Terry Crews is a good dude. A good example. In the post-Weinstein era of revelations of endemic sexual violence and the long overdue unionising of women’s voices on social media under the banner of #MeToo, men have been asking what their role in all of this is meant to be. The question—‘Well, what can I do?’—is asked in good faith by some men, and with more dubious motivation by others. Men are conditioned to be proactive, or to at least see that trait as an unalloyed virtue. When you combine that conditioning with the fact that we have structured our society—from business to media to entertainment—to be centred around men, to be constantly catering to our needs and desires, we tend to get a bit confused when suddenly someone else is the focus of attention. And because this is a matter of relative privilege, it is predominantly white men that have the biggest problem with this—with understanding that sometimes something might not be about us, or that we are not to be the main story-tellers of a given situation. So in the time of #MeToo, men ask ‘Well, what can I do?’ for a number of reasons. Some do so out of despair at a horrible reality, and from a genuine desire to help. They are not used to feeling how most other groups of people often have to feel in their world—helpless, robbed of agency—and so they are doing what they have been told to do since birth: Something, anything, and this can be largely born out of good intentions. Other men ask ‘Well, what can I do?’ in a different way. It’s a more cynical, paternalistic form of the question—one that betrays a different motive: A desire, conscious or no, to hijack the narrative, to accept no responsibility, and to make overtures to change while at the same time making sure that, fundamentally, things stay the same. This latter group is very similar to establishment Democrats in the U.S. or the right wing of the Labour Party here in Britain: Its members have a managerial approach to democracy; sympathy for—and belief in—the powers and structures that be; and are contemptuous of grassroots movements calling for tangible change. I won’t waste anymore space on that group here.
It’s the former group that is interesting, and it probably makes up the majority of men. These are the guys who are genuinely appalled by what they are finding out, and who want to do something about it. The wrinkle in that story, however, is that though these men may well see themselves as good guys, they too have more than likely been complicit in the system that had enabled monsters like Weinstein in the first place. All of their lives they have made decisions here and there that have let this poison take hold. It was there before we were born, but either by participating in some tiny, benign-seeming way, or by not challenging it every step of the way, we helped it fester and grow. Shit, why am I running my mouth here when Emily already did an amazing job of dissecting exactly this phenomenon a few months ago. The point, men, is that if we genuinely feel awful about this system we helped build, and if we actually want to help change it, then we have some serious, painful introspection to do, and we need to go about it the right way. By listening, by diagnosing, and by calling shit out amongst our ranks.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we return to Terry Crews. Because Crews—a victim of industry-enabled sexual assault himself—is out there doing good work, in the right way. He is actively thinking and engaging, without taking the spotlight for himself, and he is enhancing the debate by bringing terms like ‘the cult of masculinity’ into it. Here he is a few days ago at the ‘Women in the World Summit’, explaining this idea:
As a woman, they talk, but a guy is not looking at you as even all the way human. This is what you have to understand—there is a humanity issue here. [Women are] like, ‘Why don’t you hear me? Why don’t you see my feelings?’ And [men are] like, ‘But you’re not all the way human. You’re here for me, you’re here for my deal.’ It’s real.
That’s bang on, and I guaranfuckingtee you it relates to a vastly more numerous contingent of the world’s men than we would care to admit. Articulate, insightful, empathetic, Terry Crews is putting himself out there, and in the process of challenging the powers that be he is also—whether in public appearances or on Brooklyn Nine Nine—redefining the existing toxic and hyper-entrenched concept of masculinity that we all know. Naturally, some men seem to have a problem with this, and they cannot wrap their heads round this brave new world of men managing to be, for want of a better phrase, ‘traditionally manly’, while also being caring and sympathetic to the plight of women under patriarchy. Luckily, Crews is also fighting the good fight in the other way it must be fought: Slapping bullshit nonsense down when it rears its ugly head.
@terrycrews so when you make your chest jump on camera are you doing it for the cult like men or the "less of a human" women? ……..we have all day sir— TruthTeller (@TruthTeller410) April 23, 2018
That's for your mom. https://t.co/Si28VEsuUk— terrycrews (@terrycrews) April 23, 2018