(KMSP) - At a self-help seminar in San Jose last month renowned life coach Tony Robbins slammed the women of the #MeToo movement, saying many are claiming to be victims in order to feel "significant."
The series of comments, first posted to social media over the weekend by NowThis News, inspired widespread backlash and subsequently prompted an apology from Robbins Sunday morning.
"Sometimes, the teacher has to become the student and it is clear that I still have much to learn," he said in a Facebook post. "I am committed to being part of the solution."
In a video clip of his "Unleash the Power Within" seminar, Robbins is immediately challenged by a sexual abuse survivor named Nanine McCool from the audience. Despite the pushback, the longtime life coach doubled down with an anecdote about a powerful man he knew who recently refused to hire an attractive woman, all the while moving toward McCool in a way many people said was physically intimidating.
Local advocates for sexual abuse survivors found the entire exchange distasteful, saying Robbins was seeking to invalidate the trauma and pain endured by the many women who have spoken up recently about their experiences with sexual misconduct by powerful men.
"To say that we’re only significant if we’re victimized in some way is insulting," said Abby Honold. "For him to try to say that it’s an abuse of power of our own, to speak out about our experiences, it’s difficult to understand."
Honold applauds McCool for not backing down when approached by Robbins, with the entire incident serving as an apt metaphor for many on what it's like to speak out on the subject of sexual violence.
"This woman had to in an arena full of people not only stand up and express her opinion but then face physical intimidation from the man she’d tried to just voice a disagreement with," Honold said. "That really goes to show what it’s like to try to speak out on this subject – it is an uphill battle."