Tony Robbins is an incredibly powerful man. But a video that ran viral over the weekend uncovered he has a major weakness when it comes to understanding women.
The 6-foot-7 self-help phenom, whose philosophy is based on strength, empowerment, and straight talk, regularly fills stadia with followers. But this time, while speaking to another sold-out room in late March, “hes been gone” a little too far.
“I’m not knocking it, ” he told, but “if you use the # MeToo movement to try to get significance and certainty by assaulting and destroying someone else, you haven’t grown an ounce. All you’ve done is basically use a drug called implication to attain yourself feel good.”
lol I don’t even know who the hell Tony Robbins is, but candidly that’s because I merely take advice from WoC because they’re so intelligent and constantly ignored.
— jay (@ jaydawildflower) April 7, 2018
Women: please don’t rape or sexually harass us! Please don’t pass us over for jobs when we’re the most qualified nominee!
Tony Robbins *: ladies, this need you have for significance is getting truly out of hand.
* on a Jumbotron
— Shannon Coulter (@ shannoncoulter) April 7, 2018
Fortunately, one girl was brave enough to stand up to Robbins.
“I think you misunderstand the #MeToo movement, ” Nanine McCool said into the microphone. “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.”
Robbins advanced on her with a fist out and then questioned whether defying him is helping. He even suggested that he knew “a dozen men” who’d had to opt to hire men over a “more qualified” but “very attractive” woman “because it’s too big of a risk.”
“I think you do the whole motion a disservice, ” McCool replied to a torrent of applause.
I am so sick of men saying this BS. The #MeToo movement is about accountability. I simply cannot go along with what @TonyRobbins is saying here. So do his friends not hire Black people for dread of discrimination suits? This is the kind of stuff that other men should abhor.
— rolandsmartin (@ rolandsmartin) April 7, 2018
Days afterwards, McCool still refuses to back down.
In a conversation with Refinery 29 about the viral video published under April 8, McCool stated that as a survivor, she believes Robbins’ assertion that indignation was hurting the movement was incorrect.
“Being sexually abused, harassed, raped, you’re entitled to your fury, ” she told the outlet. “I just think that the #MeToo motion is a platform, a place for discussion and empathy.”
Standing up wasn’t easy, she told, but as she watched another powerful human display a startling lack of empathy for those who had been stillness, she felt like she had to do something.
“I don’t recollect building that decision to stand up but at some phase I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m yelling at Tony Robbins. I need to sit down, ‘ but it was too late, ” McCool told Refinery2 9.
McCool says it was a painful experience; she could feel Robbins’ anger. But she didn’t sitting next. Because she wasn’t merely standing up for herself — something #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, who weighed in on the controversy over the weekend, understands all too well.
This moment is so injury especially with how influential @TonyRobbins 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 adherents and completely misrepresents the @MeTooMVMT
— Tarana (@ TaranaBurke) April 7, 2018
We want zero physical intimidation. We want humen to stop telling us to do with our bodies. And when we say no, they stop. Robbins pushed her around physically. Let’s go back in time and imagine she told “NO” when Robbins told her to hold up her fist. She asks him why he wants
— Antoinette Robbins (@ AntyRobb) April 8, 2018
“We need a complete cultural transformation if we are to eradicate sexual assault in our lifetimes, ” Burke explained in a statement on the movement’s website. “It means we must build our families differently, engage our communities, and tackle some of our long-held assumptions about ourselves.”
There’s a simple reason why Robbins’ take on # MeToo is inherently flawed.
#MeToo isn’t about attacking. It isn’t about destroying. It’s about bringing to light the sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault that’s been kept under wraps for so long.
The goal is to provide empathy for those who have been harassed and to hold those who have committed these terrible acts( often powerful men) accountable. While the movement may stimulate some men( including, apparently, Tony Robbins) uncomfortable, it’s changing the landscape of how national societies views and talks about sexual violence.
McCool’s bravery should be a catalyst. And this moment is a reminder of how much the movement has yet to do.
In the days following the video’s viral spread, McCool has been celebrated, and Robbins has been both vilified and defended. Soon after the video went viral, Robbins issued an apology, stating that he has much more to learn.
But no apology is as important as a commitment to do better. And watching the video, understanding its dynamics, and then vowing to listen to those who are pushing the movement forward is something that we all need to do.
As she told Refinery2 9, McCool hopes the video itself will be used to train humen “who don’t get it.” She thinks we can all do better.
Because this isn’t about punishment — it’s about change. It’s about listening to and think survivors. It’s about empathizing with those who are finally brave enough to come forward.
McCool only wants us all to keep the discussion going.
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