because it implies sex."
“Oh, I didn’t know that.”
”Have you ever received a professional massage?” I ask
Instantly, the answer is “No.” So I try to explain how wonderful it feels and the benefits that massage help improve one’s health and healing. Then I receive further inquiry.
“Do guys come on to you?”
I’m always amazed by the misconceptions about massage therapy, a practice that has been around since the beginning of mankind. Touching and caring for another’s well being is what it means to be human.
So, before the person walks away from me I add….”In my 14 years of service, I once had a client who was a dentist. While I was working on his sore back muscles, I felt a hand going up my leg!”
“Oh my God….What did you do?”
“Well, I calmly said to him, ‘excuse me, but I am the only one licensed here to use my hands!’ and he immediately stopped.”
As she becomes more engaged in our conversation, she asked,”How do you know if you can trust the person?”
“When I first interview someone on the phone and ask specific questions, I get an intuitive sense, but I ask further to find out what they’re looking for. When one asks me if I do full body massage, I proceed to ask them to explain what they mean by ‘full body massage’. Then it comes out how they have tightness or muscle problems in their scrotum….bla bla bla.! I then explain I work on the body but not the genitalia, and if they have a problem they should seek a doctor. Then I calmly hang up!”
“One guy called me and asked if I wore just a bra and panties. I responded, asking if he would expect his doctor to wear just these things? Then I would get an apology. Before I would hang up, I would continue explaining that this care is professional and doesn’t deal with sex or any outward stimulating apparel. Then I added, “If that’s what you are looking for, call Madame Fou Fou!”
She laughed…then I continued. “Another guy came over for a treatment and I handed him the medical intake form to fill out. He took it from my hands, looked at it, and said blatantly ‘I’m not filling this out’.”
I confronted him and asked, ”were you expecting to get sex?
He replied,” yes.”
“Well, that’s not part of this professional medical service.”
So, he hurriedly whispered his apologies and, embarrassed, left shutting the door behind him.
Being a massage therapist is challenging when these kinds of expectations are thrown at me. My main intent is extending complete concern and care for the other’s health and well being without being perceived as a sex object. One needs to be educated and informed about what this intimate treatment is.
“So, are people naked?” my new friend asks.
“They can be. They are on a very comfortable covered table, and they can disrobe privately. They lie between the covers or sheets and are totally covered. I position the sheet to uncover the area I am working on. No other body parts are exposed. The client is treated with utmost respect. When the person turns over on their stomach to reach the head rest, I hold up the entire sheet or cover high over my head with my arms extended so the person can turn over freely without getting tangled up from the sheet.”
“Gee, It never looks like that in the movies!”
“That’s for sure!” The media has given a false impression of what massage therapy is all about, and it’s a real shame. So many people stay away from it thinking it’s kinky…and people are losing out of an opportunity to heal themselves, of being free of pain and stress because of this misconception.”
“Well, it sounds like you know how to handle some tough, scary moments. I would like to come and see you, do you have a card?”
“Sure do!” I hand her my business card. “It was a pleasure meeting you and hope to see you again.”
As I walk over to the punch bowl, I am approached by another stranger: “So, what do you do?”
5/23/2011 03:17:06 am
I agree. You've got to educate people to take massage therapy seriously. Keep up the fight!
3/22/2018 11:27:21 pm
Will do Jacques, Thank you so much for your support and inspiration to bring the best service to others, and expose others with other options that meet their needs and supports their well being in health care. As we realize we are placed in a system of sick care, people are finally looking and desiring real health care that addresses their needs without side effects that harm them in the long term. Thanks for responding.
5/23/2011 05:42:36 am
sounds like conversations I've had at parties!
3/22/2018 11:24:08 pm
Hi Denny, so sorry I missed this from you. You are with me always, and miss your compassion, professionalism and most of all your friendship. I will continue to teach the public about holistic, preventative medicine and provide the best service I can to empower others to be in charge of their health care.
5/23/2011 05:46:04 am
well...I think we should go to the same parties!!! What ya think?!
5/25/2011 09:53:41 am
5/26/2011 09:34:53 am
Rachelle, you sure know how to handle yourself in all kinds of situations. Luckly, 99% of your clients need your talents.
5/26/2011 10:19:43 am
Madame Fu Fu? Your professionalism is on top level!! I know it's a struggle- Keep the good work up!
5/28/2011 08:57:40 am
when someone receives a massage it is no more a luxury or a superficial treatment than seeing a specialist to treat acute or chronic health concerns. Back pages of certain magazines give the wrong impression of the real clinical treatment for massage.
12/12/2016 10:50:05 am
Thankyou Cliff for mentioning the "perception" of massage therapy. So many people due to movies and TV still have that opinion, and its a loss to them! But, as more and more get educated, they will come around.
7/27/2013 09:53:31 am
I first saw Rachelle a few months ago when I returned from a business trip - very knotted up. I was able to get in to see her the next day - huge help. And I've been going regularly since then. Last week, I spent 4 hours scooping water out of our basement after a flood, and my lower back was killing me. I quickly called Rachelle for an appt. After she finished with me, my back was still a little sore, but by the next day, I felt great! I have already referred her to 1 friend, and will continue to recommend her to others.
6/2/2011 01:42:00 am
Rachelle's healing touch and energy work is the best thing I can do when my neck and back are "stuck" in pain. After her massage my body remembers what it feels like to be unstressed/relaxed. I am in better alignment and full of good energy. Perhaps this informative website will help sort out any misperceptions about this healing, gentle profession. Sounds like you handle the "crazies" in a no-nonsense and professional way.
6/2/2011 05:01:23 am
Rachelle's massages always left me feeling so much better. She helped relieve leg and back pain. My physical and mental mood were always better after I'd seen Rachelle. I'd recommend her to everybody.
6/2/2011 02:07:20 pm
Great writing. Funny and yet not funny!
6/6/2011 11:58:41 am
What a pain in the ass that you must tolerate those prejudicial attitudes that place your profession in the sexual gratification arena. I have enjoyed and been healed from your wonderful treatments and encourage you to persevere.
6/8/2011 01:24:51 pm
I knew Rachelle from the first year in Junior high. We were musicians (using the term loosely at least for me) and friends. She was also kinda hot but we didn't have that term back then. Our lives went their own ways as adults, but we rediscovered each other 40 years later, and it happened to coincide with a time in my life being very stressed and depressed. I was really talked into allowing her to try massage on me, and didn't believe in what I thought was kinda hokey voodoo. Well, you have my word, that it turned out to be comfortable under that sheet and greatly relaxing and warm with the magic touch of Rachelle's hands and mind on my body. I truly felt good from her concentrating on me. It wasn't sexual at all, it was more of a sensory friendship. I felt a relief from my stress on her table. My back loosened. So I don't quite understand it, but I _can_ recommend it. If there are bashfull guys out there, just give it a try ! I trust Rachelle for me as the sister I never had.
6/20/2011 04:32:35 am
Touch is so basic and necessary for most mammals. I thin we should all receive at least a sort of RDA, a basic minimum of touch from other people, to stay healthy!
6/24/2011 08:50:54 am
Yeah, I agree. Massage is totally underrated. If everyone got one once a month, there'd be a lot less violence, pain, stress and illness in the world.
So glad that Back in Motion provides as much intellectual enlightenment about massage as Rachelle provides spiritual renewal and physical relief from pain and stress. Her treatment sessions are as much a relief from the headaches created by the less evolved among us.
6/27/2011 10:46:16 am
Long story short, apparently every massage place in tourist areas of vietnam involves rather forcefully offering a "happy ending". The massage itself was pretty amazing (hot stones and oils) for the first 45 minutes until the masseuse put her hands straight on my crotch and asked if I "wanted massage here". I left a bit disturbed.
10/2/2011 04:22:05 pm
This story is so funny to me because, though I've seen things like this in the movies, it never even occurred to me that it was anything more than a male, Hollywood fantasy.
10/20/2011 09:47:14 am
I have had many massages but I believe this was the best.
11/15/2011 01:35:26 am
Those are some funny questions people ask you but at least you get to clear up the misconceptions and share what massage actually is and how wonderful it can be. Although its an odd leeway I hope it leads you to new clients and changes people's perceptions. Massage is a wonderful thing and you do great work!
12/17/2011 06:06:16 am
There is something to all this. My sister was baptized and at the baptism party an older woman friend of my mother came over, touched her hands and said, she is going to have a healing grace in her hands. My sister became a Physician's Assistant in surgery and the doctors often comment on how precise her work is. She has the touch. There's something to all this.
6/21/2012 12:57:34 pm
I just hate it when people assume that I provide sex for them because I am a massage therapist. They are so #%$*(^& STUPID. What an insult...I won't sully my massage table with sexual energy ever(not even with my boyfriend). And neither would Rachelle!
6/22/2012 02:29:58 am
Thanks Irene, ....The Table IS comfortable!!! I should use it more often! Hahaha.
8/28/2012 10:15:36 pm
Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed! Very helpful info specially the last phase I handle such info much. I used to be looking for this particular info for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.
1/22/2013 01:56:33 am
Oh, my goodness! Some people do have the wrong idea, don't they. Not only have I gone to Rachelle but so have my husband, a son, and a daughter-in-law. All of us have had nothing but the highest professionalism from Rachelle. Her expertise is what I might call a mixture of science and intuition. And when she calls upon this expertise to help her clients, she is totally ethical, caring, sensitive, and efficient. Honestly, if you can't be totally trusting of and comfortable with Rachelle, you can't be that way with anyone you go to for anything--your doctor, dentist, anyone. She's tops--it's as simple as that. By the way, the son and daughter-in-law who live in Seattle have told me that no one in Seattle has ever been able to give them a treatment as good as Rachelle's!
4/11/2013 05:17:35 am
Thanks Marge, I really appreciated this. and its an honor being able to serve your family to wellness and good health.
Great stories! I can totally relate! When a male client touches me or says something stupid ( and they will! ) , I say ok Im calling my husband at the police dept. He's 6'5" , black and 300 lbs! Of course I don't have a husband but a friend who is. They apologize. I say, Look if you act proper Ill finish your massage. If you can't they we can stop right now. Either way you are paying me! Lol! I don't have those problems anymore! :)
4/23/2016 03:45:12 pm
Hi Melissa, I love what you did too! I also said my husband will be here shortly. also don't have a husband! But I haven't had problems in years, and thank god. Please send me your e-mail so we can hook up. firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks Rachelle
3/20/2018 12:35:10 am
These things must be educated to international level so that everyone will be able to learn the benefits of massage therapy.
7/15/2018 07:42:14 am
Bon Jour Massage A Bruxelles! Thank you so much for reaching out! I am surprised to sence that you have the same problems? But, As we travel the woprld, we find many "massage professionals"? offering happy endings...so as long as this is being done, people think its ok to try to catch a fealy, or see what it can get them. But, as long as we are upfront about it and set boundaries, hopefully we will be safe. Thanks for getting in touch.
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