This week, I watched Terry Crews testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill regarding the “Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights.” He gave an emotional testimonial about being a survivor of sexual assault while being a Black man who must refrain from reacting emotionally or angrily if he wants to keep his job. The reactions I have seen on social media from other famous and powerful men is disgusting and is a product of toxic masculinity.
What is toxic masculinity? Toxic Masculinity is a socially-constructed attitude that describes the masculine gender to fit a role as violent, unemotional, and sexually aggressive. Toxic masculinity has created the notion that men have the right and power to sexually assault women and also men who are seen as inferior.
In his testimony, Terry Crews describes how toxic masculinity is deeply rooted in rape and sexual assault. He said: “The assault lasted only minutes, but what he was effectively telling me when he held my genitals in his hand was that he held the power. That he was in control. This is how toxic masculinity permeates culture.”
We are in a time period where rapists and assaulters are finally being called out and receiving punishment and other consequences for their crimes. We are in a time where survivors need and deserve allyship. Terry Crews did not receive that from other men in his field. I watched celebrities like 50 Cent and Russell Simmons laugh at the idea of Terry Crews not fighting back because he’s a man. Not only because is he a man, but also because he is perceived as a “big”, muscular, tough, Black man. Some men are so comfortable with toxic masculinity that they cannot see the hurt it causes. We have been conditioned to believe men that “tough and strong” should always be a character trait of a man. A part of toxic masculinity is the idea that men will suppress their emotions or other traits that are “womanly” because it is not with in their “tough” persona.
“Some men are so comfortable with toxic masculinity that they cannot see the hurt it causes.”
Women have been dealing with the damages of toxic masculinity since the beginning of time. It has affected our abilities to move up in the workforce. It has created gender roles where women are perceived as weak or dainty. It has created a need for superiority complexes in relationships. We live in a world where it is normal for men to not come forward with rape or sexual assault allegations simply because they are men.
This not only negatively affects women it can also harm men. Society tells them they shouldn’t express emotion unless it’s anger. For men like Crews, it creates a harmful stereotype that somehow men cannot be sexually assaulted or harassed. Some men don’t come out because they will be ridiculed and people won’t believe them. In spite of this, Crews still came forward and is experiencing what many other men fear.
Rape and sexual assault is an issue that all people need to be a part of the effort to end. Men need to be able to recognize that toxic masculinity is behavior that has kept male survivors quiet for decades. Besides the fact that he is a man, he is also a Black man who knew further attention on his assault could blackball him from Hollywood, ending his career and ending his ability to provide for his family.
It’s really disgusting to see any survivor come forward and be made fun of for their story. While it is not the role of the survivor to bring their rapist or assaulter to justice, I am so appreciative of Terry Crews for sharing his story in front of the world and his advocacy to all survivors as a survivor himself.
We need allyship from men to change the conversation on rape culture in this country. Men themselves need to come forward and take responsibility for toxic masculinity and its effects in rape culture. Men who come forward to tell their stories deserve support from everyone, especially other men. There are men, women and non-binary people that are survivors of sexual assault and rape. There is no excuse for no allyship anymore.