Let’s continue getting to know our Sweet Peach Soiree panelists, with a brief Q&A with Katherine George from Planned Parenthood Southeast!
RPARC: Tell us about your work your work in women’s sexual health and wellness.
Katherine: As Director of Education for Planned Parenthood Southeast, I facilitate workshops on a wide range of topics including healthy relationships, communication, how our bodies work, and of course pregnancy and STD prevention.
Many parents are uncomfortable talking about sexual health with their children, and most schools do not teach young people the skills they need to stay healthy. So I work with people of all ages to help them build knowledge and skills to make healthy decisions about their sexual health. For example, knowing how to use a condom correctly is great, but it is a different skill to be able to negotiate using a condom with their partner, or even to recognize if they are in the kind of relationship where they can negotiate using it.
2) Recently, there has been more attention given to intimate partner violence, child abuse, and sexual assault. Do you feel that enough is being done to address these issues?
Simply put, no. So much attention is on telling people (usually women) how not to get raped. We should be teaching people (usually men) not to rape. Those conversations need to start in kindergarten and teaching children how to ask permission before hugging or touching another person, and how to be a good friend. It continues into the teen years with respecting all bodies and healthy relationships. If we wait until college (or later) to have those conversations, we are missing the boat.
We also need to reduce stigma related to these issues to encourage more people to speak out. Storytelling is a powerful tool for future prevention and will help propel important conversations about power. As a society, we need to address how we view ownership over other people’s bodies and power imbalance between men and women and among white people (and especially white men) and people of color.
RPARC: What kinds of resources for survivors would you like to see more of?
Katherine: I would like to see more resources in general and more survivor-led resources. Each story is unique. We need resources for each person’s lived experiences.
RPARC: Social media and the internet seem to be a double-edged sword for abuse issues. On one hand they can be powerful tools for raising awareness and addressing concerns. Yet, at the same time, they can be used as a weapon — as seen in the recent cyber attacks on comedian Leslie Jones. Do you think online technology plays a mostly positive or mostly negative role for survivors?
Katherine: I think the more we protest against using social media to shame and threaten others, the bigger the conversation gets and the more people realize it isn’t acceptable. Social media can also be used as a powerful tool to “call people in” and educate them about abuse issues, gender and power dynamics, and supporting survivors. All of us, and especially allies, but continue to speak up on social media.