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The Mistakes That Taught Terry Crews How to Be a Man
Terry Crews
BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 09: Terry Crews celebrates Old Spice's 80th Anniversary on April 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

The Mistakes That Taught Terry Crews How to Be a Man

Terry Crews' unusual journey to becoming a complex, modern man has been filled with powerful statements and mistakes. Here's what we can learn from him.

Since the publication of his 2014 book on masculinity, Terry Crews has been very vocal about the issues with the concept of masculinity and how men can help break down these damaging gender stereotypes.

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor and former NFL player has dropped some serious knowledge (and emotional intelligence) about how gender roles and male pride hurt women and men alike. Not a bad use for fame, I say.

Crews has explained to media that the women in his life—including his wife, four daughters, and five-year-old granddaughter—were the reason he first became interested in feminism.

"I did some serious thinking about the world that they’re coming up in,” he says. “I want my girls to have every opportunity to do whatever they want.”

Terry bravely opened up

In 2017, in the heat of #metoo, Terry Crews came forward to say that he had been sexually assaulted by a Hollywood executive. Today, people are still questioning his the validity of his account. 

“God gave you muscles so you can say no and mean it!” comedian D.L. Hughley said in a video that went viral back in January. Crews responded by saying, “Sir you said I should have pushed him back, or restrained him and I DID ALL THOSE THINGS, but you act like I didn't...were you there?” 

Having publicly declared himself a “male feminist” after speaking up about said sexual assault in solidarity with women, Terry Crews has often been touted as a wonderful role model for men invested in countering rape culture at its roots—especially in those uncomfortable moments when he has actually had to defend his decisions about how he handled the assault—something many women are asked to do on a regular basis.

What Terry taught us about manliness

Crews has also summed up why men should feel empowered to get involved with feminist movements even if they don't feel informed.

"For guys, if you did wrong, if you were that way, I get it. I was that guy, too. And along with apologies, you have to begin to make amends.”

Which brings us to the icing on the Crews cake: his willingness to admit past wrongdoing and take responsibility.

As a man, I was taught that I was more valuable than my wife and kid

Crews continued, "That’s deep — and I didn’t even realize it until I dissected it."

“One man to another man, examine your own mind-set,” Crews told Dame. “Examine what makes you tick. Because if you feel that you are more valuable than your wife and kids, that’s a problem.”

The mistakes he made

Fast forward to February 2019, and Terry Crews stepped into another controversy—via social media no less—when he took offense to a conversation about a piece by Derecka Purnell which openly critiqued the angle Barack Obama took in a lecture addressed to black boys.

“Another thing that bothers me is that this OP-ED was written by a WOMAN about how boys should be taught to grow into successful young men,” wrote Crews. "How would she know? MEN NEED TO HOLD OTHER MEN ACCOUNTABLE.” 

What followed was a messy online conversation, in which Crews tweeted that children who grow up without both a mother and a father will be “severely malnourished.”

He then followed up with: “FOR BLACK MEN: Is there a forum anywhere in the world where we could discuss the issues and solutions of OUR community WITHOUT outside interference? Should I create one?” 

Ultimately it seems that Terry Crews is a faltering human like the rest of us, because expressing a desire for spaces and conversations free of women is decidedly out of step from what we've come to expect of him—not to mention deeply problematic, especially considering the prevalence of single moms raising sons. 

What we can lean from his mistakes

I like the succinctness of Kalamity Kid’s response: “I’m a trans man so I'll explain why women need a voice about how men behave. It's because 1: men have been trying to tell women how they must behave 2: women are the main victims of men growing up poorly.”

Add to that the hordes of people trying to explain to Crews why single moms often do a great job and why gender is not the determining factor for who should be included in conversations about good men, and you get the gist of the entire ordeal, which, it seems, was largely abandoned by media back in March.

Bottom line

We can learn a lot by studying the lives, loves, and revelations of the famous people we admire. But for me, what’s valuable in Terry Crews’ story thus far is that we must also remember celebrities are flawed, much like we all are: evolving, regressing, and at times, stuck.

While Crews has been an inspiration (nay, a positive refreshment) to many people of all genders who are tired of the normalization of rape culture, the minimizing of women’s narratives, and the dismissal of sexual violence, like all of us, he clearing has some growing to do.

We can learn from others without putting them on pedestals. Here’s to continual, sustainable growth!

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