From the March-April 2015 issue of News & Letters
Chicago—UltraViolet (UV), a mostly online petition-generating organization, has protested rapper Rick Ross’ song bragging about drugging and raping a woman; demanded justice for a victim of rape after a Montana judge sentenced her attacker to only a month; and does work around abortion rights including going after phony abortion clinics, so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) run by right-wing fanatics. They recently went out into the real world by holding 25 or so “meet and greet” events in 15 different states. The one I went to was Jan. 25 on the north side of Chicago.
The organizers thought ten would come, but over 30 showed up—mostly young women, the majority white but also several women of color, and a few men. The organizer, Suzanne, gave us a short history: UV was started by two women two years ago who thought rapid responses were needed on women’s issues from the workplace to pop culture.
She told of some of the campaigns UV is involved in, including bringing to light the immigration detention center in Texas where over 40 women have been sexually assaulted by guards and the U.S. refuses to investigate; the punitive anti-abortion laws being introduced in Congress and the states; and work around preventing CPCs from continuing to post lying ads on everything from the Yellow Pages to Yahoo.
At the end of the introduction we broke up into several groups around organizations who work with UV. We had our choice of: the Chicago Abortion Fund; Chicago Women’s Health Center; FURIE (Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation); Planned Parenthood; Black & Pink, which is an “open family of GLBTQ prisoners and ‘free world’ allies who support each other”; Howard Brown Health Center; Illinois Choice Action Team, which escorts at clinics that offer abortion services; and Rape Victim Advocates.
I met with FURIE, where we had a lively discussion about fighting back against CPCs, taking the fight to them with demonstrations in front of these faux “clinics,” spreading the word about them at community centers and neighborhood health centers that are appearing more frequently in storefronts and strip malls.
The meet and greet was a great beginning, and showed that feminism is alive in Chicago, and includes a diverse population of young women, those who are GLBTQ, advocates for the disabled, and most committed to changing a sexist, racist, capitalist society. UltraViolet should step into the physical world more often.