Tony Robbins is apologizing after #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, actress Alyssa Milano and others called him out for comments he made to an audience last month in California about the women’s movement.
In an online message posted Sunday, Robbins, who’s built an empire on self-help strategies, said he “failed to reflect the respect” he has for the movement’s achievements.
“What I’ve realized is that while I’ve dedicated my life to working with victims of abuse all over the world, I need to get connected to the brave women of #MeToo,” he wrote.
Burke and Time’s Up were among many criticizing Robbins for equating #MeToo with “victimhood” in front of an audience during a speaking event in San Jose, Calif. March 15. The video only recently spread online.
“This moment is so damaging especially with how influential @TonyRobbins is,” Burke posted in a tweet Saturday. “We have a hard enough time trying to shift the narrative about what this movement really is and he stands in front of thousands of his followers and completely misrepresents the @MeTooMVMT.”
This moment is so damaging especially with how influential <a href=”https://twitter.com/TonyRobbins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TonyRobbins</a> is. We have a hard enough time trying to shift the narrative about what this movement really is and he stands in front of thousands of his followers and completely misrepresents the <a href=”https://twitter.com/MeTooMVMT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MeTooMVMT</a>
Hey <a href=”https://twitter.com/TonyRobbins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@tonyrobbins</a>, are you serious? Well you also said, “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” Don’t worry, we’re on it. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TIMESUP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TIMESUP</a> <a href=”https://t.co/8Wp4NRW2vN”>https://t.co/8Wp4NRW2vN</a>
In the video, which Milano referred to as “appalling,” the motivational speaker is seen interacting with audience member Nanine McCool.
“I think you misunderstand the #MeToo movement,” she told him.
Robbins interjects mid-sentence, saying his job is to help people.
“I’m not knocking the #MeToo movement. I’m knocking victimhood,” he told the crowd.
Look at these people and see what is empowerment. Anger is not empowerment.– Motivational speaker Tony Robbins told an audience in March about #MeToo
“I’m not suggesting you have to agree with me. I’m just suggesting you consider what its impact is. Look at these people and see what is empowerment. Anger is not empowerment.”
His audience, which often tends to be loud and energetic, remained relatively quiet.
“If you use the #metoo movement to try to get significance and certainty by attacking or destroying someone else, you haven’t grown an ounce,” said Robbins. “All you’ve done is basically use a drug called significance to make yourself feel good.”
Audience member confronts Robbins
McCool responded: “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 re-live what may have happened to them, but to make it safe for the young women,” said McCool, whose words then become difficult to hear because of the cheering and applause.
Robbins later asks McCool to participate in an exercise, by putting out her fist.
The six foot seven speaker begins walking briskly toward her and pushing against her outstretched arm, then asks why she’s pushing back.
“When you push someone else, it doesn’t make you more safe,” he said. “It just makes them angry.”
Robbins continued with an anecdote.
“I was just with someone the other day, very famous man, very powerful man saying how stressed he is because he interviewed three people that day — one was a woman, two were men. The woman was better qualified but she was very attractive and he knew, I can’t have her around because it’s too big a risk and he hired somebody else. I’ve had a dozen men tell me this.”
Oh the video is MUCH worse. 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. It’s deplorable. But SO many folks misunderstand this work.
McCool called it a “lame excuse,” to which Robbins replies, “no, you’re giving me an excuse.”
In a personal video posted Saturday on Youtube, McCool responded to the reaction and support she’s received following the exchange.
“I continue to believe that this is an incredibly important discussion and it needs to take place,” she said.
Robbins has been at the centre of controversy before. In 2016, he was forced to defend his “firewalking” motivational exercise when dozens were burned after stepping on hot coals — a seminar tactic encouraging people to confront their fears.
His full apology on social media regarding #MeToo is below.