- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2011

An eight-minute video on YouTube in which “conscious men” apologize to the women of the world is drawing tears and praise — as well as verbal brickbats — from around the world.

“The response has been extraordinary,” said Arjuna Ardagh, one of the two men behind the “Dear Woman” video, which had more than 280,000 views a few days after it was posted.

Women have been mostly positive, he said, but there has been “aggressive hatred” from many men.

“We’ve even received three death threats. Which we are not taking very seriously,” laughed Mr. Ardagh.

The video begins with Mr. Ardagh and psychologist Gay Hendricks standing together in a pastoral background.

“Dear Woman,” the men begin, taking turns speaking from “A Manifesto for Conscious Men.”

“We stand before you today as men committed to becoming more conscious in every way. We feel deep love, great respect and a growing sense of worship for the gifts of the feminine,” they say.

“We also feel deep sorrow about the destructive actions of the unconscious masculine in the past and present. We want to apologize and make amends for those actions today, so that we can move forward into a new era of co-creation.”

More than a dozen men from all walks of life, ages, nations and races then take up the script, looking straight into the camera as they apologize for subjugating and dominating women through sexual misuse, pornography, servitude, religion and politics.

Too often, men devalued “heart” and “intuition” in favor of “data and logic,” says a professorial-looking man with gray hair. “I apologize for dragging you into these wars,” says a handsome twentysomething, as he and other men list hardships women have endured through conflict, environmental degradation and family breakdown.

“On behalf of my gender, I apologize to you for our unconscious actions when we were angry, scared and in the grip of destructive forces in our psyche … . Together, there is nothing we cannot do,” the video ends.

For many women, it’s “apology accepted.”

“The only way out of this mess is through Love,” wrote WillowHeartsong on the YouTube comment area. “ALL of the Women I know that have seen this are deeply moved and deeply touched,” added FeliceLaurel6.

But many men were shocked out of their La-Z-Boys.

“While these hamsters are apologizing for all the bad things men have done, please permit me to take credit for all the good things,” tallentjack told YouTube, listing the Internet, steam engine, printing, penicillin, automobile, periodic table, calculus, fantasy football, astronomy, soft-serve ice cream, television and radio as men’s gifts to women and the world.

“I like steak, boobs, sports, camping, etc. And I aint apologizing for anything” wrote GarrettYork before comments were disabled on YouTube.

Now “that I’ve apologized, let’s have sex,” said a wag who commented on an article on the video in Canada’s Globe & Mail.

Some women weren’t receptive either.

“This is so creepy! If my husband acted like this, it would make me sick,” doggletts wrote on YouTube. “This is just sanctimonious pap. The women I know don’t have any wish or need for such patronizing ‘apology,’” wrote chipmunkstew, who described herself as a “pretty hardcore feminist.”

Where did this video come from? It came out of a conversation with Mr. Hendricks in which we were reflecting on how we felt “really blessed to be in extraordinarily fulfilling marriages,” said Mr. Ardagh, an author and founder of Living Essence Foundation in Nevada City, Calif., who has been married 10 years to Chameli Ardagh.

The idea was that by making a genuine, collective apology, using a group of their male friends, other men could open up and solve their problems with women, said Mr. Hendricks, who runs the Hendricks Institute in Ojai, Calif., with psychologist and wife of 30 years Kathlyn.

Women went through an incredible liberation last century, added Mr. Adagh. We feel that it’s time for men to respond, “wipe the slate clean, and recognize the equal value of masculinity and femininity.”

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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