Good day, all!
I did not expect my first public essay of sorts to be on Denim Day. It was going to be slightly more personal than that. However, my job announced yesterday everyone was to wear denim at work to support Denim Day, a day I’d never heard of before and really should have. I work in LA County at a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. Amongst many other things, we push awareness on real, social issues such as violence against women. I’m learning a lot just by clocking into work, it’s amazing.
So, what is Denim Day?
April is National Sexual Awareness Month and Denim Day, I believe, normally occurs the last Wednesday of April. Today it is April 29, 2020. We show solidarity by wearing denim as a protest toward apathetic attitudes towards women who are victims of sexual assault. It was born out of Los Angeles in 1999 and has grown to multiple states since then.
The Background of Denim Day
In Italy, around the early 1990’s, an 18-year-old girl went out for her first driving lesson with her 45-year-old driving instructor. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to the instructor as The Pig. That is his new, lovely name. The Pig instructed her to drive out and pull into a secluded area where he sexually assaulted her. Like every other rapist pig, he threatened to further harm her if she spoke out. Frightened, she told her parents who supported and encouraged her to press charges and he was convicted and put away, after a bit of legal struggle. The Pig appealed his conviction claiming it was consensual sex. His argument was that the denim jeans the victim wore were, “very, very tight jeans,” leaving her to remove them herself for anything to happen. Therefore, it was consensual. In his mind, she didn’t have to listen to his threats of violence against her. She could have waited to see what happened. He didn’t say this in his argument but this is what I assume he must have thought because it is an argument repeatedly used by perpetrators everywhere. This faulty theory resulted in The Pig successfully overturning his appeal. The “jeans alibi” sparked public outrage and the day after the court’s decision women in Italy showed solidarity by wearing denim jeans and holding up signs with their slogan, “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.”
Although the jeans alibi can no longer be used in courts, it doesn’t appear the perpetrator went back to jail despite the protests. The New York Times Article by Alessandra Stanley can provide more thorough information into what the asinine reasons for allowing the perpetrator to walk free. However, it looks like the severe lack of diversity in gender on the supreme court (10 female judges and 410 male judges) played a large role in this perpetrator blaming the woman for her clothing and walking free.
Let’s continue to show our solidarity, as women and men, by wearing denim to support victims of sexual assault and spread awareness.