The Problem with Political Correctness

The term political correctness has become sort of a catch phrase for controversial politicians. They use it far too often, usually as some sort of smoke screen for problematic political positions such as opposition to homosexuality or transgenderism.

Pat McCrory,the mayor of North Carolina, a state that recently passed legislation targeting transgender individuals and prohibiting cities from passing non-discrimination ordinances, described the criticism of that controversial piece of legislation as “political correctness gone amuck.” But is it really?

Donald Trump’s controversial comments have become an almost ubiquitous aspect of television news broadcasts ever since he announced he was running for president. And he has frequently used the term political correctness as some sort of shield for the criticism he has received.

So is the term political correctness just an inappropriate attempt to deflect criticism from controversial political decisions, or is there something more to it?

George Carlin was one of the best comedians who ever lived. In his act, he often explored the English language. He took issue with political correctness in the form of euphemisms such as “differently abled” and “minimally exceptional.” He referred to this type of euphemistic language as “verbal slight of hand” and “language which takes the life out of life.” I agree with him.

Bill Maher is another comedian concerned with the increasing amount of political correctness in the country. He took such an issue with it that he named his old television show Politically Incorrect.

On his current television show, Real Time, he often criticizes the liberal obsession with being politically correct. He once said, “lazy liberalism allows scolding to substitute for actually do something.”

Some of our country’s most celebrated comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock are now refusing to perform on college campuses because of the inevitable protests that will take place.

Jerry Seinfeld said, “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist’; ‘That’s sexist’; ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Has our country lost the ability to take a joke?

George Carlin said, “Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people’s language with strict codes and rigid rules. I’m not sure that’s the way to fight discrimination. I’m not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.”

And it isn’t just comedians and politicians who are being effected by political correctness. We are becoming a culture that shames anyone who expresses an opinion, or even makes a joke, that people consider indecent.

Justin Sacco wasn’t a comedian. But when she was boarding a plane on a trip to Africa she made a joke on Twitter that would utterly change her life.

 

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It was a joke which sarcastically used white privilege as a punch line. It wasn’t a good joke, but it was still just a joke. Unfortunately, it caused quite an uproar.

The New York Times wrote an article about what happened to Justine Sacco. It is rather disturbing how she was targeted by social justice warriors who got her fired from her job before her plane even landed and then harassed her online to the point that it caused her psychological damage.

I’m not defending her sense of humor but perhaps this is a case where it is actually appropriate to say that political correctness has gone amuck. Her punishment seemed disproportionate to her crime, if indeed she even committed a crime.

I don’t think she did. What do you think? Is political correctness a problem? If so, what should we do about it? And are politicians drawing attention to this societal issue or just making the problem worse by using the term political correctness to deflect criticism?

 

Vivian Maier the Secret Street Photographer

I recently watched Finding Vivian Maier on Netflix. It was a very interesting documentary. She was an extremely talented street photographer.

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She lived in Chicago and took photographs for over 40 years.

What makes her so interesting is the fact that she was never paid for any of her photographs. She worked as a nanny. And she never shared her photos with the public. They were discovered by accident after she died.

From the film, it seems like she was an intensely private person with many idiosyncratic behaviors and one hell of an artistic eye.

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She often experimented with lighting –

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shadows –

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and reflections –

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She was adept at capturing the more tragic elements of human existence.

September 24, 1959, New York, NY

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And during a time period when America’s racial relations could be considered a taboo subject, she photographed racial disparity.

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But she never shared her photos with the public. She reminds me of Emily Dickinson, a prolific poet who never published any of her poems. I’ve always felt that this somehow set Dickinson apart from other poets, but it’s hard to say how. Maybe it’s the same for Maier. They both spent their lives pursuing the perfection of an art form and producing lots of work which they never shared with the world. But why?

Dickinson wrote a poem which called publication the auction of the mind of man, but Maier did not leave any explanation as to why she never shared her artistic talents with the public. The documentary film maker couldn’t find out much about her, but what he did find out was fascinating. He had the items she left behind in a storage unit; hundreds of thousands of pictures, many home movies, and various other things But Vivian Maier remains very much surrounded by mystery and intrigue.

I think that she is inspiring. I’m envious of her talent as a photographer, and I’m inspired  by her dedication to an artistic pursuit.

Apparently, some people find her VERY inspirational. This photo is from Pinterest.

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But what if she had displayed her photography at a gallery, or sold prints to tourists on the sidewalk of a busy street, would she still be such an inspiration that someone would want to have her likeness tattooed on their arm?

Is there something about keeping your art secret which protects the purity of the it? Does it make that art more appealing?

Please contribute your thoughts. I don’t know the answers to these questions.

 

Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager Charged with Assault

For the past several months, Donald Trump’s campaign rallies have frequently turned violent. Altercations between his supporters and protesters have occurred at an alarming rate. But this morning there was a bizarre twist that could only happen in the ongoing reality show that is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, his campaign manager was charged with battery against a female reporter.

The charges were filed today, March 29, but the alleged assault took place following a rally on March 8, in Jupiter, Florida. Michelle Fields was covering the event for Breitbart news. After the rally, Fields says she approached Trump as he was walking by and attempted to ask him a question when Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, allegedly grabbed her arm and pulled her away from Trump with enough force that it left bruises.

She filed a police report. The Jupiter police department conducted a thorough investigation which lasted several weeks, and decided to file criminal charges against Lewandowski. They have also chosen to release security camera footage of the incident.

Trump wasted no time in tweeting a repudiation of the charges even though there is a video of the crime taking place.

Trump said this even though before the video was released, Lewandowski denied ever touching Fields.

Whether or not you think his actions should constitute a crime, you have to admit that he did in fact take hold of her arm, which makes his statement a lie.

Any other candidate would distance themselves from a member of their staff charged with battery. But not Trump. Doing so would damage his brand.

Trump has used carefully crafted political messaging to create a brand out of his political campaign. He has effectively portrayed himself as a business savvy political outsider who is fighting on behalf of “real Americans” against the self-serving political establishment and the manipulative liberal media.

Claiming that his campaign manager is being falsely accused of committing a crime against a female reporter supports the narrative that Trump has written for his own campaign. However, if he actually acknowledge that any inappropriate action was made by his campaign manager or any of his supporters, this would contradict his brand.

Even after a Trump supporter was arrested for urinating on a homeless hispanic man and beating him with a metal pole and told the police that, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” Trump’s response showed a total lack of sympathy for the victims pain and suffering and a tacit approval of the perpetrators actions.

Trump responded to a reporter’s direct question about his supporter charged with a hate crime by saying,”I think that would be a shame. But I haven’t heard about that. I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. And they are very passionate. I will say that.”

Trump definitely knows how to establish a brand, but what kind of a brand has his presidential campaign become? Who is he trying to appeal to and why?

In this recent interview with George Stephanopoulos, Trump is repeatedly questioned about the violence that has taken place at his rallies, and another incident involving his campaign manager. The way he refuses to admit to what has clearly been captured on video is rather revealing to the way he manipulates information in order to maintain his brand. And the way he blames protesters and insults them without ever acknowledging that they were the victims of violent attacks is disturbing.

What do you think?

Controversy Caused by Kim Kardashian’s Sexy Selfie

For those of you who have spent the last week living under a large rock in an isolated forest far away from a television, the internet, or even broadband radio, let me catch you up on something of significant importance which occurred in the surreal world of social media and has been a topic of discussion for almost every media outlet on the planet; Kim Kardashian posted a nude selfie on twitter, and people lost their freaking minds.

There have been a wide variety of responses to Kim’s nude selfie. Some people view it as a form of female empowerment, a celebration of the female form, and an achievement for the feminist movement. Other people view it as the total opposite, something which encourages the objectification of women, reduces the role of a female to that of a sexualized commodity, and has done damage to the feminist movement.

Many people have commented on the tweet. Some have used memes, such as

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and

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Several women gave direct criticism to Kim, such as –

As if a beautiful women who has become famous for her sex appeal should suddenly hide her sexuality once she has a child. And –

I guess that the old white woman who tweeted this shouldn’t be judged for her statement by today’s standards, since she came of age in an era when a women’s body was considered to be the legal property of her husband. Let’s not forget, the US did not consider a husband forcefully raping his wife to be illegal until 1979.

Twitter trolls did what twitter trolls do, and spewed forth venomous vitriol. Many of their comments were racist, sexist, agist, and other types of ists that I had never even seen before. I was shocked to see how many people criticized her for being a “hoe” or “slut” and posted sexually explicit still frames from her sex tape.

I still don’t understand using images from her sex tape as way of criticizing her nudity. If you disagree with it, why post pictures of it? Or is it just an attempt to shame a women for showing off her body?

As one person accurately pointed out –

Another person seemed as confused by the criticism as I was –

Several people were inspired by Kim’s nude selfie. Some even posted nude selfies of their own to show their support, including celebrities, male and female, such as Sharon Osbourne, Ellen DeGeneres, Emily Ratajkowski, Courtney Stodden, Glozell Green, Nathan Henry, Danny Tamberelli, and whoever the hell this guy is –

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A few late night TV shows discussed the controversy surrounding Kim’s selfie in a thoughtful and hilarious way, including The Daily Show and The Nightly Show.

An artist in Australia was inspired to paint a large mural of Kim’s nude selfie on the side of a building.

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(Image Source: LUSH, Dean Sunshine)

Unfortunately, this is what some asshole did to it –

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When will society stop shaming women for their sexuality?

SWATTING IS NOT A GAME

I’ve played video games online, and I’ve heard some reprehensible things said by other gamers. Combining such a competitive activity with the anonymity of the internet makes the worst type of trash talking imaginable seem somehow acceptable, racist and sexist comments are commonplace.

However, there is a much more frightening phenomenon affecting the online gaming community. It’s know as swatting.

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Tyran Hobbs sustained severe injures. (Image source: WJLA-TV)

Swatting has been defined by the FBI as, “making a hoax call to any emergency service to elicit an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident.” These false reports typically result in, “deployment of SWAT units, bomb squads, and other police units, as well as the evacuations of schools, businesses and residences.”

According to U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa.,  every year over 400 SWAT team raids result from these types of false reports.

Along with U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Ma., Meehan introduced a bill named the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act of 2015 to make swatting a federal crime. The bill is currently being reviewed by a congressional committee.

Unfortunately, without such a law in place, it is very difficult to prosecute the perpetrators. As the New York Times has pointed out in an expose about swatting, “right now, many swatters, if charged at all, are charged with misdemeanors.”

The expose entitled “The Serial Swatter,” gives a detailed description of “one of the most disturbing crime sprees in Internet history.” The perpetrator went by the name “Obnoxious,” and was perhaps the most prolific swatter to ever lurk around online.

He found most of his victims on Twitch.tv, an online community for gamers. The site turns online gaming into a spectator sport and certain players develop a large fanbase who watch as they live stream gameplay.

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Gamer gets swatted in Denver, Colorado. (Image source: KMGH-TV)

Obnoxious targeted young women on the site, and would harass them mercilessly.

He did DDoS attacks which disrupted their live streaming ability, hacked their social media pages, sent them threatening emails and text messages, blackmailed them into taking nude photographs, and if they didn’t do everything he told them to, he would swat them.

He swatted over 40 women. He was so brazen about it that once he even live streamed himself doing it.

He wasn’t just obnoxious, he was dangerous.

Eventually, he was caught. An underage kid from Canada charged with 46 criminal counts, including criminal harassment, public mischief, and extortion.

Numerous gamers have been swatted while live streaming, either by one of their online opponents or by an anonymous spectator

Several gamers have unintentionally broadcast themselves being swatted.

However, this phenomenon does not only effect the online gaming community. Numerous political activists, online commentators, and even a long list of celebrities have been swatted.

Former US Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Ca., was attempting to pass legislation explicitly prohibiting  swatting, and he was swatted.

So what will our society do to deal with the issue of swatting?

What do you think we should do?

 

Twitter Trending Hashtag: International Women Day

Warning this post contains nudity, but it’s as classy and artistic as a classical Greek sculpture and not at all like a trashy pornography magazine. So, in no way should it be construed as pornography by Wordpress, or by the wonderful college professor who will be grading this.  

March 8th was International Women Day. It was one of the top trending topics on twitter. That’s how I found out that there was such a thing as International Women Day.

I consider myself to be a feminist. Although, I’m apparently not a very good one. But I was encouraged to become better by some of the inspirational tweets I’ve read celebrating International Women Day.

That is how I’ve always viewed feminism. So, I totally agree with that sentiment. Although, I disagree with the spelling.

And that is from a Member of Parliament in Great Britain, a nation known for having a culture as reserved and inhibited as its soccer games are rowdy. I’m down with this MP.

 

Maya Angelou, a supreme celebration on any day. She was a phenomenal women, an inspiration to all women, people of color, and people without pigmentation too.

She was an incredible person and an amazing artist whose resilience will be admired for generations to come.

I had never heard of Margaret Hamilton before, and after reading about her for only a few minutes, I find it shameful that she isn’t featured more prominently in our history books. Her contributions to the moon landing seem impossible to overstate.

And I agree that abolishing stereotypes and striving for equality are aspirations worth accomplishing in our lifetime, even if small minded sexists make it difficult.

Well, Margaret Hamilton is definitely one of the best software engineers to have ever written code. And I do think that women are amazing, and that their accomplishments in many fields have unfortunately gone unrecognized.

However, I have no idea what this tweet is referring to by IT. Is it a sexual innuendo, a double entendre such as writers do it sitting down, or archeologists do it in the dirt? If so, then I agree with it.

 

These women are beautiful. And I support their fundamental right to take sexy pictures of themselves and put them up on the internet for everyone to see.

Although, I think they should work on their grammar. And some people might point out a disparity between their tweet and the one about abolishing stereotypes. But not me. I wouldn’t do that.

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Okay then. Thoughts? And I’m not asking about that badass baseboard with the natural woodgrain.

The Evolution of Online Advocacy

In the surreal world of social media, advocacy has evolved in many different ways. But has the evolution of online advocacy actually increased the capability of individuals to bring about change?

Some people view online activism as a useless endeavor. They think that sharing a meme, hitting the like button, or using a trending hashtag isn’t actually doing anything substantial.

There has even been a word added to the ever expanding lexicon of the online community for certain types of advocacy which take place on the internet, and it clearly has a negative connotation; Slacktivism.

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Unicef has even criticized slacktivist behavior with the following advertisements.

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However, not all activism which takes place online should be described as slacktivism.

There are well organized and active advocacy groups which use social media sites to spread awareness and to carry out fundraising campaigns.

Is there anyone who didn’t hear about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? It was perhaps the most successful social media campaign ever devised.

Not only did it inspire normal people, athletes, celebrities, business leaders, and even the former President of the United States to upload videos of themselves having ice water dumped on their heads, but according to the ALS Association’s website, it also raised a lot of money, over TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS worldwide!

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And is there anyone who doesn’t remember the half hour documentary film and youtube sensation KONY2012? It was perhaps the most viral video of all time. It had over ONE HUNDRED MILLION views within six days of being posted online and raised over NINETEEN MILLION DOLLARS!

In April, 2014, the top trending hashtag on twitter was #BringBackOurGirls. It was started in Nigeria after the terrorist group Boko Haram attacked a secondary school and kidnapped almost THREE HUNDRED girls between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. The hashtag was used over ONE MILLION times in the first three weeks and over THREE MILLION times to date.

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However, more than TWO HUNDRED of those girls are still missing. Joseph Kony is still waging war in Uganda and forcing children to become soldiers in the LRA. And while ALS research has received a lot of funding, there is still no cure.

So has online advocacy actually increased the capability of individuals to bring about change?

There are websites such as Change.org whose sole purpose is to provide a platform for online petitions. The United States government even provides an online forum for directly petitioning the President through the Whitehouse.gov website.

Almost all of the petitions on these sites show a deeply held desire to bring about beneficial change in society. But some of them seem to stretch the idea of what constitutes a beneficial change.

A petition on Change.org called for Jay-Z and Beyonce to comb their daughters hair. It gathered over FIVE THOUSAND signatures.

A petition on Whitehouse.gov called for the deportation of Justin Bieber. It gained over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND signatures.

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Concerning the petition to deport Justin Beiber, the White House website responded with, “Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t be commenting on this one.”

And Beyonce seemed to be responding to the petition to comb her daughter’s hair in the lyrics of Formation, her most recent song, “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros.”

So has online advocacy actually increased the capability of individuals to bring about change?

There may be a lot of people who are advocating for the wrong things, or are half-heartedly advocating for the right things. But that doesn’t diminish the beneficial effects of certain types of online advocacy.

It makes a difference, even if it only increases awareness. Because being aware of an issue is the fist step in solving it.

And being aware that there are other people like you, of the fact that you are not alone in the world, can be the difference between life and death.

In 2011, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that FOURTY ONE PERCENT of transgender and gender nonconforming Americans had attempted suicide.

I wonder how many of them felt like they were all alone, like there was no one else who could understand what they were going through.

Online advocacy can reach anyone who has internet access regardless of how isolated they may be in the physical world. It can help prevent tragedies from happening.

But it can also cause controversy.

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Hacktivism is the practice of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system and carrying out various disruptive actions as a means of achieving political or social goals, according to its Dictionary.com definition.

The Anonymous hacking collective is perhaps the most infamous group of online hacktivists. They have targeted the KKK, ISIS, the Westboro Baptist Church, the Church of Scientology, security contractors, local police departments, the CIA, and various other governmental agencies in the US, Israel, Tunisia, and Uganda.

There have been numerous arrests of individuals involved in cyber attacks on behalf of Anonymous. But since it is a non-centralized international organization, it is almost unstoppable.

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For better or worse, society now has access to an extremely diverse set of opinions online. There are all sorts of online advocacy with all sorts of different intentions and tactics.

There are blogs on almost everything under the sun, and even blogs on things which only exist in the shadows.

A lot of bloggers are trying to bring about beneficial change to society. But there are others which exist in the dark corners of the internet and advocate for horrible things like anorexia, rape, white supremacy, and even mass murder.

If you don’t believe me just do a google search for Praying to Ana, Roosh V, Stormfront, or the social media presence of ISIS. Although, actually viewing a blog ran by ISIS might put you on an FBI watch list so be careful with that.

I think that this surreal world of ours is a complicated place. Social media has made us more interconnected than ever before, but it has also made some of us feel alienated.

So is online advocacy actually beneficial? If you think that it is or isn’t, comment on this blog or create one of your own.

Feminists Fumble and Foul Clinton’s Campaign 

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has accused Bernie Sanders of being sexist. However, as political columnist Brent Budowsky pointed out in The Observer “The sad and strange thing about the bogus attack by Ms. Clinton against Mr. Sanders when she suggested he is sexist is that it was both wholly false and wholly unnecessary.”

The truth of the matter is that Bernie Sanders’ campaign has been gaining popularity and now has the overwhelming support of voters in the 18-24 demographic, including women. In an effort to persuade these women to vote for her, the Clinton campaign has resorted to misrepresenting statements Sanders has made in an attempt to portray him as having sexist views.600.jpg

When Bernie Sanders made the broad statement that, “people need to stop shouting about gun control” in order to encourage more civil discourse concerning this divisive issue, Hillary Clinton saw it as an opportunity.

At the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, Clinton gave a scripted response to Sanders statement as if it had been a personal attack on her and her gender by saying, “I’ve been told to stop shouting about gun violence. Well I’m not shouting. It’s just when women talk, people think we’re shouting.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has even had some feminist icons try to convince more young women to support her. However, their statements may have done more harm than good.

On Feb. 5th, Gloria Steinmen was interviewed on Real Time with Bill Maher and when asked why there are more young women supporting Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton she said, “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’”

Maher instantly recognized the inherent sexism of her remark and replied, “Oh. Now if I said that, ‘They’re for Bernie because that’s where the boys are,’ you’d swat me.”

Two days later, on Feb. 7th, Madeline Albright introduced Clinton at a political rally by saying, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” To which Ms. Clinton laughed, clapped, and thanked her twice for the introduction.

Hillary seems far too willing to use her gender as a reason why women should vote for her. Her twitter account describes her as a “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate” and while this description seems slightly tongue-in-cheek, it’s worth pointing out that the list begins by using terms which are in direct reference to her gender and not her political experience or actual accomplishments.

Everything Hillary Clinton does seems calculated for political expediency, but this raises the question as to how could such a carefully crafted campaign make such a foolish mistake as to falsely accuse her opponent of sexism and then truthfully open themselves up for the same accusation to be leveled against them.

Social media was ablaze with women who were upset with what these feminist icons had said, many considered their comments to be sexist and demeaning.

Nina Turner, who is a former Ohio state senator, a women of color, and a democrat, seemed upset beyond words.

Meghan McCain, who is a columnist, television and radio personality, and daughter of Republican Senator John McCain, had some harsh words for the two feminists.

But it was Katherine Timpf, who is a reporter for the National Review as well as a comedian, who turned Madeline Albright’s statement about women going to hell for not supporting one another into an all out attack on Hillary Clinton’s credibility.

Full Disclosure: I’m not a women but I do consider myself to be a feminist. I’m also a supporter of Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

I encourage everyone, men and women, to share their thoughts by leaving a comment. But I have some questions meant specifically for the wonderful women of the inter-web, what do you think of the statements made by Gloria Steinmen and Madeline Albright? Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? And who will you be supporting for president?