Jeans for a day

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert
  • 136th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Sexual assault continues to be an ongoing and mounting problem both in society, as well as, in the U.S. military. The media is full of many high profile cases that highlight this issue. In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Major Gen. John Nichols, Adjutant General for Texas, has authorized the wearing of jeans for a day in the Texas Military Forces in observance of 'Denim Day'.

More than a third of the Wing members present for duty dressed out for the occasion, showing their support. "Denim day is an international event, annually celebrated on April 23," said Lt. Col. James Castleman, 136th Airlift Wing sexual assault response coordinator (SARC). "It began in 1997, in Italy when an 18-year old woman was held down and raped by her 45-year old driving instructor. The driving instructor was ultimately convicted and sentenced to jail by the primary court."

However in 1998, upon appeal, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction because the woman was wearing tight jeans and had to assist the rapist in removing them. The high courts' position was that since she helped remove her jeans, it was no longer rape, but consensual sex. In a matter of protest, the day following the Italian Supreme Court, females in the Italian parliament wore denim to protest the ruling. Thus, denim day was born.

"It has occurred every year since and has gained momentum and spread throughout Europe and the United States as a symbol of victim's rights. When it comes to sexual assault awareness, this highlights a common misperception among many people, called "victim blaming,"" said Castleman. "Regardless of what emotional, mental, or physical state a person may be in; if they do not or cannot provide positive consent for sex, it is sexual assault and not the victims fault."

This was the final event in the 136th Airlift Wing's Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign.