Reading Class Action has reinforced for me the nature and prevalence of toxic masculinity in American society. Class Action relates the tales of women thrust into a male-dominated industry by necessity, then subjected to unrelenting and abusive harassment based solely on their gender. Lois Jensen’s attempts to get recourse by appealing to the kindness of her male colleagues or the authority of her superiors was a failure, forcing her to seek redress via the legal system. Indeed, the book recounts how Jensen had her tires slashed by a male colleague in response to her attempt to notify the Minnesota Department of Human Rights what she was experiencing. It took over twenty years for the case to be settled, setting a precedent for the prosecution of sexual harassment cases.
What the book outlined for me was that sexual harassment is not the result of lone men acting on their own, but springs from a systematic and entrenched culture of misogyny among men and in male-dominated spaces. Lois Jenson and other employees of the EVTAC mine were repeatedly and remorselessly assaulted every day by their male colleagues, with supervisors either turning a blind eye to the abuse or participating in it themselves. There was no one she could turn to within her place of employment to end the abuse because they were all culpable to a certain degree.
This is because toxic masculinity is a cult and a lifestyle that men are expected to adhere to, and part of this cult is the abuse of women within their vicinity. The only way to ensure that sexual harassment ends is for men to be educated out of their mentality of toxic masculinity. Men must be taught to be more respectful and deferent to women in order to curb their violent inclinations.
- Bingham, C., & Gansler, L. L. (2003). Class Action: The Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment. Anchor.
- O’Brien, M. (1993). Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co.: A Legal Standard for Class Action Sexual Harassment. J. Corp. L., 19, 417.