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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 8, 2024

Coast Guard honors Denim Day

By Michelle Underwood, Coast Guard SAPRR Program Manager

The Coast Guard is honoring Denim Day! Every year on the last Wednesday of April, Denim Day is celebrated throughout the U.S. The Coast Guard encourages commands to participate where practicable by allowing members and employees to wear jeans and promoting important conversations surrounding sexual assault response and prevention. 

Why denim?  

In 1992, a driving instructor in Italy isolated and raped an 18-year-old driving student. He was convicted of the crime and sent to prison. However, the next year the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that because the victim wore tight jeans, she must have helped the defendant remove them and thus the act was consensual.  

The following day, the women of the Italian Legislature protested this decision by wearing jeans to work. As news of the decision spread, so did the protests. In 1999, the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women established the first Denim Day in the U.S. — a tradition that has grown and continued since.  

What does this mean for you?  

The most identifiable way to observe this day of awareness is to wear denim (jeans, jacket, shirt, hat, or ribbon). If wearing denim is not feasible, consider displaying a pair of jeans in workspaces. However you choose to participate, remember it is more than wearing denim. It is recognizing that people neither ask for nor deserve to be abused, harassed, assaulted, or raped — ever. This year, we encourage our Coast Guard community to:  

  • Spread awareness in your social circles and on social media by using a #hashtag or flagging a behavior you are personally willing to do to end sexual violence.   
  • Challenge victim-blaming statements. 
  • Speak up when you hear comments or jokes that perpetuate rape culture or sexism. 
  • Intervene if you see someone taking advantage of a person who is not capable of giving consent. 
  • Think about what it means to get and give consent, particularly where alcohol is involved. 
  • Build and engage in healthy, respectful relationships. 
  • Be a role model for others and help your children, friends, parents, or peers understand what it means to blame victims for crimes committed against them. 
  • If you witness sexual harassment at the workplace or in public places, be familiar with Coast Guard policy on how to respond and take action. 

By acknowledging April 24, 2024 as Denim Day, we celebrate our unity: unity in our shared core values and unity in our determination to end sexual violence. 


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