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For many women, it brings up body issues and safety concerns: Will a male therapist be attracted to me? What if I forgot to shave my legs? Will they see my stretch marks? For many men, it makes them self-conscious and tongue-tied: Will a female therapist be strong enough?
What if I become aroused? Most women ask for female massage therapists, spa managers say. The same goes for men. Indeed, 85 percent of massage therapists in the United States are women, according to the American Massage Therapy Association.
But culture and nationality also play a role. Certain religions also dictate whether a client picks a male or female therapist. The concept of negiah, practiced by Orthodox Jews, restricts physical contact between those of opposite genders who are not related by blood or marriage.
Islam also forbids a man to touch a woman who is not in his family, even with a barrier. But in most cases, massage therapists say, clients choose a masseuse because of their own comfort level and biases. Even women who see themselves as open-minded prefer a woman to give them a massage.
Bettina Barrow, 31, a recent U. Law School graduate, believed she had no preference, until one experience changed her mind. Barrow, recalling an experience in Los Angeles. Being with a man made her nervous. Robin Duffy, a massage therapist with private practices in North Carolina and New York, points to another reason that women prefer a female therapist.
Many of her clients, she said, treat their visit like a chat session among gal pals. Men seem to prefer female therapists for different reasons. But there are some instances where both women and men request a male therapist. The most commonly cited reason is that masseurs are stronger and can deliver a deeper massage. You just have to be good and know how to use your body. Some women ask for male therapists because they feel competitive around other women. Ellsworth, the New York masseur. Then there is a more embarrassing reason for preferring a male therapist.
For heterosexual men, having a guy give the massage may lessen the chances of becoming aroused, Mr. Ellsworth said.Woman brutally attacked in downtown Mobile
Not everyone agrees. George Powell-Lopez, general manager of the Red Door Spas Elizabeth Arden in New York, said that arousal during a massage is common, and sometimes has little to do with sexual attraction.Happy Endings - Inside suburban Thai massage parlours
When it does, therapists rely on their training. The first step is usually to ignore it. If that fails, they may redirect the massage to a neutral part of the body. Therapists can just as easily end the massage, and report the situation to the spa manager or security. Cases of appointments being terminated are few, said Ms. Powell-Lopez said. The question of masseuse or masseur seems to matter less over time.
Experienced spa-goers say they care less and less with each visit. When Allan Share, president of the Day Spa Association, gets a massage, he said, he simply asks for the best therapist available.Woman Mobile ending massage Mobile
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