Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dear Huma Abedin: Please ignore Vanity Fair's terrible advice. Here's why.

Huma Abedin in Africa last week.
AP Photo via Yahoo! Shine
When I saw the Vanity Fair article offering up advice to Rep. Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, this past weekend, my jaw just dropped. It seemed straight out of the 1950s: Don't worry about your career, you're pregnant. Think of your baby. Spend more time with your husband. All well and good, but really? What if she can't just dial back her job? And doesn't "spend more time with your husband" imply that his tweeting X-rated photos of himself to strangers is somehow her fault?

Here's my take on Vanity Fair's advice; you can read the full story, "Rep. Anthony Weiner's wife Huma Abedin doesn't need advice like this," over at Yahoo! Shine.

"Cut back on the travel. You’re pregnant, for heaven’s sake!"  As plenty of working moms know, when business travel is part of your job, you can't just "lighten the load and stay home," as the Vanity Fair columnist advises. Women have spent decades trying to prove to their employers that pregnancy doesn't make them worth less than male employees, and now you want this high-profile professional to use her growing belly as an excuse to stay home? Really? We assume she cleared her trip with her doctor. She doesn't need to clear it with the media.

"Spend some time with your husband." It's 2011. Haven't we moved past the age of blaming the wife for the husband's transgressions? Is Vanity Fair stumping for the Obedient Wives Club? Right now, much of the world thinks that Weiner is kind of a creep; we totally understand if his wife does, too. But it's worth noting that, during his massive mea culpa, Weiner said: "My wife has known about some of these online relationships since before we were married." In that case, more "face time," as the column suggests, wouldn't have changed a thing. What if cyber sex and texting is what makes their marriage more than just semi-happy?

"Get him to shut up."
Abedin, 34, is not responsible for 46-year-old Weiner's actions now any more than she was for his decision to take the pictures and send them. Let him figure out how to talk his way out of this (or not) himself.

"Remember you’re not Hillary. And that her experience is not yours."  Yes, Hillary Clinton stayed with her husband through the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal. Rep. Weiner's ego-maniacal Tweeting, however prurient, is not on the same level as a soiled blue dress. Whether Abedin should stay or go has nothing to do with who her role model—or her boss—is.

"Focus on the baby." But wait, there's more: "You’re expected to go to all the parenting Web sites and bulletin boards to chart and discuss your symptoms. On the Internet—unlike your husband—no one will know who you are." Yes, she should focus on the baby—by taking care of herself, not by accepting that her sole identity has to be either "Mrs. Anthony Weiner" or "Mommy" now that she's pregnant.

Abedin was recently named one of Time magazine's "40 under 40" civic leaders and rising stars of American politics. The only way she can be anonymous online, regardless of her husband's actions, is if she chooses to be.

Read the whole article on Shine: "Rep. Anthony Weiner's wife Huma Abedin doesn't need advice like this."

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