If any human male still questions their own manhood, and allows that identity crisis to affect the way they live their life, then Terry Crews, the football playing, comedy, action and Old Spice acting, muscle monster has wisdom toward a solution. In an interview with Elamin Abdelmahmoud, re-posted and analyzed by Jezebel, Crews dispels the myth of manhood, and is very convincing in his arguments about how such myths are harmful. It’s a surprising and beautiful step toward “true gender equality,” as he puts it.
“You have to know you are already valuable,” remarks Crews. According to the ex-athlete turned film and commercial star, “feminism” scares men, as it’s erroneously defined as a means to control the male gender. The real control is in the hands of those feeding the idea that men should feel more valuable than other genders; Crews says, “men have been manipulated for years.” And that manipulation is the “Man Code.”
Crews, now a spokesperson for gender equality, said fellow men question his position and invoke this dude law, to which Crews replies, “does Man Code work when it’s your daughter who gets raped… [or] when your mom gets abused?” If I understand Crews correctly, the Man Code influences men to be silent about, so tacitly accepting of, unequal gender roles, and of abuse that is occurring everywhere, from the top of celebrity lifestyle to everyday human interaction.
To Crews, the solution lies in being able to see people as equals, not as property or, to extrapolate, opponents. He says, “The problem is how you see them versus you,” about how men see women and often other men; this can be applied across all gender relations. Crews comments that we’re fighting not against certain people, but against a “mindset.”
After telling Abdelmahmoud about explaining to his son that it’s ok to show fear, Crews incites all men to admit when they are afraid or feel inadequate, as men are most often told to hold such emotional material in. The Man Code has no place for feelings. He says, “every man wants intimacy,” talking about the invented need to conquer many a lady, shared among far too many men unable to deal with the very real desire to be not only loved but “known.” All this from a man whose bicep is the size of my torso.
What’s the takeaway here? Mostly, Crews simplifies the issues down to easily digestible ideas, such as our mindsets are twisted and should be changed. Also, men should speak out about topics that they’re taught should remain in silence. Anyone who’s silent, however, is complicit in acceptance of behavioral problems that we could and should strive to do away with. Crews even likens the mindset we have as that of the Taliban and ISIS; that’s one hell of a wakeup call.
If you’re to follow Crews’ reasoning, then the entire foundation of manhood ends up looking pretty shaky. Manliness is generally about winning and being the alpha among prizes and fodder, and that only creates more objectification. This doesn’t mean we all have to sit around in circles and expound on feelings–this is not how everyone deals with conflict–but the point is that conflict is dealt with in a way that’s founded on equality. If someone tells you that it’s manly to have a list of ladies conquered notched on the headboard of your bed made out of trees that you kicked over, you’re speaking to a profoundly insecure and fearful human.
Basically, if a muscly ex-football player is softly reminding us to be vocal and feel our own worth, then classic visions of manhood are of no use anymore. To be a man who’s ok with his fear and self worth in this world atmosphere is difficult, this is true, but that just means manhood’s gotta change.
For more of Crews’ musings on manhood, read his book Manhood: How to Be a Better Man- or Just Live with One. I feel like a better man already.