London Writer Joins #MeToo Campaign
It is a social media campaign that is opening our eyes to how prevalent sexual harassment and assault is.
Emerging out of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the #MeToo movement is aiming to elevate the conversation surrounding the often taboo topic.
And it’s working.
Within a day, millions of women from around the world responded with the hashtag #MeToo, each with her own personal story of sexual harassment or assault.
"We're so afraid to talk about it because of the shame that's associated with it. Now there's this unified feeling of ‘I'm not alone’," London writer Najwa Zebian says.
Sitting in her office, the 27-year old Zebian says she was tired of hiding behind a veil of silence. She wanted to be among the women inspiring others to speak out.
So she took to Twitter, writing eloquently: "And I was blamed for it. I was told not to talk about it. I was told that it wasn't that bad. I was told to get over it."
#MeToo— Najwa Zebian (@najwazebian) October 16, 2017
And I was blamed for it.
I was told not to talk about it.
I was told that it wasn't that bad.
I was told to get over it.
Zebian’s tweet quickly went viral, featured by the New York Times, Glamour magazine and CBS News.
"You go through an experience where you're told that never happened, or it wasn't that bad and you're like, but it was, I went through it, and I didn't ask to be in so much pain. (It) was a statement for me to say I went through this."
Zebian, who moved to London, Ontario from Lebanon in 2006, has always had a way with words. At her young age, she is already the best-selling author of two books tackling her experiences of being misjudged and mistreated.
Speaking about her experience of sexual harassment, Zebian doesn’t delve into what happened to her, but says she believes systems in place in our society have long been silencing victims.
"What usually happens when you go through something like that is you're so ashamed of what you went through, especially when we have these systemic powers in place that do silence people. I, as a victim, shouldn't be ashamed of talking about what happened to me. The abuser should be ashamed of what they did to me."
It is this message she hopes will resonate with her many readers.
And the fact that she is a visible Muslim woman speaking on issues typically stigmatized within her culture is also not lost on her. She says she is fully aware of the power this can have.
"I receive messages on a daily basis, and many of those messages are from young Muslim women who have gone through experiences that they're so terrified of talking about because they know they are going to be blamed. I receive many, many private messages saying… the fact that you said ‘me too’ gave me permission to say ‘me too,’ and that for me is something I will never take for granted."