You may know him as the face of Old Spice, or as Bedlam in Deadpool 2 or as the yogurt-loving Terry Jeffords in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, we know Terry Crews as an actor, an artist, one of the most thoughtful voices in gender criticism and our keynote speaker for our 8th annual YWHISPER Fundraising Gala.
For many, a feminist, women-centred organization announcing Terry Crews as the keynote speaker piqued their interest and probably resulted in some head tilts as they asked ‘why’. Well, the answer lies in his ongoing efforts to speak up and speak out for changes to modern day masculinity and what ‘being a man’ really means.
In 2014, Terry Crews published the book Manhood: How to Be A Better Man – Or Just Live With One chronicling his journey to become a good man: from growing up with an abusive father to the NFL to his breakout as a film and television star. His autobiography kickstarted his outspoken advocacy against modern masculinity, often referring to it as toxic masculinity.
For those who may not have encountered this term, toxic masculinity does not mean that being a man is bad, or that there are no good men in the world. To break it down, masculinity refers to a specific set of qualities traditionally associated with men like strength and boldness. For the purpose of defining when masculinity becomes toxic, we went to The Good Men Project which explained that masculinity becomes toxic when specific “standards of behaviour are encouraged and enforced despite being damaging” like “dominance, violence, unchecked sexual aggression, self-reliance to the point of absurdity and the devaluation of anything seen as being ‘feminine’”. The reality is, almost every single person reading this has encountered toxic masculinity at some point in their lives.
When the #MeToo movement broke last year, Crews was one of the first male actors in Hollywood to speak out, sharing his own story of sexual assault at the hands of a powerful executive in the ever dimming Tinseltown. He cites his reason for coming forward as based on the negative public treatment women were experiencing sharing their stories: from being called liars and fame seekers to being threatened for speaking up. Crews has a long history of calling out aspects of our society and culture that he views as harmful.
As the largest and longest serving women’s organization in Calgary, we know that men and boys are important allies and partners in helping end gender-based violence. We believe that only together can we truly create safer and more equitable communities in our city. We are proud to host Terry Crews this November 20, 2018.