Denim Day

I haven’t posted on here in a very long time! But I’ve been reading a lot lately and felt compelled to write this today:

Today is “Denim Day,” because on this day in 1998, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a 45-year-old man’s conviction for raping an 18-year-old girl. They overturned it, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them…and by removing the jeans…it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans and holding signs that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.”

Today, I went to a rally for Denim Day outside City Hall. Many elected officials and community groups I have previously spoken with for stories of mine were there. Also in attendance: members of the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit.

I scanned their faces, simultaneously hoping Detective Granai would and would not be there. I didn’t want him there because it would bring too many distracting memories and emotions to the surface. I did, I guess, because I had once found him quite comforting, as the figure I had briefly pinned my hope for justice on.

He wasn’t. The SVU Detective from that dinky little building on Grand Street who ultimately closed my case without even telling me was, though. It made me burn.

It made me burn to hear the Commissioner of Collaborative Policing pat herself and her colleagues on their backs for encouraging more and more women to report rapes to the police. “We’ve distributed 32,000 cards instructing people to report sexual abuse to the police in the past year.” So fucking what? I reported my rape to you around this time last year, and you didn’t do a thing. The woman, the “detective,” who didn’t do a thing is standing behind you right now.

“When more people are coming out and reporting domestic violence, we consider it winning,” one Council member said. No, that’s not winning. Winning is conviction, winning is prosecution, winning is justice. A 6.3% increase in reported rapes in NYC over the last year is NOT winning. A 6.3% increase in successful conviction and prosecution of rapists would be.

Women shared their stories today. One woman powered through her story with tears streaming down her face. I don’t cry about it anymore, except on April 3rd.

“We are not invisible” was chanted repeatedly. I knew the woman who closed my case didn’t see me, didn’t recognize or remember me. One woman recounted how, when she was roofied and raped ten years ago, she had been wearing a short denim skirt.

“Maybe your skirt was too short,” the officer had said when she finally summoned the courage to tell the people who are meant to “protect and serve” us. New York’s Finest.

Reporting isn’t winning, denim isn’t an invitation, and we have nothing to celebrate.