There was an ad displaying the exploitation of Denim Day that came across my social media feed a few weeks ago. At first I was more confused than offended. I knew Denim Day was associated with sexual assault awareness in some way, but everything I had seen about it didn’t share the real reason behind why denim specifically was so important to the cause. It didn’t especially stand out since most women wear denim as a casual fashion choice, so choosing denim seemed like a weird choice to bring awareness to anything.
I did a little digging into the event and found that in the late 90’s a young Italian girl was assaulted, her assailant arrested, tried, and convicted. However, the conviction was over turned at the discretion of the judge based on the personal opinion “her denim jeans were too tight, and she would have had to help her attacker take them off, which would imply consent.”
In response to this outrageous decision all of the women in the Italian Parliament showed up to work the next day in denim jeans. By doing so they chose to show their solidarity for this poor girl. The event was international news. Once it reached the US, the movement started with our own women in government on the West Coast. Eventually the idea spread across the entire country and became an organized awareness day.
It kind of knocked the wind out of my sails upon learning the origins of the event. It also really surprised me that it wasn’t more widely publicized. Perhaps it had been twenty odd years ago, and like so many other things the initiating force behind it was lost to the winds of time. Currently, the Denim Day event itself is all over the place, but the origins aren’t widely discussed.
It also made me very angry and sad. I was sad because while the intentions of Denim Day are good, the beginning has been lost after so many years unless you take the time to research as I did. I’m also angry that a high ranking legal official could make such an outrageous claim that this poor girl had to help an older adult man remove her jeans and allow him to assault her, or that the removal of her clothing at all some how implied consent.
I wish society would just drop this “what where you wearing” bullshit already. In the majority of my own personal experiences none of my clothes were completely removed at all, merely pushed aside. Does that make what happened to me invalid because my rapist had enough wits about him to leave me mostly dressed? Even in Islamic countries where women are required by law to remain covered from head to toe at all times in public rape is still a prevalent crime. It has nothing to do with clothing at all! The crime of rape is committed when a predator makes the decision to put his or her own sick pleasure and gratification ahead of another person’s humanity. Gender is irrelevant. Men can be sexually assaulted and raped too, by other men or by women.
In the mind of a predator a burlap sack could be seen as provocative, because they don’t see another human being before they attack. They only see themselves and how good it will feel, or how their sick sexual urges will be satisfied. That’s the true root of this issue. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: it’s predator versus prey. Not man versus women, or man versus miniskirt, or woman versus man, man versus man, women versus woman… no! It’s none of that. It’s personal responsibility. Clothing is just a convenient scapegoat used by those too ashamed or cowardly to face up to their own actions. Think about that each Denim Day, before you put on those jeans.
To read more of Rebecca’s thoughts on surviving and overcoming sexually based crimes you can find her latest release Turquoise Boot Straps: A Survivor’s Thoughts on Amazon or by following the sales link above. Kindle and Paperback versions available now.
Copyright R. MacCeile 2019