Healing Arts with Patrick Moore


Radio interview on the Sexualization of Massage
May 14, 2014, 8:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I was interviewed earlier this month by Mishell Livio and Fook. I asked permission to get the audio for posting here and Mishell sent me the files which I have posted at youtube: http://youtu.be/NF2AMQ5TkPk .

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The video is about 8 minutes of the 10 that I was interviewed, plus one minute of Fook and Mishell’s comments after I hung up, and one of the two callers.

The interview was mostly Fook asking me questions and he did well at getting to this basic point: even at legitimate massage establishments, male recipients often expect sexual massage, and this makes legitimate therapists feel high anxiety. Fook made some jokes about it the interview makes sense.

After I hung up, Mishell and Fook wondered how often innocent men happen to get erections. By an innocent male, they must mean that the guy didn’t book the massage with the expectation of receiving a sexual massage, that his arousal was a surprise to him. I imagine that does occur occasionally. However, men have ways of preventing the first stirrings of an erection from becoming full, as I describe in my previous blog post, Clothed Massage Prevents the Sexualization of Massage.

I notice that part of the interview was edited out. I remember saying something about the media. Fook said something like, oh, its the medias fault? and I said, yes, partially. Perhaps since radio is media, he did not feel this would be good to play on the air, and so this part of my interview was not aired. How much responsibility for the sexualization of massage is the media’s doing? (feel free to comment below).

I notice that in post-production, the sound effect of a spring going “boing” has been added several times. I imagine this is to give the listener the idea of an erection springing up. What is the responsibility of the media here? The image of a spring coiling and releasing gives the impression that a force has been placed upon the spring, and it is simply doing what it naturally must do. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, like a law of nature. I think this media portrayal of an erection teaches us that, once an erection occurs, it must fulfill its objective, like a spring must spring. This probably wasn’t what Fook had in mind when adding the sound effect. Perhaps he was just going for a laugh. But going for a laugh, often worsens the public’s view of massage. That was my point when we spoke on the phone, and that was the part that was not aired.

Several more examples of this come to mind. I am reminded of the TV show, Friends. One character was a massage therapist, and she sometimes had to deal with customers who expected her to provide an orgasm as part of the service. This TV show was the first place I ever heard the term, “happy ending.” The term got a big laugh on the show. It is funny, I admit. I probably laughed, for a few seconds until I realized how the term makes my profession look bad. The phrase happy ending, went viral and now it is commonly used. I wonder if polls had been taken in the 90s prior to that phrase being launched, and now, if the public would have a greater sexualization expectation of massage now than they did before the phrase went viral? If so, then the media is partly responsible, don’t you think?

My wife and I began attending improv shows and learning improv at workshops two years ago. We went to the Phoenix Improv Festival twice. The one last year had an improv troupe doing a game they call “Foxworthy,” where the audience shouts out professions and the troupe says funny things about that profession. Here is the video of that performance, with the skit about massage therapists going from minute 2:00 to 3:10. Someone shouted, massage therapist. The first performer said, “good with your hands.” The second performer said, “happy ending.” The third performer said, “If you’re okay with men getting erections on the table.” Most of their responses to massage therapist, were sexual. Of course this made the crowd laugh, and my profession is reduced in the public’s view with each laugh. Note to improv performers: getting a laugh is not always the highest aim of art.

I do not blame the media entirely. I think equal.. no, greater accountability, should be upon us massage therapists. I don’t mind that Fook or someone at the station edited out my comment about the media. The problem of sexualization, finally comes down to those of us who are licensed to do massage therapy. After I hung up, one caller said that he had dated a woman who was a massage therapist, who did sexual massage as an option for her recipients. She encouraged this by dressing provocatively, and must have charged extra for this additional (somehow nobody mentioned illegal) service, because, he said, she earned $5,000 to $6,000 per month. There definitely are licensed massage therapists who also offer sexual massage as a secret option. These therapists do far more damage to the image of our profession than the media does. Even if the media were to immediately stop associating massage with sexuality, still the fact that it is easy to find massage therapists who will do illegal sexual massage, will continue to strengthen the association.  

Can our profession win the battle for our image? Please comment if you think yes, or no. It appears to me that our profession has been struggling to define ourselves as non-sexual therapy, nurturing, healing, and relaxation. This struggle has been occurring for the entire 20 years I have been licensed and I think we are losing the battle. I think this battle is one that cannot be won, and we need an exit strategy.

The exit strategy I suggest is clothed massage. Four years ago I stopped offering people the option of being nude during their massages. I only work through clothing. I believe muscles relax better when massaging them through clothing. When nude skin is touched, these sensations race to the brain and crowd out the muscle sensations. While a person is partially nude, his brain will be thinking about things other than muscle relaxation. While he is clothed, his brain will only be processing the less-sensual muscle pressure. In this situation, his brain is far more likely to relax the muscles, and relax them more completely. If you could quantify how much muscles relax during a 60-minute nude massage, I believe you could get that same amount of muscle relaxation in just 30 minutes of clothed massage.

When I said “I do only clothed massage now,” during the interview, Fook said, “eww,” like he was disappointed. I am not saying all massage should be clothed. I feel it is my duty to the reputation of my profession, to offer therapy and muscle relaxation in a way that nobody could possibly misconstrue as sexual. I believe if our profession is to continue into the future as therapy, that we must do something to assure the public what we are doing is purely therapeutic. What other options do we have, besides clothed massage?

So I thank Fook for asking me on the phone, if I blame the media. His question led me to putting accountability for the sexualization of massage where it belongs: on us therapists.

Further reading: “Code of Ethics” from the National Certifying Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

Standards of Practice from the NCBTMB

In a future blog post I would like to share what I think is the responsibility of massage schools, regarding the rampant sexuality out in the real world. Shouldn’t prospective students be made aware of this problem, before they spend ten thousand dollars and a year of their life learning the trade?

 

 

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Clothed Massage as a Solution to the Sexualizaton of Massage
May 1, 2014, 3:58 pm
Filed under: massage

There was a news story in Oro Valley, AZ last week that a massage clinic had been busted for prostitution. I was interviewed on the radio this morning, regarding prostitution and massage. It is likely to be broadcast Friday or Monday on KFMA, during Fook and Mishell Livio show, 6-10 am. I will post the link when it becomes available.

After the interview it occurred to me that people today are curious about the “happy ending,” which is when a man is given a sexual climax while he is on a massage table. I believe the term, happy ending, was first popularized on the TV show, Friends. I admit the term is funny. Since that time, the media has emphasized how massage is often an avenue for men to pay for a sexual climax. I have noticed that this is a frequent topic in comedy, and even one of our local improv troupes, during their careers game, regularly makes fun of massage therapy as an avenue for sex. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word, massage?

What the media has not told you is, it is illegal for a licensed massage therapist to touch a recipient’s genitals, or even to have a sexual intent. The idea of a happy ending may make good comedy, but in actuality it is a serious offense. Did you know that a “happy ending,” is illegal? Did you know both the giver and recipient can be arrested? Did you know that if there is even suspicion that a therapist has offered this service, that his or her license could be revoked, ending his or her career? Even in Las Vegas, NV and Vancouver B.C., where prostitution is legal, it is still illegal for massage therapists to give a sexual massage.

In addition to illegality, it is horrifying for therapists to be “propositioned” by men on the massage table. Massage schools do nothing to prepare therapists for how embarrassing this will be, and it is bound to happen to all therapists. In my 20 years, I would estimate 20-30 men lying nude under a sheet on my massage table have propositioned me or hinted they expected a hand job.

When I talked with my wife about it, after the interview, she was surprised to hear that it is the customers who solicit therapists. She had assumed there were “bad” therapists who enticed unwilling customers into sex. My experience, and having spoken with many other therapists, is that it is the customers who initiate hints of a sexual massage, and erections that show their expectation. Even after the therapist clearly communicates that absolutely no sexual massage will occur, these male customers continue hinting and insinuating, pleading and attempting to persuade, which can make for an unbearable hour for the therapist. For we are not trained by our schools to simply end the session. Therapists are afraid to end the sessions. What would I tell my boss? So you just continue massaging around the erection, that is like an elephant in the room.

The situation seems to be getting worse rather than better, and I imagine some of that is because of how funny it is for comedy shows and other media to make jokes about the situation.

But the media is not the whole problem, or even the majority of the problem. There are two other factors that are making this situation worse.

A second cause is, there really are massage therapists, even licensed ones, who do offer “hand jobs” for cash tips during massage. They often do this even at upscale clinics, spas and resorts, unknown to their bosses. This is sort of like feeding bears picnic baskets. Or feeding mountain lions bighorn sheep. Once a mountain lion in the Catalinas here in Tucson has tasted endangered bighorn sheep, that mountain lion will continue killing bighorn sheep. Arizona game and fish then goes up to find and shoot the offending mountain lion, so it does not continue the behavior. The same is true of horny men. Once a man has once paid extra to get a hand job (remember, even suggesting this is a crime), and received his happy ending, that man will continue to expect a happy ending of every massage therapist forever, just like a bear or mountain lion expects to be fed. You can’t shoot the offending humans and I am not proposing that. The cause of this situation is as much the men who solicit therapists, as it is the few therapists who actually offer this illegal service. A few ruin it for everyone.

Prostitution has been around for thousands of years and is not going to disappear. The thing that is new is, prostitution in a massage room is much safer for both the giver and recipient. The giver has more power and is less likely to be harmed, than were he or she in a hotel, or walking the streets, for example. Both are less likely to be discovered and arrested. I don’t know if there is a way, now that both the givers and recipients have discovered this safe haven, for the practice of hand jobs to ever be separated from legitimate massage.

This is unfortunate for several reasons. People with ailments, aches, stresses and tensions, may fear to try massage therapy because of the media and actual newspaper reports of clinics being busted. So people who really need the therapy, won’t get it. Another unfortunate effect of the sexualization of massage is, new therapists will quickly leave the profession. Therapists who are more sensitive, easily offended or embarrassed, after spending all that money on a year of massage school, may find that actually being propositioned is so horrifying that they have to leave the profession during their first month of practice.

The third factor that contributes to the sexualization of massage may surprise you. It is actually an unfortunate effect of well-meaning therapists. During Swedish massage (which is massage applied to the bare skin with oil or lotion) the sensations sometimes feel.. well, sensual. Swedish massage is designed to be a nurturing experience, similar to a mother nurturing her baby. But people have varied touch histories, and some part of the population of recipients do not experience hands on their skin as nurturing, but sexual. A recipient receiving his or her first massage, may feel a little turned on.

However, one thing massage schools teach, that is completely wrong, is, “It is natural for a man to get an erection during massage.” While a man may feel the first hints of arousal, a man who does not want to have a sexual massage has options to prevent himself from getting a full erection. The first is to leave his underwear on. He can also position his parts in a way that it would be more difficult for him to become erect. A third thing he can do is to flip over onto his belly, in a way that prevents erection. A fourth thing he can do is ask to end the session. Being a male with a healthy libido, I can safely say that erection is entirely preventable. Yes, during his first massage he may get aroused accidentally, but he has options before it becomes a full erection that will embarrass his therapist. If that man receives any more massages in his lifetime, and gets a full erection, it is because he intended in advance to get a full erection. He hopes that the visible presence of his erection under the sheet will make the therapist feel it is his or her duty then, to “take care of it.” The big lie is, that it is the therapist’s fault it happened, and now it is the therapist’s responsibility to finish the job. No. It is the man’s fault. The erection is no accident. He planned it that way. If I go to receive a massage and I notice myself even mildly attracted to the therapist, I leave my underwear on. If I were to feel aroused during a massage I would turn over. I would do anything, even end the massage, in order to prevent the therapist from feeling humiliated, or worry her career was at risk. I feel that exposing myself to a therapist, even through a sheet, would be a horrible thing to do to someone.

Can the massage profession cope with the trend to sexualize massage? I am not sure that it can. Unless..

Clothed Massage Ends the Sexualization of Massage

About four years ago I began telling new people that they will remain fully clothed during the massage. I tell them this in advance. I work on muscles by pressing through clothing. I have found that the clothing in no way reduces the effectiveness. In fact, I believe muscles relax better when the skin is not stimulated, because the recipient’s brain is no longer distracted by all that skin sensation. The brain can focus purely on the muscle sensation, and resolve the muscle tension. This is the message of my eBook, Clothed Massage, available at Amazon. Since I have started offering only clothed massage, I have had zero people on my table proposition me for sex.

I believe clothed massage is the best hope for therapeutic massage to distinguish itself from an increasing sexual expectation of massage. What do you think?

Certainly those therapists who prefer to give nude Swedish massage have a right to continue doing that. I hope they do not mind that they will regularly have sneaky men on their table wanting sex.

If you have any comments on the interview (if you heard it), or comments on this article, please leave comments. If you disagree, please share your perspective. If you have questions, please write them here and I will respond.



How our Culture Over-Strengthens Certain Muscles and lets others Atrophy
May 1, 2014, 12:16 pm
Filed under: exercise

Culturally Weak and Over-Strong Muscles

 

Our culture tends to overstrengthen certain muscles and neglect others. You always see people in the gym strengthening their “pecs” or pectoralis major, and biceps. You hardly ever see people using the machines for shoulder retraction. Gym equipment hasn’t even been invented that can strengthen the wrist extensors, foot dorsiflexors, hip rotators, shoulder rotators, head rotators, foot rotators and internal abdominals. Even if you wanted to exercise these muscle groups, there are no books about how to do it, and very few personal trainers who know how. (they may learn how to strengthen some of these groups through Paul Check Seminars.)

 

What is gained by making pecs stronger and stronger? What is lost? People with over-strong pecs, tend to feel muscle tension between their shoulder blades. The reason is, when their tension increases from normal stresses of life, the pecs have a lot more horsepower than their antagonists, the rhomboids and lower trapezius. So with every increment the stress increases, those huge pecs pull their shoulderblades farther and farther forward, because the weaker muscles cannot hold the shoulderblades where they belong. The weaker muscles become overstretched, and this makes them tighten even more, like a person who is up against the wall with no options will fight harder. This is how people who over-strengthen their pecs, cause the quality of life to decrease.

 

Our culture seems to not emphasize all-around balance, but to emphasize particular strengths, like bench press and curls. My strengths in the gym happen to be squats and dead lift. But I have a different value than the culture does. I feel my quality of life will be far better if I identify my weaknesses and bring them back to at least their natural levels. This is why I completely avoid squats and dead lift when I am in the gym. Why bother strengthening the areas where I already exceed the natural norms?

 

Instead, I exercise those things I know I am weak in. My right leg is weaker in knee extension and flexion than my left, so I do knee extensions and flexions only on the weak side. My foot and hip inward rotation is weak so I strap my foot in tightly to the rowing machine and stationary cycle and attempt to inwardly rotate my foot against the strap as I am pedaling and rowing. My scapula retractors are weak, and I have a head-forward posture so I try to emphasize the opposite motion while I am rowing and using the upright row machine.

 

In the gym the only way I know to exercise the foot dorsiflexors (tibialis anterior and peroneals) is to strap your foot into the rowing machine and the stationary cycle, and emphasise your foot pulling up (toward your head) against the strap as you row or pedal. Ways to strengthen this action outside the gym are hiking and jogging on uneven terrains where you often need to lift your foot higher than normal.

 

While I was rowing and cycling this morning at the YMCA, I slowly rotated my head left and right in a comfortable range. I would take two row-strokes to move my head from straight-ahead to looking-left, then two strokes to return my head to straight-ahead, then two strokes to move into looking-right, then two strokes to return to straight-ahead. I continued this eight-stroke pattern for many minutes. I also do this when I jog outdoors. I also find this naturally occurring when I jog outdoors because I am curious about the trees, bushes birds and other things I see, hear and smell when I am jogging outdoors. It seems most exercises that we do these days, leave our head facing straight ahead. Our computers are always facing straight ahead. (Someone should invent a system using three monitors that gradually shifts your window to the left and right, in one-minute increments. This would reduce a huge amount of neck strain from computers). Shifting more of your exercise outdoors, naturally entices you to look left and right. However, many people who go outside, bring the indoors with them in the form of headphones. They focus on the task and basically ignore the beauty and vitality of the outdoors they are jogging or walking through..

 

I have found ways to exercise hip medial and lateral rotators that I have posted to youtube under the heading “hip chi.” These exercises, modified from Tai Chi and Chi Gung warm-ups I learned from Willie Lim in Phoenix, also exercise the foot medial and lateral rotators. I believe that hip-medial-rotators and foot-medial-rotators are generally weak in all people, and these two strengths are very important for those who wish to jog more efficiently, or return to jogging after decades away (like I did).

 

Our culture has stopped belly-exhaling, and the muscle that does belly exhaling, the abdominis internis, has grown so weak in most adults that they can no longer consciously contract this muscle. Singers have learned to “sing from your diaphragm,” but the diaphragm is only an inhaling muscle, not an exhaling muscle. I describe this problem and how to restore one’s belly exhaling muscles, in my eBook, “Breathing Naturally,” available at lulu.com .

 

How did our culture get this way? What is it our culture believes is gained by the appearance of huge pecs and biceps? Is humanity benefitted by over-strengthening muscles that are already plenty strong, or is this a dis-service to humanity? Why have we stopped exhaling? Why have we stopped looking side to side? Does what we do in the gym, symbolize how we operate in society, and the world? I’d be happy to read your comments and responses…