It all goes back to 1992.
A lot of people wear denim every day. But on April 27, 2016, at least 4 million folks are wearing jeans with a purpose.
The reason why dates back to a court case from the 1990s.
Justice failed to serve one woman, and it sparked calls for change that continue today around the world — yes, in the form of jeans.
More than 20 years ago, a driving instructor in Italy was convicted of raping one of his students. In 1998, however, the ruling was overturned by Italy’s Supreme Court.
Why? The then-18-year-old woman had been wearing tight jeans.
The justices surmised that, because tight jeans are difficult to remove, the victim must have helped in taking them off. By that standard, the court said, the interaction had to have been consensual.
Yes, a real-life supreme court ruled this way on a real-life case.
The day after the 1998 ruling, women in the Italian parliament came to work wearing jeans in an act of solidarity with the survivor.
And a movement was born.
The court eventually overturned its absurd ruling in 2008, in large part due to the amount of outrage expressed from near and far.
The campaign protests “erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault” around the globe. Because, unfortunately, these attitudes still persist — everywhere.
Denim Day may have resulted from an epic failure of justice in Italy in 1998. But the same injustice happens today in North America too.
In 2011, a Toronto police officer reportedly advised women “to avoid dressing as sluts” in order to be safe. Authorities in Montana brushed off an incident of rape as “probably just a drunken night” in 2013.
More recently, a presidential candidate suggested college women shouldn’t “go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol” if they don’t want to get get violated, and just this past March, a Florida judge implied it was kinda sorta a rape survivor’s fault because she’d done the unthinkable — she dared to attend a dance festival.
But short skirts, booze, and dancing don’t cause rape. Rapists do.
Blaming victims of rape and sexual assault for their violators’ crimes only allows these backward attitudes to persist, and that dissuades victims from coming forward.
That’s why you may spot a few more people wearing jeans on April 27.
Millions of people have signed on in support of #DenimDay to keep this critical conversation moving forward.
The Denim Day movement has made it loud and clear: “There is no excuse, and never an invitation, to rape.”
Learn more about Denim Day and support efforts here.
The headline was updated 4/27/2016.