Actor Terry Crews spoke about the effects of toxic masculinity when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his sexual assault case against agent Adam Venit on Tuesday. The former NFL star, who’s costarred in three of the Sylvester Stallone-led Expendables movies, said he was dropping out of the fourth installment following threats of retaliation from producer Avi Lerner if Crews didn’t halt his lawsuit against Venit and his agency, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
"The producer of that film called my manager and asked him to drop my case in order for me to be in the fourth installment of the movie, and if I didn’t there would be trouble,” Crews said, according to Vulture.
Crews told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was testifying in favor of implementing the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights in all 50 states to “take a stand,” in part against the proverbial boys’ club of those men who protect one another over all else.
“When you look at the culture with men not holding other men accountable, it turns into something that no one wants,” Crews said. “A community that totally looks the other way while men, women, and children are being raped.”
During the height of #MeToo stories people shared last fall, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star accused Venit (who happens to be Stallone’s agent) of groping his genitals at an industry party in 2016 that Crews attended with his wife. Venit also represents accused sexual predators Brett Ratner and Dustin Hoffman.
When Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked if Crews was planning to costar in the next Expendables installment, he called out Lerner, who was sued for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.
“No. Simply because this same producer is under his own investigation,” Crews said, according to Deadline. “Abusers protect abusers — and this is one thing I had to decide whether I was going to draw the line on. Am I going to be a part of this or am I going to take a stand, and there are projects I had to turn down?”
During his testimony, Crews also railed against the culture in Hollywood that was long defined by the notion of the casting couch.
“Hollywood definitely has been a problem area, simply because so many people view this as a dream. And what happens is, someone has power over these dreams,” Crews said, according to Deadline. “And what happens also is that you get tricked into thinking that this type of behavior is expected, that it’s part of the job, that this harassment, abuse, even rape is part of your job description.”
Crews also spoke of the stigma around coming out as someone who’s been sexually harassed or abused.
“I probably would have been laughed out of the police station,” Crews said of the thought of reporting the incident with Venit. “A year later, once the #MeToo movement took full swing, it was safe to come out. When you are victimized, you are now behind enemy lines and you are trying to find a way out … You’re trying to find your way to safety. No one around is going to help you. No one is going to believe you.”
“What happened to me has happened to many many other men in Hollywood, and since I came forward with my story I have had thousands and thousands of men come to me and say ‘Me too, this is my story. But I did not have the confidence, or I did not feel safe enough, to come out,’” Crews said. “Because what happens is you get blacklisted, your career is in danger — after that, no one wants to work with you.”
Proving Crews’s point about rampant toxic masculinity that seeks to silence assault survivors, 50 Cent created an offensive meme that taunted Crews for not responding the way he thought a man should respond — 50 Cent alleged that he would have beaten Venit so badly that he would have had to be “taken to jail,” BuzzFeed News reports.
The disgusting two-part meme featured pictures of Crews with the words “I just got raped. My wife watched” and “Gym time.”
Twitter users went after 50 Cent for his response as being part and parcel of the issues around abuse, but he just doubled down with another meme of Crews, this one reading, “I’m a boy.”