It was only a matter of time. And that time, predictably, was about five seconds. It took about five seconds for the latest iteration of an Anthony Weiner sexting scandal to turn into a referendum on his working wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. This enormously accomplished women is in the news again: not because of her work as the vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. Not because she was the Deputy Chief of Staff to the U.S. Secretary of State for four years. But because her husband fucked up. Again.
He’s news, sort of. This is news, sort of. And her announced separation from him is kind of news, I guess. It’s boiled-over second-hand tabloid news that’s kind of like last week’s leftovers: still edible, but not entirely recognizable and certainly not interesting. Frankly, I don’t particularly care.
To me, it could be summarized as: stupid man does stupid thing—again! But because he once occupied political office and later ran for mayor of New York City, it’s stupid on a more public level. He should, at this point, know better. Like, a lot better. He should know that he’s news. He should know that people will pay attention to his sexting images. People including, apparently, Children’s Services. One of the images in question shows not just Weiner and his arousal, but also his son, sleeping near by.
So Child Services has opened an investigation. Into Weiner. Because he’s the one who did this. He did this stupid, sad thing, and there are consequences. And that’s just fine. He should have consequences, and his parenting should perhaps be called into question. Maybe.
But I’m not sad for him. I’m sad for Huma Abedin.
I’m also angry for Huma Abedin. Because about five seconds into the whole stupid sad sorry situation, it was Abedin’s parenting that was called into question—by none other than The Washington Post. Yes, you read that right: not some click-bait trash-happy tabloid. The Washington goddamn Post.
To be fair, they didn’t actually say that she’s a bad mother. Not in so many words. They just sort of, you know, like, questioned it. In a third-person kind of way. Using the passive voice that I warn my students about all the time, because it takes away any sort of responsibility from the subjects or actors in question.
They noted (oh-so-concerned) that Weiner’s actions are “for the third time…ensnaring his wife.” How are they ensnaring his wife, you may ask? There are a lot of possibilities here, and none are great. But this might actually be one of the worst: “…by raising questions about her decision to leave their son alone with her husband while she’s on the campaign trail.”
BOOM. That little judgmental passive voice sentence does a whole lot of work right there. Leaving her son alone with her husband (who is, I note, his PARENT). While she’s on the campaign trail. A-ha. There we have it. How dare she leave her son for long periods of time? How DARE she? It’s one thing to work, maybe. But to be away? For a long period of time? On the CAMPAIGN TRAIL? When she’s a MOTHER?
How very questionable a decision. How very, very questionable. Take note, working women of the world. Such decisions, especially made by mothers, will be questioned. We may not know by whom, or after what precipitating event, but best stay home and keep your partners away from their phones and your children by your side.
To avoid that which might be questionable.
Except, I suspect, the decisions of the women and mother, working on the road or in an office or at home (because it’s all work, even if unpaid), will always be questionable.
Which is why we have to make sure to support each other. To support one another’s parenting and working from- or away-from home. To be very, very careful when we decide that something is questionable. Because so very much is questioned anyway. So let’s not needlessly question each other.
p.s. To The Fix on The Washington Post: Your language and emphasis is very, very questionable.