By Samantha McKenzie
Once upon a time, in a land not far away, women were no longer seen as princesses. Instead of happy endings, they lived their lives in perpetual fear. They were raped by strangers, abused by men who claimed they loved them, and objectified everywhere they went. There was no safe place to go. Their fathers and brothers had failed them. The police and justice system turned a blind eye. They lived on the edge of hopelessness. Until one day they accepted their fate. They realized that there were no heroes coming to save them. If they wanted a new life, they’d have to save themselves. They were forced to take a stand. Then it happened…
For the past 18 years, the organization Peace Over Violence hosts a Denim Day campaign on a Wednesday in April to bring attention to Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
The campaign grew out of 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 her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.” The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans to show solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence created the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it.
Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against the ongoing destructive attitudes about sexual assault. The campaign invites community members, elected officials, businesses and students to join in making a social statement by wearing jeans. But it takes individual commitment from everyone.
Dr. Nichole Lewis, director of the Women’s Center at North Carolina Central University, is leading the charge on our campus. She is bringing awareness every day to the violence against women. In her daily stride, she empowers women to believe in themselves. She helps guide their educational and professional goals and equips them with the skills to be successful in a world that isn’t often fair to them. She’s one individual changing the minds of many others.
She invited me to wear jeans and now I’m inviting you.
This year’s Denim Day is Wednesday, April 26, 2017.
Join women all over the world in our protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.
Until one day they accepted their fate. They realized that there were no heroes coming to save them. If they wanted a new life, they’d have to save themselves. They were forced to take a stand. Then it happened…they crossed borders and locked arms. They broke through barriers and united their voices. In the distance, you could see them coming, but more importantly, you could feel their power all around you. They rose up…together…as if they were one.