Thanks to the brave women participating in the movement, who decided to openly condemn sexual harassment in various spheres of society, the whole world started talking about the fact that in our society there is no place for such phenomena, the importance of sexual education and the prevention of violence against women and men. A massage room is a miniature society and, unfortunately, massage therapists around the world often face the problem of sexual harassment.
Quite often, we are talking about unethical masseurs who violate the personal space of the client, but the opposite situation is not less common, or even more often. Almost every massage therapist, including me, at least once in his career has encountered inappropriate and / or abusive client behavior (some believe that this can be avoided, that everything depends on the massage therapist, while forgetting one detail – even a carelessly thrown phrase may be offensive and unacceptable and by no means always have such reasons for clients to make such statements).
The most common picture is a male client who believes that a massage room is an appropriate place to make inappropriate comments, touch a therapist, and violate other social and physical boundaries in other ways. Less commonly, inappropriate behavior is exhibited by female clients. This can be expressed, for example, in the request of the massage therapist to provide one or another type of sexual services. Despite a certain imbalance in the perception of sexual harassment by women and men, a true professional in his field, and just any sane person should understand that both of these phenomena are reprehensible and absolutely inappropriate in a massage room.
Aggressive sexual behavior of the client (I repeat, this concept includes not only active actions, but also the words expressed to the masseur) – this is a very serious problem that should not be ignored. You have the right to work in a safe environment free of any sexual harassment. If someone violates your personal boundaries, you have every right to protect yourself, to get out of the situation and do everything possible so that this person no longer crosses the threshold of your office, and if something serious happens, you take responsibility for your actions.
Remember – you are not alone and you are far from helpless. Your colleagues, employers, teachers, well-known masseurs are behind you – our task is to change the attitude to the sexual side of therapeutic massage in the right direction in society and in our professional sphere, to protect each other.
A couple of years ago, on the forums one could find statements like “Ethical norms everyone chooses for himself …”, “the topic of sexual relations does not concern the professional activity of a massage therapist”. Today, in 2020, such statements have lost all meaning. Ethics has become an integral part of professionalism and, moreover, one of the most important components of a modern progressive community. The default policy is a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, in modern realities, sexual literacy and culture do not develop as fast as we would like. Many famous people are convicted of harassment every day, this becomes a kind of behavior model, because even negative examples can become infectious. It all depends on us, massage therapists and manual therapists – we must build a system in which incorrect behavior during the session will simply become impossible.
What to do if clients violate your personal boundaries, leave inappropriate comments or, even worse, even perceive massage therapy as a sexual service? To understand this, in future articles from this series we will turn to personal examples of various massage therapists who have ever experienced sexual harassment by clients.