(RNN) – Motivational speaker Tony Robbins apologized Sunday after suggesting that some women use the #MeToo movement to play the victim and gain "significance."
The news organization NowThis posted a video clip on Friday from the California event on March 15 showing his response to a female attendee pushing back on his response to the #MeToo movement. The woman in the 10-minute exchange then posted the full clip to YouTube.
Nanine McCool challenged Robbins after he praised real estate businessman and casino owner Steve Wynn, who is accused of sexual harassment, saying he misunderstood the movement. McCool identified herself as a survivor of sexual assault.
"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," he said.
During the exchange, Robbins said that men are now afraid to hire attractive women because it’s "too big of a risk" but didn’t say what that risk would be.
Robbins explained that he's not knocking the movement but victimhood. Robbins, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, then began slowly pushing back McCool through the audience, asking why her why she was resisting him.
Some saw his behavior as an attempt at intimidation, but McCool said she was not scared. Some in the audience booed the motivational speaker and supported McCool.
Once the video hit the internet on Friday, backlash was swift. Robbins released statements on social media, citing the founder of the #MeToo movement.
"…My comments failed to reflect the respect I have for everything Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement has achieved," the statement on Twitter reads. "I apologize for suggesting anything other than my profound admiration for the #MeToo movement."
Robbins also said that he agrees with the goal of the movement and its message of "empowerment through empathy."
McCool flew from New Orleans to San Jose for the four-day seminar that cost $3,000. Known for his self-help books and infomercials, Robbins has followers that are so loyal, some have walked over hot coals at an event.
Victims of sexual assault and harassment are often accused of trying to seek attention or trying to destroy men’s lives. Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, said that is why an influential person as Robbins saying these things is damaging to the movement.
She urged Robbins to speak to survivors and fewer businessmen to understand what the #MeToo movement is trying to achieve.
@TonyRobbins If you 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.— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) April 7, 2018
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