Teal ribbons are set to go up on the Quad on Wednesday (April 3) to signify Sexual Assault Awareness Month is underway. Major events include Take Back the Night and Denim Day, the latter being a day when all genders can choose to wear jeans as a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual harassment, abuse, assault and rape.
New this year: a midday information session for staff, Wednesday, April 17, a week in advance of the actual Denim Day, to explain what the day is all about (see box). Also, by holding this meeting in advance, the organizers aim to give people the time they may need to, say, get permission from their supervisors to wear jeans.
AT A GLANCE
- Take Back the Night — 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, multipurpose room, Student Community Center (doors open 6 p.m.).
- Denim Day Information Session for Staff — 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, multipurpose room, Student Community Center. Casual event, drop in anytime.
- Denim Day tabling — Noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, Student Community Center.
- Denim Day — Wednesday, April 24. Take photos for social media, using the hashtag #UCDavisDenimDay.
Denim Day, now in its 20th year, began after the Italian Supreme Court ruled that an accused rapist could not have removed his alleged victim’s tight jeans without her help — therefore ruling the sex had been consensual and overturning the man’s conviction (and thus, the “jeans alibi” was born).
The next day, the women of the Italian Parliament launched a protest by wearing jeans on the steps of the Supreme Court. Members of the California Senate and Assembly did the same on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento.
Los Angeles-based Peace Over Violence took notice and decided to organize Denim Day in 1999 to protest all of the myths about why women and girls are raped.
“There is no excuse and never an invitation to rape,” the organizers declare on the Denim Day website.
All events are free.
This special month arrives with an important new publication from UC Davis’ Center for Advocacy Resources and Education, or CARE: a Sexual Assault Awareness Month Education Toolkit for UC Davis Staff and Faculty (the toolkit is available only as a PDF, which you can download here). “We hope that the information in this resource educates community members on the dynamics of sexual assault as well as the unique opportunities we all have to contribute to sexual assault prevention,” the introduction reads.
The toolkit isn’t just for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The 12-page PDF includes “Sexual Assault 101” and information on supporting survivors of sexual assault and engaging in prevention with children, along with confidential resources for staff and faculty, confidential resources for students, and a section on self-care.
Take Back the Night is set for Wednesday, April 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room at the Student Community Center (doors open 6 p.m.). The program includes remarks by LeShelle May and a keynote address by Shena Young, a psychologist, yogi, dancer, poet and co-healer, speaking on empowerment and healing. All genders are welcome.
The event also will include visual encouragement, via words on canvasses that come from a series of Paint ‘n’ Positivity events, today through Friday (April 2-5). See the specifics on this calendar.
Back to the new Sexual Assault Awareness Month Education Toolkit for UC Davis Staff and Faculty: It also addresses “How Can I Raise Awareness?” — listing such options as arranging for a CARE training program for your department or unit on sexual assault prevention and response; and, of course, participating in Denim Day, Wednesday, April 24.
The Denim Day information session for staff will be one week earlier: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, in the multipurpose room at the Student Community Center. Event organizers will discuss the meaning of the day, pass out buttons and encourage participation, and tell how to get involved in preventing sexual violence. All are welcome, or departments and units are invited to send representatives to pick up information and buttons to share with colleagues.
“In previous years, we’ve tried to get folks to wear jeans on Denim Day, but there were still a lot of people who weren’t sure what it was for or didn’t know about it until the day of — and then it was too late because they were already at work, not wearing jeans,” said Sarah Meredith, director of CARE. “This year, we thought we’d do more preparation with folks, giving them an opportunity to get information to take back to their departments before the actual day of Denim Day.”
Besides providing time for staff to get approval from their supervisors, Meredith said she sees the information session as a means of spurring conversations among colleagues, “so that we are engaging more of the community in the movement to end sexual violence.”