Brendan Fraser and Terry Crews (Photos: Getty Images)

OPINION

We need men in the #MeToo movement

When Terry Crews and Brendan Fraser came forward with their experiences of sexual abuse, they showed that even action heroes can be abused

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By Amy Jones on

Yesterday, GQ published their interview with actor and once-omnipresent film star Brendan Fraser. It’s a charming, touching interview, full of tidbits such as how Fraser rescued a horse named Pecas – the Spanish word for freckles – which bonded with his autistic son, and how halfway through the interview he takes a break to fire arrows in order to calm himself down. And then, almost right at the end, is the revelation that, back in 2003, Brendan Fraser was sexually harassed by Philip Berk, former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Fraser says that Berk reached out to shake his hand in the middle of a crowded room. However, instead of a handshake, Berk pinched his bum – something Berk actually writes about in his memoir. For the first time, Fraser has revealed what happened next: “His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around.”

Although Fraser was able to remove Berk’s hand, he reports that: “I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry.” He left immediately, not reporting what had happened to the police officer standing outside the room, and went home, where he told his then-wife what had happened to him. He thought about speaking out about what happened, but decided that he “didn't want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative".

For the record, Berk has said that “Mr Fraser's version is a total fabrication” and when asked to apologise for his behaviour he gave the kind of “I’m sorry if you were upset” nonpology that alleged sexual abusers and harassers are now famous for.

 I don’t understand how you can see Fraser finally speaking about this, or Terry Crews sharing his experience back in October, and think that we shouldn’t be including men

It is, obviously, utterly horrible that this has happened to Fraser. In the interview, he talks about the way the experience affected him that summer and in subsequent years: he found himself becoming depressed, blaming himself for what had happened and retreating from view, losing his sense of himself, losing his drive for work and ultimately feeling like “in my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me". The interview’s headline is “What Ever Happened To Brendan Fraser?” and this appears to be the answer: he was sexually harassed and it affected him so much that he retreated into himself and away from the public eye for almost a decade.

Ever since the #MeToo movement started, some women have been questioning whether we should be allowing men to join the movement. After all, aren’t they the ones who are doing most of the harassing and abusing in the first place? Aren’t they just going to talk over women and make it all about them? But I don’t understand how you can see Fraser finally speaking about this, or Terry Crews sharing his experience back in October, and think that we shouldn’t be including men and anyone else who has experienced sexual harassment or abuse with open arms.

The experience Fraser had – of feeling like it was his fault, of running home, of not wanting to have this one experience define his life – is one countless women have shared. The experience Crews had – of being publicly assaulted but not thinking anyone would believe him – is one we fight against in our justice systems and rape trials every day. Their relative privilege means nothing when it comes to the way they experience sexual abuse, and they deserve our support just as much as the brave women who have publicly shared the horrible things that have happened to them.

Everyone can experience sexual abuse and harassment. It is an evil that knows no demographic

But, selfishly, the strength Crews and Fraser have shown in talking about their sexual assaults is a huge boon for the women of #MeToo. They have shown – nay, proven – that women who experience and are negatively affected by sexual assault aren’t “weak”, and they aren’t whingeing (cheers, Germaine) – they are just human, because no matter your physical and mental strength, sexual abuse is horrific and debilitating. Fraser and Crews are both big, strong men, powerful in body and powerful in mind. And yet men with more societal power felt like they were entitled to touch both of them.

By coming forward, these men have shown that even action heroes can be abused. That everyone can experience sexual abuse and harassment. It is an evil that knows no demographic, no race, no societal background and no gender. So now, please, can we stop questioning the behaviours of the victims, whether or not their reaction is appropriate and whether the problem lies in a “snowflake” generation and ask the real questions instead – ones about the perpetrators of abuse and how they can be stopped, once and for all.

@jimsyjampots

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Brendan Fraser and Terry Crews (Photos: Getty Images)
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#MeToo
Sexual abuse
Men

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