Self-help guru Tony Robbins has made millions of dollars thanks to followers from around the world buying his books, DVDs, and attending his seminars, but Robbins’ recent comments on the #MeToo movement have landed the celeb in hot water. Now Robbins is backtracking on his controversial stance, but not without some damage to his reputation.
At a March 15 seminar in San Jose, California titled “Unleash the Power Within,” attendee Nanine McCool (great name!) challenged Robbins on his stance on the #MeToo movement, specifically that Robbins had dismissed the movement and said that it was victims looking for attention.
In the 10-minute exchange between Robbins and McCool, which was uploaded to YouTube by one attendee, Robbins said, “I’m not knocking the #MeToo movement, I’m knocking victimhood.” The self-help guru went on to say, “If you use the #MeToo movement to try to get significance and certainty by attacking and destroying someone else, you haven’t grown an ounce. All you’ve done is basically use a drug called significance to make yourself feel good.” He also compared those who have shared their stories of abuse in the #MeToo movement to people throwing rocks in a glass house, challenging his attendees to say they’ve never done anything wrong.
It’s shocking just how far off base Robbins was with his comments. Obviously, no one is perfect, but there’s a big difference between leading an average life with its average faults and flaws and sexually assaulting and harassing another person. Robbins attempting to mansplain the #MeToo movement to a woman is our favourite mansplain moment since TJ Miller mansplained mansplaining in Season 4 of Silicon Valley.
McCool stood her ground in front of the thousands of attendees, telling Robbins “I think you’re doing a disservice in my opinion, to the #MeToo movement. Certainly, there are people who are using it for their own personal devices, but there are also a significant number of people who are using it not to relive whatever may have happened to them, but to make it safe for the young women. So that they don’t have to feel unsafe.”
McCool’s comments were met with cheers from the audience, which prompted Robbins to ask McCool to hold out her first while he forcibly pushed her down the aisle. This was supposed to signify pushing back, but in a discussion about violence against women, it was yet another example of Robbins completely missing the point and the significance of his actions.
Robbins also told McCool and the other attendees about his famous friend who had the choice to hire an attractive woman or two less qualified men, eventually choosing a man so he wouldn’t be tempted. The story was meant to signify the damage caused by the #MeToo movement, but what it once again showed was how far off base Robbins was in his understanding of the movement and the balance of power in the workforce for women. He eventually ended the exchange by saying he wouldn’t apologize for his comments because it wouldn’t be authentic, telling the crowd to stop being so sensitive.
With the video recently going viral, he’s now apologizing. Shocker.
Robbins’ team initially reached out to #MeToo movement activist Tarana Burke in an effort to quiet the situation, with Burke rightfully tweeting that Robbins’ comments were ‘deplorable.’
You try to make it seem like it’s ‘just your opinion of SOME people’ saying ‘me too.’ but my question is WHO? Who have you seen using their story of sexual violence for ‘significance’? Name five prominent examples @TonyRobbins – please. I’ll wait.
— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) April 7, 2018
On Sunday night, Robbins issued a lengthy apology on his Facebook page, saying “I apologize for suggesting anything other than my profound admiration for the #MeToo movement. Let me clearly say, I agree with the goals of the #MeToo movement and its founding message of “empowerment through empathy,” which makes it a beautiful force for good.”
The self-help author’s apology is something, we guess, but considering just how long he railed against the #MeToo movement and his proof-of-concept story about a friend not hiring a woman because she was attractive, Robbins has a long way to go in understanding just how dangerous his comments were.