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Motivational speaker Tony Robbins apologizes after critique of #MeToo

The motivational speaker had argued with a sex abuse survivor about the validity of the movement at a March event.

by Jonathan Sperling /

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Motivational speaker and business strategist Tony Robbins publicly apologized on Sunday after suggesting during a March 15 event that women were using the #MeToo Movement to claim victimhood and “get significance.”

In a video posted on the YouTube channel of sexual abuse survivor Nanine McCool taken during Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within” event in San Jose, Calif., Robbins can be seen arguing with McCool over the validity of the #MeToo Movement and suggesting that members of the movement have ulterior motives.

The apology, posted on the self-help guru's social media accounts, notes that Robbins “dedicated my life to working with victims of abuse all over the world...,” while also mentioning his admiration for #MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke.

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“At a recent Unleash the Power Within (UPW) event in San Jose, my comments failed to reflect the respect I have for everything Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement has achieved. 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,” Robbins stated in the apology.

McCool, who told NBC News that she did not plan on confronting Robbins during the event, can be seen in the video questioning Robbins’ understanding of the #MeToo Movement. Robbins later responds by criticizing women who use the movement in order to be a victim.

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“I’m not mocking the #MeToo Movement, I’m mocking victimhood,” Robbins said at the event. “If you use #MeToo Movement to try and get significance and certainty by attacking and destroying someone else, you know that [inaudible] all you’ve done is basically use a drug called significance to make yourself feel good...”

Robbins went on to share an anecdote in which he implied that a man was forced to hire a man over a more-qualified woman due to concerns surrounding the #MeToo Movement.

“I just met someone the other day, very famous man, very powerful man who’s 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 them around because it’s too big a risk,’ and he hired somebody else. I’ve had a dozen men tell me this,” Robbins said.

Before to the apology, Burke responded to Robbins’ critiques in a series of tweets, stating that “Tony Robbins people” had reached out to her “to do damage control within 24 hours [of the video’s release].”

“Women are not to blame for the deep seeded misogyny that you and men like your ‘friend’ are mired in,” Burke said in one tweet.

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