Hollywood isn't said to have a "casting couch" for nothing. And now one of its biggest stars, Susan Sarandon, is reportedly opening up about a casting couch situation she had when she was an actress just beginning in New York. "Casting couch" sounds too tame and almost funny for what this kind of thing really is -- sexual assault. It doesn't sound like Susan was raped exactly, but it sounds like one of those situations where a young, naive woman was taken advantage of by a dirtbag with more power. You know the type.
Susan told Elle magazine about her experience:
It was not successful—for either of us. I just went into a room, and a guy practically threw me on the desk. It was my early days in New York, and it was really disgusting. It wasn't like I gave it a second thought. It was so badly done.
At 66, Susan remains one of Hollywood's most enduring stars. Also one of its most powerful. It's hard to picture her succombing to the pressure of the casting couch situation, but all of us were young and naive once. This story practically gives new meaning to Susan's intense and haunted stare in Thelma and Louise, when it becomes clear that Susan's character won't drive through Texas because she was raped there.
Again, this might not technically be rape, but it's not consensual sex, either. It's in some kind of icky gray area where sex is taken because a woman can't find her voice and power and fears the consequences of losing something she wants badly. Maybe if Susan thought she said no, she'd be blacklisted in the industry.
Unfortunately I know moe than one woman with a with similar tale of just starting out in jobs in industries they desperately wanted to be in, and then having someone who held power in that industry come on to them, and they felt there was nothing they could say or do about it without losing their job or being shunned in their industry.
At least it doesn't sound like Susan was too traumatized by it, given that she says she didn't "give it a second thought." Still, decades later, she's talking about it, so clearly she did.
Have you ever felt obligated to have sex with a more powerful person?
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