Sixteen Years of Practicing Taoist Erotic Massage by Ben Haggard, Certified Sexological Bodyworker
“Ever since I learned Taoist Erotic Massage (TEM) sixteen years ago, I’ve been a man with a mission. Prior to that I was trained as a massage therapist, and I learned not only the strengths of massage therapy but also some of its prejudices and weaknesses. I have come to believe that one of the most profound weaknesses in the way massage is conventionally taught is the taboo against including erotic touch in the massage. This taboo is so widespread and so strong that is hardly questioned within conventional massage modalities. However, I believe this taboo is actually harmful and runs counter to the deepest and most central principles of massage therapy.
Massage therapists are trained to teach their clients that the body is beautiful, that the body is sensuous, that the body can be honored and healed through touch, and they are encouraged to communicate this with regard to every part of the client’s body except the genitals and the anus. These, in contrast to the rest of the client’s body, must never be touched. I believe that this ban on touching actually conveys its own message. What is being conveyed to thousands of clients, in thousands of massage sessions all over this country, is in fact a very deep wounding to the body, as masseur after masseur refuses to touch the body’s most profoundly intimate and tender places – the genitals and the anus.
This repeated refusal to touch communicates a sense that these parts of the body are somehow “unclean”, “untouchable”, not worthy of being honored in the same sensuous way as the rest of the body. This is, in itself, a deep wounding to the body. Furthermore, for people in our culture these are also the parts of the body that carry our deepest, most profoundly rooted shame. They are also the places around which many of us carry wounds of abuse. Many of us have experienced some kind of abuse, either as children or with adult sex partners. So when masseurs refuse to touch and honor these parts of our bodies, they not only ignore opportunities for deep healing, but they actually reinforce our underlying feelings of shame and our memories of abuse.
I therefore believe that touching and honoring the entire body, and integrating erotic, genital and anal touch within massage is critically important to actually carry through the core mission of the whole massage movement. I think that when massage schools in this country ignore this, or actually speak out against it, they offer a grave disservice to the massage profession, to individual clients, and to human healing itself.”
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