In the historic law suit, women who worked as miners testified of being sexually molested, groped, given rape threats and at times beaten. They bitterly testified in court of abusive sexual language and even graffiti. However, despite complaints by the women, none of the rogue men was fired with some given as light punishment as suspension for five days.
The mines in Minnesota, Eleventh Taconite inclusive, began employing women as miners in around 1970. It was a federal government’s policy for equal employment opportunities to both sexes. However, the move was opposed at the mine especially by the male employees. Robert Raich who was the company’s personnel director and hence in charge of hiring and promotion of workers is on record as having dismissed the move arguing that the mines was not a place for the women. He defiantly said that women should only be pregnant and barefoot. Jenson and Patricia who finally liberated the women were among the first to be absorbed by the mining firm
Initially, the women had difficulty explaining what happened to them. However, Jenson latter saw an article on women sexual harassment by some women magazine that became the turning point for women in the factory. They registered their complaint with the union and also with the company. Then in 1984, they took the case to the Human Rights Department in Minnesota. The women were determined to ensure that the company establish a training session and enact a policy that would illegalize such behavior. However, this did not go through.
The women therefore had no option but to seek justice in court. According to the testimonies in court, male miners frequently assaulted the women in a manner that made it clear- they were not ready to consider their female counterparts as coworkers.
In court, the women gave strong accusations against their male colleagues. One woman for example said that more than once, a male miner masturbated into her locker thereby ejaculating into her clothing. Another woman testified that a male colleague broke into her room at night and attempted to rape her disappearing only when she raised alarm. Another woman also alleged that a male colleague forcefully pressed his body in hers and gagged her.
As a result of these harassments, a number of women at the site began experience signs of stress and depression, a fact that was confirmed by medical practitioners who provided evidence to their layers. The women said they realize sleepless nights, feeling of fright and vulnerability. The women’s moving testimony created a picture of extensive harassment both verbal and physical.
Later, Judge Richard Kyle ruled that the environment under which the women worked was not conducive for female survival because of its sexualized nature and hence ruled in their favor.
The male miners’ perverse behavior could be attributed to old mindset of the nineteenth century where women were not regarded as equals to their male counterparts. They had also lived in a highly male chauvinistic society where women were only regarded as sex objects. This behavior could also be attributed to collective reading of phonographic literature that was popular in the work places at the time. As a result of these, they could not see the women as co-workers’ but potential sexual tools.
Robert L. C. Radical Feminism: Thoughts on Long’s Defense, 2004.