Courtesy of SJS WHEE
At the start of the pandemic, Womxn Helping Empower Each Other started searching for innovative ways to interact with its members online. To support this need, WHEE developed a website, podcast and newsletter.
To be more inclusive of all female-identifying members of the St. John’s community, WHEE updated its mission statement on its website and changed “women” to “womxn” in an email sent to club members on Aug. 19.
WHEE aims to support other womxn, welcome all womxn in the SJS community, form lasting relationships, educate others about issues affecting womxn and promote personal growth, self-worth and respect. WHEE emphasizes its goal to create more inclusive spaces for “non-cisgender womxn, womxn with disabilities, femme-aligned folx, womxn of color, and in all, every womxn belonging to a diverse range of identities.”
In order to decrease stigma surrounding menstrual health, senior WHEE leaders Meridian Monthy and Karli Fisher created the TamPodcast as a “fun way” for womxn to educate themselves about the female community, according to Monthy. The podcast will address books, television shows and movies that empower the female community. Future episodes will cover racial disparities in maternal mortality, as well as sex-ed topics and period health.
“We just wanted to make it feel like a bigger sister is giving you information,” Monthy said.
WHEE’s monthly newsletter, written by junior Wellsley Moore, highlights the experiences of womxn in the workplace and in fields such as STEM or politics. One of her goals is to diversify what SJS womxn consider to be possible careers. The first edition of the newsletter Viewpoint was sent to members on Oct. 21, featuring the work and story of Microsoft Communications Executive Whitney Cubbison.
“If you think about what womxn are interested in, it’s limitless,” said Eleanor Cannon, WHEE’s faculty sponsor.
WHEE leaders realize that not every womxn at school may want to be included in WHEE and their email list. They also took into consideration that not every female-born womxn identifies as a womxn and wants to be a part of WHEE.
Freshman recruitment has been a challenge since many ninth graders do not know enough about WHEE, so club leadership has assigned sophomores to serve as underclassman consultants in order to get more freshmen involved.
Currently, the Big Sister Little Sister program pairs underclassmen with upperclassmen to help the younger students acclimate to Upper School and feel welcome.
WHEE has plans to work with Unity Council to present students with more information about sex-ed, womxn’s health and celebration of womxn and community.
This year, WHEE aims to focus on intersectionality and inclusivity to ensure that everyone feels heard and appreciated.
“We want to have a space to just connect with other women in the community and have a sense of love,” Monthy said.