To me, Sexual Assault Awareness Month means a chance for my community to show support to survivors. At Mississippi State University, there are several annual events associated with sexual assault awareness and prevention. One such event is Denim Day.
Denim Day began in 1999 when an Italian supreme court overturned a rape conviction based on what the victim was wearing—tight blue jeans. Members of both foreign and U.S. Congress protested the ruling by wearing denim jeans to work. Today, across the nation, agencies with dress codes ask their employees to donate money towards sexual violence prevention, and in return the employees can wear jeans to work for a day. Politicians, students, and others may wear jeans to symbolize solidarity against sexual assault.
At MSU, the student body is asked to donate blue jeans to the Health Education and Wellness Office. These jeans are then donated to local causes such as Safe Haven, Inc., a shelter for abused women which also operates a rape crisis hotline. MSU celebrates Denim Day in a unique way—if you would like your campus or your community to do something similar to show their support for this event, getting involved is easy!
Denim Day 2015 is on April 29th, and there are currently over four million registered participants. If you would like to participate, there are several things you can do. Sign up on www.denimdayinfo.org, ask your employers or professors if they would consider joining in, donate jeans to a local shelter, or simply wear blue jeans to show support.
Participating in Sexual Assault Awareness Month doesn’t always mean being bold, or loud, or hosting an extravagant event. You don’t need a lot of money, or a large group of people, or any special skills. You can help raise awareness for sexual assault by doing something as simple as changing your outfit. As Michelle Obama said, “Don’t ever underestimate the importance that you have, because courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” This April, make a small change. Stand up for something. Let your courage and your hope be contagious, and be a light for others and a call to awareness. That’s what this month is all about.