Must the Good Wife Always Stand By Her Man?
Huma Abedin's personal essay for the September issue of Harper's Bazaar plays out an all-too-familiar scene in the theater of sex and politics. In this cast, there are only two characters: the Good Wife and the Better Man. In the article, Abedin christens her husband, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner "a better man" who pushed through his past mistakes (which, by now, we all know of). And in a telling editorial decision, the magazine titles the article and by proxy Abedin herself as "The Good Wife," one who has remained faithful by his side through it all.
It's a clean, PR-friendly image. This article was written and published online before the nation was introduced to Carlos Danger.
And now that Weiner's public vows to abandon his sexting exploits with other women have resurfaced as, shall we say, less than sincere, it's difficult to tell which of the couple is more infamous. The typecasts are quickly deteriorating, as America can't seem to make up its mind whether it's more outraged by Carlos Danger for straying, or The Good Wife for staying.
Countless motives have been ascribed to Abedin for "standing by her man"—that she's staying as a boost to her own political career, that her Muslim faith or Saudi Arabian upbringing compels her to leave divorce out of the options, that she's following in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton's example. We'll never know.
What can be said of Abedin, however, is that she did something many other politico's wives in similar situations did not. At a press conference with her husband, Abedin exercised a quality I admire in any woman: raising her own voice. She articulated to the press that hers is a personal decision she made "for me, for our son, and for our family."
But what happened next is where her position becomes problematic. Because in the next breath, Abedin extended her own choice to forgive and stand by her unfaithful husband as a prescriptive for all—for voters, for national viewers, and perhaps most dangerously, for all women who have ever found themselves in a cycle of broken trust.
This line of thought is consistent with her Bazaar essay, in which she invites readers to join her in the ranks of The Good Wife, even infusing her choice with moral force:
New Yorkers will have to decide for themselves whether or not to give him a second chance. I had to make that same decision for myself, for my son, for our family. And I know in my heart that I made the right one.
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