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Volume 10, Number 3
May/June 1994

Model Mugging Teaches Girls 'Nonvictim' Attitudes—And How to Kick Men Where It Hurts


Boys from a rival school were taunting 17-year-old Dorothy Stam, a senior at Concord Academy in Massachusetts, as she tried to deliver a serve at a school volleyball game. "They were whistling at our team and being obnoxious," Stam says, "but the referee wasn't doing anything."

Yet she was able to shrug off the catcalls and stay focused on her serve. Stam attributes her internal fortitude to a self-defense program called Model Mugging, tailored to women and girls, in which she had participated at school several months earlier. She could hear her self-defense instructor's voice inside her as she stood at the service line, saying, "C'mon, Dorothy, do it!"

"So I kept on serving the balls harder and harder," she recalls. "The harassment didn't mess me up."

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.