Richard Cole

Richard Cole

Men’s role in the #MeToo movement

  • By Richard Cole
  • Friday, February 2, 2018 6:51am
  • Opinion

Me too … I’ve benefited from the privileges provided from being a male in our society.

Me too … I’ve used controlling behaviors in my relationships.

Me too … I’ve used pressure tactics in my romantic relationships to get my physical wants fulfilled.

Me too … I’ve remained silent as I’ve witnessed men and boys behave in a manner that is belittling or degrading to women and girls.

Me too… I’ve used “humor” that minimizes women.

It is absolutely important that men be involved in the Me Too Movement. It is important that we hear and support the voices of women and girls. It is important that we be allies.

Be an Ally

Allyship means we recognize that the women in our lives don’t need men to be “heroes” or “saviors.” They need us to be honest and accountable for the roles we’ve played, and for the ways in which we have benefited, from the oppression of women. Allyship means that we recognize that women are their own heroes and saviors, and support them in that work. That we are supportive of women in their efforts toward equity, understanding and leadership. Allyship means that we listen to hear and understand, not to provide answers or solutions. It means that we come to an awareness of some uncomfortable truths about what men teach and are taught in our society. It’s about celebrating women’s voices, not interjecting our own.

Without equity, without an adjustment to the power dynamic, without a recognition of privilege, then we are not true allies. As a man, I am aware I carry privilege. I recognize that throughout my life most positions of power in my world have been filled by other men (particularly other white, Christian, “straight” men). This has been true in law enforcement, the courts, media, corporate ownership and government. While I can recognize that there has been progress and change in our society over time, it is incumbent on me to also recognize that we have miles to go in order to achieve any kind of real equity. I also recognize that as a person with privilege, it is important that I be involved in the work and that I be supportive of women’s voices (and of others that have had their voices limited, whether it be due to: race, gender-identity/expression, sexual orientation, or religion).

I am privileged to work with the women at AWARE in their efforts to support and give voice to women and children. In my work with AWARE, using the materials and curriculum of Men Stopping Violence, I have learned that men use pressure tactics, controlling behaviors, and violence because:

It works.

They can.

They’ve learned to.

In my efforts I have made missteps and said things that I came to realize were thoughtless or insensitive. I have spoken from my experience of privilege. It has sometimes been embarrassing and humbling. It’s often been difficult. It has always been a privilege.

The work of men in this movement is to be accountable. The work of men in this movement is to recognize. The work of men in this movement is to support, and when needed, to get out of the way. The work of men in this movement is to listen. Listen to hear. Listen to empathize. Listen to understand. The work of men in this movement is to be allies.

Listen to their voices. They are our mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, partners, wives and friends. It is their movement. Be an ally.

If you would like more information on how to be a more active ally and what opportunities there are to take part in supporting the women and girls of our community, please contact AWARE at 523-4942, or 586-4902. You can also reach us at

Richard Cole, as an employee of AWARE, facilitates the Men at Work program used in accountability classes for men in the community as well as at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center. He resides in Juneau.

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