Gender bias in Massage


Currently there is a discussion about this on one of the Linkedin groups I am a member of. Comments range from the facile, “If I was a long legged blond with a large bust I would be a millionaire” to others recognising that many women have good reasons for not wanting to see a male therapist.

Let’s unpick this a bit. I imagine that almost every massage therapist out there who has been in business more than a few years has had requests for non-professional, i.e. sexual services. To date, I have weeded all of these out at the telephone call/email stage. All but one of these requests was from a man and I suspect that the one from a woman was a telephone call made as a dare from a drink fuelled party based on the background noises. As it got the same response as the calls from men I will never know.

In Britain and America at least, a significant number of both men and women prefer not to be massaged by a man. This does vary a lot depending on the culture. The vast majority of men I see are either from mainland Europe or the Indian sub-continent where attitudes are very different. Many of the Indian men I see would not want to be massaged by a woman.

How do I deal with this? Well, if prospective clients come via my own website, it is fairly clear that I am a man, working on my own, so much of the gender bias is only seen by me in the number of people who don’t call. However, I have no way of quantifying this.

The biggest waste of my time in this area was until recently Gumtree which while providing me with a significant number of clients, also produced virtually all of the calls asking for sexual favours and many men and a few women who did not want to be massaged by a man. My conclusion is that those who visit that particular website have lower reading skill levels than those who go to my own site!

On the phone, most of the men who want to be massaged by a woman, just hang up when I tell them that it would be me doing the massage. With women, they usually stay on the phone long enough for me to give them the details of a female therapist.

During quiet periods, I might wish that more people of both genders were willing to receive massage from a man but this week while juggling seeing clients with dealing with builders installing a new kitchen, I have as many as I can cope with in-between not being able to wash towels while the builders are working etc!

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