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I was six years old.
I was in a hospital room in the children’s ward of Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, in a bed, after a surgery.
I was the only patient in the room at the time.
My dad was on his way in to see me, but had not yet arrived.
The nurse entered on the right.
She checked my temperature.
A man entered.
He wore a white coat like a doctor. He moved quickly and quietly to the left side of my bed. To this day, if I had to, I could pick him out in a line up. I will never forget his face: wire framed glasses, beard, moustache, small round face, slight build, thin, five and a half feet tall, eyes darting left and right before they settled on me.
“I need to check,” he whispered.
He lifted the bed sheets, and put his left hand under my robes and began to fondle my penis and testicles.
His own right hand was in what appeared to be his pocket.
Then he groaned.
He removed his right hand, and touched my abdomen and left what I now realize must have been semen.
I was not frightened.
I was not angry.
I felt nothing—which is a very bad thing for a six-year old boy.
I kept looking to the door to see if the nurse would come back, to explain what was happening.
Then the man quietly walked away.
To this day, as I go about my business, say walking down the street, and I turn my head and look behind, I see them all: manifestations of my fear, anger, envies, regrets and resentments, all personified like goons. Before me, are my joys and good fortune, but they are in my present and I hope, in my future, while this is about the manifestations of the past. They are a motley bunch of characters—cartoons. I imagine waving my hand at them, and they all vanish; except for him. He is still there, in silence, standing, not moving: eyeglasses, beard, white coat, darting eyes—no expression on his small round face. He will be there on the day I die standing by the portal as I pass through to the unknown. I have no fear, no anger when I think of him. I have just a void.
Life being life, something happened again.
I was twelve years old.
In those days, kids could get into movie theaters that showed R-rated films. The movie we were watching was “Pendulum”—some murder story. The large movie theater was on Bainbridge Avenue near 204th Street. It was one of the hottest days of the year. After the movie, my friends left, but the air conditioning was great. I decided to stay, alone.
The theater held about 300 people, but there must have been no more than 20 in it at the time. I sat alone near the front, on the left aisle. No one was near me for the first half of the movie. Then, a man came and moved across me and sat on my left. He had a cup of coffee. I remember the coffee as an irrelevant detail. He leaned back, slipped his hand into his pants and began to play with himself. I saw the bulge of his penis through his pants. He took out his penis.
I could have moved, but I chose to stay, partly due to the memory of a “doctor.” This was a deep-seated desire to figure out what that “doctor” had done. Furthermore, I was fascinated with what an erection looked like. After about fifteen minutes or so, I got up and left.
Something happened again.
Years later, at 19 years old, I was working at the NY Public Library—a job to pay for college. One day, my manager sent me downstairs to help one of the other managers remove dated material from the card catalogs. In the quiet of that day, one of the managers came up to me, put his arm around me and propositioned me.
“I know a man who’d suck the cock of anyone your age,” he said, while he squeezed my shoulders and pushed his crotch against my arm. I pulled back. I lifted his arm off me. I smiled at him, and said “no, no.” We remained friends for my time there.
My career took off. I found happiness within myself. Finally, I met a woman. We have been married for 20 years now with two kids of our own. Today, I am sixty and have a wonderful wife and a great life. I suppose you can say I am in the top 5%, despite having begun in the bottom 10% in a very poor family.
Yes, I chose to stay in that movie theater. I could have left. I made a decision at the age of 12, and I own it with no regrets. The act of owning it has enabled me to see it as a benign incident, and that has enabled me to move past it. Thus, you can imagine what I think of Terry Crews.
Terry Crews is a 40-year old former bodybuilder/football player, who was groped in the open, before witnesses. I have listened to his testimony before Congress and it rings false to me. He said “it” lasted minutes, but he also said he reacted immediately: this is contradictory. Seriously, count out three minutes and imagine Crews standing in the open, before his wife, while another man held his balls for 180 seconds. I call bullshit. In his testimony, I hear too many melodramatic expressions, too many rehearsed aphorisms, but no passionate self-reflective doubt. I see him change tracks in his mental recordings too easily. I see him turn the ignition on programmatic responses. I hear him restructuring a minor incident within the framework of a fiction called toxic masculinity.
At the age of 12, I knew that I could have stood up and left that movie theater. However, I wanted to see what that man was doing. If I had turned myself into a victim, I would have denied my conscious decision and this would have burned the bridge to wellness. I would have never owned my decisions, or my eventual transcendence above them.
The man who propositioned me in the library was just an older man who did not know better. Today, if he is alive, he is likely 90. I hope he is happy; I really do; he was not a monster or a member of a cult. Yes, it shook me up for just a moment, but that was all.
The first incident, when I was six, was a real sexual assault; it was evil knocking on my door. However, that “doctor” did not manifest “toxic masculinity.” He was a pervert. I know the difference.
I was a six-year old boy. Crews was a 40-year old bodybuilder who was groped for less than a few seconds. Terry Crews suggests he suffered PTSD. Six-year old boys have no power. Crews had an arm for self-defense and it happened in the open.
I do believe Terry Crews was surprised by a three-second grope. I do believe he was confused by a three-second grope out in the open, with witnesses. I do not believe he is a victim. When he asserts he suffers PTSD, he undermines every soldier who returns from war, unable to reconcile their fundamental Kansas-goodness, with the same soldier who kills the enemy.
Crews’ claim to PTSD, if unchecked, undermines how I made a conscious decision to remain in that movie theater. When he asserts PTSD, he trivializes what I experienced as a six-year old boy. If that was all Crews did, I would relegate him, in my mind, to a player on the stage of a comedy—a buffoon, a clown, a jester. If that were all he did, I would not even write this.
However, he moved past that. He validates the phrase “toxic masculinity” and then suggests it is a cult. A cult. A cult!
When he validates a “cult of toxic masculinity,” he has crossed a bridge too far.
He has opened the gates over the bridge, so now I will cross it, too.
The world is simple: there are great men; there are good men (every man I know); there are bad men (my librarian and Crews’ agent); and there are evil men (my “doctor”). The same holds for women.
We use those simple adjectives to describe men (or women). We do not affix words like “toxic” to a gender. One does not fix an adjective to a religion, a race or a gender. Compare “The cult of toxic masculinity” with “The cult of Radical Islam.” How can any reasoned and objective person validate the former, while repudiating the latter?
Masculinity, in its good facets, is beautiful, creative and powerful. I love the facet of self-responsibility, stoicism (not in its pejorative), modesty and introspection—not a singular facet evinced by Crews’ arias.
I do not sing my experiences. Yes, I do it here, but only to ensconce my rejection of Crews in a world infected by Oprah Winfrey and her cheap talk-show philosophy that personal experience alone is the currency of wisdom. Crews inflates a minor incident to conflate masculinity with evil, while he parades like a diva before a close-up. His incident does not even rise to a tragic play, for I see nothing in him worth emulating. He is neither tragic nor comic; at most, he is a character in a 1960’s Saturday morning cartoon.
A cult of toxic masculinity?
Are men like Crews creating a tangent Arlington National Cemetery? Do we now replace the Congressional Medal of Honor with “I am a survivor?” Will we now have our Marines, risking their lives on a bridge too far, singing, instead of the “Halls of Montezuma,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive?”
I am not suggesting that men should not talk about the events of their lives. Talk, reflect, discuss, and write. However, talk about it in the arms of a loved one; talk under the guidance of a therapist’s office; talk with a spiritual advisor; talk with close friends; talk under the moonlight; but don’t do it like Crews before Congress, a.k.a. Gloria Swanson before Hollywood; e.g.: “I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.”
A cult of toxic masculinity?
I am also not suggesting that men have not done bad things: men can; and men have done the great things; and masculinity has always kept the bad in check, while fertilizing aspirations to the good. However, to embrace and then promulgate a revolting and unsubstantiated phrase designed to hobble the goodness of masculinity for personal gain is symptomatic of a Eunuch posturing like a peacock, unaware that his testicles have long-ago been popped like Styrofoam peanuts.
A cult of toxic masculinity?
How about an Opera for Mr. Crews: “The Day Someone Squeezed my Balls.” Of course, a soprano would have to sing his role for the three seconds he hits the high C—or maybe he just sings it.
He has crossed several bridges too far.
Terry Crews glorified a grope to mount the pink pedestal of performative pain while pinching his nipples, as he farts words about the “cult of toxic masculinity.” In so doing, he tosses—one after the other—good men (decent men, trying to understand their place in a world poisoned by feminism’s razor, disguised as Gillette) under the bus so he can spread his ass cheeks before the candle-lit alter of toxic feminist victimhood.
Individual men acted against me, and if I saw it as a cult of evil, I would have never moved beyond it—it would have seemed impenetrable. These incidents made me who I am, and I am grateful I was never indoctrinated to claim victimhood. Please do not extend to me, any compassion (the feelings we have for equals). I do not need or want it, for this is in my past. Yes, I could have done without the “doctor” in my consciousness. However, that is the hand life’s dealer dealt to me. Reserve for Crews, your pity (the feelings we have for fools).
I am not Terry Crews.
I am not a victim.
I am not a survivor.
I am a son and a brother.
I am a husband in a strong and loving marriage with a woman who is my partner.
I am a father.
I am a man.
I chose the pseudonym Anonymous for two reasons. Mostly, if any person who supports Crews reads this, they may get irritated and I do not have the power nor time to engage with self-serving stupidity, arrogance and delusions. Furthermore, my children are still young and my wife and I decided to hold off telling them about the incidents of my life. The only person who knows who I am is Paul Elam and it will stay this way. That said, the events in this essay are true, and the opinions are mine.