McCool told VICE over the phone that she felt compelled to speak up after hearing Robbins’s remarks. McCool, who said she was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and physical violence herself, recalled what angered her: "What I heard him say was #MeToo is great and all, but it's 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."
This brought out something in her. "I was horrified in a sense that, ‘Oh My God, Tony Robbins, this great guy, just has it all wrong.’ I stood up and started yelling, ‘You've got it all wrong!’"
As seen in the video, Robbins told her, “I’m not knocking the #MeToo movement, I’m knocking victimhood," and asked the audience to "consider what its impact is." He went on to say that "anger is not empowerment," adding, "Who should throw the stone? You shouldn't throw that stone if you live in a fucking glass house. Is there any one of us that hasn't done something that we prefer we'd not or that we're embarrassed by or that was hurtful even if if we didn't intend it to?"
He continued: "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.”
McCool replied, “I hear you mischaracterizing the #MeToo movement. Certainly there are people who are using it for their own personal devices, but there are also a significant number of people who are using it not to relive whatever may have happened to them, but to make it safe for the young women […] so that they don’t have to feel unsafe.” After a round of applause, she continued: “And I think you do the whole movement a disservice by characterizing it the way you have. I just want to say, Tony, I love you.”
The two then went back and forth in an exchange where Robbins said, "I don't feel attacked" and that she was “using it differently than some other people.” He then did an exercise where he told her to hold out her fist, then pushed her fist with his own to make the point that “when you push someone else it doesn’t make you more safe, it just makes them angry.”
Of the pushing, McCool said, “I thought, 'OK, we're going to fist bump.' Then he started pushing me. I thought he wanted me to show how strong I could be and push back, but that's not what he wanted. He wanted me to move backward.” She went on: “[I was] thinking he's going to transform it into some kind of awareness. I don't know, it's Tony Robbins, there's going to be some lesson here that's gonna be useful to me. I initially started pushing back but he immediately pushed back harder. There was no way. He was going to knock me on my ass if I didn't step backward so I quit pushing against him, I just started walking backward. As long as he was pushing me, I was moving.”
Nine of the 11 attendees VICE spoke to brought up how Robbins’s larger size and his physical contact with her seemed almost intimidating. “He’s a very large man so she looks tiny next to him, and then he starts pushing her, not to be abusive but pushing her as an interaction,” recalled Logan Wick of Austin, who has been a follower of Robbins for eight years and has gone to four of his seminars. "In that moment, when you’re talking about #MeToo and you’re telling a woman and you’re pushing against her and you’re very large—no matter what size man you are, you shouldn’t be doing that in this context.”