Don’t stop wearing jeans
In the late ’90s the Italian Supreme Court dismissed a rape conviction with this logic: Because the victim of the assault was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove them. The day after, enraged by the decision, the women of the Italian parliament wore jeans as a sign of solidarity and protest. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day (this year is April 26) has become a symbol of protest against mistaken and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
In 2017 this might sound outrageous, but the truth is that women (and men) around the world who are victims of sexual assault are continuously disbelieved and even blamed for causing the assault by their behavior or by their sense of fashion.
Rape culture is indeed normalized in our society. We don’t talk directly about rape to our children, at least not until they are older. But we’re still sending messages about sex and consent all the time. Those messages are customarily wrong, like the good old “boys will be boys” adage or forcing children to kiss or hug someone when they don’t want to.
Survivors often don’t report sexual assault to the criminal justice system, because, among other reasons, they assume that they won’t be believed or don’t want others to know or they think they don’t have enough evidence. In fact, some of them feel that the criminal justice system re-victimizes them in the process. A survivor’s relationship with the offender has a strong effect on the unlikelihood of reporting: the majority of times, the victim knows his or her offender.
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every eight minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison. This has to stop.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted and is in need of support or wants to learn more about reporting options, please call Response at 970-925-SAFE (7233). Our services are free, confidential and non-judgmental.
Program director, Response