Thoughts on Current Events

This recent discussion on The View about Al Gore and massage therapy just came to my attention:

Partial transcript:

Elisabeth Hasselbeck: I think it’s also a good message in terms of massage, because a massage always has the potential to go wrong. You know what I mean, you’re always, like, one push away from something weird happening all the time.

Joe Scarborough: Hold on a second. Alright, a one hour massage – alright, you’re teetering. A three hour massage – you’re diving in head first … My mom used to tell me, “nothing good happens after midnight”. I can tell you, nothing good happens after the first hour of massage.

[Laughter, commotion]

Elisabeth: I think it must’ve been for Tim’s birthday, and he was playing football … and I said, you know what, you’re sore, I’m going to get you a massage … I ordered a massage from Tacoma Athletic Massage, and I’m ready and… We live in a small apartment … the doorbell rings .. I’m looking through the peephole and I see the table. I open the door and there’s this hot chick coming to give Tim a massage!

Sherri Shepherd: Was it awkward for you?

Elisabeth: Oh, awkward, not to mention I had hormones raging from pregnancy … The girl walks in, and she’s fantastic, really nice …

[interruption of “wink wink” sex joke from other commentator]

Joe: Your husband’s thinking you must be much more open-minded than he thought.

Elisabeth: No, he was so uncomfortable because he knew how pissed off I was, cause she had music going, and I’m in the other room, I’m like, “this is horrific!”

A few points:

  • The commentators on The View generalize an entire profession based on one alleged incident (Al Gore sexually harassing a massage therapist), complemented by one description of a non-event (an attractive massage therapist coming to give someone a massage). This is, to say the least, extremely insulting.
  • Elisabeth gives a half-story about an attractive woman coming to give her husband a massage, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks and reach the conclusion that massage therapy = attractive [heterosexual] women = sex. This conclusion is just so blatantly incorrect and offensive that I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around it.
  • Somehow, the commentators succeed in completely flipping the entire situation. The story in the news is that Al Gore sexually harassed a massage therapist, and yet the message coming out of The View is that massage therapists are all sexual predators.

In the modern world, where massage therapists (and anyone who has benefited from massage) are trying to give a (well-deserved) good name to the profession, the commentators on The View are taking us all in the wrong direction. Instead of talking about the positive effects of massage (and educating their audience about how massage should not be equated with sex), they’re continuing to spread a misleading stereotype (on national television, no less!) by tapping into their audience’s fear and ignorance.

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