These are my favorite jeans to wear out in the world, anywhere and everywhere. If I could, I would wear them every day. But since the caronavirus, there has been nowhere to go and nowhere to where them. Until today. Today, I put them on for the first time since the stay-at-home order was issued. Today, I wear them in solidarity with the millions of sexual assault victims around the world. Today, I wear them to raise awareness and our collective consciousness about “victim blaming and the destructive myths” that allow and perpetuate a culture of sexual violence. Today, I wear them for all of those who are not safe-at-home under the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders but are instead even more isolated, alone and at-risk.
In 1992, an 18-year old girl was raped on an isolated road. The rapist pulled her out of the car, removed her jeans and forcefully raped her. He was convicted of rape in the lower court but on appeal, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction arguing that the jeans were so tight that the only way to have gotten them off was if she had helped her attacker remove them, thus making the act consensual (“because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them… and by removing the jeans… it was no longer rape but consensual sex”). Angered by the verdict a group of Italian female lawmakers launched a protest wearing jeans and holding placards that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.” As a sign of support, California lawmakers followed suit and soon after, a movement was born. Blue Jeans became a symbol of protest against victim blaming and the many harmful misconceptions about sexual violence.
If you are in need of help, you are not alone. Here in Milwaukee, please reach out to Sojourner Family Peace Center or Aurora Healing & Advocacy Services by calling 414-933-2722 or 414-219-5555. For everyone else, the National Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Hotlines are 1-800-656-HOPE and 1-800-799-SAFE.