Announcing the 2013 Denim Day Op Ed contest!

Next month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and April 24th will be Denim Day. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the origins of Denim Day, it’s an international day of protest against victim blaming, which began in the 1990s as the result of an Italian court ruling that concluded that because an alleged rape victim had been wearing tight jeans when she was attacked, she must have helped her alleged attacker remove her pants. Therefore, what happened to her was not rape, but consensual sex.

As a part of their 2013 programming, a number of sexual violence prevention organizations in New York City are running a citywide op ed contest for college students. It won’t surprise you given that I work for The Op Ed Project, but I feel very strongly about the power of op ed writing. I feel very strongly that an op ed – which I define loosely, as any evidence-based argument that is timely and of public value – can change the world. Certainly, writing op eds has changed my life and taught me to think differently about the value of my ideas and my experiences. I also think that we desperately need more op eds from young people, and from members of marginalized populations. If we’re only hearing from straight white men, we’re going to be missing a lot of the picture and a lot of the best ideas.

So I’m psyched about this contest, and I want you to enter it. And if you’re not eligible, I want you to email this link, right now, to someone who is, and urge them to enter it.

Winning op-eds will be those that best represent the Denim Day 2013 theme of “Telling the Truth About Sexual Violence,” by discussing one of the following topics:

  • Victim blaming in the college community
  • Myths about what causes sexual violence on campus
  • The impact of sexual violence on college students
  • Being an ally to end sexual violence on your campus
  • Changing college culture to prevent sexual violence

Op-eds must be between 500 and 700 words in length, and may be written in either English or Spanish.

You have something to say about one or all of those topics, and so do the people around you. I mean, how could you not? And even if you aren’t eligible to enter – if you’re not in college or not in New York City– write the damn thing anyway, and post it on the Feministing Community blog.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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Join the Conversation

  • Amelia Harnish

    can you enter if you’re in grad school? I know the perfect person for this! (not me)

  • Mark Kernes

    My only problem with Denim Day is this: “WHEREAS, Women, children, and men suffer multiple types of sexual violence including acquaintance rape, stranger rape, sexual assault by an intimate partner, gang rape, incest, serial rape, ritual abuse, sexual harassment, child sexual molestation, prostitution, pornography, and stalking;”

    Pornography DOES NOT CAUSE SEXUAL VIOLENCE! If anything, studies have show that men who view porn are LESS inclined to rape than other males. And as I think most of us here know, prostitution is very often a woman’s choice of profession, and while I don’t know the statistics of how many women (and men) choose prostitution versus how many are trafficked into it, just to have the unqualified term “prostitution” in this law is a Very Bad Thing.

    Oh; and I’m less than sure that incest is necessarily a cause of sexual violence. There are apparently plenty of adult siblings out there who screw each other willingly.

  • Veronica

    Nobody said that pornography causes sexual violence. I think when that term is used, they are talking about people who have been victims in the industry. As in, sex workers who have been abused in their line of work. The ones who have been trafficked. And it can be argued that while pornography doesn’t necessarily cause someone to become a rapist, it does have an effect on our culture and how we view women. It’s too pervasive to not be influential on some level. Again, that doesn’t mean that it creates rapists, but it does have an effect on the way we think about sex and sexual situations.

    And when they refer to victims of incest, I’m sure they are not talking about people who enter incestuous relationships willingly. I think what is meant by “victims of incest” is people who have unwillingly been sexually abused by family members. Maybe a daughter raped by an older male family member, or even an older female family member. Or a son molested by an older sister or her friends (it has happened.) Any person unwillingly sexualized or assaulted by a family member.

    When the term “sexual assault” or “sexual violence” or “rape” is used, I would think that it is referring to those who have unwillingly had sex or sexual situations pushed on them. Not people who have willing, consensual sex.