JSB Special Issue-2

Journal of Spiritual Bodywork

    Special Issue No. 2                          ISSN 1079-8390                                 October 1997



Albert Schatz, Ph.D.

A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or Tragedy... A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives. - James Madison


State massage laws and local ordinances,  which require all massage therapists to be registered do  not reduce prostitution. It is effectively reduced by legalizing brothels and prohibiting streetwalkers, as 12 counties in Nevada have done. That is also the simplest way to control the spread of AIDS.

The massage literature has not adequately treated the interrelationship of massage therapy and prostitution. It has not pointed out that

1. massage therapists, most of whom are women, and prostitutes, most of whom are also women, are both victimized by state and local odinances which were enacted, to allegedly control prostitution,  by men in a male-dominated society.

2. "blaming the victims;" namely, prostitutes, is morally unjust but effectively distracts attention from effective means of controlling prostitution. 

3. special interest groups, controlled largely by men, benefit from the sex industry.

History and research tell us that regulating massage therapists by state massage laws and local ordinances does not reduce prostitution. The regulation of massage to allegedly reduce prostitution is initiated and maintained because special interest groups profit from it. Massage therapists and the public do not.

On the contrary, it is detrimental to them. Massage therapists are required to pay considerable amounts of money annually to comply with state massage laws and local ordinances, neither of which reduces prostitution. The public has less police protection from serious crime because police spend so much time trying to control prostitution. This  situation is absurd.

The Problem

We have to know where we are in order to decide how we can get, from where we are, to where we want to go. If we want to control prostitution, we have to know why what we have been doing is not only ineffective but also detrimental, and what we can do that will be effective. 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident" 

1. that "It's a man's world." because it is ruled by men. Women are second, third, and fourth class citizens, depending on the country they live in. There  is no country in which women have equal rights with men or are a majority in the ruling body.   

2. that men are therefore responsible for prostitution because they are in control. Men, who have made laws which do not effectively control prostitution, can make laws that will effectively control it - if they want to. 

3. that prostitutes are our fellow human beings to whom society should  accord all the consideration, respect, and help which we are all entitled and which we should all receive.

"The oldest form of oppression in the world is male control of women. It is a central feature of most if not all traditional religions and has been a cultural imperative in every age and throughout the world. The damage is only now becoming clear and it may be too late... The harvest of this insidious oppression is about to be reaped, the fruits of which [overpopulation] may well destroy civilization.

"It started quite innocently with a fundamental operation of nature - the drive to increase and multiply...  In the natural order of things, women had babies, usually one after another. The all-important function of childbearing came under the control of men. To exert this control, women became men's property. Thus reproductive control engulfed all areas of women's lives - social, economic, educational, religious, and political... Religion has always been the primary and most effective enforcer" [of the system of male dominance].

"The extensive abuse heaped upon women over the centuries to achieve enforcement indicates that a level of defiance has always existed among women.

"Superiority tends to be defined in terms of power. In the traditional religious view, god has power over man and man has power over women and all of nature. But in truth it is nature that has the power."1

The purpose of

this report

Relevant and reliable information is essential to understand the complexity of prostitution and to do something constructive about the problem. The purpose of this report is to:

1. elucidate the politics and economic exploitation of women in the context of the relationship between massage and prostitution in a male-dominated society.

2. provide information which shows why state massage laws and local ordinances that regulate massage, to allegedly control prostitution, are ineffective and detrimental to massage therapists, prostitutes, and the public.

3. help repeal local ordinances that treat massage therapists like criminals by requiring them to have their "mug shots" and fingerprints taken and kept on record., before they have violated any law. Such local ordinances consider all massage therapists potential prostitutes.

4. provide information about what special interest groups benefit from the sex industry.

5. provide information on how to effectively reduce prostitution.

$$$$ Massage $$$$ myths  $$$$

and prostitution

 There are many myths in massage. The two myths with which this report is concerned, like other myths, are laws which have required massage therapists to pay considerable sums of money in the form of unnecessary and unjustified fees for many decades.

The first myth is that state regulation protects the public from harm by incompetent massage practitioners. There is no research which provides convincing evidence that such harm exists, and that massage laws could provide that protection if it were needed. We have discussed this at length in this Newsletter,2,3 in the Journal of Spiritual Bodywork,4,5 the Massage Law Newsletter,6,7,8,9 the Massage Humor newsletter,10 and elsewhere.

The second myth is that state massage laws and local ordinances reduce prostitution, allegedly by preventing prostitutes from masquerading as massage therapists. There is no research which provides convincing evidence that state massage licensure and local ordinances effectively serve that purpose. But there is considerable evidence that these laws and ordinances serve the interests of politicians and others who create the illusion, from which they benefit, that something significant is being done to reduce prostitution whereas, in reality, there is little if any meaningful change.

These myths persist because special interests groups profit from them; because the massage literature does not provide massage therapists with adequate information to counteract the myths; and because state legislators are too often not aware that information, with which promoters of state licensure barrage them, is propaganda. It is propaganda because there is no research which substantiates the allegations that more legislation is needed to protect the public from harm and to reduce prostitution.

 $$$$ Meet $$$$ the sex  $$$$


"In certain respects, what defines the sex industry are [the] forces arranged in opposition to it. The state and mainstream society have found the sex industry useful not only as a safety valve, but as a convenient and reliable public enemy. For years, politicians and law enforcement agencies have used the sex industry to justify their own jobs, bolster budgets and win political prominence. Often in league with conservative family value groups and anti-pornography activists, these state officials have created  a booming industry in vilifying, regulating, and prosecuting the sex industry."11

The sex industry is big business. Telephone sex grosses more than one billion annually. Adult videos and films grossed $3.1 billion in 1995. A total of six million copies of the three magazines Hustler, Playboy, and Penthouse are sold each month.11   

Yellow Pages. The separate listing of massage and massage therapists in the Yellow Pages does not help people differentiate between prostitution and ethical  massage. "Unfortunately, the sex clients don't seem very perceptive. They just call everybody anyway, and the different listing does not seem to help... In some areas (San Diego, for example) the sexual massage ads in the Yellow Pages completely overwhelm the few ... listings for  massage therapists... In many parts of the United States, a sexual massage is more common and easier to find than a legitimate massage. The term 'professional' or 'licensed' in a massage therapist's ad did not discourage calls from men who were interested in sex."12(a)

Acupressure parlors offered sex in Los Angeles County, California. Massage parlors offered sex in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY.

"In many parts of the World, a manually-stimulated orgasm is the normal and accepted  conclusion of a professional massage."12(b)

Prostitution continues to flourish despite all laws that prohibit it, and ordinances enacted to prevent prostitutes from masquerading as massage therapists.  Prostitution has become a growth industry with the advent of massage parlors; so-called health spas; escort and dating services; dating and outright sex ads in "Personal" sections of newspapers and magazines; sex ads on late night TV; and separate listings, in the Yellow Pages, for massage therapists versus massage. Some of the massage ads are placed by agencies which arrange home visits with "full service."

Legalizing prostitution is

good public health

Prostitution is legal in several countries in Western Europe." In Hamburg, Germany, which some believe has a model program of legalized prostitution, streetwalkers are sanctioned in certain well-defined areas, and prostitutes must undergo frequent health checks."13

Legalizing prostitution is one of the easiest and most effective ways to control the spread of AIDS. "Regulated prostitutes tend to be cleaner prostitutes. HIV-infected rates tend to be stratospheric among the nation's streetwalkers. In Newark, 57% of prostitutes were found to be HIV positive, according to a Congressional Quarterly report. In new York City, 35% of prostitutes were HIV-positive; in Washington, almost half."13

"In contrast, brothels, which are legal in 12 rural Nevada counties, tend to be comparative paragons of public safety. The University of California School of Public Health, at Berkeley, studied the health of legal Nevada brothel workers compared with that of jailed Nevada streetwalkers. None of the brothel workers had AIDS, while 6% of the unregulated streetwalkers did. Brothel owners had a strong incentive to police the health of their employees, since they could face liability if an infection were passed to a customer."13

This shows how ridiculous it is to regulate massage to control prostitution. If politicians really want to control prostitution, they have to regulate prostitutes, not massage therapists. Creating an illusion of effective action is not a substitute for dealing with reality. 

Prostitution is a drain

on police efficiency

The legalization of prostitution would also enable the police to more effectively fight violent crime, which is a much more serious problem. Violent crime has become a threat to the stability of our society. Prostitution never was. "In 1994, police in Boston, Cleveland, and Houston arrested twice as many people for prostitution as they did for all homicides, rapes, robberies, and assaults combined, while perpetrators evaded arrest for 90%  of these violent crimes.13

"Cleveland [police] officers spent 18 hours - the equivalent of two workdays - on prostitution duty for every violent offense failing to yield an arrest. The average cost per bust was almost $2,000, and the average big-city police department spent 213 manhours a day enforcing prostitution laws...  [it is estimated that] 16 large American cities spent more than $120 million to suppress prostitution in 1985. One Los Angeles official estimated that, in 1993, prostitution enforcement was costing the city more than $100 million a year."13

"Locking up prostitutes and their customers is especially irrational at a time when more than 35 states are under court orders to reduce prison overcrowding. Gerald Arenberg, executive director of the National Association of the Chiefs of Police, has come out in favor of legalizing prostitution. Dennis Martin, president of the same association, declared that prostitution law enforcement is 'much too time-consuming, and police forces are short-staffed.13

"Maryland Judge Darryl Russell observed: 'We have to explore other alternatives to solving this problem because this eats up a lot of manpower of the police. We're just putting out brush fires while the forest is blazing.' National surveys have shown that 94% of citizens believe that police do not respond quickly enough to calls for help, and the endless pursuit of prostitution is one factor that slows down many police departments from responding to other crimes."13

Other effective ways to

reduce prostitution

If legalization is not acceptable, prostitution should be made illegal for both prostitutes and their clients. Men who patronize prostitutes are accessories to the crime. The individual who drives the get-away car in a bank robbery is as guilty as those who go in and rob the bank. Men should be arrested for prostitution just as women are, and their names published in newspaper reports. That would more effectively reduce prostitution than state massage laws and local ordinances presently do. 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere ... Shallow understanding  from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will - Martin Luther King.

Prostitutes and the world they live in are two sides of the same coin. People usually focus on the former and disregard the latter. This report considers both.

 Let us meet some


The following prostitutes contributed to the book A Vindication of the Rights of Whores published in 1989.14

"Dolores, French, U.S.A., born in 1950, has worked as a prostitute since 1978 in the United States and Puerto Rico, for escort services, in brothels and in various other settings, She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was appointed to the Mayor's Task Force on Prostitution (1985-6) and was a consultant to  the Center for Disease Control study on prostitutes and AIDS (1986). She is president and founder of HIRE, Hooking is Real Employment, and author of Working: My Life as a Prostitute (New York: Dutton, 1988).

"Licia Brussa, Italy, born in Venice in 1956, has lived in Amsterdam for eight years. She is a sociologist and independent researcher who was active in the Italian women's movement. She is now involved in a Dutch national and international project about migration and prostitution and is an advisory board member of the Foundation Againstraffic in Women and a member of the Dutch National Platform Against Traffic In Women.

Another effective way to reduce prostitution is to provide  women with economic security so that prostitution is no longer the only way many of them can earn money. To do this, we should

1.  pay women the same wages that men earn for the same kind of work

2.  provide job training and full employment for all men and women.

3.  require men to provide child support,.

4. provide free health care for everybody.

5. provide paid maternity leave and nursery schools and day care centers for single mothers who have young children and jobs.  

"Gloria Lockett, U.S.A., born in 1946 in San Francisco, is a black woman who has worked for 18 years as a prostitute in different situations from the streets to hotels to bars in cities across the United States. Currently President of the National Task Force on Prostitution, Co-Director of COYOTE, and Project Director of CAL-PEP (California Prostitutes Education Project).

"Gabriela Silva Leite, Brazil, 37, lives in Rio de Janeiro. She studied sociology at the University of Sao Paulo for three years, after which she worked as a street prostitute for about ten years. The first public prostitute in Brazil, she organized the first national congress of prostitutes and is the leader of the Brazilian Rede de Prostitutes (Network of Prostitutes).

"Nena, Philippines, 28, has pursued her case against the men who deceived and forced her into migrating to the Netherlands to work in a brothel. As of September, 1988, one man has been sentenced in the Netherlands to three years in prison and the other is being investigated in the Philippines, where Nena plans to testify against him. Nena's story was featured in a film by Hillie Molenaar about traffic in women entitled Cannot Run Away. She is currently living in the Netherlands.

"Zippy, Israel, a mother of three daughters, and a former kibbutznik. She worked in the military aircraft industry and then as a prostitute for some years in Germany and Austria. Presently Zippy is a prostitute in  the beach area of Tel-Baruch. She and Ester Eillam have begun contacting government officials to discuss the needs, demands of Israeli prostitutes."

"Grisélides Réal (work name: Solange), born August 11, 1929. in Lausanne, Switzerland, mother of four children, fluent in German, English, and her mother tongue, French. She is a working prostitute in Geneva, founder of the Centre de Documentation International sur la Prostitution and member of the ICPR and of the Swiss association of Writers. She studied at the Art School of Zurich, worked as a model for 13 years in Geneva, Paris, and Munich. She studied piano for two years, played the flute and violin, and wrote the book Black is a Color, a true story about her time in prostitution in Germany. She has been a guest lecturer on prostitution, sexuality, and love at the University in Geneva."

Conditions which affect


We have to begin by realizing that prostitutes are fellow human beings. This report is focused on women prostitutes because women, not men, are the main targets of state massage laws and local ordinances. The report is not concerned with forced prostitution of girls, teen-age and younger, and the white slave trade because they do not involve massage.

Gabriela Silva Leite gives us the following information about prostitution in Brazil. "In my country, nothing is being done about AIDS; a politics of AIDS does not exist. But the propaganda on television is putting the blame on prostitutes and transvestites... Prostitutes don't have any means of income other than their own contaminated bodies.

"Pornography is very big in Brazil. There's a complete contradiction between the treatment of prostitutes and the tolerance of the porn industry. In Sao Paulo, there is a district where there are a lot of producers of porn movies. These producers earn a lot of money and they are the only producers who earn money in the Brazilian film industry.

"There are a lot of porn movies and porn theaters. The people who work in these movies are for the most part prostitutes who have contracts. There  are also a lot of publications, magazines, about 20 monthly magazines sold at newspaper stands. The Brazilian Playboy sells the most copies, about 800,000 per issue. There are also little books showing explicit sex images.

"There is a lot of police corruption. Police violence is the most serious problem prostitutes face in this country, especially in the smaller towns where prostitutes have been killed. In the big cities, the woman of the streets is totally without protection.

"The police seize her and take all the money she has; if she has no money, they take her to the police station and all the men have intercourse with her. She has to clean the police station, she has to clean the toilets and everything. A few days ago, a woman was found tied to a tree in the garden behind a police station. She was left there naked. A journalist, a photographer, took a picture of her and published it on the front page of the newspaper.

"Very little reaches the courts. And when it does get to the courts, it takes years before there's a decision.14

The book is replete with similar accounts about the police in other countries. Please recall that page one of this report clearly states, "Prostitutes are our fellow human beings to whom society should accord all the consideration, respect, and help which we are all entitled to and which we should all receive.  

Prostitutes are the most exploited and oppressed group of our population. Presidents, members of congress, and other governmental officials on down the line have been womanizers and sexists. Some of our religious leaders have also been sexists and womanizers. This has been reported in numerous newspaper articles, and in radio and television news.

How men use prostitutes to satisfy their personal sexual needs is only the tip of the iceberg. Men have institutionalized, maintained, and exploited prostitution and the sex industry as a means of gaining and retaining political office, power, and prominence; as a source of money paid as graft and bribery; and as the basis of legally (but not morally) legitimate, lucrative  businesses. 

Incidentally, "Commercial Sex appears to be rare in other species, even in zoos, but a form of 'prostitution' has been observed in certain primates. Female monkeys in captivity have been seen to offer themselves sexually to a male as a means of obtaining food morsels scattered on the ground, the sexual actions distracting the male from the business of competing for food."15

Why are massage therapists

treated differently?

Some  psychologists, doctors, and members of the clergy have sexually molested women and children with whom they should have had a professional relationsihp. But all members of these professions are not required to have their "mug shots" and fingerprints taken.

Why do some local ordinances require all massage therapists to be fingerprinted and take mug shots - before they have violated any laws?

 Red Light

Ridgeway's book Red Light. Inside the Sex Industry, points out, "Today's trip to the whorehouse, whatever form it may take - escort service, strip joint, dungeon, video tape, computer, or phone line sex - becomes a pilgrimage, an emotionally charged step toward reenacting one more time the rituals of a down-at-the-heels patriarchy."11

"Although [prostitutes] are alternately romanticized as glamorous sex goddesses or whores with hearts of gold, or reviled as purveyors of disease and  sin, sex workers are first and foremost, working people. Like many other working people, they show up for work on time, perform their jobs in accordance with their employers'' and clients' wishes, and collect their pay."11

The book A Vindication of the Rights of Whores, includes contributions by 57 people from different countries and continents. It presents information on the World Charter for Prostitutes'' Rights; The First and  Second World Whores' Congress; Statements on Prostitution and Human Rights, Health, and Feminism; Simple Human Respect; Migrant Prostitutes in different countries and continents; Prostitutes' Self-Organization, Repression of Prostitutes; Alliances between Women; the International Movement of Prostitutes; the Politics of Prostitution; etc.14

The book A Vindication of the Rights of Whores, which has 293 pages, mentions massage only once, in passing, on page 278, where Esther Eillam, an Israeli, says, " I have some connection with street prostitutes and massage women, and I hope to broaden the connection to help connect feminists to prostitutes."14  The book therefore reveals that few prostitutes are associated with massage.  This is enlightening because of the widespread concern in the United States that significant numbers of prostitutes may be masquerading as massage therapists.

 An historical perspective

"We have ... three principal forms of marriage which correspond broadly to the three principal stages of human development: for the period of savagery, group marriage; for barbarians, pairing [arranged] marriage; for civilization, monogamy supplemented by adultery and prostitution. Between pairing marriage and monogamy intervenes a period in the upper stage of barbarism when men have female slaves at their command and polygamy is practiced.16

In Greece, "The Spartan women and the élite of the Athenian hetaerae are the only Greek women of whom the ancients speak with respect and whose words they thought it worthwhile to record."16 The hetaerae were the cultivated courtesian women in ancient Greece, and included the demimondaines - women in the  demimonde (half world) who were prostitutes.

"The [Athenian} man had his athletics and his public business from which women were barred; in addition, he often had female slaves at his disposal and during the most flourishing days of Athens an enormous system of prostitution which the state at least favored.

"It was precisely through this system of prostitution that the only Greek women of personality [the demimondaines] were able to develop, and to acquire that intellect  and artistic culture by which they stand out as high above the general level of classic womanhood as the Spartan women did by their qualities of character. But that a woman had to be a hetaera before she could be a woman is the worst condemnation of the Athenian family."16

The Bible has 47 references to harlot, 91 references to whore, whoremonger, whorish, and whoredom, and 44 references to fornication and fornicator.17 The word prostitution appears only once, in Leviticus 19:29:  Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

Jesus was a feminist

We are not digressing from the issue of prostitution in the following discussion of Jesus as a feminist and the Jubilee. If men presently had the respect for women that Jesus did, in contrast to the patriarchs at that time, there would be no male chauvinism and considerably less, if any. prostitution. If the Jubilee, which Jesus espoused, were implemented today, the redistribution of wealth would reduce poverty, and women would not have to sell their bodies as their only source of income.

It is not surprising that Jesus was a feminist because He was a progressive, an activist, and one might even say a radical. Among other things, he strongly advocated the redistribution of wealth in accordance with the Jubilee.18,19 In those days, wealth was land, and the Jubilee called for the periodic redistribution of land. The patriarchal societies in both the new and old testaments, as they are today, were not amenable to giving up their wealth.

The Jubilee, which Jesus espoused, is presently receiving the serious attention it merits. The Religious Working Group on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has given birth to the Jubilee 2000/USA Campaign,. This is  part of a worldwide grassroots movement to cancel the crushing international debts of impoverished countries by the new millennium. These debts make it virtually impossible for many of the world's impoverished countries to address their human, social, and ecological needs.20

The Jubilee campaign is, as its name implies, grounded in the religious concept of the year of God's favoring the jubilee time that was intended to free people and the planet from bondage and restore people's right relationship with each other and with the land. Nearly three years ago, Christian Aid of Great Britain initiated the first Jubilee 1000 campaign. This movement has now spread throughout Europe, and is being taken up in many Central American, African, and Asian countries.20

"All humanity is called to forgiveness, reconciliation and jubilee. The biblical witness mandates just and equitable commercial relationships, selfless help to those in need and the cancellation of oppressive debts that keep people locked in poverty. It calls for the restoration of land and livelihood to the dispossessed. Jesus taught that God will treat our debts in light of our treatment of others' debts to us. The crushing international debt burden unjustly carried by millions of people living in impoverished countries cries out for justice."20

"The economy exists for people, not people for the economy. Human beings are created in the image of God. All persons - male and female - are created in the divine image, loved by God and equal in worth, dignity, and fundamental rights. Bearing the divine image, everyone had the right and responsibility to participate meaningfully in the political, social, and economic decisions that shape their society. In harmony with all creation, all people are entitled to an equitable share in the fruits of of earth.20

The Jubilee is right on. What you have just read reveals that the Jubilee would reduce prostitution  because it would eliminate poverty, which begets prostitution.

The biblical patriarchs, who were disinterested in the Jubilee's redistribution of land, about which Jesus preached, were also male chauvinists who considered both their land and their women as  property.  They thus ignored the reference to God as a female in Isaiah 66:13, As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you. And in Galatians 3:28, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Jesus, in his attitude toward women, was a nonconformist in a patriarchal society. After reading the gospels, Leonard Swidler concluded, "Jesus never said or did anything that in any way could be interpreted as His having a negative attitude toward women." Swidler was a Roman Catholic, a Professor of Religion at Temple University, and editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies.

In a 1971 article - Jesus was a Feminist - published in the periodical Catholic World, Swidler wrote, "The fact that the overwhelmingly negative attitude toward women in Palestine did not come through the primitive Christian communal lens by itself underscores the clearly great religious importance Jesus attached to His positive attitude  - His feminist attitude - toward women. Feminism; that is, personalism extended to women, is a constitutive part of the gospel, the good news of Jesus."21

That article was published in 1971 when the women's movement "was reaching the boiling point," and "exploded around the world... It was translated into 19 or 20 languages, including Chinese and Japanese." Swidler subsequently wrote the book Biblical Affirmations of Women. In an interview, he commented,

"It is accurate to say that the great bulk of the Bible reflects the inferior position of women [at the time that it was written]. The Jewish and Christian cultures were very strongly patriarchal, and the religious imagery reflects it... Religions generally reflect the culture and affect the culture ... and it goes back and forth."

"But while the Bible, as a whole, pictures women as second-class citizens, there are elements in which women and the feminist approach  to things also are treated with equality. This latter approach is a minor theme, but it's very important, in my opinion, for Christians and Jews to recognize that the egalitarian approach to women is part of their tradition... Christians and Jews can and in my opinion ought to be egalitarian. They ought to be feminists - in the sense of believing that men and women are equal... I'm quite convinced that Jesus was a feminist in that sense.

"There is nothing fuzzy about Jesus' position... The first persons to whom Jesus appeared after the resurrection were women, not men. This is especially important because under Jewish law women had no standing to be witnesses. Whatever, women said was disregarded [in a legal sense]. The fact that Jesus went to women first clearly indicates that he didn't conform with the legal situation at that time. Jesus also welcomed women as disciples... and this 'screams loudly' that Jesus was not in step with the patriarchal society of the times.

"The  fact that Jesus was a feminist shouldn't give us historically any grounds to boast. In fact, it gives us grounds to be ashamed. For 2,000 years, we Christians have not followed the lead of Jesus. Christianity, like Judaism, has treated women as inferiors.

"The whole point of my book," Swidler said,  "is to provide material from early tradition to show that egalitarianism is proper and in fact strongly espoused by Jesus. Not to imitate Jesus in that regard is a serious betrayal and a sin, in my opinion."21

A pig in a poke

The assumption that prostitution can be reduced by requiring ethical massage therapists to meet certain professional standards is part of the hype which has sold gullible state legislators and city officials (who enacted ordinances outlawing prostitution) "a pig in a poke."  That pig and poke have been around at least since 1580 when they appeared in Thomas Tusser's book Five Hundreth Good Pointes of Husbandrie. 

Sex and massage have been linked for thousands of years.  According to Richard Haehl: "With the development of the Christian religion, massage gradually fell into disuse, and finally was entirely forgotten. The priests of that time made every effort to suppress it, because immorality and massage were often found together. Some historians even claim that during this period massage had its home entirely in the houses of prostitution.

"What wonder therefore when the representatives of the Christian religion tried everything to banish not only the immorality, but also massage, which were unfortunately so closely connected together."22 (Haehl's book, published in 1898, is entitled Massage. Its History, Techniques and Therapeutic Uses.)

Does anyone seriously believe that state massage laws and local ordinances can suppress prostitution, which Christianity has not been able to do for almost two thousand years, and which is the basis of the present big-business sex industry? Perhaps the attempt to make it difficult for prostitutes to masquerade as massage therapists was responsible for the present-day massage parlors and escort and dating services, just as Prohibition in the 1920s was responsible for speakeasies which developed into present-day nightclubs.

The facts of life

Loony massage laws are what Pelton calls many local ordinances23 which were apparently enacted to prevent prostitution. For example, In Lexington, Kentucky, "No female shall appear in a bikini while giving a massage in this city unless she be escorted by at least two police officers or unless she be armed with a club." (Apparently the city did not trust one police officer alone.) In Hickory Ridge, Arkansas, "No female wearing a nightgown can be caught giving a massage after the sun goes down."

In Winner, South Dakota, "Women who happen to be single, widowed, or divorced are prohibited from giving or getting a massage on Sunday." In Kennonsburg, Ohio, "A husband [cannot] get a massage without his spouse along at any time unless he's been married for more than a year."

When I make a law, it's a joke. When congress makes a joke, it's a law. - Will Rogers

Law is a reflection and source of prejudice. It both enforces and suggests forms of bias. - Diane Schulder

The United States is the greatest law factory the world has ever known. - Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes

The attempt to control prostitution by local massage ordinances and state massage laws is ineffective. Despite all the years this issue has been debated and all the state laws and local ordinances that have been enacted, there is little if any definitive information about (a) What percent of women are prostitutes in states and communities that do and do not have state massage laws and local ordinances? And (b) What percentage of prostitutes masquerade as massage therapists in states and communities that do and do not have state massage laws and local ordinances?

There is no research which indicates that state and local regulation of massage has helped the public distinguish ethical massage therapists from prostitutes who masquerade as massage therapists. On the contrary, the continuous clamor about the need to prevent that masquerade may well have increased the extent to which the public now associates legitimate massage with prostitution.

As the number of states which regulate massage has increased, the number of massage parlors and dating and escort services (which the public does associate with prostitution) have also increased.

The public may therefore associate massage with prostitution to a greater degree now than it did 15, 20 or 30 years ago when there were fewer massage parlors, fewer if any dating and escort services and fewer state massage laws and local ordinances. If that is so, then the public's association of massage with prostitution has increased despite state and local massage laws.

State massage laws do not reduce prostitution. The large numbers of prostitutes arrested as repeat offenders clearly indicate that laws, statutes and ordinances which prohibit prostitution are not effective. These laws, which apply to all women, do not significantly reduce prostitution. Therefore, how can state massage laws and local ordinances, which apply to a considerably smaller number of women, reduce prostitution?

Do definitions of massage (and other related definitions) clearly delineate massage from prostitution and other sexual activities? Consider, for example, these definitions of the American Massage Therapy Association:  "Massage Therapy is a profession in which the practitioner applies manual techniques, and may apply adjunctive therapies, with the intention of positively affecting the health and well-being of the client. Massage is manual soft tissue manipulations, and includes holding, causing movement, and/or applying pressure to the body. Therapy is a series of actions aimed at achieving or increasing health and wellness. Manual means by use of hand or body."24

To what extent may such  definitions also apply to prostitution, sodomy, oral sex, sexual foreplay, and the normal, healthy sex of married people?

In the real world

Legalized prostitution in Nevada.  At one time, the state statutes had almost 50 rules and regulations governing the brothel business. One regulation required that brothels had to be at least 300 yards from churches and schools. To comply with that requirement, the townespeople of Beatty, moved their school. Story County and Lyon County legalized prostitution in 1971.

The Nevada Supreme Court decided, in 1971, that counties had the right to legalize brothels, Street-walking is prohibited. The present statutes prohibit prostitution in counties with populations over 400,000. This disqualifies  the two largest counties - Clark County in which Las Vegas is located,  Washoe County which has Reno, and Douglas County with Lake Tahoe. Twelve of the 15 other counties, each of which has less that 400,000, have brothels.25 

The Nevada Handbook presents the fascinating  history of prostitution in Nevada. Interesting information is also available in J.R. Schwartz's book The Best Cathouses in Nevada.25

State regulation of massage in Hawaii. The 1992 Hawaii state Sunset Evaluation Update: Massage provides the following information: The "l987 sunset evaluation ... reported  that  ... the Board of Massage Therapy had revoked the license of" one "massage therapist who was convicted of prostitution.... Since 1987, RICO" (the Regulated Industries Complaints Office of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs) "has revoked another massage license for prostitution."26

In 1992, "there" were "about 1800 massage therapists licensed in Hawaii, nearly doubling during the past six years." In five years (1987-1992), only two massage therapists were found to be prostitutes! Did these two massage therapists continue working as prostitutes after their licenses were revoked? What is the total number of prostitutes arrested during those five years? How many of that total number were masquerading as prostitutes? The Sunset Evaluation Update does not answer these questions.    

The Sunset Evaluation Update does tell us: "The Honolulu Police Department reported that, instead of using massage as a front, prostitutes had shifted their activity to other fronts, such as escort and dating services."

In the Province of Ontario, "roughly once every twelve months one massage therapist out of the 1,700 massage therapists currently licensed in the province is publicly disciplined or has [her] license revoked for sexual impropriety."27 Note that in Ontario, as in Hawaii, an infinitissimal number of massage therapists ae known to have engaged in prostitution.

The fact that there are so few reports of massage therapists who were prostitutes speaks highly of the integrity and morality of massage therapists as a group. Many of them could probably make more money as prostitutes than they earn as massage therapists. This applies to many working women. Pauline, a prostitute who contributed to the book A Vindication of the Rights of Whores, reported that she made the same amount of money for a whole night's work as a bartender as she made in half an hour as a whore.14  

In the Province of Quebec, "The terms massage therapy (massothérapeute) and massage practitioner (praticien(nne) du massage) were introduced ...to enable the public to distinguish between professional massage and erotic [sexual] massage."28


J. Sp. Bod. = Journal of Spiritual Bodywork.

Sp. Mass. Min. NL = Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter.

Mass. Law NL = Massage Law Newsletter.

Mass. Humor = Massage Humor newsletter.

1. Castle, M.A. The insidious oppression. Secular Nation. 1(3):17-20. 1995.

2. Schatz, A. Some thoughts and questions about the $3,000,000 National Certification Examination. One man's point of view. Sp. Mass. Min. NL. 2(1):1-5, 1996.

3. Schatz, A., Tillotson, A., and Brewster, M.

Since massage does not cause harm, why license massage therapists to prevent harm. All that glitters is not gold. Sp. Mass. Min. NL. 2(2):1-3, 1996. Also see all other articles in this issue.

4. Schatz, A., and Brewster, Massage does not cause enough harm in California to justify state regulation. J. Sp. Bod. 2(4):6-7.1996.

5. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M. Why is the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition (PALC) promoting state licensure to protect the public from harm? Will PALC please tell us how many people have been harmed by bodyworkers in Pennsylvania and how serious their injuries were? J. Sp. Bod. 2(4):7-10, 1996.

6. Schatz, A. Attention. Pennsylvania Legislators. Mass. Law NL. 1(4):1-4. 1997.

7. Schatz, A. Position of the Pennsylvnia Licensure Coalition. Postition of the Pennsylvania Coalition Opposed to Licensure. Mass. Law NL. 2(1):1, 1997.

8. Schatz, A. The corporatization of massage. An economic perspective. Mass. Law NL 2(2):1-7. 1997.

9. Schatz, A. Another letter to the Pennsylvania

Licensure Coalition (PALC). Mass. Law NL. 2(2):7-8 1997.

10. Schatz, A., and Tillotson, A. From licensure of massage to licensure of shopping carts. Mass. Humor. 1(1):1-4. 1997.

11. Ridgeway, J. (with photographs by S. Palchey). Red Light. Inside the Sex In-dustry.Powerhouse Books.1996.

12. Ashley, M. Massage. A Career at Your Fingertips. 2nd ed. Enterprise Publishing. Mahopac Falls. NY. (a) first edition, 1992. (b) Second edition, 1995.

13. Bovard, J. Safeguard public health: legalize commercial sex. (argument in favor of legalizing prostitution.) Insight on the news. 11(9):18. Feb. 27, 1995.

14. Pheterson, G. A Vindication of the Rights of Whores. The Seal Press. Seattle, WA. 1989.

15. Morris, D. The Human Zoo. McGraw-Hill Book Co. NY. 1969.

16 Engels, F. The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. International Publishers. NY. 1942.

17. Young, R. Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Twenty-Second American Edition. Wm. B. Freeman's Publishing Co. Grand rapids, MI. 1970. 

18. Yoder, J.H. The Politics of Jesus. Behold the Man. Our Victorious Lamb. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI. 1972.

19. Trocmé, André. Jesus and the Non-Violent Revolution. Herald Press. Scotsdale, PA. 1973.

20. The information about the Jubilee is quoted from an August 20, 1997, open letter statement about The Jubilee 2000/USA Campaign distributed by Rev. Douglas B. Hunt, Interim Coordinator for Jubilee 2000/USA. The address of the Campaign is P.O. Box 29550. Washington, D.C. 20017. Additional information is available from the Religious Working Group on WB/IMF (World Bank and International Monetary Fund). P.O. Box 29132. Washington, D.C. 20017.

21. Sifford, D. Of women in the Bible. The chauvinist passages aren't from Jesus. Philadelphia Inquirer. March 8, 1981.

22. Haehl, R. Massage. Its History, Technique and Therapeutic Uses. Dunlap Printing C. Philadelphia. 1898.

23. Pelton. R.W. Loony massage laws. Massage Magazine. Issue No. 30. pp. 64-66. March/April 1991.

24. Basayne-Smith, A. Definition survey: what you had to say. Hands On, the AMTA newsletter. 9:6-7, Fall, 1993.

25. Castleman, D. Nevada Handbook. 3rd ed. Moon Publications, Inc. 1993.

26. Carlson, K., Barbera, R.A., and Schatz, A. The public doesn't need state regulation of massage. So who does want it and why? Massage & Bodywork Quarterly. pp. 83-86. Fall 1993.

27. Alexander, D. Professionalism and licensure in message. Massage & Bodywork Quarterly. pp. 77-80. Winter 1994.

28. Etude sur les therapies manuelles et le massage realisee en vue de l'avise au ministre responsable de l'application des lois professionnelles sur l'opportunite de constituer une corporation professionnelle dans le domaine des medicines douces. Office des professions du Quebec. Direction de la recherche. Montreal. Mai 1991.

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