I recently attended about half of a Sterling Men's Weekend. I left after the first day because I did not like what was going on. I confronted my "sponsor" who I trusted with my life and told him that I was really disappointed in him. He is still trying to convince me that this is not a cult and that they don't use mind control techniques, etc. and that I judged the process and jumped to conclusions--leaving before I could see how it all came together.
Initially, I was very nervous and suspicious about going to the weekend because of the secrecy surrounding it and the "just trust me", "trust the process" and "don't form any conclusions" advice I was given. I went because I admired and trusted so entirely, the man who "sponsored" me! Normally, I would do some research before doing such a thing, but because I trusted this man so thoroughly, I did not. Plus, when I mentioned to my recruiter and his compatriot that if I wanted to, I could research this Weekend using the Internet, they said that I would find horror stories and one article that was fairly accurate.
I did not do the research because I trusted this person so entirely. If I had looked at the [culteducation.com web site section about Sterling] first, I would not have gone at all. And by the way, the weekend now costs $600.
Anyway, when I arrived at 8:00AM Saturday morning, we were treated like recruits in the military. The "volunteers" were all very catatonic-like and repeated directions only. "Stand in line, no talking, don't sign the waiver yet, read the waiver, sign the waiver", etc. I had to print my name again as it was not up to their standards.
Then we were ushered into this dimly lit auditorium. The windows were all covered. In that room there were just women. They told us the rules of the weekend. Don't talk, you can't go to the bathroom until breaks, etc. Basically--don't do anything unless you are told to.
Then we all (about 210 of us) sat there without talking for about 40 minutes before the crowd got anxious and started rebelling. A mutiny/riot broke out. Meanwhile, the whole thing was being video taped. The men stormed the stage and took over the room. There was no resistance from the women. Eventually, it got hostile toward the women and they were asked to leave. They finally left a few hours later.
After a few hours of this revolt, men getting up on the stage pouring their hearts out and spilling their guts--the room went dark and a voice came in over the loudspeakers. It was like the wizard of Oz. He spoke for a while and then the man behind the voice appeared and starting lecturing us--it was Justin Sterling.
Justin Sterling's Message
Some Rules about Two kinds of relationships:
Short Term Recreational (STR)
Long Term Committed (LTC)
Other rules/statements and/or "$50 tips":
This lecturing went on for hours. We started at 8:00 AM and had a break at 3:30PM. We couldn't leave the room during the lecturing unless you had to go "number two". Men were told to urinate in garbage cans, which they did. It was all very intimidating--the women left before the lecturing began. It was all men--some looked like bouncers in uniforms, with headsets and walkie-talkies.
The women who were there earlier, were there to prove a point. That point--how we have been conditioned to do what we are told, especially by women. The whole revolt earlier in the day was by design.
After hours of lecturing in which Justin Sterling belittled us for questioning him (we had become feminized and were listening to the "female chattering monkeys" in our heads), we had dinner at 8PM. That break lasted about 2 hours.
After dinner we did a couple of group exercises. For the first one, we were told to walk around the room for 5 minutes and introduce ourselves to as many men as possible in 5 minutes by saying, "I'm just a fucking jerk".
The next exercise, we were told to think about all the women who wronged us and what the circumstances were so we could vent. It was an anger exercise designed to break down our walls so that we could get into our issues and bond. We had to pick a partner and pretend that that person was a woman or all women that hurt you and then vent for five minutes. They told us that if we problems getting started, or keeping it going for five minutes--repeating "fuck you, you fucking bitch".
I had a bit of trouble with this as I had reconciled most of these feelings by taking responsibility for getting myself into the situations I had with women.
You wouldn't believe how well this went over for most men! Men were screaming, breaking down and crying (precisely what the exercise was designed to do I guess). When I was trying to do this, I was approached by one of the volunteers at the weekend that said, "is that all the anger you can get?". So, I continued. By the end of this exercise, it was 2:30AM and we were all drained. It had been a long day and the room was kept very warm. Everybody was sweating all day long. Many men had taken their shirts off. It smelled of body order. All by design, perhaps.
We got about three and one half-hours of sleep that night and had to be back in the morning about 8:30AM. Sunday was supposed to go all night and into the next morning--until Justin "said we were done" (about 9:30AM).
I bailed out the next morning. My gut told me to get the hell out of there as I felt I was about to be broken down. Why else would there be so much discomfort with the heat, lack of time for critical thinking, lack of sleep, lack of breaks for food and intimidation?
I figure that I can learn to have better relationships with men and women without all the secrecy, intimidation and deprivation.
Personally, I found Justin to be very condescending and intimidating. He often belittled anyone who questioned him. He was especially condescending, verbally abusive and dismissive when asked an intelligent question--that I think he was not smart enough to understand. At one point that I observed, he told one of his volunteers to get down and give him 25 pushups. Several times, he yelled at his volunteers if they were slow to get a microphone to one of the people waiting to ask him a question. He also yelled when his volunteers talked and "distracted" him or when the volunteers made too much noise pulling tape off a roll to tape up the "rules"--and his many "$50 tips".
This is my experience at the "Sterling Institute Men's Weekend" and I assume that Justin would probably say that I couldn't shake the "female chattering monkeys" in my head and that I was too "feminized". So be it.