Understanding Huma

Emily Greenhouse in The New Yorker:

Huma-abedin-580“Huma for Mayor,” many tweeted on Tuesday. Others, fancying themselves funny: “Free Huma.” Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, and more important for now, wife to Anthony Weiner, is certainly an object of some interest; Mark Jacobson, in a recent New York magazine cover story about Weiner, described a bird of a beauty heretofore unknown. (“Her brown eyes,” he wrote, “were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race.”) When Weiner resigned from Congress two summers ago, after being outed as a distributor of below-the-waist selfies, people flocked to Abedin, promising her solace and options. She received hardly a negative word in the press. When she stood by her man—“for me, for our son, for our family”—many of us told ourselves it was her life, her choice, and a brave one at that. She seemed the bearer of a wisdom that the masses could not know. And then Tuesday, at the press conference following the revelation of Weiner’s post-resignation online tryst as Carlos Danger, Abedin took a turn at the microphone after her husband, who hadn’t quite offered a satisfying mea culpa. She didn’t look happy up there, exactly, but she couldn’t manage to pull off gravitas, either. Neither showed much energy or punch until afterward, at a forum hosted by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, where Weiner worked the room with panache, winning “rapturous applause” from activists in attendance. He’s a gifted politician, don’t forget.

The fallout from the story has been about Weiner’s mayoral prospects, about whether or not his sexts were disgusting or disappointingly dull, and also about Abedin. This country can understand a redemption story: man screws up, talks endlessly to a therapist about family narratives and feedback loops, offers himself up, gets forgiven by loyal wife. Such tales form the highest peak on the great American mountain. But Weiner screwed up again. And, as he admitted this, Huma kept on standing by his side. What can we make of that? The feminist and activist Gloria Steinem postulated that “the Stockholm syndrome” might be responsible. The New York Posts cover cried, “Señora Danger … WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” as though a woman should be held responsible for sexual misdeeds one just expects from a man. (“Sure, Carlos Danger is a sleaze,” it noted in smaller print, “but his señora is no saint either. Huma Abedin happily lied to a public that had been nothing but sympathetic to her as she inexplicably stood by—and colluded with—Anthony Weiner.”)

More here.

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