As if starring in the hilarious yet tragically underrated Brooklyn Nine-Nine wasn’t enough to solidify actor Terry Crews’ place as a national treasure, in the era of #MeToo, Crews has proven that his courage is not merely an attribute of his on-screen persona.
While he may not be patrolling the streets of New York like his NBC sitcom counterpart, Crews demonstrated just as much presence on June 26th as he testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in D.C. Crews spoke out against Adam Venit, a Hollywood executive who sexually harrassed Crews at the type of party where only bad things happen yet no one talks about it- until now. Crews testified in front of the Senate regarding a sexual assault, in which Venit grabbed his genitals in a despicable act of pure disrespect and blatant violation. Although his first reaction, much like the rest of us, was the red-hot rage, Crews said that his wife was the one that calmed him, down and talked him out of violence, bringing him back to reality.
Despite the absurdity of the scenario, Crews was able to step outside of his in-the-moment fury which likely would have involved a few cracked knuckles, and recognize that at the end of the day he was still a large black man assaulted by a respected white man. Meaning, the scale was already tipped against his favour, and the moment he brought violence into the picture, no one would listen to what he had to say, all they would see was the attack of an angry black man. Crews made the incredibly tough decision to use his voice instead of his hands, which is merely another testament of his strength.
As this story broke, so many are quick to say what they would have done had they been in his shoes, and the peaceful route is not the road most travelled, especially by black men eager to share their two cents. However, Crews was able to think two steps ahead and foresee that not giving his assaulter the reaction he wanted was the only way he could truly make an impact.
Even though the event occurred and was reported back in November, no charges were filed as the alleged incident, although traumatizing and so many levels of wrong, was outside the statute of limitations. Drawing upon his personal connection, Crews joined the cause for greater rights for sexual assault victims and included his testimony in the hearing for the Sexual Assualt Survivors’ Bill of Rights.
While Crews has received some backlash from those with fragile masculinities and higher-ups in the Hollywood community who somehow believe the actor’s role in the #MeToo movement blemishes his brand, Crews has also reported the encouragement that has come his way, which in the end, is all that truly counts. He said that since taking his testimony public, he has had many men approach him, alleging that they have too faced similar experiences. At the end of the day, Crews testimony does what statistics and news articles do no; they put a face to what is oftentimes ignored: the very there role of men in the tragedy of sexual assault.
In the past year, the #MeToo movement has gained momentum in both the social and political spectrums, however, the spotlight tends to only focus on women victims, whose stories still need to be told, yet, this deprives representation from male victims. For someone as big and bold as Terry Crews to come out and say that yes, it can happen to me too, breaks any outdated stereotype of what it means to be a victim of sexual assault. Especially in the black community, where men aren’t “supposed” to get assaulted because they’re strong enough to “fight back,” Crews’ testimony was a wake-up call we all needed (some more than others). That paired with the perception of Black men being the assailants rather than the ones being assaulted, Crew's testimony forces us to re-think the society's depiction of stories of sexual assualt.
It takes the type of courage many don’t have to put aside your career and expectations of what you should be and speak up for something so much bigger than what role you’ll get in the next action blockbuster. Crews’ testimony proves that there is, indeed, a few more great men in the world, which is a refreshing flicker of hope in times like these. Survivors come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and identities, and there is no such thing as the "perfect victim" and Terry Crews using his position in Hollywood to prove that in such a time in the entertainment industry is powerful and necessary.