Â Howdy Pardners,
Ok, cue that Johnny Cash song â any Johnny Cash song â so that itâs playing in the background because weâre on a Wild West kind of journey here. Pretty soon youâll hear my dusty boots walking over the crunchy dirt because Iâm going to get right back on the horse that threw me.
Iâm a woman who has built a life out of training women and children to defend against sexual assault. Men? They are the problem ok?Â They have the power and what do I need to worry about them for? I just need to keep getting these strategies out there and empowering women and children with tools to prevent rape.
So far so good, horse is tame, am moving along at aÂ good clip with my efforts. Whoa! Suddenly I get word that school officials at the schools where we teach in Kenya say âHold your horses here, what about the boys? Here you are taking 85 girls from my class and what am I to do with these 79Â boys?â
“Umm’âŚ Â I kid you not, I say â ‘How about I give you soccer balls? Boys love soccerâŚâ
Teacher saysâŚ âOK, fine. But you’d better have classes for boys by 2012 or you canât come here anymore â you got that?â
Oy! Grrrr. Ok, dust settled we all move on. I contact Edgework Consulting in Boston. I say âwe need a boys curriculum to prevent rape. Can you help?âÂ Work begins. We develop a pilot class for boys called âYour Moment of Truthâ â YMOT for short -Â in autumn 2012. The horse is getting spooked for some reason. Whatâs up horse?
I have no idea what Iâm in for.
We start teaching YMOT and the pre-class research comes in and we see how bad things are in the minds of young men. We see how they think about women and rape and the depth of their sense of entitlement. Itâs tragic. Itâs unbelievable. Itâs a trap.
It looks like the only power that many of these boys have access to is the sick kind, Â Â violent Â power – which is no power at all. And I see that they don’t know that yet, they sense it but they don’t yet know that that kind of power includes at least a dozen ways to destroy themselves and others. Â They care, many of them care but they aren’t always sure what caring looks like, for real.
Ok, so now, Iâm pretty much on the ground. Thrown by the horse I rode in on. The belief that I had a womens empowerment program â exclusively â is gone and Iâm totally spooked by the prospect that I now have an equally compelling component to No Means No Worldwide- the empowerment of boys to healthy masculinity and an array of options to deal with the violence that they experience in their daily lives.
People, I donât have the time for this, but mostly I donât have the money! Itâs an entire new program!Â Boys 50% and girls 50% -thereâs no way!
I hear the train a cominâŚ
Ok, (is there anyone still here?) so in case you havenât noticed Iâm in the process of changing a lot of the NMNW literature, to include boys. Iâm not changing the goal â itâs still the prevention of sexual assault but weâre bringing the boys in and we’re creating empowered allies. NMNW male teachers tell me that the boys LOVE our classes, they find them comforting and orienting. Everybody gets IMpower training, everybody walks out of class with new knowledge, new choices and options. I drank the kool-aid. I get the boy piece.
Back on horse. Securely in saddle. Back out on the range: We have a program to prevent sexual assault. We train boys and girls in intervention and prevention.Â Letâs get more research going on the impact of these two programs woring together, side by side in schools.Â To do that, to really, really do that, we need money – because money is support and to continue getting the type of impact numbers we’ve been getting so far, we need to put one hell of a posse together.
I think this is the part of the story where you saddle up and ride with me.
Lee Sinclair, Founder
NO Means NO Worldwide