The term masseuse is a French word that refers to a woman who practices massage. The men in the industry were known as massage therapists. A massage therapist and a massage therapist perform the same job; the only difference is that the term massage therapist is gender specific and refers to women. Massage therapists, on the other hand, can be of any gender.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the same standard occupational code (31-901) for both designations, and for male specific masseuses, rolfers, and massage therapists. In French, the word massage therapist is related to the word masser, which means kneading or rubbing. The masseuse is the female form of masseuse. These terms remained popular and in use in the United States for most of the 20th century, until the push for state massage laws took off in the 1980s.
Between the 1930s and 1950s, the terms Masseuse and Masseuse were hijacked by the prostitution industry to advertise and promote their prostitution business under the guise of a legitimate massage business. Others deliberately choose massage therapy because of the nature of part-time work, whether out of educational or family obligations, or simply because of the freedom to be independent. In addition, most massage therapists continue their education to refine their craft, as do lawyers, doctors, and other professionals. Using the term could provoke a humorous explanation of the correct term or by referring to ourselves as massage therapists.
As the population ages, more people will need massage services, as they seek to stay active longer. Male massage therapists almost never find work in spas and other places mostly used by women due to clients' fears of sexual harassment. The original term referred to and described men and women who earned their living providing massages and who were paid for their work, it didn't mean happy endings. A massage therapist (RMT) hurts to see people who take weekend courses having the audacity to call themselves massage therapists and charge as much as a qualified massage therapist.
Masseuse used to be the standard term for female masseuses (and masseuse for male massage therapists), just as hostesses were called hostesses. Massage therapists need physical strength and dexterity to manipulate muscles and exert pressure and physical endurance to stand for most of the day. Some of the masseuses may be excellent massage providers, but this extra (some sexual favor or even going full throttle) that the word masseuse has come to connote has given the massage therapy profession a bad name in general. Both terms were used to describe men and women, respectively, who provided massages in exchange for payment.