In Politics, Visionary Wives Blamed For Husband’s Mistakes
October 31, 2016
FBI Director James Comey announced this week in a letter to several members of Congress that the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails has been reopened due to new evidence discovered in an unrelated investigation. This unrelated investigation turned out to be the FBI’s probe into disgraced former Congressman and New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, famously known for his sexual scandals. Weiner is married to, but separated from, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who finds herself in the unfortunate position of being the link that connects the two figures. Now, just like her boss decades before her, Abedin must exercise damage control in the wake of her husband’s sexual misconduct.
Abedin is, by all accounts, Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon. Their close relationship is the type that politicians strive for with their staffers, with Clinton even referring to Abedin as her surrogate daughter. Intelligent and poised, Abedin has had only one recurring foible: her husband. Time and time again, he has disrespected and humiliated her. And he has now, with his contemptible behavior, put her career and quite possibly the election in jeopardy. Enough is enough. Abedin’s name has been attached to Weiner’s for far too long. Moving forward, in practice and in press coverage, Weiner ought to have to stand by himself.
Unfortunately, implying or outright blaming a woman for her husband’s wrongdoing is nothing new in American culture. As recently as this month, Donald Trump has continued to use Bill Clinton’s past misdeeds as evidence against Hillary Clinton’s case for presidency, never mind the fact he himself has no leg to stand on in such matters. It’s a cruel, demeaning and patently unfair criticism of these female icons, not to mention the many other professional women who quietly suffer through similar circumstances every day. When everybody involved in a given situation is an adult, they are responsible for their own actions. Sorry, Melania Trump, but husbands are not meant to be overgrown sons for their wives to monitor and discipline. Women like Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin are too busy working hard and accomplishing things to worry about whether or not the men in their lives are behaving themselves. That’s on them.
When the media or the public attacks women for the inexcusable behavior of their significant others, it could be defined as a sort of victim-blaming. But these women are not victims. In piling criticism on Anthony Weiner, Americans need to take care not to extend this warranted disgust to Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton. Abedin, like Clinton, will continue to achieve success in life with or without her husband.
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, October 31st print edition. Email Annie Cohen at [email protected]