So life coach Tony Robbins has criticised the #MeToo movement at one of his famous seminars, aspersing the women who bravely stood up against the men who had sexually assaulted them. He said “If you use the #MeToo movement to try to get significance and certainty by attacking and destroying someone else… all you've done is basically use a drug called significance to make yourself feel good."
He also said that #MeToo was "being used by all these women who don't want to deal with their own problems and they think being a victim is a way to work out their pain by making their perpetrators suffer and that doesn't help them. It happened years ago and they need to let it go."
Here are five reasons why Tony Robbins is wrong about #MeToo:
#1: He says women who join the movement are trying to get "significance" by "attacking and destroying someone else". Well, the first courageous women to come out against Harvey Weinstein, helping #MeToo gain coverage, were Hollywood actresses. These included Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Lupita Nyong'o, Kate Beckinsale, Uma Thurman, Mira Sorvino, Cara Delevingne, Daryl Hannah, Lea Seydoux, Ashley Judd and Rosanna Arquette. These women are hugely famous and already more "significant" than virtually anyone else on the planet - certainly more significant than Robbins. They didn't need the extra fame or exposure, and I'm certain they didn't want to be thought of as "victims", as Robbins alleges. They were just bravely telling the truth they'd felt they had to keep secret for so long.
#2. Robbins says that women in #MeToo are "attacking and destroying" their assailants. In my view, they deserve to be attacked and destroyed (verbally and legally, of course), but this isn't generally the case. Many of the other women who have joined the #MeToo movement are unknown with unknown attackers. I came out in 2014 about my attack by a boyfriend in 2005, but I didn't identify the man in question, so he was definitely not "attacked" or "destroyed". In fact, this was so far from being the case that in 2016 I had the unpleasant shock of his name appearing next to mine on the cover of a national magazine. If his reputation had actually been ruined, I'm fairly sure that no one would have been running op-eds by him unless they were mea culpas. I just wanted to tell my story, not gain "significance" from it - so initially, I didn't sell it. I just published it on this blog, and then the Guardian asked to run it.
#3: Robbins suggests that joining #MeToo is a strategy to "make yourself feel good". Yes, you read that correctly: he actually thinks that reliving a traumatic experience will make women feel good. He couldn't be more wrong. Perhaps the resulting support and camaraderie can help a woman get over the experience (if she receives any - I know I didn't when I told people back in 2005) but the actual retelling of the story is hellish. It feels like vomiting: a necessary evil. It's not something I talk about these days unless I need to make people understand what I've been through (like boyfriends), and it's certainly not something I want to dwell on or think about every day. I've tried to move on from it and "let it go", even though it "happened years ago" (thanks Tony), but life doesn't always work out that way - especially as I'm still dealing with the extreme anxiety and claustrophobia from the incident 13 years later.
#4: Robbins claims that when you join #MeToo, you're "making yourself significant by making somebody else wrong". Well, I hate to break it to him, but when you're a man and you sexually or physically abuse a woman, you've already made yourself wrong. It is entirely your fault, never the woman's, and it's our absolute right to talk about it - especially as so few of us will see justice done through the courts. This idea that women are "victimising" ourselves by joining #MeToo is victim-blaming at its worst, and disregards the fact that the men have forced us to become victims of abuse by their actions. We're calling these actions out to highlight how widespread and horrific the issue is, and to protect other women from this happening in future - not because we want to victimise ourselves or gain "significance and certainty".
#5: Robbins doesn't know what he's talking about. How could he? He's a muscle-bound 6 foot 7 inch man, which suggests that he doesn't have a clue what it's like to be sexually assaulted by someone much bigger and stronger than you. He hasn't experienced the fear and dread women who are part of #MeToo have had to deal with, and yet he claims to have all the answers as to what we should do and how we should behave. On the evidence of this video, he has none of them, and should stop talking about #MeToo until he's developed some empathy.
And now, as per #3, I feel awful and like I need to take a shower. Brrrrrrrrrr.