Showing Support in Denim

Wearing denim for sexual assault awareness.

Elizabeth Kaiser graphic

Elizabeth Kaiser graphic

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville held Denim Day to show that its students support sexual assault awareness. Denim day is a part of the worldwide movement that started as a protest in Italy. 

A handout that was provided by Family Advocates explained that Denim Days started with a girl who was raped by her driving instructor in 1997. He was arrested for the rape but appealed it, and the case was brought to the Italian Supreme Court. In the court hearing, the judge ruled that the man was innocent because the girl was wearing tight jeans, and he concluded that she must have helped him take them off. Due to this assumption made by the judge, he “deduced” that the girl consented and the man was set free. When the news of the verdict reached the Italian Parliament, protesters demonstrated because they were upset by the verdict and thus, they wore tight jeans on the steps of the Parliament building. Since then, this movement has gone international.

Platteville students and staff showed their support by wearing their denim. Everyone had a different reason for wearing their denim, whether they were survivors, knew a survivor or simply wanted to support the movement. 

“[I wear denim today because] sexual assault is something that people don’t like to talk about, so rather than learn and advocate for victims, they pretend it doesn’t happen. Sexual Assault Awareness month is important for everybody to know that it can and does happen. We need to support and validate those who have lived through it,” professional writing major Christiana Hofer said. 

UW-Platteville holds a few events a semester regarding sexual assault to educate students about the topic. Campus also provides recourses for any student who is a victim of sexual assault and is in need of support.

“Sexual assault is a topic that people don’t take seriously enough. They believe it’s always the girl’s fault or that it never happens to men. My best friend was raped multiple times and when she told me, she broke down crying. That is absolutely something [that needs] to be taken seriously. That is why sexual assault awareness means so much to me,” professional writing major Mary Franklin said. 

Denim Day is just one example of many in which students fight the stigma against sexual assault: A topic that needs to be widely discussed and handled.