What Is Huma Thinking? Is It Any of Our Business?
Since Former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner's chain of bad decision making broke publicly, his wife and long-time aide to Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin has been forced into media headlines. First, because of her supposed ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and now because she's too pretty for Weiner?
Anthony Weiner disgracefully resigned from Congress after a sexting scandal in 2011. But he's back now in hopes of becoming the next mayor of New York City. Weiner admitted to making “big mistakes” and said he learned “some tough lessons.” But over the last few weeks we've learned that he engaged in other inappropriate conduct with women online as recently as last summer.
The guy can't be left alone with his cell phone for a whole year without texting lewd photos of “Carlos Danger” and he wants to be the mayor of New York City. Huma's well-defined cheek bones should be the least of anyone's concerns.
Huma Abedin, who was once an obscure staffer, has become the Kim Kardashian of Washington. Since there aren't many prominent South Asian women in politics, just as a majority of Americans didn't even know what or where Armenia was before the Kardashian clan arrived, these women have been exoticized. Not because of the work they do, but because they stand out in their mostly vanilla worlds.
I would never deny another woman's beauty, but each person's views of the world around them is based on context. If Kim K. came to Northern Virginia where I grew up she'd be lost in a multi-ethnic crowd of doe-eyed beauties. And I'm pretty sure I saw Huma Abedin's twin at my wedding reception in 2008.
Ever since Huma made a public statement to stand by her husband the psycho-analysis of her decision has become comical. Everyone wants to understand why she would stay in this marriage -- after all, Anthony Weiner is the one who married up -- and there is no shortage of theories online.
Maybe she's staying in this marriage because she blames herself, maybe it's because she's Muslim; maybe it's because she has low self-esteem or because she's been so successful in her life she can't allow her marriage to fail.
Or maybe it's much simpler than that. Maybe she's just a girl in love.
When Britney Spears married Kevin Federline the whole world cringed. When Hillary stood by Bill after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, women were horrified. And it was almost unbearable to watch Vanessa Bryant gently rub Kobe's hand during a press conference where he admitted to adultery in 2007. Singer and actress Selena Gomez has just barely tiptoed into adulthood but has already fallen in love, had her heart broken and written a song about it. In her new chart-topping single the youngster proclaims to the mystery man (let's call him Justin Bieber) that she might be, “addicted for life...” Quick! Someone grab that kid, shake her violently and say, "YOU WON'T EVEN REMEMBER HIM IN FIVE YEARS."
Each of us has our own relationship GPS that we use to navigate through the world of human intricacies. Sometimes we're guided by wisdom and foresight and other times immaturity and infatuation lead the way. There are probably more women (than are willing to admit) that have been in situations where they think they know the way and ignore the voice that keeps saying RECALCULATING. Sometimes your gut leads you to exactly where you're supposed to be and other times your (lack of) personal judgment gets you horribly lost, stuck in traffic moving at the speed of molasses and contemplating jumping off the next bridge.
Anthony Wiener's private(s) business unraveled publicly at a time when Abedin was 10 weeks pregnant with their first child. Maybe her decision to stay mum and hang tight was more about having a healthy pregnancy and baby than it was about her desire to save her marriage.
For years we've seen women married to high-profile figures (politicians, entertainers, athletes) stand by their husbands during press conferences where the guys all do the Susan Smith song and dance. They appeal to the public and shed a few tears amidst the cloud of guilt that looms over them. They're forced to explain to their sponsors, fans and constituents that they made a bad choice, while always keeping veiled that the real regret was in their failure to make a more careful bad choice; getting caught is never part of anyone's plan.
It's always easy to make suggestions about the way others should live when we're trolling around the perimeter of their situation and never fully understand their circumstances. Maybe Huma and Anthony are a just a few years away from divorce. Maybe they'll seek counseling again, renew their vows and grow old together. Maybe as women we should consider the possibility that there is no right way or wrong way, but encourage every woman to find her own way.
While some will continue to argue that Weiner's crooked smile doesn't match Huma's rarely-seen-in-Washington caramel complexion, Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal and Huma's written statement to stand by her man isn't about his mayoral run or her presumed religious background (Huma has never publicly spoken about what, if any, faith she identifies with). It's actually an urgent message for society to examine, mend, nurture and protect marriage and family in this country.
I don't know what Abedin thinks about when she's in the quiet of her own thoughts, but I feel like I'm supposed to care... more. Maybe because Huma is... ethnically South Asian, like I am? Because her family is Muslim like mine is? Because I was named Huma for a day before my parents changed their minds and decided on Sabrina instead?
Everyone seems to be looking at Abedin through a distorted lens of pity and confusion. But she's an intelligent, well-educated and successful woman who is going to make decisions based on what she feels is best for herself and her son; and I don't think women should feel so invested in or wounded by whatever happens next.
The Hillary Clintons, Vanessa Bryants and Huma Abedins of the world are no different than the rest of us. They're trying to navigate the ups and downs of their relationships just like most women are. The only difference is when you have a public platform your relationship GPS gets hacked so instead of one clear voice telling you which way to go you have like, a billion people screaming RECALCULATING.