The massage industry as a whole is heavily divided by gender. According to the American Massage Therapy Association Research Report, 85% of the massage therapists in the U.S. are women.
With women being the majority, the experience men have when they pursue this career can be vastly different.
One of the unfortunate realities of the massage field is that men are often discriminated against when seeking out this career. Assumptions are often made about them by clients of all genders. Oftentimes, these assumptions are based on perception rather than truth.
To help combat some of this discrimination, we’re debunking a few of the most common myths surrounding male massage therapists.
1) Difference In Strength: “A massage from a man will be different than one from a woman.”
Many clients often ask: “What is the difference between a massage from a male massage therapist and one from a female massage therapist?” The simple answer to this question is that there is no difference.
When considering some of the factors that go into a massage, it is easy to see how gender doesn’t play a role. Massages can differ based on:
- The needs and goals of the client
- The training the massage therapist has had
- Any specialties the massage therapist focuses on
- Whether or not this is the client’s first-ever massage
This myth goes hand in hand with the assumption that men will be more aggressive than women. Male massage therapists aren’t any more aggressive than female massage therapists. In fact, each of our male massage therapists makes it a point to talk about each client’s needs and goals just as much as our female massage therapists. Every type of massage can be performed by both men and women, so the experience isn’t different based on gender.
2) Specialized Training: “Male massage therapists are more likely to be trained in sports or therapeutic massage than female massage therapists.”
This isn’t true either. Male massage therapists can be trained in a variety of techniques just like female massage therapists can. It all depends on their interests and the individual training they have undergone.
The best thing you can do is talk to your massage therapist about the massage modalities you’re interested in trying. If you’re unsure, you can discuss what you’re looking to get out of your massage and they can help you choose a technique that would best suit your needs.
For example, if a client has had surgery recently and they are experiencing swelling, manual lymph drainage could work well for them. Once they choose to sign up for a massage with this technique, they would then have to select a massage therapist that specializes in this area.
3) Body Shaming: “Male massage therapists are more likely to notice things like body hair if I forgot to shave my legs.”
No matter what their gender is, your massage therapist will not care if you shaved or not. They see countless clients every day who arrive with all sorts of personal preferences and varying hair lengths. In seeing so many different types of people, they are accustomed to all types of personal hygiene preferences.
In addition to this, massage therapists understand that their clients lead busy lives and have more important things to worry about than shaving right before their appointment. They know that in real life your time is very limited. So whether you show up without ever having shaved before or if you show up clean shaven, it will not affect your experience. Nor will working with a male massage therapist compared to a female massage therapist.
4) Sexual Orientation Assumptions: “If I choose a male massage therapist, will they think I’m gay? Are they more likely to be attracted to me?”
A common problem in the massage therapy industry is that male therapists are perceived as sexual threats. The subject of their sexual orientation is also frequently raised even though it has nothing to do with their experiences as massage therapists or the training they have undergone in learning specific massage modalities. These assumptions have affected male massage therapists’ careers for a long time.
To combat these myths, it is important to remember the nature of massage therapy. This field exists to help people with chronic pain, rehabilitation, and general wellness. Students of massage therapy seek this industry out because they are passionate about helping people.
When these assumptions about male massage therapists come up, it is important to remind people of why someone would want to get into this industry to begin with. It is a very rewarding career for many which is why they seek it out. People who are in the industry for other reasons are quickly dismissed and removed from their positions. As a result of this strict code of ethics in the massage therapy field, clients are protected and male massage therapists are perceived as less of a threat.
A Final Thought
Male massage therapists who work in the industry are often extremely talented, as they have to face these stigmas every time they come into the office. These biases can make it more difficult for them to do their jobs and to connect with clients on a personal level.
By learning about these common myths about male massage therapists, clients can better understand what it’s like for them to work in this industry. People can realize that the services men offer aren’t any different than what female massage therapists offer. It is entirely about the skillset of the individual, not what gender they present as.
That being said, it’s important to always choose a massage therapist that you feel comfortable working with. Sometimes clients come in having experience with abuse or neglect from people in their lives that are of a particular gender. This can skew their preference when choosing who to work with.
The client needs to trust their massage therapist, so having a preference when it comes to gender is okay. It is just important to keep these assumptions about male massage therapists in mind so clients can be mindful of why they are choosing to work with one person over the other.
Interested in learning more about the male massage therapists we have on our staff? Contact Vinings Massage today to learn more about how they can help you meet your goals.