Members of the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) along with the Guilford Family Justice Center are encouraging people to wear jeans to work on April 26, Denim Day, to show support for addressing misconceptions about sexual assault.
“Participating in Denim Day provides a wonderful opportunity for our partnership to show solidarity with survivors of abuse around the country and to encourage open discussion about how we can work in our personal and professional lives to reduce violence in our communities,” said Catherine Johnson, director of the Guilford County Family Justice Center.
You haven’t heard of denim day? Here’s how it all began...
The setting is a small town approximately 60 miles outside Naples, Italy. It’s 1992. An 18-year-old woman testified in court that her 45-year-old driving instructor drove her to an isolated area and raped her. He is convicted, and sentenced to jail.
The driving instructor appeals the sentence, which eventually is heard by the Italian Supreme Court. The case is overturned and dismissed, in part, due to what became known as the ‘denim defense’. The court suggested that a woman wearing jeans cannot be raped because the pants are tight and cannot be removed without the help of the person wearing them, thus implying consent.
A judge later clarified that the lower courts had not provided sufficient evidence to uphold the original sentence.
Regardless, the ‘denim defense’ outraged the women in the Italian Parliament who protested the court’s reversal by wearing jeans to work.
When news of the ruling reached California, a non-profit feminist organization called Peace Over Violence organized the very first Denim Day in 1999 as a show of solidarity for the Italian victim.
Denim Day has been held annually ever since, and wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest about erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
“In this rape prevention education campaign, we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest about the misconceptions that surround sexual assault,” said Johnson.
GPD in partnership with the Guilford County Family Justice Center have created a Public Service Announcement about the campaign.