Massage is Therapy. Massage therapy is NOT Sex Work although it is so often used to disguise massage businesses that the use of words has made it so massage therapists constantly have to be on guard agaist sexual harassment. We have to screen clients, adjust our hours to not take last minute clients and deal with the many jokers around happy endings.
Massage therapists in most states in the US attend approved massage schools, pass state licensing exams, pass background checks and maintain their license with continuing education classes. Most recently we have been saddled with having to obtain establishment licenses in some states as state boards and legislation think that doing so will help reduce the number of sexually oriented businesses using our good name: Massage therapy.
How the word Massage is being Misused.
‘Massage, Massage therapy, Massage therapists’ are words that are used by licensed massage therapists. Each state outlines the possible designations that can be used by a Licensed Massage Therapists. Only a licensed massage therapist can use the word massage and massage therapy in their business names and list of services.
The words “Massage Parlor” are often included in licensing laws and is also being misued in media, legislation and with law enforcement officicals. Many are using the words Massage Parlor or illicit Massage Business when it really is a brothel disguised as a massage business. It is not a Massage Parlor or Illicit Massage Business. They have nothing to do with the massage profession. They may actaully be giving some sort of massage but they are not trained or licensed which creates a risk in that alone. If they are licensed, they may have obtained their license through diploma mills or one person may be licensed and they hang that on the wall and everyone says it is their license. There could be human trafficking involved.
Foot Massage Spas often use loopholes in massage licensing laws to open brothels disguised as massage businesses. Reflexology which is often incorrectly referred to as foot massage is a variation of massage that often is exempt from massage licensing laws. Real Reflexologists are certified by the American Reflexology Board.
Asian Massage is another term that is often used by brothels to disguise their businesses. There are many different types of Massage that originate from Asia and those practitioners will use the specific terminology in their list of services and business names. A business that calls themselves Asian Massage Spa or Parlor are generally a disguise for a brothel.
The Process of Reclaiming Our Name requires many efforts in many areas:
- Start with something as simple as using #massageistherapy. #massageisnotsexwork #massagechangeslives #lookbeforeyoubookamassage on your social media posts.
- Correct the use of the words massage parlor by the media, legislators, law enforcement and others. It has been adopted by many to cover up what it really is: A Brothel Disguised as a Massage Business.
- Correct the words “Illicit Massage Business”:The Polaris Project has called it illicit massage business when in fact is it NOT a massage business of any kind. Massage therapists and anyone giving massage for a living are professionally licensed by each state and require training, testing and renewal of licensing. A simple correction on a social media site can lead to a nationwide movement. Call it what it is: A Brothel Disguised as a massage business. #MassageisTherapy #massagechangeslives #notinourname .
- Work with your state board to correct any language still being used in the laws.
- Create local networks of Massage Therapists to work on the issues at a very local level. Find or start a local network.
- Create local marketing and awareness campaigns to promote and educate consumers about the power of massage therapy along with the issues of being entangled with brothels. Massage is Therapy
- Research Establishment Licensing Laws that are intended to curb brothels disguised as massage businesses. Are they doing that? Compare and contrast language used by each state. See what is working and what is not.
- Create State and local task forces to investigate human trafficking. It is up to law enforcement, not the massage profession to take on the issues of human trafficking as it is very complex and often involves cartells and other criminals. Contact your state legislators to work on that issue.