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Aloha. I've been working as a professional massage therapist in a day spa for about five months. During that time I became aware of a preference male and female clients have for female therapists. Here I am raising two questions:

 

First, what is the question your receptionist asks to determine the client's gender preference if at all and how she approaches this matter?

In our spa the receptionist asks, "Do you prefer a male or a female therapist?" or "Do you have a gender preference?" One time I heard her asking "Are you OK with a male therapist?" I believe that all the questions above put male therapist in a great disadvantage and in my opinion they are as ridiculous as the questions: "Do you prefer a tall or a short therapist? Do you have a religioun preference for your therapist? Are you OK with a Jewish therapist? You get the idea.

 

Second, what is the booking procedure in your place of work that insures fair work load distribution between male and female therapists? What is your booking procedure?

In our spa, assignments are booked using a booking order rather than seniority. The opener that has a few morning shores comes earlier and gets the first appointment. Of course, if the opener is male, between female requests and specific requests for therapists, he may not get anything that day…and I am speaking from experience.

 

I’d love to hear some ideas so I can go to management with specific solutions rather than only complaints. Thanks in advance.

 

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In my opinion the disdain for “male” massage therapist comes from within the massage therapy realm. I think a majority of clients will not go as far asking for a certain gender right when they make the initial call to set up an appointment. As some of you mentioned, if brought up, of course a client will select a gender. People get massages for a particular reason or another and yet they want bodywork from someone qualified and capable of fulfilling their needs. If “Sussie” is on vacation or sick and only Johnny is able, I doubt the client will say no to Johnny.  You go to see a professional, not a certain gender.  We have legal and ethical business practices in place, all of them are objective. Sure there are stereotypes, but not one guideline starts off with, “Since male therapists are more likely to….”  If you want sports massage done, you go to someone that is qualified to give a sports massage, same for reiki, and same for Swedish, etc…. All guidelines and principles use the words professional, practitioner or therapist.  The stigma of a male massage therapist is just like any racial or sexual preference. If you make it an issue then there will be an issue. That doesn’t mean a client may ask for a certain gender, but it’s how you handle the question. If businesses are not careful it can fall under sexual discrimination. EVERY male and FEMALE  I’ve told that I was studying to become massage therapist a pretty much game response: A gasp with WIDE eyes and a comment along the lines of when and how do I get a massage.

It's not really answer the two questions, but I wanted to give my view. Also, I'm curious to if things have changed for you Ilan! Fill us in!!!

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