Aaleiyah Ramadan, Staff Writer
Denim Day is a time to bring awareness and show support for sexual assault victims. This day was created by enraged female protesters who opposed the 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans at the time of her assault. In this case, an 18-year-old girl was picked up by her married 45-year-old driving instructor for her first driving lesson. During her lesson, he takes her down an isolated road, pulls her out of the car, wrestles one leg out of her jeans, and rapes her. He threatened to kill her if she told anyone about what he did to her and made her drive the car home.
The young girl told her parents later that night and they decided to press charges. The man was prosecuted and sentenced to jail. The sentence was appealed after the perpetrator claimed it was consensual sex and this case made it to the Italian Supreme Court. In a statement presented by the Chief Judge in court, he argued that “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” From this case, Denim Day was established, which encourages people to wear jeans to raise awareness for rape and sexual assault survivors. This prominent case underscored and created a conversation about victim-blaming. In this particular situation, the perpetrator was excused because of the victim’s clothing.
Denim Day was established in the late 1990s to bring awareness to sexual assault victims. Today, thanks to social medial, the #MeToo movement sprouted, inspiring rape survivors to get online and share their stories with the hashtag #MeToo. Activist Tarana Burke first used the hashtag on MySpace to talk about her sexual harassment story. Women could call out the criminals publicly and gain support to take legal action. This movement spread more powerfully when it was used in October of 2017 to expose Harvey Weinstein. Over 80 sexual abuse allegations were made, dating back to the 1970s. This was dire because Harvey Weinstein was a very successful Hollywood executive, with 81 Oscars to show for it. However, he is also a man who has hurt and ruined the lives of many women. The #MeToo movement exposed decades of abuse at the hands of Weinstein. He had been getting away with sexually assaulting and raping aspiring and established actresses. Currently, Weinstein is serving a 23-year sentence in prison after his accusers had their time in court. This is a vital example showing that when women stand together they create change. Men in Hollywood should be afraid to commit these kinds of crimes and know they cannot continue in their careers or their day-to-day lives while hurting others. Through the power of the internet, survivors can find hope and change, giving them closure to the violence that was forced on them.
What these movements show is that in unison we can support one another and move together in the healing process. As a society, we can deconstruct the system that created and excuse these perpetrators.
Show your support by wearing denim on the last Wednesday of April each year.