Huma's Choice To Stay With Weiner Is More Feminist Than You Think

huma abedin, anthony weiner

If you had asked me ten years ago what I would do if my public-figure husband got caught, not once, but twice, in a sexting scandal and embarrassed us both, the first thing I would have said was, "What’s sexting?"

Then, after we got that cleared up, I would have been all, "Girlfriend, ain't no way I'm sticking around for that shit! I can do better than that two-timing jerkface." (OK, maybe I wouldn’t have said it like that.)

Today I see that the issue is far more complicated than that. (Read why you-go-girl advice is the worst.)

Huma has already made her thoughts on the scandal abundantly clear: This is between her and her husband. It's none of our business. You fear that this goes against the Laws of Feminism, especially the one that states that Women Shalt Not Suffer Fools. In fact, Huma is more of a feminist than you realize—and if you blame or judge her, you're not as much a feminist as you think.

Granted, Huma's decision to stay is a tough one for women to take—and especially hard for those who consider themselves feminists. This guy repeatedly cheats and tweets? We can't take it. We just can't. We want to make it our mission to free her from this impossible d-bag. We want better for her. For ourselves.

The only problem is she doesn't want to leave. So, we do the only other thing that can relieve our cognitive dissonance: Chalk it up to this being part of Huma's Overall Plan. It actually makes us feel better to think she's doing it for publicity reasons, for political strategy—one, because then there’s a "point" to the misery; and two, because then we can label her as a cold, calculating bitch and not feel as bad about what happened. Cognitive dissonance resolved!

I find it very unsettling that we're more comforted by the notion that Huma is a heartless, self-serving, political mastermind than we are by the other option: that Huma knows her husband better than anyone, sees him for his flaws, for the pain he has caused and continues to cause her, and loves him anyway. Because that is just too hard for us to swallow.

Women have been forgiving men for their flaws for as long as anyone can remember. Huma is not the first, nor the last. And by her account, she has already been through this, long before the news hit. We're the ones on fire about it. We're acting like the scorned wife, furious that he has turned on us again—and frustrated with Huma for not doing something about it! Aaghh!

It's often said that America forgives. But we don't forgive; we forget. We have the cultural memory of a goldfish, flashing anew onto scandals as if it's the first time we've ever seen them. How else can you explain our surprise and outrage when yet another politician finds himself in a sexual "situation?" 

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And because of our inability to comprehend this kind of forgiveness, linked unfortunately as it is with shame and weakness, we fail to recognize that Huma is standing up for the very values that everyone claims are dying: Family. Commitment. Compassion. There's much bemoaning the divorce rate, and yet with our instinct for cutting and running at the first (or second) sign of trouble, is it any wonder why so many marriages end?

I've said it once and I'll say it again: A true feminist operates from a position of power, and makes choices based on what she wants, not what she fears. Huma isn't about to just up and toss what she's worked hard to build, just because you think she "deserves better." This is the man she chose and continues to choose. Until the day she stops choosing him. And while no one would fault her for that, we are faulting her for staying. And that’s f'ed up.

If you believe in feminism, then you support a woman's right to choose—in every area of her life. But here's the catch: You can't be for a woman’s right to choose only insofar as you agree with her choice. Ten years ago, I'd be so sure what I would and wouldn't stand for. Now, I'm not so sure. And until you’re in that position, you won’t know either. But I respect a strong woman's choice even if I'm not sure it would be one I'd make.

Terri Trespicio is a writer and lifestyle expert. Visit her at and on Twitter @TerriT.