In a profession dominated by women, I had a student recently pose the question, “What does it take to succeed as a male massage therapist?”
Men are an important presence in the world of massage therapy. Unfortunately, male massage therapists are sometimes stereotyped as a sexual threat, maybe gay or not a good listener.
Some male therapists report feeling discrimination from both male and female clients. The women fear a male therapist might be inappropriate and some men don’t want another man massaging them because of a homophobic fear.
Unfortunately, over our history there has been an abuse of power. Loving touch has been absent, replaced by sensual touch.
Women have been and are being abused.
- In the first nation tribes of Canada, women are stolen. They are missing.
- 87% of women between 15 and 49 in the middle East and North Africa the Muslim countries have been circumcised.
- 1 in 4 women have had some kind of inappropriate or sexual interaction with men by the time they’re 15.
- The list goes on…
I get it. As a woman and a mother, the statistics are alarming.
Lomi Lomi and Unconditional Love
The style of Lomi that we teach at Ho’omana is innately known by all…the feeling of loving touch and unconditional love when somebody works on you.
This is the lineage we have received from our Ancestors.
One day in class, a student shared that he had a lot of fear and anxiety coming into our Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage training.
“I can’t shake the feeling there is an expectation that eventually, I will be inappropriate. I look around the classroom full of women and wonder if they’re thinking, “Watch out for that guy…
I’m a straight, white male. It seems like men are labeled no matter if they do something or not.
At this point, I don’t even know how to respond. I am so sad because my only intention is to give Loving Touch.”
What a beautiful opportunity, to listen to this man express his feelings. I could empathize with the fear around the expectation that he would mess up. Eventually.
Massage is a profession where you’re right up in someone’s energy field and there’s a lot of skin showing. How do you get people to trust?
My Best Advice
In our patriarchal society it’s been a man’s world, but that doesn’t mean that we stop holding up the torch of light.
I could clearly see this man’s light shining in the room. He, a straight, white male, was holding a space of love and respect and compassion for women and where we’ve been historically.
This man, offering Loving Touch with all his heart, can turn the tides of the stories that linger from being in this society for so long.
He is creating an alternate viewpoint and perspective, inviting women to feel safe, nurtured and not to feel like they have to be afraid.
“Hold up the torch of light for all of the men who deserve a chance to create more love,” I told him. “Be supportive of other people committed bringing more love in.”
As men in the massage therapy profession, be impeccable with what you do and what you say.
- Communicate: Explain draping with your clients. Let them know which areas of the body you will be working on and give them permission to stop the session any time they feel uncomfortable.
- Set Your Intention: From the moment, the appointment is set, be clear on your intention to provide sacred space for the healing of your client.
- Remain confident: Believe the clients on your table have come because you have the skills they need in the present moment. Ask for support from your guides and focus on the intended outcome.
Now, I’d love to hear from you…What advice do you have for male massage therapists?
I read and respond to every comment!
12 thoughts on “My Best Advice for a Male Massage Therapist”
I love this post. As a woman, as a massage therapist, as someone who has personally experienced NON-loving/violating touch, this post is invaluable. Also, as a business owner who employs 50% male practitioners in our clinic, I am very aware of both the stigma AND the real-life challenges. I believe there needs to be an expectation that male practitioners have both the obligation and the gift of raising the standard in the massage sessions. It is a hefty obligation, but I believe one that reaps rewards. When male practitioners show up with presence, clear intention, confidence, and a desire to be a vessel for healing, humans undergo deep trauma healing. With each loving massage experienced by a male practitioner, we are experiencing generational wound healing. I am happy to see this topic being explored!
I love this idea of generational wounds that we can heal today just by taking up the responsibility of raising the vibration backwards and forwards
What I do find to be a pain is social media marketing. As soon as I include men I end up getting negative comments either insinuating that I do sensual work and that they want my job or saying it is wrong for women to bare so much skin. The first I sometimes try to educate and explain that they are welcome to train and join me but that it is ‘work’ not play and deep integrity is required. The latter is so set in patriarchal ways that I hardly find it useful to comment.
Mahalo for holding that torch the men of this world that area ready and aligned with this work.
I massage with appropriate behavior, but my massages vary in the types of massages requested. For instance sweetish massage is on the sensual side. And being appropriate is a must and the way you approach this kind of massage is key and at the same time Pleasing the customer is in the explaining part to them. They can request soft touch harder touch depends on there want. It’s a touchy situation with no pun intended. Please advise. I would love to meet you and learn.
So powerful and unity! I am so thankful to be a student of yours!
Having been a massage therapist in the spa industry for almost 30 years, I have faced firsthand discrimination against male therapists. While I can understand and empathize with women who have issues with receiving massage from a man, I have little patience or empathy with homophobic men. Mind you, there may be a few men out there who have been sexually abused by other males and I would understand and empathize with their reluctance to being massaged by a man. What irks me are the men who want a very deep massage AND it has to be from a woman and the younger and prettier the better.
The first line of re-educating the public on gender bias is the receptionist. In spas, some receptionists ask, “Would you prefer a male or female therapist?” In those cases most clients will choose a female as it seems less threatening. The males typically get 20%-50% less bookings than the females, who often have less training and experience.
I have coached receptionists to adjust their verbiage to assume that the client has no gender preference unless they say so up front. They just want a great massage. Especially when the client prefers deep work, the receptionist can even promote the males, “John is available at 3 and is one of our best therapists and does great Deep Tissue.” If the client has an issue with being massaged by a male, they will speak up and make their gender preference known. Otherwise receptionists, please assume that the client just wants a great massage and the gender of their therapist is not an issue unless they say so up front.
I have occasionally massaged a male or female client who was never previously massaged by a male and was hesitant at first. Because there was no other therapist available, they went with me, had a wonderful experience and was way more likely to receive massage from a male in the future.
And a note to my fellow male therapists: We must maintain impeccable standards and boundaries when massaging male or female clients. “One bad apple” really does spoil it for the rest of us. I have heard stories from women who have received inappropriate touch from male therapists and are reluctant to receive massage from a man.
Keep your draping professional, be present, communicate your intentions, ask permission and really listen to their verbal responses and body language. When in doubt, lean towards the conservative…
Wonderful feedback Raphiel. Very professional approach and you are right that it is the receptionist initial communications and the front line therapists raising the bar on impeccable practices no matter which gender the client is. Mahalo for your insight and years of expertise
To the male massage therapists, remember that you were trained to give the best massage you can give. Don’t let other people’s phobia get yo you. Be yourself, be respectful of yourself and others, don’t act as if you are different from us female massage therapists.
Aloha, and thank you so much for this message.
As a male massage therapist, it is assumed that we would empower the client, and communicate clearly just what we are doing. With that said, I have to admit that it isn’t enough 100% of the time.
Some clients will say they are comfortable, pressures good, they understand what you are doing. Then they go out and publicly complain that you were too deep, that you touched them inappropriately, that they thought your intentions were that of a prelature.
I have been hurt with a couple of these, and have carried on with a very hard lesson.
My thought for this is simply learn from your mistakes. Continue to grow, and learn to communicate better.
I would like to express that this is a so important topic.
So many do bear so much hard history of bad behavior.
Thank you for lifting it.
Been massaging since 1998.
My advise for Male therapists,
be yourself, be professional and by word of mouth, your business will grow.
I’m originally from Guam and was not aware of this gift of Loving Touch, until our struggle with my sons cancer brought us to Denver where I am licensed to practice and for ten years now. It truly has become my passion even after overcoming unbelievable accusations. I volunteered for three years at the Ronald Mcdonald house in Aurora, Co. until I lost my mother 2-6-2018 I am joyed that your interested in assisting male massage therapist 🙏🙌