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Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek Share Their Experiences with Sexual Harassment

Standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 245 pounds, former NFL linebacker Terry Crews came forward last week with his own personal experiences with sexual assault from a Hollywood executive. Crews presented this information in the wake of the Weinstein allegations that have been flooding media platforms.

Over 48 women have admitted to being assaulted or harassed by the film producer, Harvey Weinstein, including Asia Argento, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie, while many more actors, such as Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, and George Clooney, have expressed their disgust and disdain for the ongoing occurrence of assault throughout Hollywood. Weinstein denied all allegations and claimed all interactions were consensual. Since this revelation, more and more individuals are coming forward about Weinstein and other powerful people in Hollywood, which is incredibly heartbreaking, but also equally empowering for victims.

Crews tweeted in support of these victims, stating that he recognizes why women often do not come forward about sexual assault, especially in an industry where your career can be on the line. He admitted that he did not come forward about his experience either because of the powerful hierarchy that surrounds Hollywood’s industry.

His tweets referred to an event he attended with his wife where the assault occurred. He admits knowing exactly what it feels like to not want to report something like this, especially when you are up against some of the most powerful people.

CNN reported that Crews talked to some people that worked with the unnamed executive after the incident. The next day, Crews got a call from the executive, in which he apologized, “but never really explained why he did what he did,” as Crews stated.

Continuing his tweets of this experience, Crews said, “I decided not to take it further because I didn’t want to be ostracized – par for the course when the predator has power and influence…”

Crews tweeted a total of 16 times on the subject and continues to provide a voice for victims of sexual assault. His bravery and strength is notable, as it has opened conversation for male abuse victims, whose assault experiences are not often discussed.

Crews is not the only victim of male sexual assault in Hollywood. James Van Der Beek has also come forward and revealed his own story of sexual harassment. In response to Weinstein’s allegations, Van Der Beek stated, “I’ve had my ass grabbed by older, powerful men, I’ve had them corner me in inappropriate sexual conversations when I was much younger.” Van Der Beek claims he felt similar pressure to keep silent about these actions, and his story is just as important within the Hollywood harassment scandals. Male sexual harassment is often less talked about and not as prevalent within the industry, but it is still happening behind the scenes, and Crews’ and Van Der Beek’s stories can hopefully inspire change in the workplace for both men and women.

However, some women had a negative reaction to Crews’ and Van Der Beek’s  tweets because their experiences immediately gained attention compared to women’s experiences, which have been much more severe. Women are brutally raped and sex-trafficked all over the world at an alarming rate. Crews’ vulnerability is respected, but it also creates a controversy because it takes attention away from the women who experienced harsher mistreatment. Simultaneously, it speaks to the common discourse that a man needs to say something for it to become important enough for change.

In spite of this justified criticism, Crews’ tweets also provide an example of how men – whether they have been sexually assaulted or not – can speak out against such vile harassment. While this may be an issue that affects women more often than men, no one should be the victim of sexual assault. Women’s voices on harassment should be heard rather than ignored – as they so often are – but men need to raise their own voices against harassment as well.

Many people ask, “Why don’t women press charges against their attacker?” Crews explained that there are power dynamics within Hollywood that make legal action difficult because one’s career can quickly be taken away, but for people in other, less illustrious industries, people don’t press charges for a number of reasons: because of power relations in the workplace, because they are often not believed, because they feel shame and embarrassment, and because of other factors that make it difficult for them to feel comfortable and speak the truth.

By revealing this intimate information, Terry Crews adds a powerful voice to the conversation of the Weinstein scandal and victims of sexual assault beyond Hollywood. His story and sincere concern for Weinstein’s victims exemplify how one can use their platform to elevate issues too often swept under the rug.

He also reminds us that sexual assault can happen to men, too. Sexual abuse and harassment can happen to anyone, and the more people speak up and stand against it, the more we can grow as a community to prevent future misconduct.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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