Photo project highlights what women carry in self defense

Guarded, a photo series by Taylor Yocom, was recently published in a Loyola University student magazine, and now the University of Iowa photography student is re-staging her project in downtown Iowa City. She’s issued a call for female models to participate in a community event that highlights the prevalence of rape in our society and myriad ways women protect themselves.

Today (4-6 p.m.) and Saturday (12-4 p.m.) on the Ped Mall, Yocom will be taking pictures of women with rape whistles, pepper spray and other weapons used for self-defense.

So what inspired the project? Yocom said one day before class last year, “All of the women and feminine-identified people were casually showing each other their mace and rape whistles after the taxi cab assaults. Did any of the guys have these objects? No. They were baffled and had no idea that we carried them. After this it really hit me that I needed to portray this visually.”

She shot the first round of “Guarded” and posted it on her tumblr page. The response was positive and she decided to update the photo series with another set of photo sessions open to the public. She’s planned a public installation at Public Space One with an open forum to discuss issues regarding sexual assault with survivors and victims.

sara-puffer-guarded1Yocom said she hopes to “spread of awareness of how pervasive rape culture is — how sad it is that women have to have mace with them every day. I think that a lot of people think it doesn’t happen that much, but rape does.”

One of the models from the original series, Sara Puffer, said she wanted “to show people what it’s like to have that fear, and how angry I am that this is a social problem that many feminine-identified individuals face,” adding, “This project is about showing both courage and fear that tells the story of the walk in the dark.”

In September, Yocom was named an “Artist to Watch out For” by Starry Night Retreat in New Mexico.

For more info about the event today and Saturday, or to set up a portrait session with Yocom, visit the Facebook event page.

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


World of Bikes presents:


Come talk with our experts about ways to stay on the bike this winter! Find out more at World of Bikes.

Get Started

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.