UltraViolet Brings Feminism to Internet Action Campaigns


Calgary    Rick Ross, the rapper, was groveling a little bit late in his game.  He waited until he felt the pain in his pocketbook when Reebok, the giant shoemaker, dropped his ass for lyrics that gave props to rape after giving women knockout drugs.  Even after the Steubenville, Ohio football fiasco, Reebok waited too late as well, until they got their asses whipped by a new, fledgling internet based group of women in what the Times only identified as a “13-month old feminist group whose leaders are spread around the country.”

So, if we have UltraViolet to thank, who are they?  Feminism and the internet have not exactly been a matched set.  Is there finally hope?  Looking at their website  the answer has to be “maybe,” and I would grab that straw, hold onto it, and push it to fast forward.

First, I like the name.  I don’t know if the founders, Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas picked their name up from the similar group in India, but since they don’t say on their website, I would like to think so, until I find out differently.  The women in India forthrightly argued that they chose ultraviolet as their name, because violet has been the signature color of feminism since the struggles and starvations of the English suffragettes and of course ultra “means extreme,” so we’re talking here about extreme feminism, and in these hard times, it’s definitely time for some of that.

Chaudhary is a veteran internet campaigner from MoveOn.org and until going Ultraviolet ran their campaigns and fundraising, both of which tell both too much and too little about what to expect from Ultraviolet.  Thomas is a veteran in the Beltway-based ranks of progressive politics.  The women on their staff are young activists in the area of internet campaigning.

To its credit MoveOn.org has been the mothership for international campaigning efforts like Avaaz.org and now UltraViolet for women, as well as some efforts in other countries using similar platforms and tools to stir the pot for change.  The “theory of change” in many of these efforts is too much sizzle and not enough steak, but it was encouraging to go through the UltraViolet site and see not just petition efforts but also guides about wages and other critical women’s issues, so there may be some pleasant surprises coming from UltraViolet that have more muscle than just internet petitions and occasional publicity actions.

Reportedly in their short history they have amassed a database of 400,000 which is not insignificant and counting coup on Reebok and some increased visibility insures them a couple of million in their list of names in coming years, so their voice will be heard and that’s a good and hopeful thing.  There’s no fiction of calling their names “members” on their site, nor is their information about those old-school things like governance or transparency about money and mission, but if we’re going to have something grow in the internet campaigning space that finally puts women first, why not Ultraviolet!

Audio of UltraViolet