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SMC students participate in Denim Day

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Denim Day, a national movement to show solidarity for survivors of sexual assault is held on April 26. This year, Saint Mary’s is participating in the day and promoting awareness of sexual assault by hanging jean pockets with student signatures throughout campus.

Junior Carmela LaGambina-Lockwitz said Denim Day began because of an overturned rape conviction, where the court decided the victim’s jeans were so tight, she would have had to help the rapist remove them, therefore implying consent.

“Denim Day began because there was a sexual assault case that had gone to court in which the perpetrator did not get charged,” she said. “The reasoning behind this was because the victim was wearing jeans that were too tight, and this was giving off the wrong vibe, like she wanted to be sexually assaulted. The court believed she was dressing promiscuously and that this is what geared her assaulter into attacking her.”

The movement, LaGambina-Lockwitz said, is important because in today’s society, girls are often reprimanded because others see their outfits as giving off the wrong kind of message.

“I believe this is really important because, nowadays, we see something like that so often, even with just a dress code,” she said. “Girls get dress code violations just for wearing a skirt that’s too distracting to boys. That says what [girls] wear gives off a certain kind of message, even if girls are just wearing something because they think it looks nice.”

Even though Saint Mary’s has only recently started participating in Denim Day, support has grown quickly and this year looks to be the most successful, LaGambina-Lockwitz said. She said the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO) is providing jean pockets for students to sign in support of victims this year — these pockets will then be hung within several campus buildings.

“At Saint Mary’s, a BAVO team member had a lot of extra jean pockets, so we’re asking girls to sign the jean pockets and we’re hanging them up in the dining hall, library, and student center,” she said. “We’re signing them to show support and togetherness.”

LaGambina-Lockwitz said she and BAVO believe no article of clothing inherently represents promiscuity, and no one deserves to be raped because of what they wear.

“We believe what women wear is no portrayal of what they’re trying to give off, or that it doesn’t mean sexual assault is going to happen just because of what you wear,” she said.

Sophomore Allison Graves said Denim Day is a great way to spread awareness and she hopes everyone wears jeans to support the movement.

“Denim Day is an amazing movement to help spread awareness and support survivors of rape and sexual assault,” Graves said. “It’s important to remember that rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault, no matter what they’re wearing. Please put on your favorite pair of jeans to support the movement.”

Saint Mary’s is a great place for the movement because of the College’s focus on female empowerment, LaGambina-Lockwitz said.

“Saint Mary’s is an all women’s institution, and the thing the College focuses so much on is women’s empowerment, that you can go out into the world and be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do, and Saint Mary’s will give you the strength and confidence to do that,” she said. “One thing, unfortunately, women have to deal with in today’s day and age is potential sexual assault. You shouldn’t have to worry about your clothing encouraging sexual assault. You should go out into the world and be confident in every decision you make and not have to fear the consequences, because there should be no consequence for being a woman. We shouldn’t have any additional things we have to think twice about solely because of our gender.

LaGambina-Lockwitz hopes all students, faculty and staff, including males, will participate in Denim Day and show support for sexual assault survivors.

“I think more men and women, across the campuses and even across the country, should participate in Denim Day to show solidarity and empower women,” she said. “I definitely think this is a powerful movement.”

At the end of the day, LaGambina-Lockwitz said, she feels their goal is to stand up to sexual assault and stand behind survivors.

“We stand behind survivors while we work towards healing,” she said.

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

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