Terry Crews indicts men in perpetuating a culture of sexual harassment
Time Magazine recently named “The Silence Breakers” its Person of the Year, a nod to how sexual assault, rape or sexual harassment victims have taken back their power and their voices from a system and a society that shuns them when they come forward with their accounts of sexual violence. Included in this list is Terry Crews, who came forward with his own story about being groped at a Hollywood party by a man whom he at first refused to name because he feared it would have a negative impact on his career.
That man was later revealed to be Adam Venit, an agent employed by William Morris Endeavor, and Venit has since returned to work at the agency. Both Venit and WME now face a lawsuit from Crews stemming from the initial assault (which happened in front of Crews’ wife) and the lack of punishment for Venit. Crews is perhaps best known for his Old Spice commercials or his portrayal of Julus Rush, a champion of frugality and a present Black father on the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, loosely based on the life of Chris Rock.
In his interview with Time‘s Eliana Dockterman, Crews documents the moment that made him speak out:
I’d actually just read a comment someone made on Twitter about one of Weinstein’s accusers. It went something like: She’s just looking for attention and a payday. It really affected me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I remember going to my phone and I started writing. And I couldn’t stop. What it became was this sixteen-tweet missive from me. I just remember having to say what I felt. I was really angry because these women were being discounted. These women were being discarded. Their pain was just—it was nothing. I wanted to join in. I wanted to say something. I wanted to support. But I did have to let these women know they weren’t alone. And that I understood. My whole mission was to give them strength. Don’t accept the shame that people are giving you. Because that’s what it was. They were being shamed. They were being victimized again. I just couldn’t stand for it
The role of men in creating an environment and a culture where sexual assault is the norm has been exposed and laid bare, helped by the efforts of Tarana Burke and her #MeToo campaign which went viral on social media platforms because so many women had so many stories to tell about how they have been sexually harassed or assaulted or even raped by men that they knew or worked with.
This movement has persisted so much so that Congress now has new rules for congressmen stating that they must be taught how to treat the women they work with. Crews echoes this ongoing conversation in America:
Until men stand up and say, “This harassment, this abuse, these assaults are wrong,” nothing will change. If I was silent, it would mean I’m consenting to all of it. I always have felt women have been able to take care of themselves, 100%. But men need to hold other men accountable. That’s my thing. I came up in the cult of masculinity, in football and the sports world and entertainment. You’re in places and guys are saying the wildest thing. People need to be called on that. You need to be held accountable for the things you say, the things you do. What it came from is literally a belief that as a man you are more valuable than a woman.