Yesterday, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) wrote a letter to Redbook magazine and demanded an apology for publishing an anecdotal story that associated massage therapists and the profession with prostitution. The story, titled “I Get Happy-Ending Massages and It Helps My Marriage” was featured on July 3 in Redbook magazine. Author Anna Davies described her experience with a male therapist, in which the story may or may not be a work of erotic fiction. However, massage therapists in the U.S., as well as in Canada and elsewhere in the world, took this matter very seriously and personally.
ABMP vice-president communication Leslie Young, Ph.D., wrote to Redbook: “We represent a profession of more than 320,000 U.S-based massage therapists, more than 80,000 of whom are our members. They consider it offensive and dangerous when anyone—particularly the media—blends discussions about the massage therapy profession and the sex trade. Make no mistake, you’ve published a feature about a married woman who has retained a prostitute, not about a consumer of massage therapy.” Young added that about one-sixth of the massage therapists are men, who are already facing “gender-based challenges” and need to rid the stereotypes that are riddled in the profession. Indeed, this is a “historic publication.”
Several people, including a few massage therapists, voiced their disgust and disbelief on Facebook about Redbook magazine’s story, including “boycotting” and “unfollowing” Redbook. One commentator voiced her concern about ongoing stories from Redbook that “promote various forms of infidelity.”
Meredith Rollins, editor-in-chief of Redbook magazine, replied with an apology to ABMP and fellow massage therapists, thanking them for pointing out the story. “While the story was a first-person account of one woman’s experience and was certainly not meant as a reflection on the massage industry or the professionals who work in it, we have chosen to remove it from the site,” Rollins wrote.
The media coverage of human trafficking crackdowns in which businesses use massage therapy as a front may be one of the major reasons why the public tend to tie massage therapy with sex. In fact, even the terms “masseur” and “masseuse” are considered an insult to most massage therapists because the terms tend to have a negative connotation in the U.S. and hint sexual innuendo, according to a discussion on Massage Mag.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that massage therapists in the U.S. generally “complete a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience,” in which the requirements and standards vary by region or state. Most states also require massage therapists to be U.S. citizens, pass an FBI background check, and possess liability insurance, such as provided by ABMP.
Even though the story about one woman’s experience is defaming to the massage profession, Redbook magazine responded well to the demand of ABMP and massage therapists by offering a sincere apology and removing the article from its website. Cheers to ABMP for standing up for its members and the massage profession, and thank you Redbook for replying and taking action so quickly.
By Nick Ng