An Australian jury acquitted 23-year-old Nicholas Gonzales of rape because it refused to believe the alleged victim’s skinny jeans could have been removed without “collaboration.” Gonzales and the alleged victim, a 24-year-old woman, met for drinks in April 2008 and then returned to his house to listen to music. Gonzales claims they had consensual sex together; the victim says she was raped and “I struggled to try to get up for a while and then he undid my jeans and he pulled them off.” But defense lawyer Paul Hogan said he thought it would be “difficult for skinny jeans to be taken off by someone else unless the wearer’s assisting, collaborating, consenting.” And the jury believed him.Is it seriously up for dispute whether or not a rapist could pull a pair of jeans off? Who the hell is on this jury? Any clothing — even tight skinny jeans — can be removed if someone tries hard enough to take them off. (Just ask firefighters, EMTs and other rescue personnel who have to remove people from their clothes in emergencies.) In fact, it’s probably more painful for the victim when tight clothing is forcibly ripped off. For all we know about this particular case, the alleged victim was drunk or on drugs and she wasn’t able to put up much of a fight while her jeans were peeled off. Or maybe, like many victims of sexual assault, she was just in shock about what was happening.
Apparently this jury is focused on whether or not the alleged victim removed her own jeans. But in a more general discussion about consent and sexual assault, let’s not forget that even if a woman did remove her own jeans, she still could have been raped. Going back to his house, going up to his bedroom, even taking off her jeans are not consent. Consent is consent.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the “skinny jeans defense” has been invoked: in 2008 in Seoul, South Korea, a court overturned the sentence of a man accused of raping a woman wearing skinny jeans. The same year, though, a court in Italy upheld a rape conviction involving skinny jeans, ruling “jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt.”
Thank you, Italian court, for being sensible about skinny jeans. And screw you, Australian jury: it’s extremely irresponsible to set the precedent — or at least put the idea in people’s heads — that a woman can’t get raped in skinny jeans. The last thing victims of sexual assault need on this Earth is more mistrust and doubt. [Daily Mail UK, New York Daily News]