Terry Crews: "I beat my father up."

I interviewed Terry Crews at the 2014 What Makes a Man Conference in Toronto. The conference creates conversations around ending toxic ideas of masculinity. Terry was the keynote speaker.

I: What has been the best part of immersing yourself in this work over the past couple of days?

T: The best part of giving your energy in this way is that in giving it, you are basically cementing yourself in something good. I find that the more I talk about things, the more I commit to things, the more it becomes a part of me. There's no going back now. Once you put yourself out there and you unite yourself with a cause, there's a sense of permanence, a sense of never giving up, never quitting. There's a sense of family. Sometimes in different environments you feel alone, especially in male culture. You think, "No one thinks like I do." But that's not true. Going around this conference, to feel supported and see that the light is coming on for a lot of people, it's encouraging.

I: Of all the men you are friends with, what is one characteristic that they have in common that endears them to you?

T: I have a very small circle of men that I trust, and the thing that we all have in common is that we have no secrets. We tell each other everything. We ask each other, "How do you feel? How are things going?" People ask "How are you doing?" and say, "I'm fine." But my circle says, "Man, it ain't working today. I'm mad. I'm pissed." Or, "Things really are good. " Men need to do that with each other. I've seen it with women. Men need the same thing too and once you find that, it's really valuable. We're honest with each other. There are times where men just need to be listened to.

What is one of the most beautiful things you've ever heard a woman say?

T: My wife, when she looks at me and she tells me, "You're the man." I'm telling you, it is something that I can't explain in a lot of ways because you know..that's what you want to be. As a little boy I was trying to find what it takes to be one and then when she tells me that, it's good. It's beautiful. Like, "Okay I'm doing it." It's one of the most beautiful things a man can hear because that's what he wants. We need to do away with hypermasculinity, which doesn't exist. That stuff is a myth. But when you're talking about being a real man, it's beautiful. Being a real woman is beautiful. And I'm not talking about gender roles, I'm talking about purposes. Why are you here? What is your purpose to your wife, your kids, your friends? That's what it's all about.

What is the purpose of finding your purpose?

T: The purpose of finding your purpose is so that you have direction. I've been aimless, and aimless is not a good place to be. The happiest I've ever been is going for something. And the funny thing is, when you get it…"Next!" It's the search, going for your goal, finding what you want to do. I used to always want to just get there, but now I'm finding you have to enjoy your journey because that's where all the fun is.

I: What is one of the greatest things your daughters have taught you?

T: My daughters taught me the value of sensitivity, because I wasn't. I have four, and two are adults. I tell them, "I messed you guys up because I wasn't a good dad. So would you like cash, cheque or charge?" But no, when I see them and I look at them and they teach me how everyone on earth is someone's daughter, and you respect that. I spent years addicted to pornography, which is a thing that objectifies women and treats them as parts and property. I got into rehab and revamped my views and it took a lot of work but I began to see all women as family members and viable people, which pornography doesn't do. And it's weird because my daughters taught me that: everyone is someone's daughter. 

Check out Terry Crews' book "How to be a Better Man-or Just Live with One" on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Manhood-Better-Man-Just-Live-ebook/dp/B00H6JHR5E

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