In 1999, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdict of a man who had previously been convicted of raping a teenager. Their reasoning was that since the survivor had been wearing tight jeans at the time of the crime, she must have helped the man remove her jeans thereby implying consensual sex.
This story, and the subsequent protests led by women of the Italian Parliament, spread globally inspiring Denim Day, which takes place on April 26th this year. The message of Denim Day is: It doesn’t matter what a person has on—it’s never an invitation nor consent. On Denim Day, in addition to wearing jeans as a form of protest, there are many ways to educate yourself and your colleagues as well as demonstrate solidarity with survivors:
–Pledge to participate: The Denim Day pledge is an opportunity to tangibly commit to what the day stands for—challenging misconceptions about sexual violence, educating yourself and others and being an ally. Sign the pledge and encourage others to sign it as well.
–Corporate donations: Donations go to support the organization Peace Over Violence which helps with free counseling, developing educational materials, supporting legal services, a 24-hour hotline and the upkeep and development of other resources.
–Join Sexual Assault Awareness Month: In addition to Denim Day, April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month which offers multiple opportunities throughout the month to lead discussions about how systems of oppression contribute to sexual violence. The National Sexual Assault Resource Center also offers a workplace resource guide to help anyone start the difficult and necessary conversations in the workplace.
For centuries, fashion has been more than function and self-expression. Denim Day is just one way fashion can be used to advocate for positive social change. We hope to see everyone in their blue jeans on the 26th.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.