About a week ago, I was sitting and going through my computer. I was writing an article on an event I had covered for another publication that I report for, listening to recordings from the interviews and going through Facebook. Suddenly, I heard a ding—it was my email going off. What could it be? I decided to let myself procrastinate a little and went to check it out. It was an email from UCF, with the subject title reading as, “Denim Day, April 25.” It intrigued me, and after clicking on it, I couldn’t stop reading.
If you’ve never heard of Denim Day, don't be confused. I had never heard of it either. To summarize, in 1990’s Italy, an 18-year-old girl was picked up for her very first driving lesson by her driving instructor, who was a 45-year-old married man. After he picked her up, he took her to a deserted road and forcefully raped her. He then made her drive herself home.
The girl told her parents, who then helped her press charges against the man. The man was sent to jail, convicted of rape. However, the sentence was appealed, and it went all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. In a ridiculously short amount of time, the case was overturned, 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,” according to the Chief Judge.
Obviously, this enraged everyone. Women immediately began to wear denim to support the girl who was raped—and rightfully so. Denim Day has taken place once a year since 1999, to raise awareness about sexual assault and to protest against those who continue to perpetuate rape and rape culture.
And now, as I’m writing this, I’m enraged. I’m enraged that it’s been 19 years since 1999, and there is still an incredibly incorrect view that society has of sexual assault, and that rape culture continues to thrive, despite the hard work that people put into raising awareness. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), 1 in every 6 women has been the victim of sexual assault. 994 out of every 1,000 men convicted of rape walk completely free.
This is not a problem with the women who report it or the evidence that they offer. This is a systemic problem in which the judicial systems of not only our country but also many others, do not offer help to women in need of justice. This is a systemic problem that derives from the vast amount of men and women in the judicial system who do not understand how rape affects people’s lives. This is a systemic problem that stems from selfishness.
The courts clearly do not do enough for women.
We should not have to be afraid of seeking justice because we know how little the chances are of receiving it. We should not have to be afraid of policemen and juries believing our stories. We should not have to be afraid that a rapist will have more weight to his words than our own, because of the deeply-embedded ideology of misogyny within our society. We should not be afraid that we might be so utterly violated because of something so ridiculously simple, like the 18-year-old girl from Italy who was wearing tight denim.
How many times do we have to say this, people?
No matter what we wear, no matter what we say, no matter what our race or gender is, no matter how short or long our skirts are, how big or small our butts are, how red our lipstick is, how well we know you, how well you think you know us, or how beautiful or ugly we are, none of it gives you permission to have sex without our consent. That. Is. Rape.
And if you don't agree with that, then you should examine whether or not you're a part of the problem.
RAINN Website: https://www.rainn.org/
Denim Day Website: http://denimdayinfo.org/about/