Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) has sent a statement to Netflix denouncing the unacceptable and unprofessional sexualization of massage therapy presented in its series “Sex/Life,” Season 2, Episode 4.
The dangerous perception that massage is in any way related to sex has negatively impacted the legitimacy of our profession and the safety of our professionals. It’s important to set guidelines so the massage experience is met with trust and respect that deters the thought of misguided sexual misconduct and unwanted sexual advances. RespectMassage.com is our commitment to educate and empower massage therapists, clients, and anyone discussing our profession on what a respectful massage experience should look and feel like.
Massage therapists and bodyworkers can share their feedback directly at https://help.netflix.com. The full text of the letter to Netflix is below.
To Stacy Rukeyser:
We are writing to express our concerns regarding the inappropriate portrayal of massage therapy in Season 2, Episode 4 of “Sex/Life.” As the national association representing a profession of more than 320,000 US-based massage therapists, more than 80,000 of whom are our members, we are committed to upholding the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and safety in our profession.
The scene in question depicted a massage therapy session that was not only offensive but also misrepresented the professionalism and integrity of our members’ work. We understand that “Sex/Life” is a work of fiction that seeks to entertain its audience, but there is no room for representations of inappropriate touch or behavior in a massage therapy session. Such portrayals may be great for ratings, but they endanger practitioners in the very space they’ve dedicated their careers to.
The inappropriate portrayal of massage therapy in popular media like “Sex/Life” can have serious real-world implications for massage therapists and bodyworkers. When media normalizes or sensationalizes inappropriate touch or behavior in a massage therapy session, it can create a perception that such behavior is acceptable or even expected. This can put massage therapists at risk of assault or harassment from clients who feel emboldened by these media representations.
In addition, the Netflix social media team showed poor taste in their insensitive social media captions that made light of the inappropriate portrayal of massage therapy in the episode, and general ignorance around the profession. Captions such as “Obviously that masseur takes client satisfaction very seriously” use antiquated terms and only serve to further undermine our profession.
We ask for an immediate apology from Netflix for this misrepresentation, and we urge them to exercise greater sensitivity and respect when depicting massage therapy in the future. It is imperative that they take steps to correct the false impression of our profession portrayed in this episode and on their social media channels.
We are closely monitoring the situation and will take further action as necessary to ensure that our members are protected, and our profession is represented appropriately.
President, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals