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Terry Crews: strength and power

author: ruben deason | contributor

Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

This, to me, underlined a grave distinction between strength and power.

Terry Crews is most famously known for his starring role in the explosive Expendables trilogy; he is known for flexing his pecs and his comedic talent in Brooklyn Nine-Nine; he is known for shirtless screaming in nonsensical Old Spice Body Wash commercials, for lip-synching along to Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” He’s six feet, three inches tall, two hundred forty-five pounds of solid, shredded muscle, and he’s garnered a reputation as being one of the most polite, genuine, and sincere actors in the business.

In the public eye and the limelight of Hollywood, he is known for many things. Now, he should be remembered for one thing above all others – his immense character, his courage and bravery, and his strength; the strength that it took for him to join the growing chorus of voices of all those who have experienced sexual assault.

The superstar recently went public on Twitter and, later, on ABC’s Good Morning America, recalling his experience being sexually assaulted by a drunken Hollywood executive and talent agent at a star-studded event. Crews named his alleged assailant, Adam Venit, and openly described the emasculation and objectification he felt as the agent groped him and continued with some advances before Crews left the scene.

This bombshell accusation seemed to turn more heads than the litany of other sexual harassment and assault cases emerging from Hollywood – “him, too?” It seemed mind-boggling that someone as physically imposing as Terry Crews could be sexually harassed in the same manner as so many female celebrities that have emerged and shared their stories in recent months.

But Terry Crews’ commendable actions and words should establish a few things, and remind us of some others. It establishes, as if it needed any more establishing, that sexual assault and harassment can happen to anyone, irrespective of who they are, what they’re wearing, or any garbage assertions of if they were “asking for it.” Unfortunately, this fact still needs to be hammered into the skulls of many, especially those who blame the victims of sexual assault and harassment in this day and age.

It reinforces the despicable reality that Terry Crews himself attested to – in that moment, all he wanted to do was strike at his assailant, but he knew that if he did so, he would immediately become the aggressor in the eyes of the public and the media. He would be portrayed as a violent black thug, with all other circumstances being forgotten in the wake of an African-American actor striking a defenseless talent agent.

It reaffirms the realities that face those who are sexually harassed and assaulted, and it explains the oft-innumerable reasons to explain why they didn’t come forward sooner. A fear of repercussions, judgment, and shame, of irreparable harm done to your career, of the crime being swept under the rug, of people replying “this is just how the system works.”

And it truly illuminates the strength of character of Terry Crews. Terry Crews is a man who came forward not only to share his story, but also to let people know what happened to him, and to equally use his public platform to provide support to those placed in his same position.

It is this that I believe is worthy of discussion. This, to me, underlined a grave distinction between strength and power.

The numerous victims who came forward, finding solidarity with each other though there was no guarantee of such a thing, have showed strength. Power has been confirmed by those who decide that fear can be damned, that those who have committed these atrocious and unjustifiable acts need to be challenged, need to be accused, need to be exposed.

And, these people in question have abused power. Executives and producers and established actors who make use of their control and influence over the people under them to humiliate and abuse them, who remain untouchable within their ivory towers. But, make no mistake. Power fades. Strength – the strength displayed by Terry Crews and every other victim, even those who have yet to come forward – is everlasting.

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