While marketing my new massage office, I’ve run into a lot of people who unknowingly use antiquated, confusing, misleading, and/or offensive terms when referring to massage. I try not to let it bother me, because it’s usually a case of people just not knowing better. So, I thought I’d use this week’s blog post to set the record straight on the 4 words and phrases most likely to set a massage therapist’s teeth on edge.
Massage Parlor – A quick Google search for “massage parlor” provided over 11 million results (I only looked at the first 3 pages) for establishments that offered “erotic massage” & “prostate massage” as well as online dictionary and wiki entries that defined it in much the same way. Oxford Dictionary online defines massage parlor as “an establishment providing massages. Such an establishment that is actually a front for prostitution.” While the term may have had a more innocent meaning in the past (I honestly don’t know), that’s not the case today. Please call our places of business aMassage Therapy Office, Wellness Center(if there are multiple practitioners of various complementary health professions) orSpa(if it’s more of a luxury or full service business that also offers skin care and nail services).
Masseuse/masseur – While most sources give the strict definition of masseuse/masseur as a female/male who provides massage as an occupation or profession, it currently is most often used by those in the US (I can’t speak for other countries) who are looking for erotic massage, prostate massage, or a “happy ending.” Since we are trying very hard to distance ourselves from the unsavory crowd who uses our profession as a cover for prostitution, please call us a Massage Therapist, Bodywork Therapist, or Bodyworker.
Bed– Although the equipment that we massage you on looks an awful lot like a bed, that term has all sorts of obvious connections to and connotations of the illegal practices that we’re trying to distance ourselves from. Please call it aMassage Table.
Rub Down– Here’s another term that started out legit but didn’t stay that way. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a brisk rubbing of the body.” However, the Urban Dictionary (website of current slang with user-generated content ) has 3 definitions, 2 of which are sexual. When we get calls from pervs who want more than massage, “rub down” is one of the code words that they use. Please call it aMassage, Therapeutic Massage, orBodywork.
If you can strike the red words from your vocabulary and start using the green ones, you will make every massage therapist you ever come into contact with very happy. And by the way, we give waaaayyyy better massages when we’re happy than when we’re wondering what you meant when you called us a masseuse.