“Just don’t be creepy”: A phenomenological study of the experiences of men in massage therapy

Amanda Baskwill 1 , 2 , 3  and Meredith Vanstone 3
  • 1 Health Research Methodology PhD Program, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 2 Humber College, 205 Humber College Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 3 Department of Family Medicine, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Amanda Baskwill
  • Corresponding author
  • Health Research Methodology PhD Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Humber College, School of Health Sciences, 205 Humber College Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Email
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar
and Meredith Vanstone

Abstract

Background

Societal expectations around traditional binary gender roles result in some professions being considered “men’s work” or “women’s work”. Massage therapy (MT) is one such profession that, despite being predominantly female, is joined by an increasing number of men with a desire to help others.

Methods

This descriptive phenomenological study asked male massage therapists in Ontario, Canada, about their experience of gender in their professional lives. Fourteen men shared their experiences of practice, which included discriminatory hiring and patient preferences for female practitioners. These issues resulted in difficulty establishing a clinical practice. To create a successful practice, men described the need for professionalism, clear communication, and a comfortable treatment environment.

Results and conclusions

Researchers should explore the impact of discrimination on men in MT, patient preferences based on the therapist’s gender, and the role of education in perpetuating societal heterosexual norms. Finally, as with any shift in culture, all levels of organization must take action to remove discrimination and bias within the profession of MT.

  • [1]

    McDowell J. Masculinity and non-traditional occupations: men’s talk in women’s work. Gender Work Organiz. 2015;22:273–91.

  • [2]

    Sinclair S, Carlsson R. What will I be when I grow up? The impact of gender identity threat on adolescents’ occupational preferences. J Adolesc. 2013;36:465–74.

  • [3]

    McDonald J. Conforming to and resisting dominant gender norms: how male and female nursing students do and undo gender. Gender Work Organiz. 2013;20:561–79.

  • [4]

    Chur-Hansen A. Preferences for female and male nurses: the role of age, gender and previous experience – Year 2000 compared with 1984. J Adv Nurs. 2002;37:192–98.

  • [5]

    Delgado A, Lopez-Fernandez LA, Luna Jde D, Saletti-Cuesta L, Gil N, Jimenez M. The role of expectations in preferences of patients for a female or male general practitioner. Patient Educ Couns. 2011;82:49–57.

  • [6]

    Anthony AS. Gender bias and discrimination in nursing education: can we change it? Nurse Educ. 2004;29:121–25.

  • [7]

    Evans J. Men in nursing: issues of gender segregation and hidden advantage. J Adv Nurs. 1997;26:226–31.

  • [8]

    Keogh B, Gleeson M. Caring for female patients: the experiences of male nurses. Br J Nurs. 2006;15:1172–75.

  • [9]

    Moyer CA, Rounds J. The attitudes toward massage (ATOM) scale: reliability, validity, and associated findings. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2009;13:22–33.

  • [10]

    Sullivan KR. With(out) pleasure: desexualization, gender and sexuality at work. Organization. 2014;21:346–64.

  • [11]

    Institute for Integrative Healthcare. Male massage therapist bias 2013. Available at: http://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/archives/2013/05/male-massage-therapist-bias.html. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [12]

    Osborn K Gender in the profession: Massage from Venus or Mars? 2007. Available at: http://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/1376/Gender-in-the-Profession. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [13]

    Claire T Male bodyworker issues 2004. Available at: http://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/726/Male-Bodyworker-Issues. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [14]

    College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. The history of massage therapy 2003. Available at: http://www.cmto.com/videos/the-history-of-massage-therapy/. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [15]

    Baskwill A, Dryden T. Fighting for the future: the struggle for and commitment to the self-regulation of massage therapy. Massage Ther Today. 2008;4–6.

  • [16]

    College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. Enhancing accountability: college of Massage Therapists of Ontario 2015 annual report. Toronto, ON: College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, 2016. Available at: http://www.cmto.com/assets/CMTO-2015-AR.pdf. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [17]

    College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. Massage therapy education in Ontario 2017. Available at: http://www.cmto.com/becoming-an-rmt/massage-therapy-education-in-ontario/. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [18]

    Baskwill A, Dore K. Exploring the awareness of research among registered massage therapists in Ontario. J Complement Integr Med 2015;13:41–49.

  • [19]

    Mapp T. Understanding phenomenology: the lived experience. Br J Midwifery. 2008;16:308–11.

  • [20]

    Gentles SJ, Charles C, Ploeg J, McKibbon KA. Sampling in qualitative research: insights from an overview of the methods literature. Qual Rep. 2015;20:1772–89.

  • [21]

    Laverty SM. Hermeneutic phenomenology: a comparison of historical and methodological considerations. Int J Qual Methods. 2003;2:29.

  • [22]

    Sanders C. Application of Colaizzi’s method: interpretation of an auditable decision trail by a novice researcher. Contemp Nurse. 2014;14:292–302.

  • [23]

    SocioCultural Research Consultants LLC. Dedoose 7.0.23: web application for managing, analyzing, and presenting qualitative and mixed method research data. Los Angeles, CA: SocioCultural Research Consultants, LLC, 2015.

  • [24]

    Krefting L. Rigor in qualitative research: the assessment of trustworthiness. Am J Occup Ther. 2001;45:214–22.

  • [25]

    Grace G. Critical policy scholarship: reflections on the integrity of knowledge and research. In: Shacklock G, Smyth J, editors. Being reflexive in critical educational and social research. London: Routledge Falmer, 1998:202–17.

  • [26]

    MacDougall G. Caring: a masculine perspective. J Adv Nurs. 1997;25:809–13.

  • [27]

    College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. Code of ethics 1999. Available at: http://www.cmto.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/codeethics.pdf. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [28]

    Giuffre PA, Williams CL. NOT JUST BODIES: strategies for desexualizing the physical examination of patients. Gend Soc. 2000;14:457–82.

  • [29]

    Fitch P. Talking body, listening hands: a guide to professionalism, communication and the therapeutic relationship. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2014.

  • [30]

    College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. Communication/public health standard 12: draping 2006. Available at: http://www.cmto.com/assets/CPH-12.pdf. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [31]

    Government of Canada. Canadian human rights act 1985. Available at: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/h-6/FullText.html Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [32]

    Baskwill A. A guiding framework to understand relationships within the profession of massage therapy. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2015;20:542–48.

  • [33]

    van der Vleuten M, Jaspers E, Maas I, van der Lippe T. Boys’ and girls’ educational choices in secondary education. The role of gender ideology. Educ Stud. 2016;42:181–200.

  • [34]

    Silversides A. CMA opposes gender discrimination against doctors. Can Med Assoc J. 2009;181:E311-E.

  • [35]

    Cavalluzzo Shilton McIntyre Cornish LLP. HRTO File No. 2013-161419-1 2016. Available at: http://www.ontariomidwives.ca/images/uploads/documents/AOM_v._MOHLTC-_AOM_Opening_Statement_June_1_2016_(C1622481xA0E3A).pdf. Accessed: 12 Apr 2017.

  • [36]

    Hafferty F, Franks R. The hidden curriculum, ethics teaching, and the structure of medical education. Acad Med 1994;69:861–71.

  • [37]

    Eliason MJ, Dejoseph J, Dibble SL, Deevey S, Chinn P. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning nurses’ experiences in the workplace. J Prof Nurs. 2011;27:237–44.

  • [38]

    Eliason MJ, Dibble SL, Robertson PA. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) physicians’ experiences in the workplace. J Homosex. 2011;58:1355–71.

  • [39]

    Strong KL, Folse VN. Assessing undergraduate nursing students’ knowledge, attitudes, and cultural competence in caring for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. J Nursing Educ. 2014;54:45–49.

  • [40]

    Kelley L, Chou CL, Dibble SL, Robertson PA. A critical intervention in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health: knowledge and attitude outcomes among second-year medical students. Teach Learn Med 2008;20:248–53.

  • [41]

    Hancock P, Sullivan K, Tyler M. A touch too much: negotiating masculinity, propriety and proximity in intimate labour. Organ Stud. 2015;36:1715–39.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
$42.00
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.


Journal + Issues

The Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine focuses on evidence concerning the efficacy and safety of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) whole systems, practices, interventions and natural health products, including herbal medicines.

Search