After a clip from one of his events went viral this past weekend, life coach and motivational speaker Tony Robbins came under heat for his March 15 remarks about the #MeToo movement. Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, came across the video-gone-viral and responded in a series of tweets before Robbins apologized for any misconstrued statements. In the short post, Robbins stated that he “[agrees] with the goals of the #MeToo movement and its founding message of “empowerment through empathy.”
“I watch in awe as more and more women all over the world find their voice and stand up and speak out… I am committed to being part of the solution,” he continued. At one of his seminars, a professed fan and audience member, Nanine McCool, stood up to refute a statement that Robbins made about the synthesis of victimhood, significance, and the #MeToo movement.
“I think you misunderstand the #MeToo movement,” she started before Robbins interrupted her. He responded, “I’m not knocking the #MeToo movement, I’m knocking victimhood.” Before McCool could continue, Robbins stated, “I’m not suggesting you agree with me. I’m just suggesting you consider what its impact is… anger is not empowerment. What you’re seeing is people making themselves significant by making someone else wrong.”
— Tony Robbins (@TonyRobbins) April 8, 2018
Robbins alluded to Jesus and to those who should not “throw stones,” then asked his audience, “Is there any one of us that hasn’t done something that we prefer we had not or were embarrassed by it… who here has never done anything of that nature in your life? Raise your hand.” Observers reported that Robbins exhibited “intimidating behavior,” using his size and voice, and even physically backing McCool into an aisle at some point, Deadline noted.
Of the many opposed statements, two circulated more frequently than others, one before McCool had a chance to speak, and another after she did. “If you use the #MeToo movement to try to get significance by attacking and destroying someone else, you’re not growing an ounce. All you’ve done is basically use a drug called ‘significance’ to make yourself feel good.” He asked for a show of hands in concurrence.
To this, McCool said that Robbins was mischaracterizing the movement. “There are a significant number of people who are using it not to relive whatever may have happened to them but to make it safe to the young women, so they don’t have to experience it.”
Robbins then told a story about a “famous” and “powerful” man who was “stressed” about having to hire a qualified woman for a job because she was attractive and he “knew it would be too big a risk and hired someone else.”
“I’ve had a dozen men tell me this,” he said to his audience. Burke spoke out about the same moment. “His misogyny runs deep. To even repeat that story of his ‘friend’ who wouldn’t hire the ‘pretty woman’ as if it’s the MOVEMENT’s fault and not the sexist man’s fault is all you need to hear… SO many folks misunderstand this work.”
@TonyRobbins If you talk to more SURVIVORS and less sexist businessmen maybe you’ll understand what we want. We want safety. We want healing. We want accountability. We want closure. We want to live a life free from shame. That’s the reality of the @MeTooMVMT sir, do better.
— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) April 7, 2018
Initially uploaded to the personal account of Nanine McCool, the video gained steam on April 6 when it was reposted by NowThis News. It was further exploded by Burke’s response to Robbins. Burke said that Robbins’ team reached out for “damage control” on Saturday, according to Buzzfeed.
Jennifer Connelly, Robbins’ spokesperson, made no immediate comments, Buzzfeed reports. But she said what Robbins said in his apology when speaking to Vice last month. “He has devoted his life’s work, over 40 years, to help people end their pain and suffering and most importantly improve the quality of their lives.”