Story and photo by Destiny Mizell / Contributing Writer
On Wednesday, people across the globe were seen wearing denim jeans, jackets, vests and more to stand in solidarity with survivors and victims of sexual assault.
Middle Tennessee State University students, faculty and staff commemorated this day by showcasing their denimwear. In addition, organizations such as the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students and their counterpart, Power of ONE, helped promote Denim Day to ensure campus support.
The June Anderson Center’s Office on Violence Against Women Coordinator, Danielle Ostrander, explained the day’s significance and why denim is worn to commemorate it.
“Denim Day began 23 years ago after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.”
Ostrander continued, “The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Since then, the movement began growing and highlighted the issues surrounding victim-blaming and destructive myths about sexual violence. We wear jeans in solidarity of all victims of sexual violence while raising awareness on our campus about educating students on the issues and prevalence of sexual assault.”
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “One in five women in the United States experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime,” and “nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) of men in the U.S. experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.” The statistics also show that only 2 to 10 percent of all sexual assaults are false reports— which they described as quite a low rate.
“Honoring Denim Day reflects that our campus does not tolerate sexual violence of any means and shows students that we stand with all victims and survivors,” Ostrander said.
Since Denim Day is a global day of observation, it can be commemorated in multiple ways. One way, of course, is by wearing denim. However, it can be taken even further by using one’s voice to show one stands in solidarity with survivors. Lastly, another way is by using social media to spread awareness.
April, sexual assault awareness month, is coming to a close with Denim Day. While April only comes around once a year, one can practice awareness, education and prevention of sexual assault year-round.
Ostrander explained that the decision to or not to report a sexual assault is a “personal and individual decision.
If someone is ever a victim of sexual assault, they are not alone. Here are some confidential resources that Ostrander has provided:
St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital Sexual Assault Response Team Program: (615)396-4100
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center: (615)494-9262
MTSU Counseling Services: (615)898-2670
MTSU Counseling and Psychological Services: (615)898-2271
MTSU Student Health Services: (615)898-2988
“Reports can also be submitted online by visiting: https://mtsu.edu/sexual-violence/ or by contacting the Title IX Coordinator at (615) 898-2185 or email@example.com. You can also report to MTSU University Police at 911 or 615-898-2424. The University Police Department at Middle Tennessee State University is a fully functioning law enforcement agency that is open and operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide police services to the MTSU campus,” Ostrander added.
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