Steven Eggleston, a southern California lawyer, is suing his former law firm, Bisnar/Chase, stemming from his refusal to attend an all male “New Warrior Training” weekend retreat to get him in touch with his mature masculinity. The news story in the ABA Journal Mobile and in the Orange County Register, Lawyer alleges sexual harassment in suit over male retreat, gives an entire new meaning to what my golf buddies call “the time to man up” except that they’re referring to hitting a long tee shot across an expansive hazard and not to the kind of manning up alleged by personal injury lawyer Eggleston in his lawsuit.
In Eggleston v. Bisnar/Chase, Eggleston alleges he faced hazards of a different kind than say, a forced carry over an endless waste bunker that my fellow golfers might challenge each other about.
In his first cause of action, which is for sexual harassment, Eggleston alleges he was “subjected to a sexually hostile work environment in which he was pressured to attend a seminar that pried into his personal sex life, including touching a wooden dildo, attending meetings with naked men, and stripping naked in front of other men.”
Bisnar/Chase denies Eggleston’s allegations and says the termination was performance related and that the suit is “a shakedown.” But Eggleton says he was constructively discharged for refusing his boss’s repeated demands that he attend the seminars presented by The Manhood Project, which he alleges featured such activities as:
“A “trust walk” where attendees were stripped naked, blindfolded, and then led on a walk through the woods holding the hand of one of the supervising men.
The men in the smoke hut passed around a wooden phallus and as each man held the wooden phallus, he was asked to graphically describe a sexual life experience.
In Eggleston’s Complaint, mention is also made of an Internet story that further explains this particular smoke hut exercise and how a supervisor would tell attendees that they could place their hand on the member of the man next to them but if a man did not want his genitals to be touched, “he was free to remove the hand.
Now the Manhood Project is one thing but I remember the Man’s Movement of the 1990’s when, for example, poet and writer Robert Bly preached masculine pride. He urged men to tap into their inner “Wild Man” at workshops he taught where men beat on drums and tapped into their “wild nature.” While some said the man’s movement was a response to the feminist movement, Bly instead said he advocated a “gentle” and responsible masculinity.”
Now fast forward to the present. Who knew the man’s movement, or at least this version of it was still around in 2010? But in Orange County, California, there’s at least one lawyer who odds are, wishes it still wasn’t.