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THE STORY OF MASSAGE Gender Separation in the 20th Century By Patricia J. Benjamin Swedish masseuses and masseurs predominantly lived in different worlds. Massaging someone of the opposite sex was not considered respectable—unless it was in a medical setting—until the 1980s. Social mores in the mid-20th century frowned on such intimate contact outside of family, and local laws trying to curb prostitution often forbade it. Professional ethics espoused early on by the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses prohibited opposite-sex massage except for medical treatment and never for general massage. That ethical standard remained the norm for most of the 20th century. Excerpted from The Emergence of the Massage Therapy Profession in North America (Curties-Overzet, 2015) by Patricia J. Benjamin. Find it at Gender segregated classes were the norm at the College of Swedish Massage in 1939.

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