a community of practitioners
It's a body. I find it so strange that people are so worried about looking at genitalia. To each their own.
Of course, you WILL be inviting a numerous amount of undesirables if you choose to advertise that you perform non-draped massage. That's just how it is. It is not hard to weed them out. It is YOUR right to refuse service to anyone and to terminate any massage for any reason.
In my practice, the women are the only ones who prefer to be be draped usually. I offer full draping, towel or nude. Nude is very freeing and that's how I prefer to get my massages (unless the room is cold). It is on my intake form and must be signed by both the client and the therapist. It also states that if any unwanted advances are given by the client, the session will be terminated. Nude massage is meant to be freeing without distractions not an invitation for sex.
Can you provide the paragraph in the law that requires draping? I couldn't find it online. Your state has a very interesting massage law. It allows anyone to do sports massage without pay at events under the supervision of a licensed massage therapist. It also does not apply to energywork which also involves touching the body or Asian bodywork. It appears I could work without getting a license. How does that affect competition from Asian bodywork like shiatsu and Thai or Tuina in your state?
Tonya, if you are willing I want to ask you to expand on your thoughts. I’m genuinely interested in understanding the root of your values. I think they are important and valid. For that matter, I am interested in the mindset of any female MT. Even further, if men feel this comes into play for them please jump in.
Before I ask, let me say I support you and think you are correct for sticking to your standards. You should not be uncomfortable and your client should never be uncomfortable either. I support you 100%. That said, I wonder if you would take a moment to share your feelings about a hypothesis I have.
Your remarks seem to be rooted in a concern that you don't want someone on your table using your services as a form of sexual gratification. From what you shared I am concluding you feel that A leads to B which leads to C. If the person asks for no drape then you know they will be deriving some sexual satisfaction from it, which bothers you, and you feel that the logical next step is that the undraped man will ask for some physical gratification in the next session. I can totally see how that progression could be suspected.
My hypothesis is that this whole issue is connected to human sexuality. I hypothesize that you are not wrong in recognizing the basic motivation. I might differ in my conclusion that no drape necessarily leads to sexual contact but I hypothesize that there are people on your table right now (all of our tables) that are not there for a physically therapeutic reason. They are there because they enjoy being touched and possibly because they like you touching them. I’m referring to the back, the leg, the arm, etc. I’m not referring to anything untoward. However, I do think these people are deriving a sexual satisfaction in an indirect way and you just don’t know it. If sexual satisfaction seems too much of leap because it does not include nudity or genital contact at least they view it as receiving affection from another person which really is connected to a person’s sexuality. (getting a little Freudian, sorry)
Would you support my hypothesis that you have clients who are there just because they enjoy your touch or do you not support it and feel that all of your clients are there for purely physically therapeutic reasons?
If a man’s intake form reported no physical discomfort but he made a comment in the notes field that he just wanted someone to touch him in a positive way (he does not request anything out of the ordinary) would you take that client or send him away? If a crystal ball showed you one of your totally respectful men on your table came to you just because he liked you touching him and he had no one else in his life who touches him would you feel cheapened or would you feel you are adding value to his life?
Tonya Brooks-Taylor said:
I practice in a state that requires draping, however, even if it were not required by law I would never do undraped massage as I see it as extremely unprofessional and asking for trouble. It gives clients the wrong idea about massage and, as a woman, I would never open myself up to being propositioned by perverts looking for something other than therapeutic massage. Over the past two years, I have had three new male clients and one long-term client request non-draping. I firmly explained that my policies and the law required I perform draped massage services. If they didn't like that would just be too darn bad - frankly, they could leave and find someone else who does that sort of thing. I really think they were all trying to see how far they could push me. My long-term client I'm not so sure - he was very embarrassed afterwards and has gone from a twice a month to a periodic client. Regardless, I have standards to uphold for both myself and my practice and I am sorry but no client will ever force me to lower them! My policies about draping and other issues are pretty conservative (as I believe they should be) and are posted on my website, on my online booking system, and on the intake form that they all must sign prior to receiving work. I always inform clients up front that proper draping will always be practiced and that I only undrape the area that I am working on -- since genitalia are not on the list of areas I massage why would they need to be uncovered?
Rob, I think you are trying to bring the sexual - non sexual aspect of massage into each post and I don't know if you will find your answers on this medium. Everyone has different reasons for NOT practicing undraped or nude massage. Personally, I won't ever give a massage to an undraped person unless it is my husband. In my small town where we had to break through the stigma around massage, we would be crucified too if even a hint of that got out as people unfortunately will jump on negatives vs the positives of massage. Massage is too precious as a health care modality to start arguments about what is right or wrong or why a therapist does things they way they do.
The first person who ever really touched us in a loving, connected way was our parents, specifically our mothers. If they were secure in their own sexuality and parenthood, they provided a connected, loving and non demanding touch that infants need.
For me ( I have thought of this many times and speak of it to my clients); we as massage therapists can bring that non-demanding touch back to the client...a touch that does not demand but gives love, pain relief and comfort like our parents did or sometimes weren't capable of giving.
Yes, there is much ambiguousness about sexuality in this country. But are you going to solve these problems for the world? No and each person has to work through those issues regardless of why or what their issues may be about sexuality and or how it has been characterized in society for 100s of years.
Massage gives us a chance to let go of all stereotypes and not think...includes the therapist as well as the client...and just let whatever the situation is with them...just be. The answer for them and many times for us comes in the quiet and stillness. Be still and listen to what is not being said...
Rob, I agree with Laura -- it seems you are trying to bring sexuality into each post. I am not sure exactly why you do this but it is quite disconcerting. I am not comfortable...period...with anyone who comes to my practice seeking anything but therapeutic touch.
As far as my having had clients on my table who may have received some sort of sexual gratification from my touch - well, that's their business. If that's what gets them their jollies - fine. As long as I'm not aware of it - because believe me they would not be coming back if I figured it out. I don't disagree that touch is comforting, of course it is! In my opinion though, I find it quite nauseating to think someone could get sexual pleasure from my therapeutic touch. I am not naive enough to think this would never happen, but I certainly do not believe it is common. I did not give up a six-figure income, pay tens of thousands of dollars on my MT program and post grad CEUs just so that someone can confuse what I do with that of a sex worker pretending to be a massage therapist. If any client of mine wants touch for sexual gratification I would actually prefer they go down the street to the local massage parlor for that sort of thing.
I am uninterested in providing anyone - besides my husband - with undraped massage, or for that matter, any type of sexual gratification! I love, value and greatly appreciate what I do (as do my clients!) because of the very many health benefits it can provide. It is (as Laura said in her post) "too precious..a health care modality to start arguments.." You are welcome and free to run your practice however you please, and if you choose to offer undraped massage then that's your choice. As for me -- I choose and will continue to run my practice by my own standards - and no amount of discussion around it will change my mind.
Of course I am trying to bring sexuality into the discussion. It's the gorilla in the corner no one wants to acknowledge. 50 people have already made the perfunctory arguments for and against draping: temperature, boundaries, length of stroke, the law, professionalism, feeling free, whatever. It's been said already.
If you read the post in this thread in almost all of them there is a reference to perversion, or something leading to "more", or "I will with my spouse but not with others" or on the other side "it's just a body" or "not seeking anything sexual" or a million other references to sexuality.
What do you think this thread has been about? Do you really think it has been about massage? You may pretend we are not talking about our views on human sexuality and our cultural values but the very language used in the posts shows that each of our views on sexuality and how the body is connected to sexuality are at the center of the drape discussion. I don't know how anyone could miss it. The MT is asked and they say yes or no based upon their values rooted in human sexuality.
This thread has had more participation than just about any I've seen here. It seems everyone here has been asked for undraped massage whether they've allowed it or not. It does not seem a stretch to think more want it but are not brave enough to ask. Shouldn't we make some kind of effort to understand why it seems to be in growing demand? People looking for prostitution / massage know exactly where to get it and they already know you or I are not it. They know where to go so they won't have to tip toe around the issue if that's what they want. Why are people asking legitimate MT's for drapeless massage? If they are all pervs they would quit wasting their time and money and hit the Asian Sun Massage Parlor already.
If you are not interested in considering why this small trend of drapeless massage seems to be growing what value does the discussion have for you? Why did you look into this thread? You've concluded already it's not on your menu. Do you want to discuss it and understand why you are being asked for it or do you just want it to go away? No body can make it go away. There might be some ideas here on why you are being asked for it.
Rob you must be right. I must be in the wrong thread since I certainly don't care why people are requesting as long as they don't request it from me. Simple me, I thought Lisa's thread was about 'Draping versus no draping". Her last paragraph was, after all:
"But I am curious as to other's thoughts and practices with regards to draping. Do you get a lot of requests to exclude it? What are your state's regulations? Have you ever worked on someone who wasn't draped?"
Since I've answered her questions I guess I don't need to follow this thread anymore. I'm certainly not interested in discussing what you term 'the gorilla in the corner'. As you stated in your last post 'no body can make it go away'. And since I am thankfully not in the heads of those requesting undraped massage or sexual favors from legitimate MTs, I certainly would only be able to offer speculations as to why they're doing it. If this discussion is now about what you think it is then I'll gladly leave you to your "gorilla".
Rob you cannot force people to talk about things they do not want to. For example when Laura expressed her annoyance at me bringing up religion you yourself decoupled religion from culture, which is a stretch of gargantuan proportion, to keep the conversation on sex. I obviously do not question your smarts but that rhetorical move struck me as pandering and cheesy. It was at that point that I personally felt that you are interested in seeing the issue of drape/no drape, which is a valid one, through one long and narrow phallic lens. Although I choose different practices from Laura, Tonya, and many others I do see there point and I would probably be more able to listen, as I am sure would others, if your posting history on this site covered more topics then the 800 pound Gorilla in heat of which you speak.
I certainly don't decouple religion from culture or sexuality. I think it's all tied together. You might recall that after you clarified that you were sharing some historical information about how religion shaped laws I acknowledged that I misunderstood your first post and that I though your clarification was informative. It can be hard to derive completely accurate context from message boards.
If I seem to put weight on sexuality over religion and culture it is because I feel it's the closest value component of those three. People don't typically ask to be naked to pray. People don't typically ask to be naked to go to the museum. People do frequently want to be naked in sexuality and we're talking about peopel who want to be naked in massage. It seems to be the logically dominant part of our value system when talking about undraped massage. However, I'm still seeing eye to eye with you. People's sexuality comes right from their religious beliefs, the culture in which they live, the family values they are raised with and have adopted as adults. It is all part of why people believe what they believe.
I feel that no one has been capable of picking up the accurate context of studying sexuality in the equation. It would seem that people only have the ability to consider the subject in binary terms. When massage occurs it must be completely asexual and if it is not asexual it is a complete leap to prurient behavior. No middle ground can be considered.
People aren't that black and white in reality. They operate in endless shades of gray. Humans interact sexually every day with multiple people and those interactions are nothing more than a glance or a gesture or a fleeting thought. These interactions can happen between people who are completely dressed and who may not even be sepeaking to each other or even know each other. That type of sexual interaction is a long way to one end of the gray scale and is miles away from the end of the scale where you would find physical sexual interaction. In overwhelming cases it results in nothing. This subtle interaction is not viewed as harmful or inappropriate. At somepoint along the scale everyone has their own point where they feel the type of interaction has crossed from harmless to meaningful or to not appropriate if it's not appropriate.
I suspect the draping issue is falling on that gray scale somewhere more in the middle. When a client asks for it I am acknowledging I think that it is for a sublte, sexual reason that falls somewhere on that scale. It may be so subtle the client doesn't even really know it. I'm actually agreeing with Laura and Tonya that it's a sexual request but they can't see that for some reason. Having listened to many voices here I believe that each MT has their own internal marker on that gray scale. If the request from the client (whatever it is) falls on the side of their marker that is closest to the asexual end then the MT accepts the request. If the request falls on the other side of their personal marker that is closer to prurient behavior they deny the request. Well, of course!
I'm not assessing right or wrong for where anyone's personal marker is. I'm sure it's exactly where it should be for each person. I'm also not claiming where any given patient's request for no draping falls on the scale. It could be very close to the asexual end of the scale and it really could be way over at the prurient end. I happen to think that most times it falls in the middle and usually leaning asexual. If they were truly prurient I think most times they are just going to go someplace else where they know they can get what they want. But there are no absolutes. We are all going to get people who are on the prurient end from time to time. We might not even be able to tell those people are on our table. Welcome to the business. As Tonya said, if you figure out they are then ask them to move on. Nothing wrong with that.
I apologize to anyone who thinks I'm attacking their position or that I'm trying to change their position. I'm not trying to. I am not apoligetic for thinking it is the unmentioned gorilla.I am convinced more than ever that subltle sexual influences are driving the requests for undraped massage and MT's are accepting or declining based on their own perception of how appropriate that type of human interaction is. I will not say an MT is wrong to not want to do undrapped massage and won't say an MT is wrong to accept one.
I'm just not black nor am I white.....I'm gray and I embrace it. If I take the time to learn my place on the gray scale and I learn where the person on the table is on the gray scale I think I can build a better client relationship.
Thank you Ezekiel and Tonya. I appreciate that you can see that the drape-no drape issue as regarding the sexual aspect "or the 500 pound gorilla" is what many have already considered and have decided we don't want to even consider in their practice based on their personal beliefs and also on state mandated rules.
Having parameters around massage therapy is what protects therapists from unwanted intrusions into their beliefs. Someone who is looking at the sexual aspects when getting a massage is really needing more than a therapist is qualified to provide and Rob, you will really need to find the answers within yourself as many of us have already stated, we neither want to go there or we have already decided it is not worth all the effort to go there.
So maybe you should start another thread that specifically seeks the answers you are needing...yet you will have to decide if you will really use these answers anyway.
Rules or laws about anything are only there for the few. Living your life without rules means that you don't force your lifestyle or beliefs on others...you assume personal responsibility for your actions.
"Massage gives us a chance to let go of all stereotypes and not think...includes the therapist as well as the client...and just let whatever the situation is with them...just be. The answer for them and many times for us comes in the quiet and stillness. Be still and listen to what is not being said..." I stick by my previous comments and conclusions.
Rob, I hope you find that you don't really need an answer. You have already found the answers and just need to come to grips with it. You don't need our blessing or condemnation.