Category: Current Events

Current Events – Career Options and Touch

I’m in the process of getting my massage license in Washington state.  Since I originally had my license in another state I never took the national test (MBLEx) and went to take it today.  It dragged up a lot of memories of massage school.  One thing I remembered is that there were only three men in my graduating class, and about 7 times that many women (the opposite ratio of my engineering school).  I don’t know where those men are today, I can’t help but think that massage therapy is probably one of the most difficult professions for men to make into a viable career. 

 Massage therapy is based in touch, and while it’s socially acceptable and appropriate for women to touch whomever (men/women/children) in a care-taking manner, most touch by a man is viewed as sexual or a competition.  While the woman-handshake in work settings can become awkward, so too can the man-hug become awkward in almost any situation.  Handshake turned half-hug anyone? 

 Recently men in the Netherlands started photographing themselves holding hands with other men to protest anti-gay violence.  (Ok, maybe not so recently given that I originally wrote this blog a month ago then my life became overrun by home renovations.  Anyway…)  Hand holding is not owned by women, or children, or the LGBT community.  It seems to me that this protest has a second unintended consequence…. of hopefully normalizing the image of men holding hands.  The more we see it, the less we think of it as something odd, the less we think of it as odd the more willing we are to accept that men can touch whomever for reasons other than sex or dominion.   

 So… massage therapy.  The worry I hear from some women on why they don’t want a male therapist is that they’re already feeling exposed, being in only underwear or nude, on a massage table.  Men are threatening by social expectation and size, add the social expectation that men tend to touch for sexual or competitive reasons and you have a situation where many women are unable to relax.  And who wants to walk out of a massage saying “WOW my muscles feel awesome even though I wasn’t able to relax!”? 

 The double whammy for male massage therapists is that some men don’t want to go to one for the same reasons as the women… they’re feeling exposed and assign the same social expectations to male touch.   Because of these social expectations some men receiving massage have difficulty distinguishing between arousing and caring touch themselves, which can lead to even more confusion and uncertainty.  And so male therapists are left with few male clients, and few female clients… which does not a career make.

 

Do you agree or disagree with the limitations I see on male touch?  And what other careers are tough for men to break into?  (I’d love to hear from you in the comments!)

 

Current Events – Reproductive Choice

Note: Every third blog is planned to be my thoughts and reactions to some sort of current event that is going on in the world.  Please leave comments or contact me with topics you’d be interested in hearing!

 

Since I’m based in the USA, the easy answer for this current events blog would be the Trump presidency.  But I’m sure there are already books and books about it, and ultimately it feels like a cop-out… the easy and superficial answer… like swiping a finger-full of icing off a cake but not actually taking a bite.  So, let us begin as I mean to continue, with the heavy cake.  Today’s cake is reproductive choice. 

 I recently got into a polite Facebook discussion regarding abortion.  No sarcasm, it actually happened.  No one changed anyone’s mind – the polite discussion was miracle enough for one day – but what strikes me about the whole abortion debate is that very few people are realistically talking about men’s rights and roles in regards to reproductive choice. 

Pro-life supporters want to protect every innocent human being [Ref. 1].  Pro-choice supporters want to fight for reproductive freedom [Ref. 2].  The debates and arguments I’ve heard often center around the woman and child.  Men (presumably) had something to do with conception of the child and yet they are missing from the discussion. 

If an accidental pregnancy occurs, society generally expects the man to “do the right thing” and get married.  And yet the ability to make a child is no guarantee that the couple will be successful in marriage – the success of which affects all three people, mother, father, and child.  This societal expectation appears to have originated when patriarchal society set down rules to protect women, and their children, who were dependent upon the men in their lives [Ref. 3]. 

Many women now have a greater capacity to depend on themselves.  Much more so than any other time in the last few hundred years – not equal to men, but greater than it was.  Yet men are still expected to provide by means of marriage.  In a society where divorce is not taboo and co-parenting is a term that many have heard or experienced, marriage is still the golden standard response to an accidental pregnancy.  Let that sink in for a moment. 

Why are we not having debates about the many ways co-parenting can exist?  Why are we not having debates about the many options both men and women have when it comes to a shared child?  Why are we not talking about men’s reproductive choices?

According to Chip and Dan Heath the first villain of decision making is narrow framing which limits options [Ref. 4].  When it comes to men, pregnancy, and children, society’s narrow framework starts at the beginning and continues right on up through it all.  Even the very beginning has limits for men as they have only one choice of reliable temporary birth control – condoms.  Though really, they have two choices if you count abstinence and three choices if you count trusting your partner’s choice of birth control.  And while I’ve trusted the significant others I’ve had in the past, I’ve NEVER trusted any single one them enough to give them all responsibility for birth control.  Becoming a parent is a huge decision and one where I want full control.

Why do men not have that same level of control?  Why, if society expects men to take full responsibility for a pregnancy they helped create, has society not provided men with multiple options of reliable temporary birth control?  For that matter, why is “full responsibility” relegated to financial support of the mother and random pickles and ice cream runs at 3am? 

Let us start the change.  Let us start by asking the men around us what reproductive choices they feel they are missing?  And what choices would they like to have? 

And then, to own the issue, ask yourself how we can start to make those options a possibility.

 

  References:

1)      National Right to Life (NRLC)
Source:
http://www.nrlc.org/about/

2)      NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation
Source:
https://www.prochoiceamerica.org/about

3)      Shotgun Weddings
Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun_wedding

4)      Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Source: book:
http://heathbrothers.com/books/decisive/