May 23, 2020

By: Nicole Cohen

May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but the fight for sexual assault victims is a neverending cause. Another important day in awareness is marked on April 29th; “denim day”. Denim day is an event in which people, both survivors of sexual assault or those who want to visibly support them, wear denim to raise awareness. This tradition started after an 18-year-old girl was raped by her driving instructor in Italy in the 1990s. The rapist was initially convicted and sentenced to a lesser charge of indecent exposure, but he was subsequently convicted of all charges after the victim appealed. However, the accused appealed to the Italian Supreme Court, which overturned the conviction in 1998 because the victim wore tight jeans. The court did this giving the argument that this must have been an implicitly consensual act since “the only way to have gotten them off was if she had helped her attacker remove her jeans”, putting the Italian Supreme Court in favour of the accused. As of 2008, the Italian Supreme Court has overturned their findings, and there is no longer a "denim" defence to the charge of rape.
Although, the issue still stands that those who face sexual assault are always asked the same misinformed question: what were you wearing? In 2019, Statistics Canada said that one in three women and one in eight men experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in public. For both genders alike, younger age and sexual orientation have shown to increase the odds of experiencing this unwanted behaviour more than any other factor. Almost certainly, someone you know has faced a form of sexual assault, and it is imperative that year-round we respect sexual assault survivors and can serve as a support system for those that may find themselves in need. We must also continue to educate ourselves on the misconceptions of those who experience it. There is never a justification for the sexual violation of another human being, and while “no” always means “no”, there is no consent without a “yes”.


i once fit a pair of size 6 kids overalls
but as we must all eventually do,
i grew out of them.

like i grew out of innocence,
i found i outgrew their fondness
comfortability, the fabric itself.

my desired style feels as unachievable
as the peaceful state of mind i wish i had
when i first put on the overalls.

actions speak louder than words
but still, the things we say
don’t fail to carry a weight strong enough to break us.

“that can’t be, he wouldn’t hurt a fly”
“no, he’s always been a model student”
“i know him, he isn't like that”

it’s funny that the words spoken for my comfort,
are never intended to ease my pain, or for validation
they are for him, his sole tranquility.

his hands left stains on my soul,
captured the cells my body created
ruptured the rapture of my juvenescence.

i still see his face marked in the eyes of those i wrongly trusted
in every piece of denim clothing i wish i could own
in every single childhood photo where the denim overalls are seen.

ten years have passed, enough time for my body to be anew.
they tell me now there is no cell in my body he’s touched before
and never again will his hands taint the denim it bears once more.