A crowd of students wearing blue denim took to the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall on Monday, April 30. These students wore denim clothing to protest damaging misconceptions around sexual violence, according to a message sent out by Women’s Forum (WoFo).
The protest, called “Denim Day,” was held to bring attention to a 1990s Italian Supreme Court case which overturned a conviction on the basis that a woman’s jeans had implied consent in a case of rape. The Day is a nationwide event that had over 10 million participants in 2018 alone, according to “denimdayinfo.org.”
Emma Slibeck, Co-President of WoFo, was one of the main contributors in organizing the event.
“I thought it would be a great way to continue promoting awareness, and fighting after ‘Take Back the Night.’ Especially because it can feel like after one event, and it’s kind of over, we want it to continue. We made some stickers and stuff, sent out a bunch of emails, arranged to have a gathering on the steps of SamPhil. It was mostly up to people to familiarize themselves with why they were doing this, and spreading the word,” said Slibeck.
According to the perpetrator in the court case, the tightness of the woman’s jeans showed that she would have needed to help him take the clothing off, which meant that the event was consensual.
This occurrence gained attention, and almost 30 years later, people across the country are wearing denim in support for the Italian woman who was raped. People have taken to not only protests in real life, but also to Twitter, using #POV (peace over violence) and #DenimDay to show support for victims of sexual violence who have been dismissed in the past.
“Wear jeans with a purpose, support survivors, and educate yourself and others about sexual assault,” said Denim Day’s official website, denimdayinfo.org, where people can register to be a part of a local Denim Day.
WoFo helped organize this event, which accumulated around 15 people and more throughout the rest of the day. While gathered at the SamPhil steps, students listened to the story of the woman of the Courtcase, who was only 18 years old when she was raped by the perpetrator, her driving instructor.
After listening to the retelling of this story, WoFo members distributed stickers reading: ‘Ask me about my Denim.’ These stickers were given out to those who participated, which could be seen on the chests, legs, and arms of the many on-campus supporters.
“I hope they [students, faculty, and staff ] understood that victims should not be blamed, and perpetrators should be held accountable for their actions. As the Andover community, we could do better in understanding that,” said Maya Shkolnik ’21, a board member of WoFo.
According to Slibeck, each student who participated by wearing jeans, jean jackets, and other types of denim clothing had their own specific reason. Claude Sayi ’21 was motivated by the injustice he had heard about in the past.
“I participated in Denim Day because I found it unfair that women who are sexualized and objectified are usually found guilty of insinuated sexual harassment, which is completely unfair and unethical. So, I support that it be stopped, and any accounts that have happened of it should be acknowledged, looked back upon, and fixed,” said Sayi.