Huma Abedin – The Good Wife Stands By Her Man

full_1308239855humahillaryShe stood there while her husband spoke about his sexual transgressions. Her hair tied in a loose pony tail, nervously fidgeting, she flashed the obligatory smile at the high-profile mayoral candidate for New York City. As he calmly and casually brushed off the latest of his sexting allegations, she played the role of dutiful wife. Except, as much as she wanted to put on a brave face, she looked like a dear caught in the headlights.

Oh, Huma Abedin. What happened to you?

You were once a rising star in the Clinton administration. You were among those named in Time Magazine‘s 2011 “40 Under 40” as a new generation of civic leaders and one of the ones to watch in American politics. In that feature, you stared straight into the camera, a megawatt smile; hand defiantly on your hip, the world at your feet.

How things have changed.

As the embattled wife of Anthony Weiner, you seemed a shadow of your former self during the hastily arranged press conference. The pawn in the latest installment of a quickly organized crisis communications plan to deflect the heat off of your husband’s mayoral candidacy.

Your husband deftly trotted out all the appropriate and carefully crafted buzz phrases emphasizing regret, redemption and forgiveness. And apparently, you have bought into all of this.

Then, in true TV drama fashion, the mayoral wannabe turned the microphone over to you.

This is where fiction blurred into reality. As the hot lights from the media’s cameras melted away any façade of bravado, you read the words that any script writer (or issues management consultant) could have written: “Our marriage has had its ups and downs…it took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy.

“I love him, I forgive him and I believe in him.”

Essentially you decided to stand by your man. I recall in the early days of Bill Clinton’s first run for the US presidency, your former boss, mentor and friend, Hillary Clinton, had to do the same thing on the TV news show, 60 Minutes. She was there to answer questions about the 12-year extramarital affair her husband had with Gennifer Flowers.

“I’m not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette,” Hillary famously told Steve Kroft in that 1992 interview. “I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him.”

What may seem like a similar performance is anything but; on her own, Hilary would have done just fine. But by sticking with a presidential candidate, she had something more to gain.

You? Not so much.

Standing by your man is the last thing you should be doing here. It’s demoralizing and disheartening to know there’s no price to pay for publicly cheating on your wife. Even the guy infamously known as “Client 9” is entering the political arena again.

I fail to understand what happens to strong, successful women when they link their lives with strong successful men – who end up having no compunction about publicly shaming their wives to save their own political ambitions.

The worst part? We as women are complicit. Is it the fear of starting over? Of destroying the family unit? Or is it a badge of honour to display our capacity for forgiveness?

At the end of the press conference, while the media was clamoring to be heard, one reporter called out: “Why should we trust your judgment Anthony Weiner?”

The question never got answered. Not by your husband. Nor you.

And that was a shame.

PR consultant Elissa Freeman brings more than 25 years of communications experience to the pages of The Broad Side. Named one of Twitters Top 52 PR pros and Top 75 Badass Females, the Toronto, Canada-based Freeman is also a contributor to PR Daily/PR Daily Europe and is a guest columnist at Canada.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @elissapr.

Image via Good.is.

  • Joan Haskins

    I am applauding loudly for this post. “Stand By Your Man” is a song that should not be taken literally.

    • Elissa Freeman

      Thank you for your comment Joan! I felt quite strongly by what I saw yesterday and absolutely needed to write about it!

  • jana

    “At the end of the day, at the very least, every woman should have the ability and the confidence and the choice to make whatever decisions she wants to make that are right for her and not be judged by it.”

    That statement, attributed to Hilary by Huma, is far more powerful than this narrow minded article. Real badasses have the courage to stand by the decisions they make, knowing full well they will be unpopular with, and even ridiculed by, supposed feminists. Continue your march towards progress, Elissa. You’re doing great.

    • Elissa Freeman

      Why thank you, Jana! You really think Huma made that decision for herself? I think not. Having worked in politics, there are many others who pull the strings. Yes, you have a choice. Either do as they say, or drop out of the race. Anthony Weiner still chooses to run – a decision many find reprehensible. Real progress would have been to let him stand up there by himself and defend his own behaviour.

      • Jana

        I absolutely think she made it herself, why can’t you give her credit for that? Why are you assuming she’s such a pushover? Every single other outcome would have been far easier than the one she chose to embark on. Fighting for a relationship you value is not that same as blindly standing by, but the world mocks you equally.

        If Huma wants any kind of peace in her life, she needed to address the situation. Having him stand alone is disingenuous because he is not alone in this. Plus, the press would continue to hound Huma until she made a statement and, as a notoriously private woman, I doubt she would appreciate the constant scrutiny.

        • i agree with both of jana’s comments. i’m more than stunned that a piece like this on a site like this (both of which claim to promote feminism but get it right in name only, in my view) takes ms. abedin to task when it’s her husband who has admitted behavior that embarrasses both of them.

          women bashing women is feminism? women bashing a woman who decides – for her own reasons, whatever they are, that the author of this piece couldn’t possibly *know* – to stay in her marriage and keep her family intact is supporting women? an author who claims that ms. abedin, a woman who worked at an incredibly responsible, high-level job for mrs. clinton, couldn’t possibly make her own decision – that’s a feminist view?

          like all too many posts on this page, this one, full of rank speculation and condescending advice, i would suspect was written to get eyes and clicks. in this case, that would be the least cringe-worthy reason.

  • Anne Born

    I wanted to, but I couldn’t even feel sorry for her. My wish is that she move on, get out of the spotlight, and have a real life that does not include viewing seemingly endless photos of Carlos Danger’s various and sundry parts.

  • Do you really think Hillary Clinton stood by Bill because of her political ambitions? The line I remember from that interview was: “This is a marriage.” And I have always believed that she does love Bill despite his many flaws. I wouldn’t think much of a woman who stood by her man NOT out of love and with forgiveness but rather because she somehow thought it would further her own aspirations. Isn’t that kind of like selling yourself?

    • Elissa Freeman

      Thank you for your comment, Leslie – it’s a great question. I think Hillary believes strongly in the sanctity of marriage (clearly, she never did leave Bill), but despite the extreme and public humiliation, she never left him. Why? That’s a question only she can answer. But, since that time, she’s been Secretary of State and now considering a run for the presidency. Perhaps she was taking the long view of her marriage…?

    • Anne Born

      Yes, yes it is.

  • Jen

    Elissa: Thanks for your thoughtful post. I’m not sure I have a strong opinion either way — mostly because I’m not really following the story so much but also because I firmly believe that we can’t know truly what goes on inside a marriage. People get married for many different reasons — love, fear, security, sex. It’s also possible that he is “paying” just not publicly, in ways we don’t know.

    I for certain do not envy people with public marriages.

  • As much as I want Huma to be a hero standing up for all women, it is not my place to judge her decision. Life is complicated. As women, I think we need to have compassion for her predicament and hope she finds the strength to make the right decisions for her life. I would want the same respect from others in my life.

  • As a woman who “stands by her man” I think this article misses the mark. We only see what the media portrays and what this couple put forwards for us to see. We do not know what is going on between them personally or with him. There could be issues that we are unaware of and for this reason alone we should not judge her staying with her husband. I do not see her as weak or as a bad example to other women. Maybe she takes her vows seriously – maybe this is their worse. Unless you have lived it I don’t think we should stand in judgment of her. I have had people judge me from saying I am a fool to that I am a saint. I am neither. It may have nothing to do with politics at all, it is just all assumption by the author.

  • sophia

    i’m sure she has her reason’s for staying with her husband. i am not angry at the choice she made to stay. i am dissappointed, everytime it happens, which is more often then i would like, watching a wife stand next to her husband as he apologizes for his sexual indiscretions. yes the issues are between husband and wife, and the politician and his constituents. in my eyes there is no reasons the wife needs to stand there publicly and back him up, it sickens me actually.

  • June

    Elissa – you’ve done it again! You’ve hit the nail right on the head. Strong, intelligent women need to stand up and say this kind of behavior – obfuscation, dishonesty, poor judgment – is unacceptable. The sexting is a matter between the two of them (can you imagine their arguments?), but clearly this guy has major problems. Standing by her man has changed my perception of her – I can no longer trust her judgment either.

  • I heard that she’s going to be leaving him. Let’s hope. The Clintons have washed their hands of him.

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