YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
Denim is a sturdy workman’s textile that has evolved into an ever-present, essential component of the fashion industry and common in daily life. Denim is also a social statement utilized as a visible means of protest against victim blaming and in support of victims of sexual crimes.
The movement began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court in 1998 that overturned a rape conviction on the grounds that the alleged victim’s jeans were so tight she must have helped her alleged assailant take them off and, as a result, must have consented.
The following day, women in the Italian Parliament protested the statement by going to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Others demonstrated in front of the building wearing jeans and holding signs that read “Jeans: the alibi for rape.”
Today, Denim Day is recognized in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“It goes into the awareness piece of recognizing that someone’s clothing makes no determination whether or not a sexual assault could occur or whether someone is deserving or asking for it,” said Robert Whitaker, 374th Airlift Wing sexual assault response coordinator.
The protest was picked up by international media which inspired the California Senate and Assembly to do the same on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento. A nonprofit organization in Los Angeles called Peace Over Violence, led by Patti Giggans, organized the country’s first Denim Day event, a year later.
“People started wearing jeans typically on the fourth Wednesday in April in remembrance of that particular case as well as to highlight the fact that a person’s clothing does not indicate whether or not they can be sexually assaulted,” Whitaker said.
What started as a local campaign quickly grew into a worldwide movement developed to be a foundation that individuals and entities used to bring more awareness and education on sexual violence while showcasing there is no excuse for, and never an invitation to, sexual assault.
“It’s an opportunity to get the message out there about reducing victim blaming and recognizing the fact that sexual assaults occur because someone makes the decision to sexually assault someone else,” Whitaker said.
Yokota SAPR is on-call 24/7, 365 days a year, and can be reached by DSN at 225-7272 or cell at 090-3138-7250.
For general information or questions on SAPR, visit: https://www.facebook.com/YokotaSAPR/ or call DSN 225-7277 (SAPR).