Photo by Laine Gruver
Katherine Jabba is a third-year student majoring in human biology and society. As a passionate feminist, she is involved in several progressive organizations at UCLA, namely, LA Stop the Traffik, Alpha Delta Pi, and research at UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women.
Prior to enrolling at UCLA, Jabba recalled the controversy surrounding the term “feminist” that influenced her own identity; when she was growing up, to be a feminist was a bold and unpopular choice. She said that as soon as she became aware that it was controversial to hold feminist viewpoints, she realized she needed to identify as a feminist more vocally.
To Jabba, feminism is centered around two primary concepts: empowerment and intersectionality. She said, “It’s more than women just getting an equal playing ground. It starts with treating women as actual people – it sounds funny to say, but it’s true – and expands from there.”
One feminist issue that Jabba is particularly interested in is sexual assault and violence against women. She is the Vice President of LA Stop the Traffik, a student-run organization that aims to raise awareness about sex- and labor-trafficking, as well as to volunteer with survivors of sex-trafficking. Jabba described the work her organization does, saying “We do resume workshops with them, and also other activities like yoga and art. We work to empower them and also to expose them to a world that they haven’t necessarily been apart of.” LA Stop the Traffik also holds fundraisers on campus for women’s shelters.
Jabba also works with issues surrounding sexual assault via her role as Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Chair at UCLA’s Alpha Chi chapter of Alpha Delta Pi. Jabba said, “Being VIP chair has been the most on the ground, direct way to get involved with that issue [of sexual assault.] Talking with fraternity men and having those conversations shows that work is actually being done.” A key example of the work she and her peers have done is regulating the bus system necessary for Greek social events to make sure everyone in attendance is accounted for.
Jabba’s responsibilities as VIP Chair include acting as a personal resource for chapter women who have been assaulted, keeping up to date on UCLA policies related to sexual assault, and meeting with VIP chairs from other chapters on campus to take concrete action against sexual assault.
On campus, Jabba also does research for the Center for the Study of Women regarding the use of unregulated chemicals in the fragrance industry, specifically in fragrances targeted towards women. Jabba explained that an ultimate goal for the study is to explore how to decrease the use of fragrance on UCLA’s campus. She said, “‘Fragrance’ can mean a ton of chemicals which are not listed on the product and completely unregulated, which leaves a lot of room for safety issues and endocrine-disrupting hormones.” This issue is particularly important for women of color, as products targeted for natural hair often contain the most toxic chemicals.
As far as where she sees feminism heading in the future, Jabba had this to say: “Despite some setbacks recently in feminism in America, I think we’re headed in a good direction. It’s difficult because in a college environment my perception of feminism is different. But even just feminism becoming more of a recognizable word is super promising.” She remains hopeful that intersectional feminism will continue to grow in popularity, and that more people will recognize how important it is.