I don't care if you're my boss, I refuse to attend your naked lawyer vision quest dildo party

Attorney Steven Eggleston is suing his employer, saying the top partner at the law firm pressured him to participate in a weekend all-male retreat that amounted to a New Age self-discovery/male bonding sausage-fest—or a naked lawyer dildo party, depending on your point of view. Participants were sworn to secrecy, says Eggleston, and that was what he saw as the first sign something hinky was afoot at the "The New Warrior Training Adventure." Snip from AOL News:

Men would be holding hands and walking naked, blindfolded, through a forest. Then they would sit nude in groups of 30 to 50, passing around a wooden dildo and giving lurid details of their sexual history. Eggleston said he found out that the men will grab each other's penises if they wish.

Eggleston didn't like what he read and refused the invitation. Now he's suing the firm and his bosses, saying he was badgered, yelled at and ultimately had his pay slashed to zero for not attending the retreat, held at a Santa Barbara, Calif., mountain campground and sponsored by the ManKind Project, according to a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court.

The AOL News article goes on to detail the response from ManKind Project (Wikipedia), the organizers of the "bonding retreats. Their website describes the events as "a modern male initiation and self-examination. We believe that this is crucial to the development of a healthy and mature male self, no matter how old a man is. " And, "You will see men mentor other men, support each other, play together and form a safe, authentic container where men are free to be exactly who they are, without defenses or masks. During your training you will stand shoulder to shoulder with an immensely rich mix of masculinity, with occupations and ages as wide as masculinity itself."

Eggleston said in the complaint that he was contacted several times by ManKind Project officials who tried to convince him to attend the event. Part of his research revealed that attendees are told to carpool so they would not be able to leave the event once they got there. [Organizer Marshall] Krupp said the men were told to carpool in groups for their "safety." He also confirmed the nude walks and sit-downs with the dildo.

My take: Hey, look, I've been around the block. While nekkid lawyer dingdong-grapplin' ain't my cup of tea, I have participated in other gatherings that would make "The New Warrior Training Adventure" sound very tame indeed. Vision quest or grope fest, who cares what this thing is as long as they're consenting adults, right?

But if it's true that some element of coercion was involved on the part of Eggleston's employer, that would be A Very Bad Thing.

Years ago at a job-job (before I became a freelance journalist, and before my Boing Boing days), I objected just as strongly to being coerced into doing Meyers-Briggs testing by one employer, and to what I learned later was the testing procedure associated with a particular cult, by another.

Common sense says that being pressured into participating in any kind of alternative therapy, spiritual seeking, religion, cult, or new-agey-self-help stuff by your boss is at the very least, totally not cool. And sometimes it's against the law. The "woo" factor isn't the problem I have with it, the coercion by your freakin' boss is.

What Do You Say to a Naked Lawyer? Here's a Suit

(AOL News, via BB Submitterator, thanks Antinous!)


  1. The New Warrior Training Adventure. Wasn’t that the group in Arizona that had the makeshift sweat lodge where all those people died last year? I know that women were invited to the Arizona camp or whatever, but it still sounds familiar.

    1. not at all, that guy was a rip-off, charging like $6K a week. The NWTA, which I have attended and staffed is quite safe, tough they have traditinally done a sweat. And they do NOT recomend penis groping during the weekend.

  2. Where I work we usually just watch some boring power point presentations. There usually is no dick grabbing whatsoever. But sometimes there is!

  3. A safe, authentic container.

    A safe, authentic container.

    A safe, authentic container.

    Yep, I’ve got my new mantra.

  4. I’ve been to a Mankind Project New Warrior Training Adventure about six years ago. There’s nothing “hinky.” A bunch of men talking about their feelings. It was a little weird but it was also a good learning experience. It seemed to help a lot of the guys there deal with the big issues in their lives. Yes there was a naked sweat lodge thing (no boners). Yes, there was a dildo used as a funny prop in a group discussion about peoples crappy experiences with sex. But there was nothing creepy or forced. We could leave at any time.

    Sure his bosses are jerks if they punished him for not going. Nobody should be forced to go on a new age man retreat. But don’t criticize this organization based on some guys statements. There a legit organization doing good work. Helping men learn how not to be cheating lying stealing violent a-holes. Nothing wrong with that.

    Oh and it was NOT where the people died in a sweat lodge in AZ. That was James Arthur Ray.

    1. Nobody should be forced to go on a new age man retreat.

      Next time I’m picketing, that’s what’s on my sign. No matter what.

      1. Yeah, but I’ll be there with a sign that says, “You should be forced to go on a new age man retreat.”

        And, we can scream at each other. It’ll be fun.

        1. It will certainly confuse the other Westboro Baptists. Still, as long as we’re angry. GRRRRGH!!! ANGRY!!!!

    2. Helping men learn how not to be cheating lying stealing violent a-holes.

      Sorry; but if a man can’t figure out how not to be a cheating lying stealing violent a-hole without going on a retreat where a bunch of men sit around naked, swapping stories about their sex lives, crying on each other’s shoulders, and playing with penises (be they real or plastic), then I don’t really want to work in the same organization with that man. And I certainly wouldn’t want to work in any organization that has such a low view of its male employees that it assumes they need to go to a retreat to learn how not to be cheating lying stealing violent a-holes. (Though, to be fair, this was a law firm; so perhaps that assumption wasn’t all that unreasonable in this particular case.)

  5. Suggested mantras:

    I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it that’s a huge cock!

    The invisible hand of the market is going to give me a reacharound this time!

    The world is my prairie oyster!

  6. I’d wager that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler thinks that Christians should not take part in a naked lawyer dildo party as one “must either deny the reality of what a naked lawyer dildo party represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of naked lawyers.”


  7. This is the modern form of corporate thought hazing, with these group ‘test the limit’ camp outs and sensitivity feel ups.

    Back when I worked for a larger firm, they tried what felt to me a similar week long paid assignment (it wasn’t or I would have walked instantly). I did make sure I went home every evening, no matter how late it was.

    The whole concept rather creeped me out the whole week I was at it. However it was either doing that group feel good event, or resign.

    Fortunately it was alot more benign. Even though the whole concept is rather insidious, and invasive.

    1. Seriously! Forced bonding is one thing. Forced, deliberately exclusionary bonding that trains you to see the world through the lens of gender differences is quite another.

      [In the workplace, of course. I don’t care what you do to make yourself feel better in your personal life].

  8. New age man-introspection thingie, whatever, but attendance demanded by the corporate boss, not kosher in my book.

    Makes me wonder at what point this boss might start holding these group (grope?) bonding events in the executive washroom.

    I vote ick all around.

  9. Eggleston said he found out that the men will grab each other’s penises if they wish.

    Some wish for health. Some wish for happiness. And some wish for corporate male lawyer penis grapplin.

  10. A mandatory weekend long wiener grabbing retreat would suck way more than a lunch meeting.

    Let the lawyers spend their weekends with their families.

  11. Had a job like this in Silicon Valley about 20 years ago. No nekkid lawyers, but highly pressured into prolonged sleep deprivation and breaking down your defenses. Not mandatory, but those who refused definitely felt ostracized by the majority who went (including their bosses.)

  12. Not to derail the thread, but I would love to know more about if you were able to make a successful objection to forced MBTI testing by your employer. My new jobby-job is making me do it, and I’m planning to quietly “get sick” for that day. If there’s a way to say “thanks, but no thanks” with some legal mumbo-jumbo to back it up, I’d love to hear about it!

    1. Sorry to hear it. Yeah, so: I was obstinate and uncooperative during the mandatory Meyers-Briggs testing (and subsequent “therapy” sessions), and I ended up quitting soon after that.

      Perhaps others here can suggest other ways to conscientiously object without putting your job at risk.

      “I don’t want to participate in this, and don’t believe I should be forced to” didn’t work for me at that gig.

  13. I’m curious why a law firm would feel it was so important for the men to bond with each other – are there no female lawyers in the firm?

    And why not just volunteer as an office for the weekend? It’s still a crappy day for most of the employees, but at least there’s no dildo holding.

  14. So, from a legal standpoint, when does a stick stop being a stick and become a dildo? At the time of insertion, or before?

  15. I think some people miss the point. If you want to sit around naked and pass along a wooden dildo and talk about your sexual experiences, cool. But to be forced, coerced and then harassed for not participating? Insane.

    FWIW, it actually reminds me of a Shabbaton experience I had in high school. For those who don’t know, Shabbatons are basically weekend events designed to teach kids about Judaism. Not all of them are horrible and controlling. But in my case, it was sold to us high school kids as “fun trip” to Philadelphia. What ended up happening was we were locked in a hotel and not allowed to leave. They even had muscular orthodox guys with Yarmulkes and Tallis on blocking the doors to leave like reverse bouncers. Horrible.

    The way me and my friends got out? We didn’t plan on it, but turns out smoking pot in your room and making out with a classmate was not part of the Shabboton experience. So we were all sent home right away… Except the girl I was with. Apparently she needed to stay so she could learn about the horrors if intermarriage. I actually passed by her “classroom”—some room in the hotel with a chalkboard that had the words INTERMARRIAGE on it—and got to hug her goodbye.

    Yeah, that’s a tangent. But you know I will never understand people like these naked lawyer dildo assholes who create pseudo cults for what reason.

    Life is too short folks. Common sense and instinct are your brain saying “Look, no time to explain… LEAVE!”

    Also, does The Landmark Forum use Myers-Briggs?

  16. Even little kids know that when the friendly neighbor starts getting creepy it’s time to leave and call the police. Why would lawyers have a problem with the concept?

    1. The problem with the “creepy neighbor/stranger” theory is most abuse like this comes from friends and families. That’s the sad reality.

      Remember Boo Radley. Superficially a creep. But in the end, he was a victim who suffered from the PTSD of an overbearing ultra-religious father.

  17. This corporate douche-baggery pseudo-hazing seriously pisses me off.

    I attended the full weekend workshop at age 22 in 1997 at the behest of my father, I helped staff a weekend workshop in 2000, and also did logistics for MKP members who worked helping hardened criminals (“lifers”) sort out their emotional issues (with the supervision of a trained psychologist). Yup, I sat nekked, handled a 12″ plastic dong, and laughed about my shitty college sex life. It seemed like the most absurd, yet oddly normal thing I’d ever done. It was the first time I’ve ever had a non-macho talk about having sex with a woman (didn’t know how to “make love” then) with my peers and men my father’s and grandfather’s age. The men I met at those events were among the most authentic, emotionally intelligent, and genuinely masculine adult males I’ve ever met. That includes the homosexual men who attended without issue. A few of those guys were among my mentors and role-models in my early to mid-20’s. A few of them subsequently drank me under the table during poker nights. I smoked my first cigar with a 60 year old dude I met through MKP.

    That weekend seriously changed some mens’ lives. It was a positive turn in mine. Nobody was forced to go. Nobody was forced to stay. It wasn’t “new age” and it isn’t a cult. Some men stayed in touch. Some men moved on. Mostly it was good. Crying shame I see articles like this associated with it.

  18. You’d be surprised what a rich source of PTSD some of these business cults are. Introverts should stay far away from this kind of crap.

  19. A while back we had an “outing” at work, and I was pretty resistant. Not up for personal humiliation or stupidity. But I went anyway, relaxed, went with the flow, and actually enjoyed it.

    Humiliation is sometimes a result of not learning to let go a bit.

  20. So what is up with the boss’s insistence that “Eggleston was not a regular employee per se, but rather given a loan that had to be repaid after six months”? Do I smell a tax dodge?

  21. Wait, so I can’t force all my employees to take a week off and go to Burning Man with me next year? I wasn’t even planning to make anyone touch my penis.

    Damn, there goes my theme camp plans.

  22. I think anyone who uses the word “warrior” in anything but a historical sense should be beaten with a 12″ wooden dildo until they promise not to do it again.

    The American military loves to refer to soldiers as “warriors”, apparently because it evokes some image of chivalry and heroism that’s completely at odds with the reality of military life or modern warfare. Scammers selling shitty get-rich-quick schemes tell their prospective marks that they will learn to be “marketing warriors”. And now it seems that the naked penis-grabbing male-bonders are also ‘new warriors’.

    ‘Warrior’ has become one of those warning words that let you know that someone’s about to be sold a bill of goods. Anyone who tells you that they will make you into a ‘warrior’ of any kind is out to scam you.

  23. My experience with these new-agey-self-help-teambuilding outings is that the tone is set by those who attend.

    If everyone there is allready on the same page and mostly have the same agenda, then it really can be a positive experience that helps bring a group closer together.

    However, if just a few of the attendees aren’t on the level, then yeah, all of it probably will turn into hazing at some point.

    Wich is why it’s ALWAYS a stupid idea to make these things mandatory.

  24. I’m willing to take the previous commenters who have actually attended ManKind Project workshops that they are not as creepy or weird as they may sound on paper and are genuinely helpful to those who attend.

    However, if I were to attend a workshop where I was going to come to grips with my feelings, sexuality etc. the last people I would want to be there with were my co-workers. I don’t even necessarily have an issue with the firm offering the event but they should be upfront about the nature of the activities involved and allow people who are not interested to back out gracefully.

    1. As someone who has been there … it is unusual for co-workers or bosses to be a part of a man’s process in that way … and when it happens, it is up to the man attending whether he wants that person in the room. This is also common for Fathers and Sons – the staff and leadership are super-sensitive about power-dynamics and relationships – and work to insure that the men going through have the safety they need to get what they want. It’s a highly ethical and sensitive process.

      PS – many seem to think this is a lawyer thing … it’s a thing for all kinds of men, blue collar to CEO and everything in between.

  25. Take a look at this – – Phearing the Phallus – makes clear that the allegation about touching another man’s genitals is false. The claim is also refuted on another page of the ManKind Project site. The organization has never asked that of any man. It’s not part of the protocol for the training (and I know this from experience).

    I’ve been a part of the ManKind Project for over 6 years. We challenge men to cut the BS and start living with emotional intelligence and a sense of purpose beyond their narrow self-interest. ‘Soft’ men and ‘Macho’ men alike WAKE UP during this training – and get skills to improve on their success and create better relationships; with themselves, their wives, their kids, and yes even their bosses. I’ve been to ‘corporate retreats’ all over the USA. The New Warrior Training Adventure is NOT a retreat, and G*d help you if you expect it to be.

    I turn 40 in January. I’m happily married for 5 years to a beautiful, adventurous and mature woman. I own my own company. I have connections to men and women that few men can even understand, much less cultivate. I have dozens of men who know me, love me, and who have my back through anything. I have a clear sense of who I am, why I’m here and what I’m passionate about. I’m not sleep-walking through my life. This Training, that seems to threaten so many people, helped me get here. I faced what scared me, and I’m a more powerful man because of it.

    Guys who walk around with a mask on trying to hide what’s actually going on are both predictably transparent and painfully boring, in my opinion.

    As for the ‘coercion’, the truth will win out. This is a titillating lawsuit, but it’s bs.

    1. That sounds remarkably like the kind of prefabricated pep talk that cult members always use to defend their cults. Or possibly like a review of the Three Wolf Moon shirt.

  26. Yes, a lot like S&B — or other secretish societies that shall not be mentioned, or Dick Cheney’s VP search committee? Classic move — get a group of people you have to manage to depose their most sensitive secrets.

    Sounds a little like Facebook, too.

  27. What do you say to a naked lawyer?
    What do you say to a naked lawyer?
    What do you say to a naked lawyer?
    Earl-y in the morning?

  28. I think it is an employees right not to be subjected to sex magick rituals. If such things are a requirement of employment, they need to be listed up front.

      1. Whirlyball does sound like fun. Forced playdates with people from Dilbert-ian headquarters whom I spent all day trying to avoid, not fun.

        1. I’ve always taken advantage of the fact that I’m in a bleepin’ bumper car and rammed the crap out of icky coworkers all with the cover of “going for the ball”.

          What can I say? I play ice hockey all year long. Whirlyball’s right up the alley of things I call “fun”.

  29. the first rule of naked lawyer vision quest dildo party is…

    this ‘mankind’ group has a ‘cult’ vibe to it…and according to wiki, there’s a non-disclosure agreement involved, screw that!

  30. I’d never heard of Myers Briggs/MBTI or any of this stuff. Sorry but it seems completely fucking insane. Why would you work somewhere that pulled this sort of shit?

    1. MBTI, and the similar Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), are useful though imperfect ways of classifying personality types. It can be fun to learn more about your own personality and the personalities of the people you interact with; and it might even be edifying: helping you to better understand yourself and to better understand others. However, the scientific validity of MBTI and KTS is questionable at best; and they are often used in a pseudoscientific manner, essentially becoming little more than a pop-psychology substitute for astrology.

      While I think it’s a good idea for an individual to do some research into personality types and maybe take one of the many free personality tests that you can find online, I think it’s absolutely reprehensible for an employer to require mandatory personality testing for employees. If you take a job, you enter into an employment contract in which you agree to provide your employer with work in exchange for pay and benefits. You are, in essence, selling your work to someone who is willing to buy it. But selling your work does not imply selling your soul — your employer doesn’t own you, and has no business trying to pry open your skull to see what makes you tick. Your employer has a right to expect a certain level of productivity from you; but nothing else. The employment contract doesn’t give your employer any right to stick his or her nose into your personal life. Employers have no business psychologically profiling their employees, or playing mind games with them to try to turn them into better people, or even better workers. I’m sick and tired of the petty totalitarianism that goes on at too many workplaces, where the employers think they have a right to know everything about their employees, and even to tell their employees how to live their private lives — whether it’s doing mandatory personality profiling or drug testing, encouraging employees to quit smoking or lose weight, or sending employees on retreats where they sit around naked and play with dildos so they will bond with each other.

  31. There comes a time in a mans life for introspection an enlightenment and if it manifest itself in the form of 2×4….4×4, than I say suck it up.

  32. I’m certain that this kind of thing would have been fully acceptable in the time of the ancient Greeks.

    There’s so much ignorance and forgetting of our past that I’m ashamed to be human.

    Thanks for the info Chilero. If there’s one thing that this story shows is that you absolutly cannot trust the opinion of a lawyer who is “defending” themself.

  33. I know Asperger’s Syndrome is the fashionable disorder du jour, but a formal diagnosis of it is a good Get Out Of Stupid Corporate Outing Free card, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. And with this story in mind, I don’t think anyone can blame me for going that route.

  34. the men will grab each other’s penises if they wish

    What’s the antecedent to “they” here? Does this go according to the grabber’s wish or the grabbee’s wish?

    But seriously, this is all about appropriate boundaries at the workplace. At the most benign level, it’s about being able to just do your job and not having to socialize with people at work. At a less benign level, it’s about revealing potentially blackmail-ready secrets to your boss.

  35. Now, remember, if there’s a bullshit psychology requirement at your firm, it’s because somebody there is in love with the test. It’s almost invariably the CEO or the head of HR, in my experience. That person is in love with the test because they love the type of person it tells them they are. It’s “life affirming” for them, it makes them feel super good about being part of the bestest class of bestest people, the ubermenschen.

    So, find out who that person is (we’ll say Catbert, because it’s usually the head of HR). Ask for a meeting with Catbert, explain that you’ve heard strange things about the test on the internets, that it’s associated with witchcraft and similar creepy stuff. Make sure you don’t grasp the explanation until Catbert reveals how he tests out. He’s proud of it, remember. Be very relieved and reassured when the test is explained to you, and thank Catbert very nicely, and tell him how great it is that the company’s using these sooper modern ultra double-good techniques.

    Now just answer the questions so that you end up with the same classification as Catbert, and enjoy your newfound status as one of the bestest of the bestest class of people!

  36. The job ends at 5.00pm*.

    Weekends I spend at home with my friends, that I chose, doing the things I want to do.

    How is it that some bosses find this incomprehensible? Maybe they just don’t have lives?

    *OK, I’ve spent a few evenings doing stuff in offices, because I wouldn’t have that job if I hadn’t been prepared to, but it was always working to live, never living to work, and when it came to personal stuff happening, the boss got told: tomorrow.

  37. IF you’re considering attending a corporate bonding event, first watch the movie “Severance.” And then don’t go.

  38. Sounds like MKP/NWTA is an LGAT: Large Group Awareness Training. My (former) therapist pushed me into something similar a few years ago, the Legacy Center in Morrisville, NC.

    Make no mistake: these ARE cults. You sign a nondisclosure agreement and you sign away all your rights on the first night. They spend the first part of the event breaking you psychologically so that you’ll be more receptive to their teachings. They use sleep deprivation, and they try to even regulate your bodily functions–when you can go to the bathroom.

    If you’re not strong-willed, or if you’re too polite to rock the boat, you’ll get swept along with the group. They make money by trying to hook you into more and deeper trainings. The last night of my event, I barely escaped–I was being double-teamed on why I wasn’t willing to shell out over 1k for the next level and they seriously were acting like they weren’t going to let me leave the room until I agreed to at least “think about” attending the Advanced program.

    It was very creepy, and completely unethical for my ex-therapist to abuse his position of trust to encourage me, and other patients of his, to attend.

    Thankfully I haven’t encountered anything like this in a work setting. Plus I know better now and would run the hell away if I got so much of a whiff of forced LGAT participation.

    1. a_nightengale, I agree with you about abuse of positions of trust and authority, completely disagree with you calling the ManKind Project a “cult”. I’ve been involved with it for about ten years, because it passed my high bar for integrity; anyone is free to walk away from any training or any relationship with the organization at any time, and many do. They will refund the training cost if you decide to leave. All operational costs are disclosed, and believe me, no one’s making any money running these trainings.

      Leadership is handled as a set of roles with overlapping accountability. The trainings have plenty of room for all faiths and philosophies, and in my experience the staff work very hard to any agenda on participants, and to focus on helping men articulate what it is they want in their lives that would make them go off into the mountains with a bunch of wild men in the first place. It’s always an intense, fun, heartfelt, fierce weekend.

      The organization as a whole is, IMJ, a strong framework for mentoring toward leadership, and is in many ways the antidote to men mindlessly doing what they are told.

  39. Blow that fucking place up, V for Vendetta style. The simeltaneous homophobia, yet longstanding frat-boy hazing BS that is systematic in the US is so weird. It’s like… if there is some sort of explainable reason that a man would be grabbing another man’s dick then it’s nothing but all-American, wholesome fun – but if you just like doing it for fun then it’s not?

    You can keep your ‘cute’ little secret societies all to yourselves, thanks.

    PS why is there no mention of the law firm in question, which is ‘Bisnar Chase’. Also, why am I not surprised that these guys are the bottom of the barrel “dont win, dont pay” personal injury scum style of laywer?

    Anyone caring to tell these clowns what you think of their pathetic little lives:

    (bestattorney? lol)

  40. I participated in MKP. There were many great things about it. And this dictiotion is a bit of an exaggeration. But there were also many negative things about MKP which has me seriously question the organization. Their recruitment was one thing I thought was a bit forced and evangelistic. The other things was that the gestalt work can and has seriously harmed some participants and MKP refuses to acknowledge this. The men harmed by this usually carry traumas that they can barely articulate and may not know of. I am sure many men have been helped. But many men have been harmed and MKP must acknowledge this.

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