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Denim Day Observed at USAMMDA

Denim Day at USAMMDA
USAMMDA staff show support on Denim Day. Center of photo with the flag are the USAMMDA SHARP representatives, Chris Benson, command support coordinator (left) and Jane Cook, regulatory affairs scientist (right). (Photo Courtesy of Erin Bolling, USAMMDA public affairs support)

Why is everyone wearing jeans at work? It's the middle of the week, the dress code is always standard business; even the military is wearing jeans! The reason is because Wednesday April 27th is Denim Day. Denim Day is an event that has travelled across the globe to show support for survivors of sexual violence and promote education of sexual assault through demonstration. This year, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity has joined in the movement, showing support by participating in Denim Day.

Denim Day always falls on a Wednesday during the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

The USAMMDA Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention program uses staff members to lead the mission, which is sexual violence awareness and prevention in the workplace. The USAMMDA SHARP representatives are Jane Cook, regulatory affairs specialist, and Christina Benson, command support coordinator. This year with the support of the USAMMDA Commander, Col. William Geesey, Cook and Benson invited everyone in the organization to make a stand and support the demonstration by wearing jeans to work.

"Denim Day represents victims of sexual assault wanting to be heard and believed, NOT blamed," said Cook.

Last year on Denim Day, Benson simply wore jeans, which was unusual for her, and asked everyone in the organization to find out the reason why and it was effective. All day long individuals would take the time to research Denim Day and the significance of wearing jeans to work on this day.

Benson described her enthusiasm for the Denim Day event.

"Like most people at USAMMDA, I work here because of the amazing mission. We work towards solutions to save the lives of our Service Members. We tend to work long hours and sometimes forget about everything else," said Benson. "So it is nice to have another worthy distraction, such as the SHARP Denim Day, to take our mind off of craziness."

"This year we put out the challenge to the team to wear jeans to work and we will have educational trivia throughout the day," Benson said. "The staff has the opportunity to learn and have fun, but the best part is the awareness and support these functions have brought about at USAMMDA."

The Denim Day campaign was developed out of an Italian court case in 1992, where an 18 year old girl was forcibly raped by her 45 year old driving instructor. The driving instructor was charged and sentenced to jail. He later appealed his sentence. The case made its way to the Italian Supreme Court, and within just a few days, the case was dismissed and the convicted rapist was released. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, "because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help [the driver] remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex."

The verdict enraged the women in the Italian Parliament and to show support to the victim, they all wore jeans to work the next day. As the news of this decision spread across the globe, so did the protests. Shortly after, the California Senate and Assembly were enraged and motivated to do the same. Shortly after that, Patricia Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence, created the first Denim Day in April 1999. It has continued every year since.

This case is one example of how a seemingly simple act such as wearing jeans, can influence a chain reaction of support. As a result, Denim Day has spread into our businesses, offices and to USAMMDA.

There is something great in the act of sharing a part of such an influential piece of history. The event that took place in Italy so many years ago shook people up so much that the vibration reiterates across oceans decades later.

Today those individuals wearing jeans at work are doing more than just a making a wardrobe choice, they are making a stand for every victim of sexual violence. As the campaign states, "there is no excuse and never an invitation to rape."

Last Modified Date: 06/22/2017