Insights and Healing with Patrick Moore

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.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I have fought this off and on through out my entire massage career, your blog has just given me some real food for thought!

Comment by betty

Thanks, Betty!

Comment by healingbrain

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