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