Content warning: information addressing sexual assault
My colleague in the psychology department emailed the campus to invite us to wear denim on April 24, 2019–this year’s annual Denim Day. Denim Day is in its 20th year of raising awareness of sexual assault and claims about women’s clothing. As the Denim Day website explains:
For the past 20 years, Peace Over Violence has run its Denim Day campaign on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaign began after 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 the person who raped her 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 harassment, abuse, assault and rape. In this sexual violence prevention and education campaign we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion statement by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual violence.
April 24, 2019 also happened to be my university’s Symposium Day. On this day the university cancels classes so that students can present their research and creative projects. On this day students are encouraged to *dress up* for these presentations, too. And they did. But some wore denim, and they wore it with a purpose–not because they forgot to dress up, but because they were making a statement.
While I won’t post their pictures here, I will tell you that I saw students and faculty wearing jeans, denim jackets and vests, and denim shirts.
Here’s what I wore:
Under it all I wore my Straight outta Pemberley shirt. Over it a Paris scarf. Those details don’t really matter, but I thought you might want to know.
What does matter is this: women can wear anything they want, and what they wear is not an invitation for rape.