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Zoee Whittmann's call for change

Zoee Whittmann

In Zoee Whittmann's submission, we get a glimpse of some of the life experience which has shaped her views and we hear her powerful call for change.

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My name is Zoee Wittmann, and I am about to be a third-year student at the University of Winnipeg in the Women’s and Gender Studies program. So far, all my schooling at the University of Winnipeg has been through remote online learning, and come this September, it will be my first time attending the U of W for in-person classes. I am both excited and anxious for this since I have always been a creature of habit and routine. A little bit about me, I highly love reading, writing, baking, cooking, listening to and/or creating podcasts, and being out in nature. In the past I was highly immersed in the culinary scene in Winnipeg, however, I decided to take a different route once I realized how problematic and misogynistic the culinary scene can be. This led me to the Women’s and Gender Studies Department where for the last two years I have met many wonderful people and learned an abundance of important and necessary tools for surviving in this patriarchal world.

Recently, I completed the Feminisms: Current Perspectives course at the U of W, taught by Professor Pauline Greenhill. In this course we dived deep into post-colonial feminist theory, trans issues, queer issues, the theorizing of gender, ways to decolonize feminism, theorizing feminist perspectives on intersectionality, and much more. By the end of the course, we had to apply what we learned to create and produce our own Manifesto. For this, I took something that has always stood out to me within feminist discourse, and that is the ego that lies behind the judgment and position of the feminist. There is a desperate desire within feminists to change the status quo within their time on earth, live the life that they preach to others, and become a poster child amongst other feminists. The personal vendetta a feminist can make against the world has been shaped through the trials and errors of their feminist work and their involvement with feminist-based issues affecting their social environment. Although the sense of self is what often drives feminists to fight for change, that should not be the main factor that causes the feminist to act. Debates over women's issues are often clouded by personal beliefs due to the feminist’s social location causing them not to waver on their political stance. This tunnel vision can directly affect the health, safety, and well-being of another feminist, causing for entire feminist movements to fail because there is such a divide amongst each other. It is understanding that cis-women, trans-women, and non-binary people are all allowed to have differing wants and needs from feminism and that even though your feminist agenda may not align, this does not devalue their feminism. Therefore, my manifesto proposes that it is through breaking down the feminist ego that can bring transformative change to the fifth wave of feminism.

Below I have included the opening piece to my manifesto.

“As everybody knows, the importance of feminism lies within the breaking of gender norms, striving for equality of the sexes, and understanding that the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, and ability can highly determine a person's success. What feminism often overlooks, however, is the clouding of judgment due to the lack of balance between consciousness and subconsciousness. It is the internal struggle with fantasy and reality of self and of others that can create barriers for the feminist on their journey and unknowingly bring tunnel vision to the eyes and the work of the feminist. Furthermore, it is through self-reflection that can help the feminist recognize that feminism is not a self-help movement, but instead a movement to radically change the status quo of our social climate through the fifth wave of feminism. I propose that by removing the ego from feminist discourse within the fifth wave of feminism, real change can unfold because minorities will no longer be divided by pride, by subjectivity, and by biases.” (Wittmann, 2022)