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It Doesn’t Matter What You Wear or Do


The prevalence of sexual harassment, violence, and assault has gotten a lot of national and social media attention in the past few years, particularly when it comes to what women and girls wear and do.

There have been debates about whether or not women should wear yoga pants in public, stories about why girls can’t wear certain types of clothes to school because it is too distracting for boys, and even judges excusing perpetrators’ behavior because, apparently, what clothing a woman decides to wear equals saying “yes” to sexual activity. Victims are often blamed for their assault because of what they were doing at the time, such as going to a party, bar or club, consuming alcohol or marijuana, going hiking alone, or even just walking down the street.

Rather than focusing the actions of the person who chose to sexually assault another person, these conversations serve to blame victims of sexual violence.

We recognize that boys and men also experience sexual assault, and CCASA supports all victims regardless of their gender identity. Research indicates that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men in Colorado as well as over 50% of transgender folks nationwide have experienced sexually violent crimes in their lifetime.

Here are just some of the recent stories that highlight the importance of supporting Colorado Denim Day:

“A majority of men in the UK think a woman is more likely to be sexually harassed or assaulted if she wears revealing clothes, new research suggests.”

“If a person fights back, is not dressing in the right way, is intoxicated, or if the accused is someone they know, their story is more likely to be questioned or doubted.”

“The protesters took issue with the jurists’ reasoning, disclosed last month through the Italian Supreme Court’s retrial order: The judges reached their decision to acquit in part because they agreed with the defense’s argument that the victim looked too masculine for the men to have been attracted to her.”

“This question ‘what were you wearing?’ is a universal question no matter where you live,” El Moutouk explains. “It is important for us to remind people that this question is useless and harmful for the victims.”

The purpose of What Were You Wearing? according to a plaque inside the exhibit, is to humanize the survivor, forcing the community to bear the weight of the answer to this invasive, hurtful question. Though the question costs the asker nothing, the survivor feels the weight of blame, sometimes from the outside and sometimes self-imposed, that they should never be forced to endure. Placing so much weight on the victim’s choice of outfit is one of the strongest myths surrounding rape culture. As the display says, “If only ending sexual violence was as easy as changing our clothes.”

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