It was a cold night in February as I was heading home from my video class. An older man got on the train with a walker. He sat down across from me and began masturbating. He looked straight at me, his stare locked in on my face.
I was traumatized, angry, and sad all at once. He used my body as an object to gratify himself. I am a graduate student at George Washington University, and every single night I take the metro home for my 90-minute commute.
A commute that should be spent listening to music, reading, or grumbling over train delays. But those luxuries have been stripped away and replaced with unsettling fear.
Since my first encounter, I have been subjected to harassment on the metro three more times. I believe we can not be passive when it comes to sexual harassment - we have to make it stop.
So, I decided to use my photography talents to inspire a movement. I decided to turn on my camera and share my story. It turns out I am not alone. What started out as a personal trauma has transformed into a national story.
Overwhelmed with requests, I have had the opportunity to photograph 25 sexual harassment stories of women and men within the Washington, D.C. area.
They all start with the same innocent narrative: "I was taking the bus to work during the summer…" - Anthony
"It happened right after I moved here..."- Colleen
"What happened to me on public transportation isn't something that should be happening to a 17-year-old high school girl. In fact, it isn't something that should be happening to any person at all…" - Alicia
As this project gained national attention on The Washington Post, NPR, WAMU, Here & Now, The Catholic Standard, NBC4, WUSA9, I have received 45 submissions from all over the United States that I intend to document.
Some incidents have occurred on busses, taxis, Ubers, the metro, or just walking on the street. The list just goes on.
This is where you come in. I need your help to photograph and film the next 45 stories.
This summer, I will take a road trip from Washington, D.C. to Maine. I will stop in every city where an individual has submitted a story of sexual harassment over the course of my travels.
To get moving on this project, I need your support. This project cannot occur without you. Since I am a graduate student, I am naturally broke. I live at my mom's house, and eat bread (a lot!) for lunch to save my pennies.
I need to raise $4,000 to help fund the road trip portion of the project to cover the cost of fuel, food, production, lodging and other operational costs.
The project will result in a documentary entitled I was on the metro when…, to be revealed in May 2019.
This project is close to my heart and any bit of money will mean the world to me, and countless others.
It is time for sexual harassment to be recognized, rejected, and prevented. Sexual harassment in unacceptable.
Everyone should feel safe on public transit. Join me if you think so too.
SUBMIT YOUR STORY HERE.
#iwasonthemetrowhen #MeToo #TimesUp
Risks and challenges
There are always risks and roadblocks that accompany the launch of a photography or documentary project. Luckily, as a photographer and videographer, I am especially adept at adapting to new situations. I plan out logistics such as timing, location, equipment requirements in advance. I also anticipate and navigate unexpected challenges such as changes in weather and lighting as well as timing , delays. I may also hear the word "no" often, even if I have already arranged for a meeting with one of my interview subjects.
I am prepared for this to happen and I am cognizant and respectful of the amount of bravery and trust that it takes for victims of sexual harassment to tell their stories. With many visual projects in my portfolio, I can assure you that my dedication leaves me with a great footage and that I am able to achieve my creative goals for every project.
Furthermore, I am a versatile photographer; I have photographed more than a dozen weddings, international trips, and social justice events including March for our Lives and the Women's March. In fact, no territory is too daunting for me - you can ask my happily engaged friends as I stayed camouflaged when they climbed a mountain for a surprise proposal. The diversity of my work speaks to my ability to depict and capture different emotions and experiences, effectively communicating the human experience.
As you can imagine, telling stories about sexual harassment is not easy and this is exactly why I am conducting interviews in person. I promise to create safe and comfortable spaces for my subjects so they can tell their stories at their own pace.
After hearing countless stories across the nation, I am ready to dedicate my time to documenting the narratives of my subjects. I will remain transparent, honest, and open with my audience. I owe it to those victims who have been affected by sexual harassment and it is a goal of mine to help our society prevent future incidents.
I intend to document this problem is spite of the challenges ahead and I encourage my audience to reach out with any questions, comments, or media requests.
Contact Margaret (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Individuals who made this project possible:
- (30 days)