You Need To Hear Terry Crews’ Views On Domestic Violence
- Shaniqua Benjamin
It's been a week of stories surrounding domestic violence in the NFL, sparking another wave of hashtag activism. Shaniqua talks about one of the most powerful responses from former NFL player, Terry Crews, and why he is a pivotal voice in the discussion around violence against women
After a video emerged this week of NFL player Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer Rice, and knocking her unconscious, he is the name that has been on many people’s lips.
Rice was initially punished with a two-game suspension by the NFL, however, after major uproar and a potentially debilitating backlash by the women who make up about 45% of its fan base, the NFL made the decision to suspend Rice indefinitely.
This delicate situation sparked off various hashtags such as #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. There were a huge number of responses and reactions, from those in the media and the public alike – sports reporter Kimberly Jones tweeted, “The Ray Rice situation is a debacle. Shouldn’t the prosecutor & judge – men – who allowed Rice to avoid prosecution answer some questions?”
One of the most powerful responses came from a former NFL player. Actor Terry Crews opened up about domestic violence on Entertainment Tonight, speaking not only about the Ray Rice incident, but also about his personal experience with domestic violence.
“It was essential for a ‘stereotypically’ masculine man like Crews to speak out, as it forces others to sit up and listen, while also challenging the ideals of what makes a man a ‘real man’. “
Crews said: “When I saw the video I was immediately taken back to my childhood. This is the way I grew up. I used to watch this happen over and over again. It was a post-traumatic stress experience for me. I used to watch my father hit my mother in the face and watch her go down and there was some things that just affected me more than I don’t think anyone could realise.”
It was refreshing to hear a man be that open about his past experiences and the effect that it had on him, because there are so many males who would perceive that as a sign of weakness. One of the most important things about Crews making these particular comments is that he is a muscular black man, a former NFL player and an individual who, in society’s view, is not supposed to show vulnerability; yet he was willing to speak out and take a stand on an issue that is poisoning so many people’s lives.
For some reason, if a man thinks that it is wrong to beat up a woman (because they actually see women as equals) then that makes them less of a man. Crews has found himself faced with this kind of negativity – “Because of my stance on domestic violence and standing [up] for women I have tons of men coming at me like, ‘You are a punk, you are a punk, look at you, get your skirt and go pop your pecs somewhere’”.
I knew backlash would happen. But I ain’t scared. I won’t stop until every woman on earth is recognized as an equal. — terrycrews (@terrycrews) September 12, 2014
However, this goes further than domestic violence. If you scratch the surface, you’ll uncover the deep-rooted issue regarding masculinity within the NFL that has seeped in from wider society. Jane K. Stoever wrote: “Unfortunately, the series of events in this case – the initial abuse then the victim-blaming, and the NFL’s response – is not unique to the hyper-masculine culture of the NFL, but is a microcosm of what occurs in our society more broadly.”
Although many women have made their views on this issue crystal clear, it was essential for a ‘stereotypically’ masculine man like Crews to speak out, as it forces others to sit up and listen, while also challenging the ideals of what makes a man a ‘real man’. In the USA, NFL players are seen as heroes, which makes it only right for Terry Crews to use this heroism to stand up for women.
I was not surprised to hear that Ray Rice had attacked his now-wife because there are continuous reports of sports stars committing violent crimes, but that doesn’t change how I feel. I find this behaviour inexcusable and I am glad that Terry Crews made comments that shine a light on the issue of domestic violence. There is a severe lack of respect for women, especially in the world of sports, and until men’s mentalities change and a whole lot more is done to address a problem that has been rampant for some time, cases like this will continue to persist. As Crews says: “…men, we’re responsible. It starts with us.”