Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Massage Therapist, Masseuse, or Whore--Take Your Pick

It’s the end of a hard week and the muscles in your shoulders and neck are rock hard and aching. There is a constant throb in your head and pain shoots down one of your legs. You want relief, but what to do? One idea to take the edge off is to go have a few rounds of your favorite adult beverage with the guys at the local pub. That will also go a long way toward polluting your liver. Same thing for lawful and unlawful drugs. A colleague at work suggested that you try getting a massage, but you just don’t know about that idea. You would have to get naked in front of a stranger, wouldn’t you? And, are these people really legit? You’ve heard so many thing; and what’s this deal about a “happy ending” that your bud mentioned and gave you that knowing wink? That’s your dilemma America. We are uptight and over-stressed, and many of us, especially men, do not make healthy choices to ameliorate the situation.

Along comes the massage therapy business and offers to us an incredible opportunity to get in touch with our bodies and begin to change our lives toward a healthy lifestyle. The massage industry is beginning to boom as millions of people discover the magic of healthy physical touch. Read Ashley Montague’s famed work “Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin” Harper & Row, for an in-depth understanding of the importance of touching the human skin.

Sex has been associated with massage for thousands of years, and there is nothing wrong with it in the proper context. Commercially offered sex in any form is called prostitution. Set aside for a moment the debate on the merits and morality of prostitution and realize that because the prostitution business generates lots of cash, it will exploit any venue it can to exist. Currently, prostitution is heavily masquerading as legitimate businesses including massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and tanning salons.

So now there is a problem folks. Well, really two problems. First, massage, like the practice of medicine, is part scientific technique and part art. A good percentage of the massage people heavy on the art side of the equation have been very successful delivering their art to a grateful clientele. Now comes along the medically oriented massage folks with dreams and aspirations of penetrating the medical field and reaping the financial benefits of associating with physicians and gathering in the insurance money. To be believable to the medical field requires that the massage industry appear to be professional and scientific with a large number of training hours to their credit. Thus, there is a push to increase the training requirements for entry level massage certification. The process is laughably called “professionalization."

One particular massage organization, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), is leading the charge to increase the entry level required massage training hours, and they have been successful in a large number of states. AMTA developed a private national certification test with a minimum of 500 hours of formal training required to be eligible to sit for the test. Unfortunately, there is no objective evidence that the magic number of 500 hours is germane to the creation of a “professional” massage practitioner. Some jurisdictions require a far greater number of hours of training. When a jurisdiction accepts the AMTA standards, a good many competent massage therapists are barred from lawfully practicing their art. Some go out of business and some go underground.

California currently has no state regulation of the massage industry and regulation is left to the local jurisdictions. Thus, there is a hodge-podge of requirements and regulations. A tremendous number of massage therapists have built successful businesses with far less than 500 hours of training. And, these people could not remain in business if they were incompetent.

Senate bill 412 has been introduced in CA in an attempt to impose State regulation on the massage industry. Naturally, some entities are pushing to impose significantly increased training hours that will put many people out of businesss, even with a limited grandfathering provision. A second professional massage organization, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), seems to be responsive to the needs of all massage professionals. Go here to the ABMP link to the current proposed legislation.

There is certainly nothing wrong with more training in any business and massage is no exception. However, there is no convincing evidence that the AMTA standard is credible. As you might guess, a great number of currently practicing massage therapists are opposed, as a general principle, to: state regulation; and AMTA’s desired requirements. Despite their objections, many reluctant massage therapists are willing to explore the state regulation potential for one reason and one reason only. That is they wish to escape the prejudicial, arbitrary and discriminatory local governmental treatment, as if they are the criminals. Criminals, you say? Yes, prostitutes to be specific. That’s problem number two.

Local law enforcement is charged with reducing prostitution. Along comes the prostitution business sneaking in and masquerading as part of the massage industry. Asian prostitution has grown in this field exponentially, and it is frustrating traditional law enforcement prostitution suppression techniques. As a result, law enforcement has chosen to visit upon the entire lawful massage industry draconian regulations, which in essence treat massage therapists as prostitutes. The invasive law enforcement techniques constrain lawful commerce and violate the public’s right to be free of excessive and intimidating government presence. Local law enforcement is often acting as if they operate within a police state.

The legitimate massage industry is victimized twice by prostitution. First, the prostitution besmirches the good name of the industry and suppresses the public’s willingness to seek out a beneficial health modality. And, second the governments’ anti-prostitution techniques treat lawful business people as if they are criminals by imposing requirements and conditions not visited upon other health business modalities. The governments’ techniques are intimidating and insulting. The end result is that a good amount of the massage industry has a strong distaste and dislike for both law enforcement and city administration. No other lawful industry is treated as if they are the criminal when it is their industry that is victimized. The end result is that many in the massage industry are more than willing to accept the concept of state regulation in order to be free of the oppressive local regulations. That certainly is not a positive statement about local government. And, it is certainly no way to treat law abiding citizens.

A word or two about the term “masseuse.” Masseuse and masseur are old words for massage/body worker. Unfortunately “masseuse” is also associated with sleazy massage practitioners and prostitution. The use of the term is like fingernails on a chalk board to many massage therapists, who prefer the designation “massage therapist” in order to disassociate themselves from prostitution.

If I may be so bold as to make this request. Take a moment or two to think about what you have read herein, then e-mail, pickup your pen or phone and tell your local representatives to support the massage professionals in your jurisdiction. Next, contact your CA state representatives and the author of SB 412, Sen. Liz Figueroa, and tell them to pass a state bill that is inclusive of all of the current professional massage therapists. Then book yourself a massage and enjoy.