(WARNING: This is a long post that contains potentially triggering content regarding sexual abuse. Please read at your discretion.)
When I first caught wind of the recent video clip showing Tony Robbins tearing apart the #MeToo movement, I experienced an array of emotions. To avoid potential bullying or strong-arming from a legal team, I will not link the video in this post.
When I first wrote about my feelings on Facebook, my post was deleted (like many others who shared the video) for "legal reasons".
I hesitated to even watch it at first because this guy was someone I've admired for a while. I'm a mindset coach, and have frequently quoted Tony. I have no interest in singling him out for the sheer sake of it. I do not hate him or wish him harm. Not at all.
That being said, I've got some shit to say about this.
I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend within the spiritual community. Much like the whitewashing “love and light” garbage that circulates, I am seeing more spiritual leaders downplay and dismiss what #MeToo is all about. And frankly, I’ve had enough.
Two heavy-hitters in particular within the spiritual/entrepreneurial space (first Marianne Williamson and now Tony) have caught my attention with their harshly dismissive attitude towards this movement.
Yes, they both have MASSIVE followings and are wildly popular, and no, I don’t give a shit.
Both of these “leaders” have miserably failed to unify people in what could have been a great opportunity for massive healing.
Both people are leaders and teachers. We all make mistakes. I don’t expect them to be perfect because there’s no such thing as a perfect human. But shouldn't leaders still remain open to learning themselves?
To me, a true leader remains open to learning and growing from everyone because they know that they're above no one. There's no room for ego in true leadership.
The danger in evangelizing and idolizing people lies in the very real probability that as human beings, we will disappoint each other. It's inevitable. No one has ALL the answers.
We must not be so afraid to question or call out things that need calling out, regardless of who the person is. If something doesn’t feel right, we must speak out.
(If you are so blindly loyal that you already started to put up a wall reading this, I urge you to reconsider and continue reading with an open heart.)
I stand firmly in my feminine power and will not engage in a debate with anyone regarding my personal experience or this movement.
#MeToo shouldn’t be a matter of opinion, yet there are many people who do not support it. I’m sorry, but what about this is a grey area for you?
While he didn’t actually call the movement “bullshit”, or directly say it wasn't important, he did interrupt this woman repeatedly to go on a know-it-ally rant about anger and victimhood.
So please, spare me the "but he said he supported the movement" argument.
He attempted to push back against her experience with his own assumptions about the people behind the hashtag. He said he supported the movement, then proceeded to rant about why he didn't support it.
Every single time she tried to communicate from her heart, Tony cut her off and only continued to reaffirm HIS stance. He was not LISTENING.
If you're reading this right now and shaking your head disagreeing with me, I encourage you to really watch the video and pay attention to what he says and the subtleties of the language he uses. Tony isn't stupid; he knows how to intentionally use language.
And so do I. I'm a Certified Master-Level NLP Practitioner. I know how to use language to empower people. I also know how to be able to sift through bullshit when I hear it.
He didn't make a mistake with his comments. He chose his words carefully to deconstruct the power of #MeToo and diminish its value.
He was only interested in continuing the dangerous narrative that threatens the #MeToo movement (that it’s being “used” improperly).
In response to the woman in the video asking him to understand what this movement is actually about, he repeatedly stated he wasn’t there to comply. And yet, that's exactly what he asked the audience to do when he was tearing down this movement AND this woman's personal feelings.
He wanted the audience to agree by raising their hands or cheering him on.
There’s so much wrong with this. The missing piece?
Without it, he was not able to hear her. He was not able to help her feel validated. He was not able to be an ally for this movement. He missed an enormous opportunity.
She was not asking him to help keep her stuck in her pain and anger; she was asking him to VALIDATE the importance of #MeToo.
He talked about other men he knew who wouldn’t hire attractive women because they’re afraid to be unfairly targeted and accused of sexual harassment. Seriously?
In a world that was built FOR men, BY men, this makes no sense to me. This world was created by men on a foundation of the submission and compliance of women. It's 2018, and women are still fighting for equal pay and equal rights across the board.
No, not all men are predators. Of course I don’t believe that. There are male and female victims, as well as male and female predators.
But for fuck’s sake, this is clearly a problem, and it has been since the beginning of time.
If you don’t plan on sexually harassing/abusing/taking advantage of a woman (or another man, for that matter), why the hell would hiring a perfectly qualified woman cause you to even think about #MeToo? Unless you don't plan to treat the female employee like the male employees, this shouldn't be an issue.
Sexually predatory behavior has nothing to do with the level of attraction an abuser has toward their victim and everything to do with entitlement and wanting power over another human being.
I’m a mindset coach, so my work is very similar to Tony's. I know all about reliving trauma (that’s what Tony’s referring to as "victimhood"). But I’m also a survivor.
I’m writing this from an empowered, healed place. I am not reliving the past or living in a cycle of anger, as Tony suggested. And even if I were, it’s not for anyone else to govern my healing process. I don’t need someone’s permission to heal “the right way”.
Tony’s weak argument was based on personal bias and male privilege. He has no clue what it’s like to be a woman, which is not his fault. But failing to even try to understand this movement is.
The first time I was sexually abused, I was around three or four-years-old (the minute details of those early years are still a bit fuzzy). Then, around the age of five by some older neighborhood boys who tied me to a tree (naked) and tortured me, laughing as I cried for my mother.
I was sexually propositioned repeatedly by older adult men growing up, including an adult neighbor who knew exactly how old I was. After reporting his behavior to my school teacher and filing a report with the police, he harassed me every day, laughing and cat-calling to me whenever I got off the school bus while he was outside. He was forty-two and married, and I was twelve-years-old and not even in junior high yet.
Later, I was targeted and groomed for years by a narcissistic pedophile who was in my own family. Eventually, he sexually abused me, and I was forced to keep his secrets for years (more on what that did to my emotional, mental and physical health in a moment).
After leaving home for good at nineteen, I truly thought that my lifetime of sexual abuse was behind me. But after divorcing my first husband, I began dating again.
I’m pausing here very intentionally.
“Dating again” probably doesn’t ring any alarm bells for most men. But as many women know, this automatically puts us squarely in the “danger zone”.
Girls are taught from a young age to dress appropriately (to avoid rape), to not wear too much makeup (to avoid rape), to park in well-lit areas (to avoid rape), and to not take drinks that were mixed/poured without our supervision (to avoid rape).
We are conditioned to be held accountable for the crimes of our abusers.
Despite following these girl-rules myself and "doing all the right things", I was raped twice as an adult by two different men, on two different dates. In case you’re still not clear as to why I’m so upset by Tony’s response, he entirely misses the point (or at least failed to address it) as to WHY #MeToo is even a thing. I have very literally been a target for sexual abuse my entire life.
Sexual assault is not just a woman’s issue, but statistically speaking, women are victimized at much higher rates.
The most obvious reason for this is because, statistically/biologically speaking, men usually have the physical advantage over women. Sexual predators are not smarter than women, they’re just stronger.
And I found it interesting (and disgusting) that Tony chose THIS moment to display his male strength and dominance over a woman talking about #MeToo.
Rape culture has perpetuated a dismissive narrative of the very real fear of men instilled in women from birth.
On one hand, we’re raised to fear becoming a victim and thus, follow the “girl rules”, but on the other, society tells us that it’s okay to make rape jokes and to dismiss #MeToo as being “improperly used” for some sort of cry for attention. This is simultaneously ridiculous and harmful.
As women, we are taught that our emotions are irrational. We’re taught to not cry so much and to “toughen up” because that clearly never leads to any kind of addictions later on in life or emotional traumas down the road (I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm here). Now, in the midst of the Trump presidency, we're called "snowflakes" if we dare display any emotions over being mistreated.
ANGER is by far the most vilified emotion across the board. God forbid a woman should ever feel angry!
For years, I was told to shut up and not talk about what happened in my home growing up. I was forced to internalize my pain, and as a result, became an always-angry, profoundly depressed child. My first suicide attempt was at age twelve, the first of many more attempts to follow.
My abuser was allowed to revictimize me, over and over, because that is the cycle of abuse. I was not allowed to express anger.
When I eventually left home, I was free from the abuse, but not from the emotional trauma and aftermath. I didn’t have anyone telling me that my feelings were valid. I didn’t have anyone holding my hand, comforting me and saying that I had every right to feel what I felt.
I had to process on my own.
And for me, my only coping mechanism was an eating disorder. I took all of that unexpressed rage and turned it on myself, as many survivors do. We often don't know what to do with our pain, so we usually end up taking it out on ourselves through addictions or self-harm.
My eating disorder and emotional traumas spiraled out of control, and not only did I gain weight (a lot of weight), I developed numerous serious health issues. I don’t come from an unhealthy family, but by twenty-five- years-old, I was diagnosed with over six serious health conditions (including pancreatitis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism).
Do you know what unexpressed anger does to your chakras? Your organs?
The state of your pancreas is directly related to your beliefs about the sweetness of life. Life was NOT sweet for me until I started to heal my emotional traumas, which didn’t happen until I was in my early thirties. It’s no coincidence that the last time I had pancreatitis (and almost died) was when I began deep emotional healing.
Likewise, as a result of having to keep my emotions bottled for so many years, I developed a thyroid disorder. If you know anything about the chakras, you know that the throat chakra is responsible for our communication and self-expression.
Take it from someone who KNOWS what emotions do in the physical body: unexpressed anger suffocates your chakras and kills your organs. It creates mayhem.
Stop asking us to dilute our emotions.
It is irresponsible for someone with a following as massive as Tony's to advise this. Hell, it’s irresponsible of anyone.
#MeToo is not about wanting to be angry all the time or just having something else to be angry about. That’s ridiculous.
It’s not about getting caught up in something to feel passionate about for the sake of it.
But it is about creating unity.
It is the closest thing we have to being able to take each other by the hand, comfort one another, and say “your feelings are valid, and I hear you”.
I don’t know this woman’s personal story, but for one reason or another, she feels a connection to #MeToo. I can only speak about my experience, and what this means to me.
And I want to be clear about something: every single emotion is valid. Even anger. ESPECIALLY anger. Anger sends a signal to our bodies that something is wrong – a boundary has been crossed.
It doesn’t always mean that our anger is directed at the correct source. Obviously, there is such a thing as misplaced anger. But, we need to stop being afraid of anger.
I think (hope) that we can all agree that if survivors want to use #MeToo as part of their healing process, they have every fucking right to be angry.
Men (and women) who “don’t support the movement”:
We’re not asking you to permit “victimhood” with #metoo; we’re asking you to be an empathetic and compassionate ally.
We’re asking you to stand with us. We’re asking you to get angry, too.
This is an issue that impacts every human being on the planet in some way or another. We’re not asking you to be angry people; we’re asking you to help us process our anger.
We’re asking you to be kind and to show compassion.
When you attempt to silence us, interrupt us, downplay our experience, shame us, or rush our healing to fit your agenda, YOU are making us a victim all over again.
We’re using this hashtag because someone somewhere crossed a line and took away our voice.
Please stop trying to do the same.
We’re not using this hashtag for the sole purpose of attacking people; we’re saying enough is enough. NO MORE KEEPING SECRETS.
We’re asking you to drop your masculine defenses.
We’re not saying that women are better than men.
We’re asking to be treated as well as you are.
We’re asking to build connection, not to destroy it.
We’re not looking to bring down men for the hell of it; we’re fighting to hold our abusers accountable (who are mostly men) and create a more peaceful and cooperative planet.
We can no longer internalize our pain. We are tired. We are weary.
And our feminine fire can no longer be contained.
Our bodies belong to us. So do our stories.
We’re asking you to stop asking us to stop being “victims”.
#MeToo is not about wanting attention.
And it’s most definitely not about wanting to be a victim. No one wants that.
It’s about truth. It’s about using our voices to create a safe container for other people who are suffering.
It’s about using our voices to help the voiceless.
It’s about letting people know that it’s okay to stop keeping secrets.
It’s also NOT just for women. ALL GENDERS are part of #MeToo.
It’s about standing up for what’s right.
Have we forgotten what that means? I don’t think so. I haven’t lost hope for us (yet).
Name and status do not impress me at all. But the way you treat other human beings DOES (or doesn’t).
I don’t care if your last name is Robbins or Trump – you don’t get to devalue the experience and pain of anyone who aligns with #MeToo.
As a coach and human being, I get what Tony meant about remaining in victim mentality. But that’s not for anyone else to decide or judge.
Women (especially female survivors) require a different approach than hypermasculinity. We get it – you’re a tough guy. You don’t need to invade our physical space, you don’t need to interrupt us, and you don’t need to devalue our emotions.
By telling people that anger is disempowering and that we should do anything possible to avoid feeling it is utter and complete garbage.
Anger is incredibly empowering when it’s appropriately placed.
Anger sparks action.
Expressing anger can move us closer to healing. We’re all doing the best we can.
Speaking out and coming forward (with sadness, frustration or any other damn emotion we choose to deploy) is our right. And I’m not sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.
Let’s get uncomfortable.
Let’s get angry.
Let’s speak up.
Let’s shine a light on this, together.
THAT is what we want. That is what we need.
But it starts with EMPATHY. We need to be HEARD. THAT is what we want.
THAT is what this is all about.
I suppose it's fairly easy for some people to judge a grown woman on why she might feel upset about what Tony said, but what about the little girl in the photo?
She was around three or four years old here, and at the time this picture was taken, was being sexually abused in her own home for over a year by a family friend.
Would you ask her to not be sad/angry?
Would you ask this little girl to stay silent? To NOT name her abuser? Would you make her feel guilty for bravely telling her parents what had been happening after he threatened to kill her mother if she told?
I was five when I named my FIRST abuser and sent him to prison for five years. But for many people, they're too crippled by fear to come forward. They're afraid of being judged or being called a liar.
They're afraid that people like Tony will say they're just looking for attention. They feel that no one will believe their story, so they never share it.
So I ask you, from the bottom of my heart: Please, before you judge an entire movement, get to know the people behind it first.
Dani Turcotte is a Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master, Practicing Witch, Intuitive Wealth Mindset Coach, Psychic, and Medium. She is full of passion for helping people ignite their greatness through emotional healing and experience TRUE abundance on every level! She empowers people around the globe to operate from prosperity consciousness and become masterful co-creators with the Universe. Dani has been featured on iHeart Radio and is currently working on her first autobiographical book.