Actor and former professional football player Terry Crews spoke last week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about his experience with sexual assault. He recounted being groped twice at a party by Adam Venit, a top agent with William Morris Endeavor.
Crews also revealed he would no longer star in “The Expendables 4” following the producer’s request he drop his lawsuit against Venit. “The Expendables” producer Avi Lerner is also facing sexual harassment allegations himself.
Since his testimony, Crews has dealt with backlash and public scrutiny, including being mocked on social media by rapper 50 Cent. Many are asking why Crews didn’t fight back, push Venit away or call the police. Crews did all of these things. Regardless, these are the wrong questions.
We should be asking how and why a powerful Hollywood agent would think it acceptable to grope someone without their consent so casually at a party. We should be asking why rapper 50 Cent thought it humorous to openly mock Crews’ experience on social media. We should be asking why occurrences like this are so common, yet go largely unnoticed.
A strong male figure like Crews identifying as a victim of sexual assault is unsettling to many people, and it should be. However, it should be unsettling for the same reason any sexual assault is unsettling, not because he does not fit the stereotypical mold of a victim.
“I was told over and over that this was not abuse. That this was just a joke,” Crews said. “I chose to tell my story and share my experience to stand in solidarity with millions of other survivors in the world. That I know how hard it is to come forward. I know the shame associated with assault.”
It is astounding that in 2018 we are still discussing whether sexual assault accusations from men should be taken seriously. Toxic masculinity, among other factors, hinders progress toward forming a culture that does not blindly accept sexual misconduct toward people of any race, gender or background.
It is beyond ignorant to mock a man who is being vulnerable and honest about his experience with sexual assault despite the backlash he undoubtedly knew he’d receive. Crews bravely came forward without the shame commonly plaguing male victims of sexual assault. In doing this, he set a valuable example.
It doesn’t matter how physically strong or famous or traditionally masculine a person is – they can still be affected by sexual assault and harassment. He displayed once and for all that the only people who should feel ashamed are the abusers.
Hannah Kleinpeter is a 20-year-old mass communication senior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.