Petitioning for an “UnHappy Ending”

In my first few weeks working as a massage professional, I encountered what no development class could ever prepare me for. I was bombarded with one after another uncomfortable situation involved a client who expected a “happy ending” at some point during or after massage. Almost every massage therapist, male and female alike although women definitely get it more than men, have encountered at least one such situation in their careers, but even one is too many. I have had my share of male friends cracking jokes over the stereotypical “release” I should be giving my clients to which I always respond with a hammer fisted punch to the side of their heads. It’s incredibly frustrating to spend so much money and time on obtaining a legitimate degree for a legitimate health oriented profession and have to deal with such ignorance and nonsense. Of course, the truth is, so long as sensual massage parlors exist so will the stereotypical expectation. The attitude often is, “well, if they do it, why can’t you?”

Here to add to this ridiculous stereotype is a new program from the Women’s network that is Lifetime Television. It’s called “The Client List” and stars a buxom Jennifer Love Hewitt playing the role of a single mom who, as the synopsis states”…has taken a job at a seemingly traditional day spa, but soon realizes that the parlor offers a little more than just massage therapy. It’s not the happy ending she was expecting but it does open her eyes to a world she’s never seen before. The series follows Riley balancing these two worlds – one that revolves around her kids and family – and the other that revolves around the massage parlor and it’s special clientele. These two worlds couldn’t be farther apart, yet she’s totally comfortable in both. Keeping them separate … now that’s the tricky part as she discovers she’s not the only one with secrets.”

Um…no. This is not an example of what massage therapy is, nor a good example for single mothers in dire straits all over America looking for work to support their families. A Massage Therapist in NY requires 1000 contact hours of training done at a state accredited program ($20,000 plus for the 16 month Associates Degree I earned) on top of a licensing exam that costs a couple hundred dollars to take and once passed, a continuing education requirement that has to be completed every 3 years when your license is up for renewal that can cost thousands of dollars.  What is Lifetime thinking??? I suppose a series about Massage Therapy premised like “ER” (which was a pretty exciting medical drama if I recall) would not be nearly as thrilling as watching the illicit world of day spa sex and unlicensed massage. Right. Good job, oh women’s network for promoting this idea of the female massage therapist and for encouraging Mr. Pervy McPerv to come into the spa and boldly ask for his “happy ending.” I’ll know who to thank when his business comes my way.

What your typical massage therapist DOESN’T look like!

Thankfully, a petition was created and has been circulating via FACEBOOK to address this giant step backwards for my profession. Take a minute to read it and then sign in to your Facebook account to add your support for this.


7 thoughts on “Petitioning for an “UnHappy Ending”

  1. thank u for bringing this to our attention. I do not do facebook but would like to sign a petition.have ucontacted Swedish Institute about it as well? They have a very large data base of techs to alert and would certainly lend their support. I appreciate yr thoughts. Trish reidy 917-868-0597

    1. Trish,
      Since I didn’t have a Facebook myself, I thought to blog about it and share it on our Google group. I most certainly can forward the petition to Meg at Swedish and see what they can do. It’s really important that more people step up. Even my private clients are peeved about this.

      I appreciate your suggestion. 🙂

  2. It is disgusting and something should be done about it. I don’t have Facebook but in sure Swedish will come up with some sort of petition we can all sign. I myself have been solicited by disgusting 40-ish year old married white men about 6 times for a happy ending and that pisses me off.

    1. I had emailed the petition to Meg Darnell in February. I am sure they would do something amongst the students or at least I hope. It’s unfortunate that the show is doing its damage, but we won’t sit quietly on this.

  3. I know that my point of view is unpopular in the therapeutic massage community and is not what you wanted to hear. But I thought I will share it just to offer another perspective. I started out in my therapeutic practice and felt the same way about “happy endings” as you voice here. Eventually through the study of tantra, I became initiated into giving sensual massage and tantra sessions; I became a master of the art. I can share that sensual massage can be a very powerful healing modality; as much so as therapeutic massage, but just different. I now maintain two distinct practices. One is purely therapeutic. The other is sensual. Both practices are amazingly rewarding for myself and my clients. I believe that the goal behind the client list show was not to sexualize therapeutic massage, but to destigmatize sensual massage and it’s practitioners. I think what is important for the massage community is to create strong boundaries, and inform the public about different massage modalities, while leaving the judgement aside. A client’s interest in sensual massage is not inherently wrong. However it is inappropriate within the container of a therapeutic massage.

    1. Well stated points. I agree in that the boundaries must be clear and the modalities clearly differentiated, so people understand the differences and can make informed choices. Thank you for your feedback on this post.

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