'Conscious Men' apologize to women for many years of bad behaviour

The Globe and Mail

Arjuna Ardagh and Gay Hendricksare the founders of the 'Conscious Men' movement. (YouTube/YouTube)

A group calling itself Conscious Men is apologizing to women for thousands of years of lousy behaviour, including burning them at the stake, prostitution, rape, genital mutilation, political and economic inequality and relegating them to "subservient chores."

"Dear Woman," begins the group's eight-minute YouTube video, which features a diverse cast of men speaking over a weepy violin.

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"We stand before you today as men committed to becoming more conscious in every way," one man reads from the group's manifesto. "We feel deep love, great respect and a growing sense of worship for the gifts of the feminine. We also feel deep sorrow about the destructive actions of the unconscious masculine in the past and present."

Some of the men are dad-ish and others are professorial. There's a teen in a hoodie, a white guy with dreadlocks and a muscular type in a flowing white shirt. One sits atop a pile of pillows, apologizing for men who have used women's bodies for "commerce, prostitution and pornography." Another celebrates women's abilities to "pay attention to what is here, right now." (There's a painting of a kitty behind him.)

"I honour your intuition, and your profound capacity for feeling," one says. "As men, we have often devalued feeling and intuition, in favour of a view dominated by data and logic," adds another, overtop an image of mathematical symbols filling a chalkboard.

One would think women would be thrilled, but apparently they're mostly just creeped out, with commenters tearing a strip off the men for being too "new-agey" on Jezebel. Others accuse the Conscious Men of being macktivists (that's espousing a cause for sex).

Over on YouTube, a vicious backlash prompted the Conscious Men to disable comments on their video.

"We are very aware that some people resonated with it, and some did not," reads a note under the video. "We have received thousands of comments, and many of them are highly abusive or offensive. We are happy to welcome all points of view, but not expressions of violence or hatred."

The two founders are pensive types: Gay Hendricks offers online relationship therapy with his wife Kathlyn while Arjuna Ardagh is hawking his "Deeper Love" retreat in Corfu, Greece.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Ardagh's wife, Chameli, has also repledged her own apology - on behalf of all women to men.

"In our bitterness and feminine starvation we empower ourselves by making you small and ridiculous. We speak of the masculine with contempt and disrespect and instead we took it upon ourselves to compete with men, when this was a futile competition to start with," she writes to her "sisters."

Should men be apologizing for the actions of a few? What do you make of the hatred aimed at the apologists? Does it suggest men can't win, either way?