(Milwaukee) April 23rd marks the 15th annual observance of Denim Day, giving men and women around the country the opportunity to wear denim clothing as a symbol of protest against the destructive presumptions our society holds regarding sexual assault and its victims. Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), a staunch advocate of sexual violence prevention, encourages all Wisconsin’s citizens to participate in this important day.
The campaign was sparked by the Italian Supreme Court’s overturning of a rape conviction due to the fact that the victim was wearing tight jeans. The argument was that the victim must have helped her attacker to take them off, implying consent. The following day, the women of the Italian parliament wore jeans as a show of support for the victim and in protest of the court’s decision.
Taylor has long dedicated herself to reversing the backwards assumption that a victim’s clothing or behavior can serve as an excuse, noting that “what happened in Italy is not an isolated incident. It happens around the world, including here in Wisconsin. My heart is overwhelmed when I think about the mental and physical toll that rape takes on victims, and on our community as a whole. It shocks me that we still today tell the victims that they are to blame. We place the responsibility on young women, telling her to travel in groups, carry a rape whistle, and not to dress provocatively, as if it is her duty alone to prevent sexual assault.”
“Every two minutes another American becomes the victim of sexual assault,” Taylor continued. “Sexual violence is not limited to any singular group, and victims come from all genders, ages, sexualities, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Denim Day is about fighting back against the rape culture that leads only 39% of victims to report their assault. It is about telling survivors they are not to blame for what happened to them. It is about moving forward, collectively healing from the trauma of rape and dismantling the rape culture that victimizes us all. Today, let us make it clear – tight jeans do not cause rape.”