CARE to host denim day, #rapeisnotajoke

Laura Dickinson, Managing Editor

Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Campus for Awareness and Relationship Education will be putting on events to bring sexual assault into the spotlight in respect to Denim Day, happening April 25.

Denim Day stems from an Italian Supreme Court case that ruled that an 18-year-old girl could have not been raped by her 45-year-old male driving instructor because her jeans were so tight, she would have had to help him take them off.

Because of this ruling, women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans to work in solidarity with the victim, and the notion caught on all over the world.

Today, Hannah Foley, director of CARE and a UWO student, is helping create awareness about Denim Day at UWO.

“The fact that the backlash against the decision occurred and the fact that Denim Day could be created is really powerful and impactful because no it is not true, it doesn’t matter what a person is wearing,” Foley said. “You deserve to be safe and you never need to be raped.”

Foley said she is proud UWO is able to show support in Denim Day decades after the ruling was announced in 1998.

“The fact that we can we bring it to campus is super impactful, and even if students don’t know much about the background,” Foley said. “That situation repeats itself; and it has repeated itself, and it still leads to victim blaming to this day. So I think, unfortunately throughout the rest of time, until people know rape is not a joke, we need to keep having these events on campus.”

Associate Director of CARE Allison Smith said Denim Day is prevalent on a college campus.

“A lot of times after an incident occurs, the first question that is asked is, “Well, what were you wearing,’” Smith said. “Denim Day doesn’t just cover jeans, it covers any outfit a person may choose to wear. It is not the victim’s fault.”

UWO senior Taylor Richter said upon hearing the story behind Denim Day, she was speechless.

“I will be showing my support and definitely wear jeans next week,” Richter said. “This is a story I wish more people knew about. It is really upsetting.”

Because of Denim Day, CARE has prepared a week of events for the student community to take part in and at the beginning of next week, students can pick up teal bandanas in Reeve to wear on Denim Day, Foley said.

“Teal is the color for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is the entire month of April,” Foley said. “We are going to hand out bandanas with numbers on them. Now, the numbers on them all have to do with how many sexual assaults have been recorded on UW Oshkosh’s campus for the last year.”

Foley said for Denim Day itself, CARE hopes that students will show their support by wearing jeans and the teal bandanas. CARE will have a table set up in Reeve Memorial Union during the day for people to stop by and learn more.

Smith said another thing CARE is doing for Denim Day is potentially hosting a jean drive to donate to Aurora Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program.

“A lot of people who do go to the doctor to get a rape examination, they can’t wear their clothes home, so donating jeans for them to wear home was kinda an idea along with Denim Day,” Smith said.

The day after Denim Day, CARE will host their annual #rapeisnotajoke event, Foley said.

“The issue [of joking about rape] has not, and unfortunately I don’t think it will go away in the next couple of years,” Foley said. “The fact that we can keep bringing it back is really important, and I am so excited to be a part of it in my last year and we are hopefully just going to bring everything together and hopefully it will be a great event.”

Foley said she hopes to see students be involved in some way either by wearing jeans and bandanas or even showing their support on social media.

“Just keeping what the root of being an advocate is alive, that’s all we are really asking for,” Foley said.