About.com, Male vs Female MTs

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Post by elsewhere » Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:44 pm

In the "it's a small world "department, "Buck" was actually a client and friend of mine before he moved to New Orleans and is one of the nicest people on the planet, the "attitude" in that pic notwithstanding.

He was married to Karen Winslow, a well known dominatrix in Hollywood. She left him for Larry Wachowski (of "The Matrix" fame) who left his wife for her and then had a sex change from a man to a woman (Buck's was the other way around, woman to man.) Confused yet? They now live in San Francisco.

It's an unusual story and the reason I share it is because it's a matter of public record having been written about in several publications including The Rolling Stone. I thought I'd seen everything but Karen and Buck were truly an unusual couple. I liked and respected them both very much. Hey, they sent me lots of great clients! I adored them!!! haha! Life's weird ain't it? You never know who you're going to meet that will challenge your preconceptions. People are all so unique. I just love that.

That said, as a male MT I am sure I have been discriminated against by people who prefer having a female MT and I am totally cool with that. I would never want to be "forced" upon anyone. I am all for people being worked on by whomever they choose. If that means they are gender specific that's totally fine with me. I don't feel it's discrimination. There are so many variables unique to our profession. Massage is consensual boundary crossing in that people are seeking us to help them through touch in our touch repressive societies. We make contact in a way that is unique to our profession alone. Whatever makes someone comfortable enough to allow that to happen and have them to get the most out of their experience I support. "Client Centered Therapy." I support that.

Guys will just make it harder for themselves and for other guys if they make this too much of an issue. Unless there is blatant proof that discrimination is going on I say just let it go. Create a reality where you are wanted and supported in your work and don't use this as an excuse unless you truly feel you are being discriminated against. Just do really good work and they will come. Trust me on this. Male or female they will come and get worked on by you.

If you're good and people know it (especially the people you work with) you will have people to work on. It just makes sense. If someone calls and says "I want the best!" and your owner says that it's you, a true massage connoisseur or maybe even someone that has never considered being worked on by a male before but wants "the best" will take the host's recommendation. This is a much better way to win people over. Be the best you know how to be. Being male you may have to work a little harder to win people over but if you're good you will and it's so worth it. If you are really good at this people won't care about your gender and it won't even be an issue.

I do think owners should support their male MT's and should be sensitive to all sides of this issue though. That said, a policy that caters to the client's wants and needs is essential. That's just the business we are in.

oh and Joshua, regarding this:
"What's different about him, besides the configuration of his genitals?"
It's interesting that you brought up Buck as I know him quite well and have worked on him. I can say first hand that Buck's energy is very different than that of a bioman. In fact I think it would confuse most people who would encounter it for the first time as it's extremely unique. I have never encountered anything quite like it. I have found that to be the case with most of the transgendered people I have known or worked on (hey, I work in Hollywood, we have everything you could think of here.) It's neither distinctly male nor distinctly female, it's something unique which I have always attributed to hormones being pumped into a body designed for something else. Buck obviously does not have male genitalia but he does take male hormones. Does this make him a "man?" More like a hard core dyke with lots of testosterone if you want to be scientific about it. Buck choses to live as a man which I totally support. It does not necessarily make him one. If Buck was working at a massage therapy center the owners would have an interesting time explaining him (just like they would my neighbor's "handy-man" who looks like Dick Butkus with a Doris Day wig on. Makes him happy, but it doesn't necessarily make him a "woman." At least he has the option of genital reconstructive surgery though. Buck? Not so much....) But they wouldn't have to explain him as Buck is very open about it with everyone. There's probably even a niche market for it somewhere so he'd probably clean up as there shouldn't be too much competition for him. But don't go looking for him at Massage Envy. Unless maybe it's in the Castro or the French Quarter.

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Post by Snackdaddy » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:50 am

I have invested WAY too much time into this. I've poured over research journals in Psychology and Sociology (did you know that most research journals online only offer a title and a peek at their contents? If you want the entire article, you have to pay. Understandable). Yesterday I went to the library here at AZ State U., and perused their journal and book collection. I have examined this issue from every conceivable angle in my head in terms of ethics, morality, equal rights, fair play, privacy, discrimination, objectification, gender essentialism(!), public policy, and business practices.

The very best scientific assertion that I can find that supports my opinion on this subject comes from the book, "Gender, Nature, and Nurture", by Dr. Richard A. Lippa of Cal State Fullerton. It's a great book, well written, accessable, and cited.

"Many kinds of evidence suggest that biology contributes to human sex differences and to individual differences in masculinity and femininity. Animal experiments show that prenatal hormones create differences in the nervous systems and behaviors of males and females. Studies of people with genetic and hormonal abnormalities--CAH females, Androgen-insensitive XY individuals, reductase-deficient males, individuals exposed to DES, and Turner's syndrome females-- suggest that early exposure to hormones, particularly androgens, has consequences for later sex-typed behaviors and abilitites. Numerous studies show that peoples's testorsterone levels are correlated with socially significant behaviors, such as aggression, criminality, sexual activity levels, dominance, occupational success, and spatial ability. Many of the behaviors and abilities linked to testosterone also show substantial sex differences. Natural experiments and accidents -- when genetic males are castrated and reared as females -- suggest that prenatal exposure to testosterone often produces male gender idenitities and male-typical behaviors, even in individuals reared as females.
To show that biological factors contribute to human sex differences, researchers seek four kinds of evidence: (a) early appearance of sex differences in development, (b) cross cultural and temporal consistency of sex differences, (c) cross-species consistency of sex differences, and (d) empirical links between sex-linked biological factors (such as sex hormones and brain structures) and sex-linked behaviors. These kinds of evidence are generally present for sex differences in three bahavioral domains: physical aggression, visual-spatial ability, and aspects of sexual behavior, incluing sexual orientation.
Several kinds of evidence suggest that biologcal factors contribute to individul differences in masculinity and femininity. Research on both prenatal and adult sex hormones, particularly androgens, shows that hormone levels are related to individual differences in masculinity and femininity. Behavior genetic studies show that individual differences in masculinity and femininty are heritable.
In short, a growing body of evidence suggests that biological factors contribute, sometimes strongly, to many of the phenomena described by the term 'gender'"

This is a broad summation of chapters of cited writings. It also sums up all the reading I've done in these last two weeks. Even Wikipedia has a good summary, under Biology Of Gender.

How does this apply to how I feel about the interaction between men and women? Biology counts. Genetics counts. Psycology counts. Sociology counts. A lifetime of experiences, starting from the first days of birth, counts. Cognitive development counts. Everything counts. And when everything counts, and when these realities run as deep as they do, I continue to hold the opinion that I stated earlier, that how we act and react toward gender is, therefore, valid.

We are wired the way we are due to both nature AND nurture (everything counts!). To ask anyone, or any group of people to simply "wipe away" all that psychology, socialization, hormonal reaction, genetics, cognitave development, and privacy concerns is too much. Gender preference in spa booking techniques stays put.

Now. To Buck. I agree that it appears that Buck wants to be treated like a man. I would do so, if for no other reason than as a courtesy to him. I presume that ALL of his social cues and clues would also be gender-typical for men, in addition to his appearance. He would get from me NO LESS and NO MORE ongoing benefit of the doubt as to his underlying "character" than I give every other person in this world. But bear in mind, I'm very open minded (believe it or not!). Does Buck still "act like a woman"? If not, fine. If so, I'd treat "him" like anyone else walking thru life wearing a costume. I'd be polite, but from a distance.

And another thing! In thinking of all this, a question came to me: Why, then, do we have gender-specific restrooms in public areas? When I'm disallowed into the women's room, am I not being objectified and falling victim to gender essentialism? Hmm? What of the gals' request for privacy? Are they presuming I'm a sexual predator or opportunist, just on my gender?

So I tell you what..... if you and your compadres can do away with men's and women's restrooms in all public areas and businesses, either by court order or by public outcry, I will cede to you my stance on this issue. But until then, as I said in the first paragraph above, in light of comprehensive personal review I am actually more convinced than ever of the validity of allowing gender preference in booking spa appointments.

Maybe I'm stupid, but it seems to me that this is a much simpler issue than what is being debated here. Mr. Egomagickian, am I reading correctly that you acknowledge the practical application of my side of the topic, but you'd like to hear an agreement of the philosophical branches of the topic? Well, hell, I'll give you that: In a perfect world, no one would ever interact with anyone in a way that wasn't rooted in love, honesty, proper mental health, emotional balance, respect, lacking in any conscious or unconscious agenda, and such. You bet I'd sign up for that! But at the same time, if I'm gonna serve that up, then that's what I expect to RECEIVE from everyone, all the time. Meanwhile, back here in the real world, I will continue to run everyones projected social cues and clues thru my own inner radar. As a rule, everyone I deal with gets AT LEAST one benefit of the doubt when interpreting their cues, words, and actions. When he/she demonstrates he/she is not worthy of that benefit, he/she is OUT. Be assured my inner radar is routinely scanned for all biases of belief system shortcomings.

Alright. This is becoming ALL ABOUT ME, and getting away from the topic. I have truly spoken my peace here. The last word is yours.

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Post by EgoMagickian » Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:55 pm

Thanks for the interesting posts... I have been way busy, but thinking about them... I'll weigh in again as soon as I can.

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Re: About.com, Male vs Female MTs

Post by sfreitag » Wed May 13, 2009 11:58 am

Forgive me, I havent read all the replies. However I did read some posts that stated the receptionist shouldnt even ask if the client has a preference of having a male or female therapist and just state the times available.

I asked my husband about this. He said if he was at a resort and arrived for his scheduled massage and found out it was a male therapist, he would be very upset about not being told up front it would be a male. He stated he has always been asked his preference upfront and always replied that he would rather have a female therapist. He said, not asking seems a little sneaky and underhanded and he would not patronage such an establishment.

I just wanted to give an opinion on the matter from one "clients" point of view.

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