Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kevin Bradford, my fellow DMACC student.

I know it's a little juvenile to post this, but I also think adults need to be held responsible for their actions. As an activist for my right to be viewed as a thinking, functional adult who is responsible for myself, rather than a sex object and female property of my male associates, I just want to take a second to illustrate why, exactly, I spend so much of my time railing against established cultural norms.  The first part of this post explains how I know the guy that I'm currently having a flame war with via email. The second part of this post is the flame war. It's very "Bye, Felipe" if you're familiar with that.

There is a point where he mentions my past as a stripper.
1: I'm not ashamed of it.
2: It doesn't make me less of a person. Sex workers are people, and some of us are awesome, some of us are not, just like anyone else in any other job field. You can't use my work experience as an excuse to treat me like an object.

3: It came up in class, the professor was notorious for asking inappropriate questions. The professor actually outed a rape victim in the room at one point.

I took a Psychology/Oral Communications "Learning Community" Class at the Des Moines Area Community College over the summer. I was in it with a guy named Kevin Bradford, originally from Louisiana, but now living in the Des Moines, Iowa, area.

Throughout the course of the class, he repeatedly tried to discredit legitimate scientific studies by stating that all scientists have been bought out and bribed, and then inserted unsubstantiated conspiracy theories where real data should have been.The professors generally let him, but were quick to silence me if I offered a legitimate study relating to the topic.

He told us about the tattoo he gave himself in prison, and I said that was super dangerous and likely to give you a blood-borne illness (because it is). He got angry, and after class, asked the professor to talk to me because, to quote the professor, who may or may not have been quoting Kevin "homegirl needs a leash".

He repeatedly asked to speak to my boyfriend, because I wasn't "submissive enough" and he needed to talk to my boyfriend about "getting me in line". (my boyfriend really really wanted me to let him talk to this guy. As hilarious as I thought that conversation would be...No.)

One day in class, the professor was talking about how uncomfortable Americans are with nudity, and I said we were surely getting over that, it's 2014, and most of my generation has nude photos online if you google hard enough.

I also learned, through his non-stop disruption of class to talk about his prowess with "the ladies" that between his three  baby mamas, he has six children, none of whom he has custody of. I said maybe he should stop making and abandoning families, he says he couldn't abandon a family, because he hadn't married any of them, so they weren't a family.

Our last project for the Oral Communications part of the class was to do a persuasive group speech. I, of course, ended up in a group with Kevin. He chose GMOs as a topic (I wasn't in class that day, and honestly, I didn't mind, I'm interested in biotechnology and may end up getting my degree in a biotech-related major). The professor required that each group member provide at least 2 scholarly journals as data. He kept proposing totally biased and un-scientific resources for the project data, and when I tried to get him to use a legitimate journal as a resource, he just said "It doesn't matter, as long as I get a C, I'm happy". Which pissed me off, as I would rather like a fucking A, thank you very much. So I made a smart-ass comment about the academic standards of the community college we attend. He started freaking out, and I tried to redirect to the group project. He kept asking what exactly I meant, and I kept telling him "it doesn't matter, can we focus, please?", until finally, he stood up, screamed in my face that I was a fucking bitch, then stormed out of class for ten minutes. *Note, the professor threatened to fail me if I could not work with Kevin and told me I needed to be more professional.

Eventually the class was over, and, with it, I assumed all interactions with both of the professors, and Kevin Bradford.

Alas...It was not so. I'll go ahead and take a moment to admit that I'm definitely being a bitch. I don't like being objectified.
This is in progress, and will be augmented with screenshots of our conversation. At some points I will just quote emails rather than screenshot everything. I am also not going to post the disclaimer he includes at the end of every message, though it becomes relevant later. I have removed my own last name, but nothing else has been changed.
I got this email:
Bradford, Kevin
Tue 1/20/2015 3:18 PM
Deleted Items
To:
D----, Heather M;
You replied on 1/20/2015 3:25 PM.
I searched google but I never found those pics.
This email message and its attachments may contain confidential
information that is exempt from disclosure under Iowa Code chapters
22, 139A, and other applicable law. Confidential information is for
the sole use of the intended recipient. If you believe that you have
received this transmission in error, please reply to the sender, and
then delete all copies of this message and any attachments. If you are
not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review,
use, retention, dissemination,distribution, or copying of this message is strictly prohibited by law.  
                                                          Thank you  K. Bradford

To:Bradford, Kevin;
I have no idea what you're talking about. I think you're emailing the wrong person. 
Sent from my iPhone

Bradford, Kevin
I thought this was Heather that said she had the nude photos on google.Am I wrong?
This email message and its attachments may contain confidential (disclaimer, etc...)


I did not respond to this email until I emailed one of the school advisors who was aware of my issues last semester. He said that DMACC basically wasn't going to do anything since I didn't have any classes with Kevin currently
This is the Heather that you spent most of my learning community classes last semester telling I'm not submissive enough and asking to talk to my boyfriend about my attitude, then whined like a bitch to the professor when that plan didn't fly.
This is the Heather you verbally assaulted by screaming obscenities in my face, because you don't like my opinion of DMACC and can't behave like an adult.
This is the Heather that thinks that the kind of scum who have, then abandon 3 families and 6 kids should have been sterilized 5 children ago.
This is the Heather that thinks that maybe you should grow the fuck up and stop making women into objects, then maybe you could get laid instead of harassing women who hate you to try to get them to give you jack off material.
I hope your dick falls off.
Heather. 
Sent from my iPhone


Oh I'm sorry. This is Heather with daddy issues and mental issues who lies about being assaulted because she is bi -polar as bat shit.The same Heather with the infected woman parts from hpv and probably genital warts.This is Heather who spews puke out of her mouth that she knows nothing about for attention,then offers  pics of her nude from google when no one talks to her.That same Heather who everyone knows was a lying piece of shit but attempted to be nice to so no one would get serious injured. Have a awesome day ! LMFAO ;-) .Don't respond it's not even worth it
.
To:Bradford, Kevin;
Somebody's mad that he can't have nudie pics. Hey, speaking of things that are pathogenic, how's your shitty prison tattoo?  Sent from my iPhone

To:D-----, Heather M;
If nothing else your funny.  Sorry you can't fix that face.I would never be angry at someone who obviously has mental disabilities. It was entertaining but you are surely interested in something .You seem to know everything about me. You were simple enough to respond three times ;-). Have a great day

To:D----, Heather M;
I apologize for emailing you .Good luck.This is real immature.

 To: Bradford, Kevin;
You requested nude pictures off of a joke I made like, two months ago, from a girl (me) who made it pretty clear she doesn't (I don't) like you. When I rejected you, you called me crazy, ugly, and diseased. The only reason I know anything about you is that you wouldn't stop bragging about all the children you never see and your shitty tattoo that you did yourself. I wouldn't be so quick to call me the immature one. Where the hell was your mother growing up? Or did you learn to be a man from your absentee daddy, who, statistically, probably abandoned your mother to do exactly the same thing you're doing now, spend time in and out of prison, have and abandon illegitimate children, treat women poorly, and be a general fucking loser.

To:D----, Heather M;
You seem angry and lonely.LMFAO

  To:Bradford, Kevin;
I am angry. You were a misogynist douchebag for an entire semester (probably your entire life), and I thought I made it clear that I don't like you. Even if I had liked you, or even thought you were not totally fucking disgusting and stupid (which I do, seriously, prison tattoos and conspiracy theories?) it was wildly inappropriate for you to email me basically requesting jack off material.  When I explained to you exactly why I don't like you and think you're out f line, you used a bunch of buzzwords that you don't even seem to understand to try to make me the bad guy. AND-- you and your awful grammar tried to imply that there's something wrong with my looks, after requesting naked pictures. You're incredibly stupid, which is not in and of itself the worst thing in the world, many stupid people are positive role models, or at least not assholes. On top of being just flat out stupid, you've got a really fucked up value system. Your parents failed you harder than you're failing your kids.
So yes, I'm really angry. You're a bad person, and you shouldn't have messaged me at all, but especially not for something personal and ducking(sic) rude. Since you did, and I'm having a slow day at work, maybe I'll go through my face book and email you the highlight reel of all the responses to all the stupid things you said in class and in this email, from my friends, because it's hilarious to make fun of you, using your full name, on a public forum. I hope I'm friends with your future employers and they've read the transcripts of this conversation and some of my days in class.
I will probably also post this on a website called bye Felipe, and also on my personal blog, again, with your full name, because... Fuck you.


To: D----, Heather M;
Lol. Sad individual you are but that does not bother me at all.Hope it makes you feel better.You really typed all that for me?Thank you ;-)


I'm sure you'll enjoy googling yourself in about a week, then. It'll be great for you.
Sent from my iPhone

At this point, he begins threatening to sue me for defamation. Someone doesn't understand what their words mean.
It will.My attorney will be in contact.Thank you I appreciate the opportunity.I won't respond again until your served. :-)
You're threatening to sue me for what, exactly? It's not libel or defamation to post exactly what you said or did, in context. The information in these emails is not confidential or exempt from sharing under the Iowa code. I am the intended recipient, so it's not illegal for me to share this.
Go ahead, tell me all about the things you're going to sue me for?


Disclaimer and Government affliation say different
Let's see then.Share them all
This email message and its attachments may contain confidential
information that is exempt from disclosure under Iowa Code chapters
22, 139A, and other applicable law. Confidential information is for
the sole use of the intended recipient. If you believe that you have
received this transmission in error, please reply to the sender, and
then delete all copies of this message and any attachments. If you are
not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review,
use, retention, dissemination,distribution, or copying of this message is strictly prohibited by law.  
                                                          Thank you  K. Bradford



This email and its attachments may contain confidential information that is exempt from disclosure under Iowa Code chapters 22, 139A, and other applicable law.* Confidential information is for the sole use of the intended recipient. If you believe that you have received this transmission in error, please reply to the sender, and then delete all copies of this message and any attachments. If you are not the intended recipient,** you are hereby notified that any review, use, retention, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this message is strictly prohibited by law.
*Nothing in this email is considered confidential information. I have copied the relevant parts of the Iowa Code relating to what constitutes confidential information below. You’ll notice “begging for nudies”, “being a prick”, and “saying things I don’t want my mom/baby mama/job to find out I said” are not on that list.
**I am the intended recipient. I can review, use, retain, disseminate, distribute, and copy this message as much as I fucking please. It doesn’t contain any confidential information about either of us, and even if if it did, all I would have to do is redact the confidential parts if they were about you, because I am STILL the intended recipient

I actually posted the Iowa Code under here in the email, but if you google Iowa Code Chapter 22 and Iowa Code Chapter 139A.30 you'll find it.

Share it .Defame my character,insult me ,just do it don't send threats.You don't actually know who I am or what  I do,remember that.Share them all please .You obviously have no life.I won't entertain you any further while I am at work,but we will speak again soon.I'm thankful ;-)
It's not defamation of character unless it's false. The only things I've said that aren't factual, I labeled as opinion or conjecture.
It's also not defamation to say that you said something THAT YOU ACTUALLY SAID.
Do you even understand words, or do you just pick them out and apply them willy-nilly?
"Legally, a defamatory statement must be false -- otherwise it's not considered damaging. Even terribly mean or disparaging things are not defamatory if the shoe fits. Most opinions don't count as defamation because they can't be proved to be objectively false. For instance, when a reviewer says, "That was the worst book I've read all year," she's not defaming the author, because the statement can't be proven to be false."
(Citation added to the blog, it was not in the email: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defamation-law-made-simple-29718.html)

Blah blah blah!Do it if it makes you feel better.Please stop messaging me and get a life.Whore you said you were naked on google ,use to strip and I know your tattoo says TRAMP.Sorry I thought you were just the rat you appeared to be.Be mad ,you can't hurt me.I walked away from a 100 years bitch!That shits childish and I will sue you for fun just because i have money to waste.Now go suck a horse dick and whine to whoever you like.You only deserve a pimp or a pole with a dick in your throat.I'm still laughing and still waiting for you to stop threatening and start doing.If you have time to continue bs like this you are the biggest loser ,just as advertised. ;-0
 Oh please. People with money don't go to DMACC (and dress like they shop at goodwill). They also have enough of an education to not threaten frivolous lawsuits they don't even understand. Dumbass. What did you walk away from 100 years for? Did you get a good behavior early release because you were a nice little girl for your lonely cellie?
I only made a crack about prison rape to piss him off, I don't think it's funny, but he's ultra-machismo and I feel like any hint at probable gayness would probably piss him off almost as much as me mouthing off to him.
 K. :-) Thank you.Attempt murder 1 and 2 if you must know.My boss said hurry and finish before 5 so we can do paper work today doll.
(This post is in progress. Screenshots are being added, slowly since I'm working mostly from my phone).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Conversation can change the world

The Steubenville boys were athletes. They were average high school students. The kids who were live tweeting the rape had good grades. They had great resumes. These are your kids. This is my baby brother. The victim is not at fault, so once we start really looking at the perpetrators, what led these perfectly average kids, your son, my piercing client from Saturday, whoever they were, to believe that this is good? This is hilarious? What messages have you taught the young people in YOUR life about sex? It's never too late for a good conversation.

If you're afraid to talk to your very young children, or your teenagers, about sex and consent and themes like that, find someone who can talk to them. I will. I'm not licensed, certified, whatever, but I'm friendly.  Talk to a friend or family member that can talk about sex calmly, rationally, and without stuttering or blushing, and see if they can have an age appropriate conversation with your 4 year old, your 10 year old, your 16 year old, if you can't do it.  
 Look over the messages you're sending in the movies you're watching, the games you're playing, the things you say. What are you teaching your loved ones about sexual assault? Are you sure that no one you know would ever consider video taping a questionable situation? Talk about how much you respect them for that decision.

The grades, the resumes, and the athleticism of the Steubenville rapists is relevant, it should be reported on, because they weren't sneaky predators in an alley. They were kids, who weren't ever taught better.

My mother and I have talked to my 17 year old brother about sex, about consent, about sexual assault.  You might have, too, he's been at Slutwalk 2011 and 2012.  I'm pretty sure he'd take a black eye or worse to defend someone's right to choose when they have sexual contact.  Even if there was beer and peer pressure involved.  

Two Years of Slutwalk

In April of 2011, information about the Toronto Slutwalk went viral. And the internet went "What the fuck is a Slutwalk?".  When a Toronto police officer said "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized".  This group of women were righteously outraged, and started an international firestorm that still exists today.  They gathered en masse to protest rape culture and victim blaming.  When the videos got my attention in late April, I posted that we should do this here.  Geoff Krum told me if I did it, he would help. After 30 days of mad planning and 3am coffee fueled conferences, discussions with total strangers at bars and grocery stores, 300 people marched in 103 degree weather.  We gathered, listened to speeches. I yelled into a megaphone a lot. It was fun. It was emotional. We after partied. Bands played.

In the month that we planned for Slutwalk, I listened to some of the most heartbreaking stories of my life.  Very beloved friends of mine pulled me into corners and out onto porches to tell me about their most horrifying moments. Complete strangers hugged me just for handing them a flyer that said it wasn't their fault. Months later, I would be at a party, or in the middle of a piercing at work, and someone would recognize me, the girl with the megaphone, the loud mouth behind Slutwalk Des Moines. And the stories would happen.

The part that was hardest for me was the outrage that no one else was listening.  There is no circumstance in which one of my friends or family members could walk up to me and say "This happened to me. This hurt me", and my response would be condemnation.  (Barring a few drunken incidents and some strangely shaped bruises where the stories start with "You have to hear this dumb shit I did last night", in which case I will probably laugh so hard I cry.) It's brutal when someone--  friend, lover, grocery store clerk, guy in the skinny jeans from that bar I go to sometimes--starts a story with "you're the first person I have ever told this to".
It's not that I think that everyone you know wouldn't absolutely love you if you told them what you went through. But we live in a culture where that's a possible reaction.  Rape culture teaches us, as a society, that rape is the victim's fault.   We are outraged when the people we love and trust are hurt. Unless that person was drunk. Not man enough to fight off his attacker. Had been flirting. Wearing short shorts. Had a previous (or current) relationship with your attacker.  It's your fault because other humans are out of control beasts who can't control themselves when confronted with an unconscious woman, a small child, or a teenager who can't fight back.  Because the way you dress, the way you walk, and how much you drink invalidate your right to choose.  Because if you're not strong enough to fight off your attacker, because if you trusted the people you were with not to drug you, because you were alone in the room with a man, you wanted it, you just didn't want to say it.

We've been running Slutwalk Des Moines for two years, and at least once a month, I come across some horrifying news debacle in which the response from the community and the media is "That slut deserved it". An 11 year old girl in Texas, gang raped over the course of months. That slut, wearing make up. She was asking for it. The reaction to the Steubensville rape, the tweets joking about sleeping through a 'wang in the butthole', the videos, the media reporting on the tragedy of two athletes lives being destroyed by a guilty verdict. Rape in the military. A mentally ill girl being raped in a classroom with a teacher present.  Politicians and "legitimate rape".  These are the cases that hit the news.  The list is painfully long.  We have a facebook page where you can read more, back a few years.

There are the stories that the media hasn't reported, the stories I've listened to. The stories that didn't make me love you less.  The girl who was raped by her boyfriend. The party girl who woke up to someone having sex with her. The gay guy who got jumped so several men could attempt to "rape him straight".  The stripper who sold a dance, not sex, and the client took it anyway.  Bikers. Sex workers. Nice girls.  Tough guys.  I can't list all the situations I have been told about, from the amazing person that was hurt.

These things happen. They are not your fault. After two years of running Slutwalk, I have seen and heard so many cases of victim blaming, and so many times, I am the first person a survivor has ever told their personal story to, because they felt they didn't have anyone safe to talk to.  Be safe. Be awesome. We can change rape culture. Don't be a rapist. Don't be a jerk to people who tell you they've been assaulted.  When someone does make a joke about victims deserving things, tell them to shut the fuck up. You could change someone's world.

If you need someone to talk to, but you're not comfortable going to a large, public event, say hi to anyone from Slutwalk Des Moines, organizers or allies.  We love you. We have free hugs.

Or you can check out:
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault 
Rape Abuse and Incest National Network

These photos are from Slutwalk 2012. Thank you to everyone who came, or wanted to. You're amazing. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

Words are worth a thousand facebook profile photos

Slacktivism. I just don't get it. All that time you spent finding your favorite Thundercat photo? Couldn't you have spent that time building a relationship with a small human who might need your help?

Use your computer to speak up. Statistics say 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. You know someone who was. You probably know a child now who is being abused in some way. No one hears about it. It's hidden away, it's not spoken of. I have friends who cite being raped at age 12, beaten with any number of items for minor misbehavior before the age of 10, 8 year olds taking care of their younger siblings while a parent went into blind screaming drunk rages or just forgot to buy food because they were buying drugs.

As children, we all learned 'stranger danger'. We never learned that family might be unsafe. We never learned that our teachers, our doctors, our ice cream man, our sports coaches, or our friend's dad might not be the paragons of safety and adult virtue we wholeheartedly expected them to be.

When our childhood trust was betrayed, we didn't know who to go to. We trusted the teacher, the boyfriend, the police officer, the therapist. When they shot our dog in front of us to illustrate what would happen if we told, we believed them. When they said that no one would believe us, or that there was nothing to talk about because everyone did this, we believed them. We were raised to trust adults. When we withdrew, when we stopped wanting to go to school, or refused to come home, when we started fights, threw temper tantrums for no apparent reason, when we peed our beds and set things on fire, people chalked it up to childish phases.

Children are voiceless. They can't speak out. As adults, most still can't speak out. It's been beaten, penetrated, and verbalized into these survivors since age 3, 6, or 14. No one will believe you. You are a liar. You deserve this. There is nothing wrong. You are sick. They just want to love you. They just want you to be better. They are doing this for our own good. This is normal. Don't tell, or they'll hurt you. Don't tell, or they'll hurt your brother, mother, or sister. Don't tell, people will think we're sick. Don't tell, no one will love us. Don't tell. Keep silent. It's our little secret. Don't tell. If you tell, you'll get hurt. Other people will get hurt. We'll die. We'll be never be loved again. Don't tell. You'll be punished. Stay silent. It's better that way.

Silence. Fear. It's happening next door to you. It's happening across the street. Don't look. One of your classmates has bruises. Don't look. Don't tell. Your daughter cries herself to sleep at night. Close your eyes, it's just hormones. One of your students is withdrawn. Shh, don't say anything. He'll come to you when he's ready. The kid you babysit clings, begs you not to leave. Walk away. Nothing is happening. Everything's fine. If you don't see it, it doesn't exist. If you don't hear it, it didn't happen. If no one tells you, then it didn't happen to them. If you don't talk about it, it didn't happen to you. Everything's fine. Everyone's fine. Don't look. Stay silent.

If you're not sure what you can do, how to speak out, speak up, and help, there are resources.
Darkness to Light and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network can teach you to recognize the signs of abuse, and give you plenty of information. Stop it Now is good for resources for parents, teachers, survivors, whoever. Survivors of abuse, children who are being abused, can still be helped, and there are a hundred small ways to do it that won't inconvenience you. Don't think you can make a difference? All it takes is one person. Or a bunch of bikers. But we don't need your facebook photo. We need your voice.