Hugely popular and very wealthy life coach Tony Robbins has apologised after a video of him mischaracterising the #MeToo movement surfaced over the weekend.
In an 11-minute video from his March event "Unleash the Power Within," Robbins spoke of the anti-sexual assault and harassment movement claiming it was a reason for women to use "victimhood" for their gain.
"If you use the #MeToo movement to try to get significance and certainty by attacking and destroying someone else...all you've done is basically use a drug called significance to make yourself feel good," he tells the crowd.
When a woman named Nanine McCool, a survivor of sexual abuse, took the microphone and suggested, "I think you misunderstand the #MeToo movement," Robbins swiftly interrupted her mid-sentence.
“Not for you, personally. I’m not misunderstanding you,” he said. “You can educate me. I’m telling you I’ve read these. My life is about helping people …. I’ve read so many, thousands. Have you read thousands? Or are you going to tell me what your experience with the #MeToo movement is?”
The irony, coming from a man who claims to have empowered "more than 50 million people" on his website.
When McCool did get the microphone back, she told Robbins, "You are a leader and an influential man, and you are 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.”
Unsurprisingly, Robbins has received a lot of flack over this cringe-worthy video. Tarana Burke, who created the #MeToo hashtag and helped launch the movement, weighed in Robbins' comments on Twitter on Saturday.
In a string of tweets, she suggested the life coach "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."
There's something extremely unnerving seeing a man who has made millions from preaching empowerment to try and lay blame and shame on survivors of sexual assault and harassment, and it appears he has taken notice of the criticism.
Today, Robbins has posted a statement on his Facebook page, claiming he is "committed to being part of the solution."
"For 40 years I’ve encouraged people to grow into the men and women they dream to be," he wrote. "I watch in awe as more and more women all over the world find their voice and stand up and speak out. All of our growth begins with learning. My own started with a childhood marked by abuse. I am humbled that others have looked to the path I have taken in the decades since as lessons in their own journey. But sometimes, the teacher has to become the student and it is clear that I still have much to learn.
"I teach that “life happens for you, not to you” and 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."
Nanine McCool has posted a video on Youtube stating she was grateful for the attention this original video has received. "I continue to believe this is an incredibly important discussion and it needs to take place," she said. Here's hoping women like McCool continue to gain more "significance" and men like Robbins a little less.