Motivational speaker Tony Robbins apologized Sunday after suggesting during a self-help seminar that some women used the #MeToo movement to gain “significance” by playing the victim.
In a lengthy statement on Facebook, Robbins said his comments “failed to reflect the respect” he has for the #MeToo movement and founder Tarana Burke. He emphasized his support for the movement that has empowered women to speak out about sexual harassment and assault.
“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 wrote Sunday.
“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,” he added. “I am committed to being part of the solution.”
Robbins, who advised President Bill Clinton the night before he was impeached, said he’s also committed to educating others about the movement, adding that he will also “never stop examining” his own words.
Robbins’ criticized the movement last month during a self-help seminar in San Jose, Calif. The life coach said he was against “victimhood” and believed some women used it to gain “significance” in life, Now This News reported. The video news site published a clip of Robbins’ interaction with female attendee identified as Nanine McCool.
“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,” Robbins is heard saying in the clip that went viral.
McCool, who said she was a survivor of sexual abuse, pushed back on Robbins’ comment by saying the self-help guru misunderstands what the movement stands for.
Robbins continued, “Look at these people and see what is empowerment. Anger is not empowerment. What you are seeing is people making themselves significant by making somebody else wrong.”
He also recounted a story about a “very famous, very powerful man” who did not hire a woman because she was considered attractive and was “too big of a risk” despite being the more qualified candidate.
McCool said Robbins, as a “leader and influential man,” was doing a disservice to the movement.
Burke on Saturday said Robbins should talk to more sexual abuse survivors and fewer "sexist businessmen."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.