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An Open Letter to Mr. Anthony “Tony” Robbins

0 Heart it! Heidi J MacDonald 25
April 20, 2018
Heidi J MacDonald
0 Heart it! 25

Recently, a video clip of your interaction with a woman who identified with the #MeToo movement, at one of your seminars, went viral. A great deal of criticism and public outcry erupted, and you released a public apology via social media, a few days later. But I have to ask, do you completely understand why women, and survivors are hurt by your words and actions that day?

You are a self-help empowerment coach, and have been in the business of encouraging people to reach their fullest potential in life. Your most famous tagline is “life happens for you, not to you.”

Based on this logic, survivors wrestle with an innate sense, that somehow, it is their fault. But the reality is, they were taken advantage of, in the most heartbreaking way possible.

Perhaps you have been asking yourself this past week, “Why are women so outraged?”

It is because in spite of all of this century’s rapid shining growth, sexual violence and inappropriate behavior are still commonplace.

Please consider this:

Human sex trafficking currently, is a $150 billion dollar industry. The International Labor Organization estimates there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking, worldwide.

Yes, there still exists people who believe they have the right to own another human being.

Even the disabled, are not given immunity from human cruelty and abuse.

An investigation in the 1980’s at the Maine Baxter School For the Deaf, revealed decades of sexual & physical abuse suffered, at the hands of their teachers. The trauma to the deaf community, still echoes, decades later.

There seems to be an unending pattern regarding the abuse of power over vulnerable populations who cannot easily speak for themselves.

What was likely an unintentional dig on your part became the moment when you made the statement that the women in the #MeToo Movement, are encouraging victimhood and seeking significance.

Did you know that every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted?

That number of victims adds up quickly.

You, sir, have a lot of privilege. You are a white, wealthy and privileged male. You will not ever know what it means for a woman to be subjected to leering and sexual innuendo at her place of work, and be unable to quit because her job gives her the financial means to feed her family.

You, on the other hand, own several homes and cars, have access to private transportation, and have an estimated net worth of $480 million dollars.

You will not likely ever know the unsettling feeling of walking through a darkened car garage where you feel acutely uneasy and unsafe. Yet, most woman implicitly understand that she could easily be overpowered in the shadows where no security cameras exist.

Your physical stature prevents such misfortunes from happening to you. You are well over six feet tall, and twice the weight of most women.

I am saddened that you did not give those in the #MeToo Movement some initial words of compassion when you were first pressed for your viewpoints. Your public support of Steve Wynn who has multiple unresolved sexual misconduct allegations against him shows further how out of touch you are with your female constituents.

I am sure many, like myself, were hoping you would speak with understanding and empathy. For you have publicly recounted being physically abused by your mother as a young boy.

It is disquieting that your final words to a stadium of fans, was to recount a story of a friend who opted not to hire a qualified woman at his business — simply because she was too attractive.

In saying this, you encouraged a very old manner of thinking:

that men cannot control their impulses.
that a man is somehow not responsible for his behavior.
that it is the women’s fault for not getting a job she may justly deserves, because of her physical attributes.

Mr. Robbins, contrary to your earlier statement made in the now infamous clip, we are NOT seeking a culture of victim-hood.

#MeToo happened, because we wanted to bring attention to just how shocking, and commonplace, inappropriate behavior and illegal assaults are, on a global and cultural scale.

We wanted others who have suffered to find comfort, in the knowledge that they are not alone.

But most importantly, we want to engage in conversations with men, much like yourself, who are struggling to comprehend the changes we are advocating for, in the workplace and our modern society.

This goes beyond Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Eric Salvail, the halls of Just For Laughs, Woody Allen, Brett Ratner, or the corridors of the White House.

We want you to ask us, what makes us comfortable or uncomfortable. What makes us feel safe or scared. What is right and not right. We want the blaming and the guilt to stop. We want conversations of substance to occur, so that true change can happen.

We want young girls to grow up safe from predators.

We want women to feel safe in their homes and workplaces.

Because in feeling safe, we will then, in turn, be empowered.

Because ultimately, we want to feel empowered in our lives, our bodies.

You, Mr. Robbins, are in a position to see an evolution of your message happen, if you choose to do your research by sitting at a table with survivors.

You can encourage empowerment with compassion, and you can gain a greater trust from your female base.

You can take the time to read books from psychologists with a background in working with persons with PTSD. You can take a few minutes of your day to read the websites I’ve mentioned, and many more out there in the vast space of the Internet.

You have the influence to reach out to professionals and survivors alike to craft new programs and seminars — to help survivors weave their truths into new futures with strength and dignity, to ensure that their daughters will not endure what they have.

Many survivors of sexual violence cannot afford access to the necessary mental and physical health care they need to heal. Even with health care reform, millions of Americans do not have access to health insurance, to seek the help they need.

I say this because, not everyone can afford to spend thousands of dollars to attend your seminars, Mr. Robbins. And I am certain that you have the luxury and access to some of the best doctors in the world, whereas survivors may only have access to community clinics who struggle financially to stay open.

We need men, including yourself to listen and assist us with finding solutions.

Imagine what we could do if we could finally see ourselves as a unified global community, not divided along gender lines.

Please think outside the box, sir, of how can you, with all your privilege, best contribute to gender equality and the eradication of sexual violence.

I sincerely hope that you take this, not as a critique of your message of empowerment but as some intelligent discourse for thought.

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