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Quick hit: Denim Day 2010

April 21, 2010

April 21 is Denim Day, which seeks to illustrate the ways that sexual assault is excused in our society. The Day spawned from a 1999 decision of the Italian high court which overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans. The justices ruled that because tight jeans are hard to take off, that the victim must have helped the attacker remove her jeans – which inferred consent. The campaign runs down 12 different ways sexual assault is excused.

The Sexist comments on this list:

See a pattern emerging here? No, me neither. We excuse rape if she’s a “bad girl.” We excuse rape if she’s a “good wife.” We excuse rape if her clothes are too difficult to remove. We excuse rape if her clothes are too easy to remove. We excuse rape if he’s a man. We excuse rape if the victim is serving time. We excuse rape if the victim is serving our country. In short, we excuse rape.

What I like about this campaign particularly is that it brings to lights many invisible survivors’ stories and how they have been discounted: men, the elderly, the disabled, the incarcerated, sex workers, and soldiers. It counteracts the myth that rapists are men who leap out of dark alleys and bushes to remind that more than 75% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knew and trusted.

I find that at Carleton we have our own narratives of a “typical” act of sexual assault. And while I think it’s important to address the context in which sexual assault occurs, tying on to one narrative in many ways derails our ability to provide survivor support and silences those who have not had the “typical” experience.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 1, 2010 6:37 PM

    While this may come off as a nitpick I find that that list is missing one big excuse:

    There’s no excuse #13
    “A woman can’t rape a man.”

    It is a commonly held belief among many and women that it is impossible for a boy/man to be raped by a woman/girl. Just like women men can be forced and pressured into having sex. And one more thing, an erection does not equal consent.

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