“My Jeans Protest Violence”: #DenimDay2020 Reminds Survivors They Are Not to Blame

"My Jeans Protest Violence": #DenimDay2020 Reminds Survivors They Are Not to Blame
(Denim Day)

Wednesday April 29 is Denim Day, a day where feminists and advocates around the globe wear denim in order to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault.

This year, Denim Day takes on a new meaning—since for many, the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders mean being isolated in an unsafe environment

But while many domestic violence incidents go unreported and conditions worsen for many during the lockdown, seeking help is on the rise: Google searches for the national domestic violence hotline have increased 83 percent in the last month in the U.S., according to SEMrush, a data analytics company.

The Origins of Denim Day

Why denim?

The campaign began after a 1998 ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that, since the survivor was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans—thereby implying consent.

In its decision, the court stated, “It is a fact of common experience that it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them.”

The ruling enraged women and feminists, sparking widespread protest.

The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.

The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans and holding placards that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape”. (Denim Day)

Soon Patricia Giggans, executive director of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (now Peace Over Violence), made Denim Day an annual event.

The first Denim Day in LA was in April 1999, and has continued every year since for the past 21 years. Peace Over Violence runs the campaign on a Wednesday every April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Throughout the country and world, Denim Day sets a standard of support for survivors and provides a foundation for solidarity through a simple message: There is no excuse for sexual assault.

Many are now taking part in Denim Day. You can too—even while working from home!


The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-movingDuring this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.


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Roxy Szal is the associate digital editor at Ms.