Terry Crews has been named as one of TIME magazine’s “Silent Breakers“, a name given to a collective group of brave people speaking out about sexual harassment.
After his viral series of tweets, Terry Crews became one of the first men to join the chorus of women speaking out about harassment, and in this chat with TIME he talks about the importance of disrupting the culture of silence.
See excerpts from his interview below.
On choosing to speak out: I’d actually just read a comment someone made on Twitter about one of Weinstein’s accusers. It went something like: She’s just looking for attention and a payday. It really affected me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I remember going to my phone and I started writing. And I couldn’t stop. What it became was this sixteen-tweet missive from me. I just remember having to say what I felt. I was really angry because these women were being discounted. These women were being discarded. Their pain was just—it was nothing. I wanted to join in. I wanted to say something. I wanted to support. But I did have to let these women know they weren’t alone. And that I understood. My whole mission was to give them strength. Don’t accept the shame that people are giving you. Because that’s what it was. They were being shamed. They were being victimized again. I just couldn’t stand for it.
On the aftermath of his tweets: In a matter of hours it had become the #1 trending topic on Twitter. And I had a realization: I didn’t check with my wife, I didn’t check with my publicist, I didn’t check with anybody. I just did it. But at that moment, I was free. Until men stand up and say, “This harassment, this abuse, these assaults are wrong,” nothing will change. If I was silent, it would mean I’m consenting to all of it. I always have felt women have been able to take care of themselves, 100%. But men need to hold other men accountable. That’s my thing. I came up in the cult of masculinity, in football and the sports world and entertainment. You’re in places and guys are saying the wildest thing. People need to be called on that. You need to be held accountable for the things you say, the things you do. What it came from is literally a belief that as a man you are more valuable than a woman. The reason I have the authority to say it is because I was like it. I truly believed I was more valuable than my wife and kids. Until I had a major paradigm shift in my own life—it was like I hit rock bottom in order for me to see that I had it all wrong.
On the reaction from Hollywood: Hollywood was so far into the fact that everyone thought this behavior is normal. It needs to swing all the way back. What we need is a reset. People say, “Oh, it’s a witch hunt. People could lie.” You know what? First of all, the thread of that is going to keep people right. We need to know you can’t do it. If it’s not a witch, it’s a witch hunt. If there are actual witches there, we need to stop them. I have people coming to me saying, “Hey, man. You could ruin this guy’s life.” Very clever. That’s a very clever thing to say. But he ruined it when he did it. All these people need to be disciplined into knowing what is acceptable and what isn’t. The only way to do that is by holding people accountable every time. This is something that gives my life meaning. There’s no reason why—why should I be the guy to survive Flint, Michigan; survive forty-nine years on this Earth; married twenty-eight years with five kids, the whole thing—and then I just sit in my big house and relax. This gives my life meaning. Now I know why I was put here. Let me tell you—the guy who messed with me messed with the wrong guy.