Tanasia Brigman

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — People across the Winthrop University campus participated in the annual Denim Day, which is intended to raise awareness about sexual assault and protest myths about why women and girls are raped.

The event last month during sexual assault awareness month, on April 22, encouraged people to wear denim to protest against sexual violence.

Denim Day began in 1999 after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction after the justices ruled the victim, who was wearing tight jeans, must have helped her assailant by removing the jeans, which they said implied consent.

“The following day, the women of the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim,” said Katrina Gainey, an intern with the Winthrop Office of Victims Assistance (OVA) who helped organize the event.

The OVA provides services to survivors of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking and victims of crimes or discrimination based on bias. They also provide support and education programs intended to eradicate sexual violence.

“More awareness should be brought to the forefront regarding sexualized violence, so we’re able to combat this issue,” said Gainey.

“Clothing does not mean consent,” wrote Gainey, on the OVA Instagram account.

Many students participated in the campaign, who were asked to send photos of themselves wearing denim to the Office of Victims Assistance.

“I think the idea behind it is really good, because it is showcasing that no matter what you’re wearing, nobody has the right to touch your body or do anything to you. So the concept to me is great,” said Katherine Harper, a senior psychology major.

Other students said they felt a personal connection to the day and participated to support the people in their lives.

“For me things like that are always very important, because I have sexual assault survivors in my own life and it’s just always very important for me to represent for them (and) advocate for them,” said Miguel Caldwell, a sophomore elementary education major.

“So I was really like, ‘okay let’s go get this denim outfit together.’ Luckily I have a lot of denim in my closet,” said Caldwell.

He said the small gesture of wearing denim could show survivors there are people on campus who care about them.

“I’m representing you through what I’m wearing, but also I’m willing to fight for you. So I think that it is important for Winthrop to do things like that and I think that things like (Denim Day), kind of show the university that we do want to charge (the school) to have action when it comes to things like this,” said Caldwell.

Staff at the OVA say they hope events like Denim Day will help make students aware of the resources available on campus to provide support for survivors.