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How are Jeans and Sexual Assault Related?

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April 20, 2015

 

In observance of  April’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, individuals wear jeans to bring awareness to sexual assault on April 23rd or 29th, 2015.

How are Jeans and Sexual Assault Related? 

In the year 1992, a 45-year-old driving instructor picked up an 18-year-old driving student, Pagliuca Rosa for a driving lesson. I was able to find the name of the perpetrator, but will not use his name in this post. It is important to speak the names of survivors. Some articles I have read state that the perpetrator drove her home while other articles state that she was abandoned and found her own way home. For more information about the case refer to:

1. Why Denim Day? 

2. Sex, Lies, and Honor in Italian Rape Law

When she got home, she went to the classroom portion of her driving course. After returning home again, she told her parents and then the police. The instructor was convicted of rape and sentenced to serve two years and eight months in prison”(CBS News) .

He asked for an appeal and the case eventually arrived to the Italian Supreme Court in 1998. The Italian Supreme Court ruled in favor of the man and he was released.

“In a statement released by the Head Judge, he 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.” (Womanspace, Inc.)

Why Do We Need Denim Day and Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

Of course, we never need a month to draw attention to social justice issues. Even so, spending a month on an important topic gives people focus and serves as a way to get conversations started. The case and its outcome is a reminder of the misconceptions people have about sexual assault and violence.

The notion that the sex was consensual because her jeans were so tight , she had to have helped removed them is problematic and ridiculous. First and foremost, the way women are dressed is often used to justify the negatives ways in which they are treated. Secondly, the sexual assault is described as some kind of social punishment for being “indecent” in the eyes of society.

Lastly, people are often asked to explain why they didn’t come forward sooner which often does not touch upon how marginalized groups interact with the police and their families. The narratives are often heteronormative and do not take in to account the experiences of same-sex rape, the rape of transpeople, and a slew of other identities that are often discounted.

Ways to Raise Awareness on Denim Day (April 23 or 29th depending on where you are)

1. Wear Jeans! or Denim in some way shape or form, and tell people why.

2. For those who have experienced sexual assault and trauma, tell your stories when you are ready. Never feel compelled to share. Recognize when you are triggered and remove yourself from conversations when you are triggered. Inform people when you are done sharing or do not want to share.

2. Use your social media accounts to share pictures and campaigns.

3. Find people in your area, school or community who are having Denim Day Events.

4. Give people space to share their stories.

5. Treat those around you with extreme care and kindness (You never know what people have gone through).

6. Challenge people to have inclusive conversations when your narrative or narratives you know of are not represented in a space.

 

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