“My Jeans Protest Violence”: Denim Day Reminds Survivors They Are Not to Blame

Updated April 28, 2021, at 12:10 p.m. PT.

Wednesday, April 28, is Denim Day, a day where feminists and advocates around the globe wear denim in order to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault.

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.

Take Action

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

Join Peace Over Violence at the Denim Day Virtual Survivor Rally today at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET.

Share your photo in denim today and use the hashtags #denimday2021 #denimday #SAAM.

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Roxy Szal is the digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.