To save his marriage, Terry Crews had to completely rethink what it means to be a man.
Crews showed his bravery in sharing his own #MeToo story. It turns out his own awakening started much earlier.
In October 2017, the actor made headlines when he opened up about having been sexually harassed by a Hollywood producer years earlier. It was an incredibly powerful moment that both showed the complexities of the #MeToo movement and helped bring more men into the fold as allies.
But it turns out Crews wasn't always such an evolved guy. He says that back in 2009, his wife nearly left him because of his own toxic masculinity, shaped by a lifetime of distorted ideas that influenced his beliefs in what it meant to be a man.
“As a man, I was taught that I was more valuable than my wife and kids," he said. "That’s deep — and I didn’t even realize it until I dissected it.”
He knew he needed help and was strong enough to ask for it.
Crews said he sought professional treatment for an addiction to pornography and went through therapy to begin a path of self-reflection. Over time, the former NFL star and his wife Rebecca King-Crews reunited and they remain together.
“My wife has always brought the wisdom,” he said. “I truly believe you don’t see your own faults. There were so many times I just knew I was right and my wife was like, ‘Uhh uhh.’”
When it comes to unraveling his own past distorted views of masculinity, Crews wasn't shy about what he now thinks. "It’s a cult no different than Jim Jones or David Koresh,” he said.
In a separate interview, Crews offered some simple but poignant advice for men as they trudge through their own attempts to grapple cultural pressures and norms. “Don’t speak for women," he said. "Hold other men accountable.”
The response from other men has been mostly positive but there's also been a noticeable silence from other actors.
In March 2018, Crews shared an encouraging letter he received from Old Spice, in which employees at the company offered their support in response to Crews speaking out about his own #MeToo experience.
However, he also noted the deafening silence from his male co-stars in "The Expendables" film series, alleging that one of the film's producers even tried pressuring him into being silent over the issue of sexual assault.
There's nothing wrong with being masculine. But real strength comes from vulnerability and personal growth.
Men like Crews and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson show us that the concept of masculinity is more complex than most people think.
As a former athlete and physically imposing action star, there's nothing passive about Terry Crews. This is a man who has literally made people laugh by repeatedly screaming at the camera in his hilarious Old Spice commercials.
But much like when The Rock recently opened up about his own struggles with depression, these decidedly masculine men are showing the world, especially other guys, that there's a difference between being strong and being toxic.