By Ensign Michelle Nadeau, USS Ingraham Public Affairs
USS INGRAHAM, At Sea – More than 100 Sailors on board the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61) put on their favorite pair of jeans April 18 to participate in a “Denim Day” to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
On Denim Day, participating Sailors wore denim jeans, blue uniform undershirt, steel-toed boots and a SAAM label with teal ribbon and this year’s theme of “Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault.”
Many Sailors standing watch could not wear jeans for safety reasons but still chose to wear the SAAM labels to show their support for increasing sexual assault awareness.
The event, which was designed to raise awareness about damaging social attitudes and rape misconceptions, was organized by the ship’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) senior victim advocate, Lt. j.g. Susannah Tobey.
The origin of Denim Days can be traced to Italy and an Italian Supreme Court case in the late 1990s. After overturning a rape conviction, the chief judge released a statement saying that “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.”
As a result, the women in the Italian Parliament protested the verdict by wearing jeans to work and the movement spread to the United States, becoming an annual event in many parts of the country.
The Navy’s goal is to reduce and eliminate sexual assault by fostering a culture of prevention through education and training, which includes encouraging Sailors to take action through bystander intervention. Bystander intervention training helps Sailors understand the value of intervening with other Sailors who may encounter risky situations that, if unchecked, may lead to sexual assault.
April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for the past 10 years. The goal of the month is for individual commands to pause and reflect on what the Navy has accomplished over the past year with regard to sexual assault prevention and response and to look into the future as to how Sailors can continue to eradicate this crime from their ranks. Commands are empowered to take ownership of this problem.