DENIM DAY 2014 & The NO MORE Campaign – No Excuse & Never An Invitation: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Denim Day in LA & USA, a sexual-violence-prevention education campaign, which began after a Supreme Court justice in Italy overturned a lower courts rape conviction. He said he did this, because the 17-year-old was wearing tight jeans, and since the attacker would not have been able to get them off without her help… it wasn’t rape, it was consensual sex!
This became known as the “jeans alibi” or the “sexy clothing defense” or the “consent defense.” It caused an uproar in Italy and in California, and legislators in both Rome and Sacramento wore jeans in protest.
I saw those images on television, and controlling my outrage, imagined how powerful it would be for everybody to wear jeans to protest ALL the harmful myths and lies that shame and blame those who are harmed by sexual violence, and which in turn exonerate those who cause the harm! Thus Peace Over Violence created the first Denim Day in Los Angeles along with our open source, downloadable No Excuses Campaign.
Denim Day has now spread across the country to include Denim Day NYC, Denim Day Milwaukee, Denim Day Nevada and beyond. It has spread to college campuses, military bases including the US base in Vicenza, Italy and internationally to a city in Turkey, villages in Mexico and in Ghana.
This year GUESS?, Inc. and the GUESS Foundation have become the exclusive fashion sponsor of Denim Day. GUESS has brought the message that “there is no excuse and never an invitation to rape” to its 400+ retail stores in the US and Canada, with in-store displays, buttons that state “My Jeans Protest Violence” and pledge books that encourage their customers to pledge to participate in the campaign. Promotion also includes an extensive digital and online philanthropic marketing campaign spanning across its GUESS, G by GUESS and GUESS Factory Brands. GUESS?, Inc. is the first major national brand to embrace the issue of sexual violence.
Denim Day is always in April which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month -SAAM. Saturating this month’s SAAM educational outreach is the NO MORE Campaign, which combines the issues of domestic and sexual violence. NO MORE is symbolized by a circle that implies zero, while including everyone to say “No More” to both – no more excuses, no more misinformation, no more lies.
The NO MORE PSA campaign, created by NO MORE and the Joyful Heart Foundation, made a huge statement this past weekend, by joining with the USA Network to present a Law & Order: SVU marathon on television, featuring particularly pertinent sexual-violence episodes, including shows featuring men and boys, who had been sexually abused. The NO MORE PSAs shown during the marathon included information about hotlines, chat lines and other resources.
I would venture to say that there has never been an April SAAM that has had this much participation and attention. Millions of people wore jeans with the purpose to support survivors and become educated. And millions of people watched SVU and saw the stories, many based on true life scenarios. We don’t yet know the numbers but probably thousands of survivors and their families reached out for help over this past month.
So what are we attempting to do with all these educational opportunities? We do this so that one day we can reverse the belief and the practice that sexual abuse and rape is inevitable. We do this so that no child, no wife, no boy, no girl, no teen, no co-ed, no soldier, no refugee, no gay or lesbian, no prisoner, no co-worker, no deaf or disabled person, no male, female or transgender human of any color or religion or origin is sexually violated.
Let’s keep it up! Until we succeed. Read more on the Joyful Heart Foundation
-By Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans
Patti Giggans is the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. Peace Over Violence is dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. She is also the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for 1in6.