My Denim, My Body, My Choice

Denim Day to End Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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My Denim, My Body, My Choice

David McNew

David McNew

David McNew

Veena Aruldhas, Staff Writer

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April is known as Sexual Assault Awareness month, and it has been an informative month for students and staff on MC’s campus.

Last week, the sidewalk outside of the Student Services buildings was filled with colorful empowering statements, such as “My body, my choice,” “No means no,” “My relationship status doesn’t matter,” “It is not your fault,” and so many others. Around the colorful sidewalk were tables with students teaching about consent, assault, and rape awareness. All actions have portrayed a greater message MC is presenting: that they stand with the brave survivors of sexual assault and will not tolerate non-consented sexual actions.

To close out the educative month, the nonprofit organization Peace Over Violence will be holding their twentieth Denim Day on Wednesday, April 24th. Both survivors and allies are encouraged to wear denim in support and awareness of the rape and sexual assault that still happen in every part of the world.

However, Denim Day has a deeper backstory and meaning than just wearing jeans one day in April; it brings support, love, and power to the survivors of rape and the allies of sexual assault awareness.

In Italy in 1992, a teenage girl was forcefully raped by her middle-aged driving instructor. She reported to authorities and the instructor was prosecuted for his crime. However, he appealed to the court that he and the girl had engaged in consensual sex. One of the pieces of evidence presented in his defense was how tight the victim’s jeans had been- presumably, they had been so tight that they could not have been removed nonconsensually. The only way to have removed the jeans was for the victim to have “helped him,” meaning that what had occurred could not have been rape, only consensual sex.

The Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction and released a statement that both the parties had engaged in consensual sex, not rape.

Enraged by this, the women of the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans on the steps of Supreme Court. The protest’s message and actions were echoed across the world, including the California Senate and Assembly.

From the first Denim Day in April 1999 to the 20th this April, the message is still clear: there is no excuse for rape.

SHaW Center

 

Girls and women in general face many types of sexual harassment each and every day. Some women carry pepper spray, change their phone numbers, or set up emergency apps and systems on their phones. Others have early curfews, stay in groups, keep their drinks near them, wear less makeup or more concealing apparel. However, the issue does not lie in the actions of the victims.

Girls are taught from an early age that “boys will be boys.” Boys can be rowdy, boys can be indecent, boys’ misbehavior can be excusable by their sexual biology. However, girls must be accustomed to society’s standards, accepting their place as subservient in gender norms.

We live in 2019, and it is time for these things to change. Women, stand proud in support of your sisters. Act upon your freedom. It is important to be cautious, but release yourselves from the tight bonds of fear. Men, take up the responsibility of supporting women throughout their journeys in life. If you see your male friends forcing themselves on a girl or making a girl uncomfortable, call them out. Hold you and your friends accountable.

Make the world a better and safer place for everyone, for that is the whole purpose of Denim Day. On behalf of MC Excalibur and MC, I encourage everyone to participate in this event.

As an advocate for sexual assault awareness, I have a note for the survivors of sexual assault and rape: you are powerful. You are not defined by who “used you,” and you are not made “dirty” by their actions. I’m proud of how strong you are. You have purpose and a higher calling. You are not a victim, but a survivor. Keep searching for that light and greater meaning in your life. I love you and keep going in life.

If you or a loved one has been raped, harassed, or sexually assaulted, please reach out to someone or call one of these hotlines:

1-800-656-HOPE (4673)- National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline
1-877-596-7254- Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
240-567-1600- Montgomery College TPSS Campus Safety and Security
240-777-4357- Montgomery County Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program (VASAP)