I am continually talking with students about the importance of educating people about massage. This morning presented with yet another reason to discuss this. A student shared a website she stumbled across… eroticmp dot com, as is erotic massage parlors. She also expressed her outrage and desire to do something about this. In my humble opinion, the key is education.

It is not my intention to discuss the morality of this situation, just the reality. Let’s be honest here. Sex and selling sex are not going away. Legal or illegal. They call prostitution the oldest profession for a reason after all. And because our culture (big generalization I know) often associates touch with sex, massage therapists sometimes get more than they bargained for in business. And clients may get less (as in, those seeking “happy endings”).

Although I would love to not have to teach about this in massage school, the reality does not support this. There probably aren’t too many massage therapists out there who haven’t gotten at least one call from someone looking for more than just a massage, and we each handle those calls/clients differently. Because prostitution is illegal here, the questions are often veiled… I never would have guessed that requests for abdominal massage were “code” for ‘Will you touch my penis?’ until it happened to me.

One of my professional favorite responses is to explain what LMT* stands for, and to clarify that someone with those letters behind their name will not be the “masseuse” they are seeking. One of my personal favorites is a therapist who gives out the number to the local police station as a referral. (Oh I’m sorry, I don’t do that kind of massage. You want to call…)

Aside from dealing with these individuals one at a time, what else can we do? Speak out. Speak up. Write letters. Articles. Blogs. Open the doors. Explain what we do as massage therapists. Invite people to watch. And learn.

*In Ohio, LMT represents Licensed Massage Therapist. A healthcare practitioner with a Limited Branch Medical License from the Ohio State Medical Board, who have completed a program of study that is a minimum of 750 hours (current requirements) and passed a licensure examination.