April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Oklahoma State University’s 1 is 2 Many program plans to observe it through a virtual Denim Day on April 29.
Denim Day is the longest running sexual violence prevention and education campaign, and it began in Italy in the ‘90s after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction with the reasoning that the plaintiff’s jeans were so tight she would have had to help her attacker take them off therefore giving consent. Women in the Italian parliament wore jeans to work the next day to protest, and now, millions of people around the world wear jeans on Denim Day to protest and bring awareness to sexual violence.
“Denim Day is a great way to engage large groups of people,” 1 is 2 Many member Emmaline Belwood said. “The story behind Denim Day is amazing and the fact that all of these women and people, in solidarity, are wearing denim. So, I encourage everyone to decorate some denim and wear some denim on April 29.”
Olivia Pendleton, the 1 is 2 Many specialist, said the group has been participating in Denim Day for four years, and they normally set up a jeans display around campus. They also usually host a symposium with a guest speaker to teach people more about sexual violence prevention.
This year, 1 is 2 Many will participate in a virtual Denim Day through social media. In addition to asking people to wear jeans on Wednesday, the group is encouraging people to participate in their social distancing window display.
To participate in the window display, just decorate a pair of jeans and hang them in your window. Pendleton asked that people use #DenimDayOK with any photos they post on social media.
“I think it’s a great way to raise awareness,” Pendleton said. “I think it’s a very unique way to still engage in the message of Denim Day and to kind of do a spin-off of what we would typically do.
“I think the really cool thing about it is that it gives people the opportunity to impact their specific community rather than just the Stillwater community.”
Belwood joined 1 is 2 Many a year ago, and she said prior to joining the group, she had never heard of Denim Day. That’s why she’s glad the group will still participate despite social distancing mandates.
“I believe it’s very important that we’re keeping up with all of our programming activities but especially Denim Day,” Belwood said. “In this time of quarantine, we are seeing cases of assault and domestic violence just because people are bound home. So, being able to recognize that from the home is very important.”
In addition to coordinating the window displays, 1 is 2 Many is partnering with Wings of Hope to host a guest speaker on Facebook Live. Guest speaker Jaci Dietrick will talk about bystander intervention and how people can help put a stop to sexual violence. Her speech will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Pendleton encourages people to participate in Denim Day, and hopes that people will be able to take something away from the event.
“I’m just really excited to see our community rally together and still show their support for victims of sexual violence and to make a public display even when we can’t all be together,” Pendleton said. “Clothing does not imply consent, and there’s nothing that could ever imply consent. So, I’m just excited to see our OSU community come together to participate in this event.”