Monday, February 13, 2012

Soapbox: Denim Day in April has nothing to do with breast cancer

RapedNot to age myself here, but I was a teen in the 90's and rape was undergoing a facelift. I remember eating breakfast with my parents at their favorite restaurant in Pasadena when my dad performed an unnatural act: he read the front page before looking at his stocks. His reaction: "Date rape? What?"

I think my mom asked him if he was talking about a new trend in wine making. We do have dates and grapes in California, after all. That day, the world became a scarier place. Rape was no longer something that happened if you were walking down a dark street in the middle of the night in the "wrong" neighborhood when a stranger jumped out of the shadows. Now, it could happen going out with someone you thought you knew. In fact, statistically, you're more likely to know your attacker than not. It is scary.

In 1997, an overturned rape case in Italy provoked global outrage. Actresses like Kathleen Turner and Calista Flockhart spoke at rallies to help establish Denim Day. Why denim? That case in Italy was overturned because the rapist claimed that since the victim wore tight jeans, he couldn't have removed them without her help therefore, she consented. For some reason, the judge bought it. Let's hope for the sake of civilization that neither of them ever got laid again.

Truthfully, I don't expect random folks on the street to know what Denim Day is. If you didn't grow up in the 90's, it's unlikely you would know. What surprises me is how much ignorance and misinformation still exists regarding sexual assault.

For instance, a lot of women believe that somehow, the victim was at fault. First, nobody has the right to rape someone else because they don't agree with something their doing. People get on my nerves all the time. I don't think that gives me license to violate them. Second, sadly, you can be as careful as you want and dress as conservatively as you want, and you're still not totally safe from rape. With up to one in four females being assaulted at some point in their lifetime, sexual assault is one of those nasty things we have to look at as a risk in daily life like mugging or getting into a car accident. Rapists don't seem like weirdos. They seem like your friends or some nice guy in the neighborhood who helps with your groceries. They're people you look up to at school, until you know better and it's too late.

Don't believe the lies.