Terry Crews Backlash Exposes Toxic Masculinity

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In a culture where sexual assault victims are sometimes met with suspicion, especially when the accused is famous or prominent, coming forward with their accounts are that much more difficult. This is even more challenging for men, according to actor Terry Crews during his testimony before the U.S. Senate.

Amanda Nguyen on the Hill

Amanda Nguyen testifies on the Hill

Crews testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday along with activist Amanda Nguyen, a rape survivor whose 2016 sexual assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights established consistent rules and procedures for prosecuting sexual assault crimes. Nguyen was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

During the hearing, Crews discussed what he calls “toxic masculinity” that exists not just in Hollywood, but also in American culture in general. While many online supported Crews’ views and applauded his courage, men like rapper and actor 50 Cent mocked Crews for claiming to be a sexual assault victim.

50 Cent is receiving backlash for taunting Crews, who emphasized the importance of civil rights advocacy on behalf of sexual assault victims. The rapper posted a pair of photos of Crews on Instagram, one showing him topless with the words: “I got raped, my wife just watched” superimposed over it and another of the actor with a rose in his mouth and the words “Gym time.”

In a caption 50 Cent wrote, “LOL, What the f*** is going on out here man? Terry: I froze in fear, [Me:] they would have had to take me to jail. Get the strap.”

In Crews’ defense, his  “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” co-star Chelsea Peretti responded to the rapper tweeting, “Rape, harassment & assault are often approached as ‘woman’s issues’ where boys and men are sidelined as silent victims. That [ Terry Crews] is speaking out about this culture is a good thing and supporters need to be louder than those who chose to ridicule him for speaking his truth.”

After being confronted online for his remarks, 50 Cent has since doubled down on his initial stance, posting a new tweet that basically said “people are so sensitive” and shouldn’t take offense to his remarks. Asked how he feels about the rapper, Crews told TMZ, “I love 50 Cent. I listen to his music while I’m working out.”  In response to the quip about Crews’ strength and size, the actor added, “Well, first of all, I prove that size doesn’t matter when it comes to sexual assault.”

Still, Crews’ testimony was inspirational for other male sexual assault victims.  One of the most profound moments during the hearing was Crews’ testimony, as he explained his own experience with sexual assault and the toxic ideology of about adult male sexual assault in society. Crews explained that in the entertainment industry, specifically Hollywood, there is a complicit system that accepts sexual harassment or assault. Abusers in positions of power protect each other while associating masculinity and the culture of rape with taking control and dominating others both mentally and physically.

Crews was allegedly groped in front of his wife at a Hollywood event by the head of his agency’s motion picture department. He said that his abuser claimed to be drunk. His first reaction was to be violent, but he said he refrained

When asked by Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) why he didn’t defend himself, Crews appeared overwhelmed with emotion. He said, “As a black man in America, you only have a few shots at success. You only have a few chances to make yourself a viable member of the community. I’m from Flint, Michigan. I have seen many young black men who were provoked into violence, and they are in prison or dead.”

After it happened, he didn’t believe others would believe him.

Crews isn’t the only male actor in Hollywood who has come forth with their sexual assault experience. Tyler Perry, James Van Der Beek, and Brendan Fraser have all spoken about their own experiences.

During an interview with “GQ”, Fraser said he was groped by Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. “His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around.” Fraser said he never spoke of the incident after initially telling his wife, claiming the experience made him depressed and feel reclusive.

Sen. Feinstein noted in her opening remarks that 22 million women have experienced rape and 53 million have experienced sexual violence other than rape. Also, 25 million men have experience sexual violence other than rape, yet only 6 out of every 100,000 end up in prison.

“Men have to hold other men accountable,” said Crews. “That is the only way the system is going to change. If a man can come up to another man and say it’s inappropriate, suddenly, the culture will change. If I have to be the first one who’s going to do it, then let it be.”

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