Nudity and intimate touch are in many places considered sexual. As a consequence massage is often associated with sex which poses a large problem for those giving professional non-erotic massages. In some countries regulations and laws have been passed to ensure the separation. Unfortunately there are still many countries where there is no official regulation, and for the costumers it can be hard to see what an advertisement for massage truly covers.
These problems exist for both the client and the massage therapist. As a customer it is hard to see through the jungle of massage types and special offers. They risk at worst to get masseuse who doesn’t know what she is doing, and at best get a rather embarrassing experience.
In France there are no official regulations, and anybody can claim they do “massage de relaxation”. This in essence means that on the yellow pages both sex-workers and massage therapists are listed under the same category and a client can’t tell which he is calling when he wants to book a massage.
This especially proves a problem when they look at the individual massage therapists who work from their homes and offer massages at the workspace or at the client’s home. The problem is less when it is spas and hammams, though also here the name of a place can be misleading and cover up for sex-work.
For a massage therapist there is another range of issues. Being listed as giving “massage de relaxation” in the yellow pages brings many unwanted calls from people wanting erotic and sexual massages. It gets even worse should the massage therapist place an add in a local paper, this in spite of it being under the strictly non-sexual section. The phonecalls come in none the less, and at times even late at night.
There are some things that can be done to prevent this. Using a landline phone instead of a cell phone will sort some unwanted calls. Not advertising in local papers, Craiglist and other free forums is another way to avoid unwanted calls.
It does make it hard for a new massage therapist to establish herself. If she wants to avoid the risk of sex calls and clients wanting more than she can offer, she can’t advertise in the normal media and has to rely on word-of-mouth to establish her business. This will typically take a couple of years and many gives up before they reach that stage.
Many of those problems are dealt with in countries/states where there are regulations. In the US for instance there are laws prohibiting nudity during a massage and/or insisting on draping. In other countries it’s illegal to advertise for massage if you are a sex-worker. Some places have high requirements to become a massage therapist and it is an official recognized education. For instance in Canada you have a state where you need 3000 hours of school to call yourself a massage therapist. In these places massage therapists are registered and must pass tests to get the registration. They also have separate listings in the yellow pages and can’t be confused with sex-workers.
In the unregulated areas there are usually non-profit organisations who work towards regulations and official recognition of massage therapy and massage as a non-sexual form of relaxation. Members of these organisations have to live up to certain requirements and adhere to codes of conduct. They are trying to ensure certain standards within the business and provide clients with useful information on what can be expected when they get a massage from a massage therapist.