The North Dakota State Student Social Work Organization is bringing awareness to sexual assault with Show Me Your Denim Day, stemming from Denim Day, which dates its beginnings back to 1999.
Denim Day grew out of a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans.
An 18-year-old girl was picked up by her married 45-year-old driving instructor for her first lesson. He then took her out to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, removed one leg of her jeans and forcefully raped her.
She was threatened with death if she told anyone, but later that night she told her parents. They helped and supported her to press charges. The man was arrested, prosecuted, convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.
The man appealed the case, which made its way to the Supreme Court. The court ruled that the rape conviction was to be overturned and dismissed and the perpetrator released. The Chief Judge in a statement, argued, “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.”
Women in the Italian Parliament were enraged by the verdict and protested by wearing jeans to work, which inspired the California Senate and Assembly to do the same.
Following this moment, wearing jeans became an international symbol of protesting “erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault”.
In 1999, Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles non-profit, organized the first Denim Day event in the United States. Over the span of nearly two decades, the protest event has become a national movement with more than 2 million Americans participating.
“No matter what a person is wearing, that person is not implying consent,” Hope Eggers, junior in the dual degree program of social work and human development and family science, said. “Consent is something that needs to be given without coercion and throughout the whole process. A person doing something to not endanger themselves more, such as helping the attacker take off their jeans, is not and never will be consent.”
Eggers said, “When people make comments like, ‘she was dressed like she wanted it’ and ‘her jeans were too tight, so she must’ve helped get them off’, it says to victims that they are the ones at fault, and that notion is ridiculous.”
Show Me Your Denim Day is Wednesday, April 25th and will be happening all day in an effort to protest destructive attitudes toward sexual assault.