My Casting Couch Experience

“Human Casting Couch” cartoon by ‘Rogue Cartoonist Ben Garrison’

“Human Casting Couch” cartoon by ‘Rogue Cartoonist Ben Garrison’

This is the continuation of My Story of Sexual Harassment, Assault & Groping

The casting couch is the demanding of sexual favors by an employer or person in a position of power and authority, from an apprentice employee, or subordinate to a superior in return for entry into an occupation, or for other career advancement within an organization. The term casting couch originated in the motion picture industry, with specific reference to couches in offices that could be used for sexual activity between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actors.

There is another incident that happened when I was around 21 years of age, and this will explain the resulting “self-doubt” that occurs when someone at work is sexually harassing you and offering you a better position, a promotion or an opportunity if you engage in the sex act.

I was age 21 and I was already working in radio and television. I had been notified by the radio school that there was another opportunity to work as the assistant to this then big name in radio: I would travel the world interviewing celebrities.

I was told that this person will pay my airfare to fly to his state to do the interview and pay for my hotel costs. The interview would be conducted over a couple of days.

It didn’t take long for this person to present his offer and proposal: ‘If you sleep with me on a regular basis, I will give you this job. I will pay for your own pad, your own apartment. You can even have a girlfriend. I’ll pay for everything. And all that will happen is I’ll call you occasionally and say I need to relieve some stress.’

Even in that moment it was interesting what was going on in my mind. As I was thinking, “Wait a moment. This guy isn’t Interested in my actual talent. He’s only using me for sex. What about all this hard work and all this this effort and devotion and skills and talents that I had been developing and working on? They are irrelevant. All he’s interested in is the sex.” Of course, he denied that, saying he wouldn’t consider me if I weren’t talented.

Nonetheless, suddenly you do start to doubt if you have any talent.

I asked myself, “Do I have any skills or ability or talents other than the value of sex?”

I walked around that particular suburb – one of the most elite and richest suburbs in that city. And I walked around thinking, “I could have all of this. I could have these expensive cars that I see in front of me. I could live in a house like this. I would have so much money…”

The salary that he was offering was extraordinary at the time, particularly for someone that was around age 21. “I will have my own apartment paid for. I will have this extraordinary salary. I’ll get to fly around the world. I will get to interview all of these celebrities. I’ll get to use my creative talents. But, I’ll have to sleep on a regular basis with this person. And how would I tell my girlfriend? What would I tell my girlfriend? Would I tell my girlfriend?”

And it’s interesting to me as a human behavior expert now looking back and analyzing the conflict within my mind. “Look at this tempting apple. And here is the price that I must pay.”

Picturegoer – a British fan magazine, July 14, 1956 –
a four-part series about the film industry’s casting couch culture

It didn’t take that long for me to come to the decision which was, “I will maintain my integrity. I will live by my morals and standards and values. I will say no.”

And that was what I did. I have never questioned that decision because even today I teach my clients that one must live according to one’s values.

And it makes me wonder then for women who are in this position, being sexually harassed, offered these extraordinary opportunities – a role in a movie, a promotion in a television network. Some will say yes. And then years later, they will have extraordinary resentment, anger and even rage not only towards the perpetrator but also towards themselves.

So the final part is that there will be potential self-loathing. Read my list of the 25 symptoms – the consequences, signs, impact and effects, that sexual harassment and sexual abuse has on its victims.

So if you have a woman who was given this opportunity, ‘Sleep with me; engage in this sex act; do this thing and I’ll give you this in return’, and if she does that, then she eventually, many, many, years later will engage in self-loathing.

The other question is, ‘What determines when all of these symptoms will become apparent?’ And interestingly the difference is that eventually the distraction wears off: we find ways to distract ourselves from the pain, from the reality, from our choices, from our decisions, from our behaviors, and from the things that were done to us when we had no control. And once those distractions are over, it’s in that moment that our real pain comes to the forefront; it comes up; it rises up, and we can no longer run away from it.

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