Gear up: 20 years of Denim Day
You know that feeling when you’re reading something online that is victim blaming and perpetuating rape culture and it bothers you SO much that you can’t help but say out loud, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” and you have to do do something about it? This is what happened twenty years ago in 1999 when Patti Giggans heard about the case that inspired Denim Day. An Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans, implying consent. Italian women in Parliament protested by wearing jeans, and California State legislators followed. Seeing this inspired Patti to not only do the same, but to create the very first Denim Day, engaging the public and asking everyone to wear jeans and protest destructive myths and spread the message: there is no excuse and never an invitation to rape. She knew that this kind of activism should be happening all the time, not just once and not just one day.
Since 1999, Denim Day has grown from a grassroots campaign into a global movement bringing sexual assault education and awareness to the forefront of social issues and paving the way for emerging cultural shifts. To date, the campaign has reached hundreds of millions of individuals and worked to dispel myths surrounding sexual violence, protesting rape culture.
On Wednesday, April 10th, in downtown Los Angeles where Denim Day began 20 years ago, Peace Over Violence celebrated what has become the longest running sexual violence prevention and education campaign in history. Over the last 20 years, this movement has been built with the leadership of partners working towards a world free from sexual violence. This special event was opened up by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Denim Day Honorary Chair, to kick off the evening honoring 20 key individuals and organizations who have supported, helped and guided our movement with their persistence and commitment to the mission to end sexual violence and to disrupt rape culture in our communities over the last 20 years.
20 FOR 20
City of Los Angeles • County of Los Angeles • Joyful Heart Foundation • 1in6 • Men Can Stop Rape • The Los Angeles Sexual Assault Centers: East Los Angeles Women’s Center, YWCA Greater Los Angeles, Strength United, Center for the Pacific Asian Family, Rape Treatment Center, Valley Oasis, Project Sister Family Services • The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking • V-Day: Eve Ensler • Just Detention International • South Asian Healing Circle • Futures Without Violence • Tarana Burke • Suzanne Lacy • Pia Escudero • Andrea Chao • Debra Nakatomi • Kimberlé Crenshaw • Amy Ziering & Kirby Dick • Jackson Katz • Sandra Henriquez
Maya Jupiter and Aloe Blacc as Denim Day the campaign spokescouple • Lori Vollandt for her work bringing Denim Day to the Los Angeles Unified School District • Thalia Polychronis for being a champion within the city of Los Angeles
The evening also featured special recognition of the four past Denim Day coordinators over the course of the last 20 years. These leaders helped to spearhead the development of the Denim Day campaign and helped to make it the longest-running sexual violence prevention campaign in history: Jean Morrison, Jennifer Luck, Kibi Anderson, and Darcy Pollan.
The founder of Denim Day and Peace Over Violence Executive Director was also highlighted as a special part of the evening. Patti Giggans started Denim Day after being inspired by CA state legislators wearing jeans in protest of an Italian court rape case being overturned because the victim wore jeans, implying consent. What started as a small grassroots project in a parking lot in Los Angeles has now grown into an internationally recognized and award-winning sexual violence prevention campaign - the only one of its kind.
Denim Day 2019 is next Wednesday, April 24th. The original message of the campaign remains consistent and so relevant: there is no excuse and never an invitation to rape. Make a social statement with your fashion statement and wear jeans with a purpose.