Jump the navigation

April 26, 2023: Denim Day

"Denim Day Est. 1999" in white text on a red square with a denim background.

Feature by: Dr. John Johnson, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Content warning: references to sexual assault

Today is Denim Day and millions of people around the world will wear denim today to spread awareness and display support to survivors of sexual violence. The wearing of denim is in direct response to a 1998 ruling by the Italian Supreme Court which overturned a rape conviction in a lower court based on their presumption that “since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.” The ruling caused considerable uproar and the women in the Italian Parliament came to work the next day wearing jeans in solidarity with the survivor.

Since 1999, the non-profit organization Peace Over Violence has organized Denim Day as an action to promote sexual violence prevention education and to show support for survivors. After more than twenty years, Denim Day has become a tradition during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and there will be Denim Day tabling in Reid Campus Center today. The 2023 theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” The National Sexual Violence Resource Center explains, “Drawing Connections recognizes that it will take ending all forms of oppression to end sexual harassment, assault and abuse. It calls on all individuals, communities, organizations and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect.” This view is consistent with the sentiments expressed by Linder and Harris (2017), who assert that “the root cause of sexual violence is oppression, in all of its manifestations, including racism, cissexism, heterosexism, ableism and sexism” and that power-conscious approaches are needed to address campus sexual violence.

Last night, Sexual Violence Prevention (SVP) students organized Take Back the Night as part of a series of programs for Sex Week. Take Back the Night provides survivors of sexual assault and harassment with the opportunity to courageously share their experiences and call attention to the environmental conditions that enable ongoing harm. We want to acknowledge and thank everyone for sharing their stories last night and want you to know we are taking action to create a safer community. In the last year, Whitman has been working to enhance the campus resources to address sexual misconduct. We have renewed our memorandum of agreement with the YWCA to provide a confidential sexual assault victim’s advocate (SAVA) and our community partner is in the process of recruiting and training a new SAVA for us following the departure of Malia Lewis last semester. The college also secured board approval for the establishment of a new position that would be dedicated to health education, sexual violence prevention, advising and support of peer student groups and be a resource to students involved in education and prevention work. The search for the new position is expected to start in the next few months. The college has continued to engage with the team at RVCC - Recognize Violence, Change Culture, to help support peer education strategies and develop education campaign resources.

In their contribution to the Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus text, Shupp, Erdice and Howard (2017) argue that “the key to ending the epidemic of sexual violence on college and university campuses is creating a culture shift, moving from reacting to federal mandates to creative a proactive campus culture focused on student education, wellness and overall safety.” Join us in recognizing Denim Day 2023 and be a part of the ongoing shift in the culture at Whitman, because, as the RVCC folks so succinctly put, our students “deserve an education without experiencing harm.”

If you are in need of help, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline can direct you to a live crisis counselor (800-656-4673).

You can also contact Director of Equity and Compliance/Title IX Coordinator Cassandre Beccai at beccai@whitman.edu, for more information about supportive resources.

beaker duck hiker icon-a-to-z icon-arrow-circle-down icon-arrow-circle-up icon-arrow-down icon-arrow-left icon-arrow-right icon-arrow-up icon-calendar-no-circle icon-calendar icon-camera icon-clock icon-cv icon-dot icon-down-triangle icon-email-circle icon-email icon-external-link icon-facebook icon-flickr icon-generic-blog icon-google-plus icon-home icon-instagram icon-library icon-link-circle icon-link-inverted icon-linkedin icon-lock icon-magazine icon-map-pin icon-map2 icon-menu-hamburger icon-menu-mobile-a icon-menu-mobile-b icon-menu-x icon-mywhitman-cog icon-news icon-phone icon-pinterest icon-play icon-quote icon-search-a icon-search-b icon-search-mobile-a icon-search-mobile-b icon-share icon-snail-mail icon-tumblr icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube logo-whitman-nc-flat logo-whitman-nc-stacked logo-whitman-no-clocktower slider-category-arrow-2px slider-category-arrow-no-line slider-category-arrow-solid slider-category-arrow slider-category-line-2px slider-category-line-solid slider-category-line tc_icon-filmstrip-fl tc_icon-filmstrip-ln tc_icon-play-fl-closed tc_icon-play-fl-open tc_icon-play-ln-closed tc_icon-play-ln-open wifi