UI student photography tackles sexual assault - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI student photography tackles sexual assault

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Taylor Yocom is a senior at the University of Iowa studying photography. When she started an art project a year ago, she had no idea it would receive so much attention.

"Now, it's worldwide, and it's just crazy."

The idea came to Yocom when she was in class, during a time when a string of sexual assaults happened on the UI campus.

"The girls in my class, we were pulling out our rape whistles and the mace on our key chains, just casually showing them to each other. And the guys were like, oh, you have to think about that."

The discussion inspired her to take photos of women in Iowa City, compiling 33 photos as part of her project titled "Guarded." The collection includes pictures of real women, showcasing what they really carry on a daily basis to protect themselves against sexual assault and rape. The pictures include key chains with mace, rape whistles and women holding their keys in their hands as self defense.

Experts say Yocom's idea applies to women of all ages.

"It addresses this social construct. This idea of the measures, the extremes, that women have to go to," Jen Carlson said, Director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program in Iowa City.

She says she sees, and hears, these ways of self defense depicted in Yocom's photos.

"Scan the parking lot, do I have my keys, my mace, my whistle, my cell phone out to dial 911."

Yocom is shedding light on the issue of sexual assault, and hopes her work keeps the discussion going.

"I really do think, a lot of the responses I've had, especially from men, have been pretty emotional, which has moved me a lot."

Yocom will host an opening at Public Space One in Iowa City to showcase "Guarded." The display begins Friday, May 8 and will go through the end of the month.

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