The news abounds with the case of Deshaun Watson., the now quarterback for the Cleveland Browns who is acused of sexual assault by over 66 women. AP news says: “Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for six games Monday after being accused by two dozen women in Texas of sexual misconduct during massage treatments, in what a disciplinary officer said was behavior “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.” It is a long sordid drama that if you are not up on the details you can start reading the AP News Story that has the court case documents.
It in only coincidence that the American Massage Therapy Association Convention (AMTA) is coming up on Aug 25- 27 and is being held in Cleveland OH, home of the Cleveland Browns. Now many say so what…but I see it as one of the biggest opportunities that AMTA has ever had to start doing what they claim to be doing for the profession – Advocating. This is not the first time crimes have been committed against massage therapists. In fact, it has been going on for a very very very long time.
Massage Licensing was supposed to help fix the problem by requiring massage therapists to go to massage school and to get fingerprinted and background checked in order to work in the massage profession. Well of course it did not do much to help stop brothels disguised as massage businesses from ruining our good name. It did not stop creaps like Watson from thinking that is what massage therapists do. While we don’t actually know if some or all of the acusers were licensed massage therapists, it does not really matter. What matters is he pushed himself on women and even his lawyer said asking for a happy ending is not a crime….now what’s that? Of course it is. It is sex work aka prostitution. It is still illegal in every state in the US.
Meanwhile, the massage professional associations sit on their heels doing nothing to respond or use this opportunity to make the massage profession more well known for what it is – A therapeutic intervention for pain and stress.
Massage therapists are not sex workers. Massage therapists do not give happy endings. Sex workers do that.
Brothels disguised as massage businesses have continued to degrade the massage professions image with little being done to educate the public on the difference.
Massage is Therapy. Massage is NOT Sexwork!
The response from the profession should look like this ( from a massage therapist in OH)
The Action Plan
- AMTA – get yourself on the news already… the major TV news stations and Twitter/Facebook are all over this. Call all of the news stations and make a Bold statement. You can leave any thing directly related to the case out if it if you don’t want to risk getting sued or whatever it is that is holding you back from doing just that. Shall I spell out what to say?
Here is what they did say on their website:
August 2, 2022 – Massage therapists should never have to tolerate conduct outside the bounds of therapeutic massage therapy within a massage session. AMTA strongly believes that any client who steps over the line to inappropriate touch should face the legal consequences. And it’s disappointing to see such a relatively light punishment from the NFL levied toward Deshaun Watson in their findings of his violation of the league’s personal-conduct policy. If the NFL is concerned about professionalism and upholding high standards in the league, creating a safe workplace for all members of athletes’ care teams should be a priority. We hope the league is taking measures to ensure that the massage therapists on the Browns’ personnel and throughout the NFL, as well as those supporting individual athletes, are able to work in a safe and professional environment.
The alleged behavior, and the language used by the legal team and others involved in this case put professional, licensed massage therapists at risk by condoning inappropriate conduct in a massage environment. “Massage therapists work every day to help clients ease pain, discomfort, stress and manage medical conditions, making a meaningful difference for their clients, especially for the millions of Americans struggling with chronic pain. Massage is and always should be about health and well-being in a safe environment whether for an athlete or any other client,” shared Michaele Colizza, AMTA National President.
What they could say:
Massage therapy is not sex work. By asking massage therapists to perform sex work, you are endagering all massage therapists and all women.
The NFL even says: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he feels the league needed to keep pushing for a year-long suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson because of his “egregious” and “predatory behavior” toward women.
- Have AMTA and ABMP contact all of their members and ask them to attend the convention and start a protest rally outside the Cleveland Brown’s game on Sat Aug. 27. Print signs that say : Massage is Therapy, Happy endings are sex work…or whatever. This is not just AMTA’s issue but it is fortunate that the convention is being held there. ABMP has as much responsibility and I expect more from them too on this issue.
- AMTA can contact all of their chapter leaders and create a huge massage awareness project — everything doing/saying the same thing…not like their massage awareness days/weeks where everyone is all over the place doing different things. They need to make a strong stance on this issue and should have been doing that for many years. You can contact the individual local units…oh darn…they did away with those about 7 years ago. Each of your chapters needs strong leadership along with a lobbyist and a few lawyers to help with the specifics of each state. Why are they all volunteers?
- We need Legislation:
Stronger laws that make using the words massage in a business name a felony that is given jail time or at least a high monetary penalty. (Both ABMP and AMTA have said that is what they do think is best.)
Stop the states from adding any more establishment licensing and put an end to the establishment licensing that is already in place.
Have your chapters contact every local legislator, sherriff department, police department and talk to them about the problems we are having. Create a clear way to report offenders and have the authorities take the complaints seriously.
- ABMP – you need to create a PAC and fund it with big bucks and get this in front of Congress Representatives.
- Read all of the articles I collected when I previously wrote about the issues of Massage, Prostitution and Human Trafficking and especially read and implement the suggested Untangling Massage, Human Trafficking, and Prostitution by Deborah Kimmet, M.S., LMT, CETMB, BCTMB www.LMTBodyPolitic.com an trafficking in illicit massage businesses.
The Time is Now
Why has this taken so long for our associations to catch on? That is a whole other story indeed.