A Walk Outside Looks Very Different For Women Than It Does For Men

What do you carry?

If you're a man, a typical walk home alone might look something like this: Leave where you are, check to make sure you have your phone, wallet and keys, walk home, maybe check phone, arrive at destination. 

If you're a woman, it might look like this: Before leaving an area, make sure no one's walking your way. If they are, make sure you have mace, a knife or whatever form of protection you usually carry. Walk outside, hold your keys between your knuckles, have 911 dialed into your phone, keep your headphones out to hear someone approaching, and look behind you every so often to make sure no one is following you. 

These above process may seem kind of strange, but it's a common ritual women that women go through almost every time they're alone, where they can be assaulted, attacked or raped.


University of Iowa senior and photography student Taylor Yocom knows this ritual all too well.

Back in October, she took photos of fellow classmates with the "weapons" they carry to feel safe and named the project "Guarded."

"Talking to classmates one day inspired the project," she told A Plus in an email interview.

"The women were casually showing each other their mace and rape whistles. The men couldn't believe we had to even think about this. This gender divide really struck me, and I knew I wanted to represent this visually," she said.

And that's why she photographed "Guarded," to drive that point home: Women are forced to carry these items because they don't feel safe — one in five college women are victims of sexual assault — but the burden is still on them, the victims, to stop it. 

As the photos show, they carry keys, mace, whistles and more. But it obviously isn't always enough.

Even the ultimate "self-defense" weapon, a gun, isn't 100 percent safe.

According to Mother Jones, a study found that those who carried a gun to protect themselves had a greater chance of getting shot and killed with it. 

As Dr. Deborah Azrael, the associate director of the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center and a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health told Salon

"What we know is where there are more guns, more women die.”

So maybe, just maybe, it's time to turn the attention to stopping the people perpetuating the crime.

"I want people to see these images as a representation of the actual people affected by this issue and hopefully realize how absurd it is to expect women to be on guard at all times," she told A Plus.

Absurd it is.

Check out a few more of the women featured below:


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.