I was particularly moved by Crew's story for a multitude of reasons. For those unfamiliar with his story, Crews described unwanted sexual conduct and harassment at a Hollywood party, from well-known and successful agent to the stars, Adam Levint back in 2016. Without going too much into detail of his encounter (we've included links to his testimony), I couldn't ignore the frustrations he must have felt. Many survivors, like Crews, are often questioned and blamed for their abuse. The typical cultural norm to 'victim-blame' remained a true sentiment in this case as well.
Men like Crews, who have been sexually assaulted or harassed face another added obstruction towards healing because society continues to tell us that men like Crews, or men in general adhere to certain expectations. These expectations include men being strong, the protectors, leaders, non-submissive, men are never the ones who actually need the protecting. So what happens when a man or young boy drifts from these expectations, or falls victim to an experience that calls his manhood into question?
Like countless other survivors, sharing our stories comes with great risk. We risk being ostracized by society, our peers, friends/family, for others, our very livelihood is threatened. We risk being blamed, humiliated, and worse of all, unsupported. Not to mention our reputation, credibility, are often called into question. But for Terry Crews, sharing his story was worth the risk. Making the decision to use his platform to hold other men accountable for their actions, like Adam Levint, is the type of masculinity we applaud. In my opinion, it is this type of bravery that supersedes any role he has ever played, and perhaps will play in the future.
Crews mentioned in one of his interviews regarding his testimony that "life is limitless, but it doesn't mean it shouldn't have boundaries." I believe it is time that our culture not only acknowledges such boundaries, but comes to RESPECT them.
Mr. Crews speaking out about his experience of sexual abuse from another man, was not only brave, but demanded a cultural shift in the way we frame our language and cultural biases around topics regarding sexual misconduct. I cannot reiterate enough how profound Him sharing his testimony truly is. According to societal norms/expectations, Crews doesn't 'fit' the role of "victim." We cannot gloss over the fact that this is also a black man speaking on subject matter that is riddled in cultural taboos, not to mention, the homophobic undertones projected on individuals sexually abused or harassed from someone of the same sex. It is stories like this that further reinforce the need to continue sharing, learning and ultimately, healing together! For these reasons, we at Herstory, wanted to say:
Thank you Mr. Crews; for standing in the front lines, for standing up for yourself being a black man in this society, and for standing for accountability and a necessary change in both Hollywood, and beyond.
With love and solidarity,
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