Skip to main content

The public humiliation of Huma Abedin

By Lisa Bloom, Special to CNN
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 2127 GMT (0527 HKT)
Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 23, to address explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website. Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 23, to address explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website.
HIDE CAPTION
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Huma Abedin stood by Anthony Weiner as he addressed new revelations of lewd behavior
  • Lisa Bloom: She has a right, but it's a craven political move, and it degrades her
  • She says we need to get rid of the wife-as-doormat visual; it is basically abusive
  • Bloom: Note to married male politicians who stray: Face the press alone

Editor's note: Lisa Bloom is an attorney, a legal analyst for Avvo.com and the author of "Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World."

(CNN) -- Isn't it time to call the spectacle of the suffering political wife, standing by her man in the media glare as he admits to his latest sexual offense against her, what it really is: spousal abuse?

Huma Abedin has the right to make any decisions she wants about her life, just as a victim of domestic abuse has the right to return for more -- but we don't have to stand silently by and condone it.

On Tuesday, she read from a script about forgiving her husband, New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, as he was forced to address allegations that he sent sexually explicit texts and photographs of his genitals to a woman he'd never met, a year after he'd resigned in shame for this very accusations in 2011 and publicly promised to stop. And after she'd given birth to their child, and after he'd presumably gone to whatever Twitter sexting rehab he found, and Lord knows what else.

Gallery: Politicians wives who've stood by their men, and those who haven't

Lisa Bloom
Lisa Bloom

Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, was reduced to the standing-by-her-man-at-the-news-conference archetype, a dated wife-as-doormat visual it's time to eliminate from our political theater.

Sure, she can keep him around if she wants to. But we don't have to bless their craven political move to stand together before the cameras to protect his career, nor do we have to play along as they both pretend that this is something other than more public degradation of her. That they are both consenting adults who participate in this behavior does not make it acceptable to the rest of us. (Simple test: Would you want your daughter in that tableau?)

Did Weiner's wife do the right thing?
With his wife, Huma Abedin, by his side, New York mayoral candidate and former congressman Anthony Weiner confirms on July 23 that some of the sexually explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website happened after previous revelations forced him to resign from the U.S. House in 2011. With his wife, Huma Abedin, by his side, New York mayoral candidate and former congressman Anthony Weiner confirms on July 23 that some of the sexually explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website happened after previous revelations forced him to resign from the U.S. House in 2011.
Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
Wives who stood by their men Wives who stood by their men
Who is Huma Abedin?
Weiner: Voters not interested in my past
Weiner apologizes with wife at his side

Opinion: Why does Abedin put up with Weiner?

We have the right to say that we will not enable this anymore; we will not endorse it; we will not bless it just because it is her "choice." Instead, we will call a public figure's cheating on his wife, then bringing her to the mea culpa press conference, not only offensive to her but a slap in the face to women in the electorate.

Who is Huma Abedin?

It was bad enough when Harvard Law grad Silda Wall Spitzer stood mutely beside then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as he confessed in 2008 to patronizing prostitutes. Or when former hospital executive Dina McGreevey stood silently next to her cheating husband, then-New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, as he announced his resignation in 2004.

Some of us are trying to raise our girls to be more than voiceless partners sucking up their pride as their husbands trample over their dignity. Men like Weiner and Spitzer were well aware of the excruciating pain the disclosure of their thrill-seeking behavior would cause their wives while they were public figures, and they engaged in it anyway, via elaborate lies and artifices, eyes wide open. In the case of Anthony Weiner, a.k.a. Carlos Danger -- and maybe all of them -- that risk probably amped up the sexual excitement.

Why we act on stupid impulses

Here's the simple rule for male politicians: If you had your fun without her, man up and face the press corps without her. Ironically, each of these men calls himself a feminist. Respect for women begins at home, fellas.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinons expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lisa Bloom.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT)
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2250 GMT (0650 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT