Casual Wednesday for a cause

Some state lawmakers will join sexual assault advocates in recognizing Denim Day California today, wearing denim to break the dress code and speak out against sexual violence in an annual event hosted by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA).

It’s sponsored in part this year by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, members of which will be speaking at a rally on the Capitol’s west steps in honor of victims and survivors of sexual assault. Also slated to speak is Sacramento local Laurie Dishman, who recently testified before Congress on her rape aboard a cruise ship; she has become an outspoken survivor working with state and federal organizations to help educate policymakers on the importance of victim-centered sexual assault legislation.

Denim Day events are held to raise awareness about sexual violence and to highlight myths around these crime. In 1998, Italy’s courts overturned the verdict of a convicted rapist because the 17-year-old 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.” Within hours, women in the Italian Parliament demonstrated their outrage by breaking the dress code and wearing jeans to work. Also, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.