“Casting couch,” is a phrase that’s been floating around Hollywood for decades. A casting couch is where a comely actress drops her dress in exchange for a role in a movie. My mother, a ringer for Hedy Lamar, did a few laps around that couch before giving up her dream of stardom. It should come as no surprise that men, having dominated the industry since its beginnings, have used that dominance to demand female favors. (Click) Frankly, I laugh when Hollywood luminaries feign ignorance of the abuse now that it’s making headlines. (Click)
Why should anyone be surprised that in a patriarchal society women are victimized? If it weren’t common knowledge, the 1980s movie 9 to 5, (Click) starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, wouldn’t be a classic. Female mortification goes back centuries. The King James Bible speaks of women as the spoils of war. (Judges 5:30, 21:12-23.) Sadly too many citations exist to quote them all.
Some imagine that by unmasking a few of the worst bullies, our society has reached a tipping point. True, a recent poll suggests 64% of the population in this country sees sexual harassment in the workplace as a serious problem — up from 47% in 2011. (“Poll watch,” The Week, October 27, 2017, pg. 17.) But the number suggests a third don’t see a problem. They see victims as those who, by their manner and dress, bring abuse upon themselves.
Despite the polls, victim blaming is alive and well, just as it was in biblical times. And we have some of our sisters to thank for it. (Blogs: 2/16/16, 5/22/16, 12/14/16) Not until these vestal virgins see past the smoke of ancient flames will society reach a “tipping” point. That will be the day they understand a prostitute, who sells her body for a living, is entitled to say “no” and have her wishes respected.
(Originally published 11/7/17)