Reflections: Denim Day

**Trigger Warning: Non-graphic Discussion of Sexual Assault**

In a departure from my more upbeat posts, I wanted to draw some attention to an issue I hold close to me. Not because it’s happened to me or even anyone I know, but because it is something that happens to women, men, and many people who are not gender binary.

Rape.

Yesterday, April 27, was Denim Day. Basically, participants wear jeans in order to raise awareness for sexual assault. The two things seem unrelated, but here is a description from Denim Day’s official website:

For the past 17 years, Peace Over Violence has run its Denim Day campaign on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Violence Awareness Month. The campaign was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. In this rape prevention education campaign we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. This year’s Denim Day is April 27, 2016.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), 1 in every 6 American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. 1 in every 33 American men have been the victims of attempted or completed rape. (And because men are more likely not to report them to the police, the number could very well be higher.) Every year, there are almost 300,000 rapes on average, and every 107 seconds, another American is raped. 68% of these assaults are not reported for various reasons including fear of the attacker or fear of judgement. One of the scariest statistics for rape is this:

98% of rapists will never spend a single day in jail.

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The point of Denim Day is to bring more awareness to these statistics and to take the blame away from victims. Rape culture exists, and many times, women who are raped are more likely to be asked what they were wearing when the rape occured, as if what they we wearing, be it a minidress or baggy jeans, had something to do with causing their own assault.

“There is no excuse and never an invitation to rape.”

It’s really about to time to stop this victim blaming and shaming, for men, women and everyone inbetween. And I’ve received comments before asking why I sound so angry when I discuss this issue, but really, there shouldn’t be a question about it. Why wouldn’t you be angry about someone violating your body in the most personal ways? Does that not make you angry? Even if you’ve never experienced it – and I haven’t – would you not be angry about this or sympathize with people this has happened to?

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Luckily, we are making progress as a society. It’s not quick progress, but it’s there. As we can see with the case between Kesha and Dr. Luke, there’s still a lot that needs to be done. However, based on the amount of support and outpouring of love from the public to Kesha, I have some hope.

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The more we keep raising awareness and letting our voices be heard, the faster we can move forward and work to eradicate sexual assault. My support is with you if this has ever happened to you, and I want you to know that it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t deserve it, you never will deserve it. Together we will keep fighting to give you the justice you do deserve.

If you or someone you know has gone through this and needs help, support and resources can be found at rainn.org.

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