Learn about this day in remembrance of one victim that is affecting change.
By: Ashtyn Burgess
In 1992 an eighteen-year-old Italian girl went for her first driving lesson. Her forty-five-year-old driving instructor made her pull over the car and forced her to have sex. He was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to jail. In 1999 he appealed his sentence, and the Italian Supreme Court overturned his conviction. The reasoning? “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.” Outraged at this ruling, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work the following days wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Hence, “Denim Day” was born. Over the past twenty years, Peace Over Violence has developed and demonstrated Denim Day each April. According to the Denim Day website, “wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual harassment, abuse, assault and rape.” The goal of Denim Day is to bring awareness and conversation to sexual assault and rape, as well as change the disgusting narrative of rape culture.
Wearing a pair of jeans may seem like something that is too insignificant to make a change, but it is taking a step in the right direction. Marshall Universitydefines rape culture as “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.” It then goes on to say that “rape culture affects every woman.” Changing rape culture will not come easy nor quickly, but it will come if we take action.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “one in five women and one in seventy-one men will be raped at some point in their lives.” Oklahoma State’s 1 is 2 Many website states this startling fact: “About 20% of college women and 6% of college men will experience completed or attempted sexual assault during their college career. This means with a population of about 26,000 students with roughly half women and half men, about 2,600 women and about 800 men will experience sexual assault while here at OSU.” Rape
and sexual assault have more than likely affected someone that you know personally, whether they’ve told you or not. These statistics alone should push you to get involved in ending rape culture and rape on your college campus.
So how do you get involved? Getting involved in Denim Day is easy- all you have to do is
wear denim! 1 is 2 Many has spearheaded the Denim Day movement here at OSU. They put on a “Denim Day Production” which includes speakers, resources, and musical performances. They also showed an all-day display of decorated jeans in the Student Union. Take action next Denim Day by wearing jeans to help change rape culture in your community.
Photos courtesy of Morgan Malget