By: Claire Cook, Regular Contributor
Image from becausemollysaidso.com
Our culture defines women in two ways: by how they look and by the men who are or aren’t in their lives. Rarely is a women recognized solely by her personal successes without mention of her physical appearance and sexual orientation/marital status. The “Weinergate” scandal exemplifies this gender bias in the way media coverage has portrayed his wife, Huma Abedin.
A long time aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Huma was included in Time Magazine’s “40 under 40” list in 2010, and her accomplishments make her an inspiring female role model. However, her achievements have been overshadowed by her husband’s behavior. While Anthony Weiner personally disgusts me, people’s marriages are their own business and they can choose to forgive cheating spouses.
However, Huma has become a stoic “stand by your man” figure in the public eye. She has been likened to a scared prisoner in a hostage video. It’s not the choice to stay with her husband that disgusts me, it’s the way the media has demeaned her and made her look weak when she’s an undoubtedly successful and intelligent woman whose made a decision that she believes is in her, and her family’s, best interest. She should be revered.
The media is also glamorizing Huma, writing about how to get her hair, her outfits and a day at the spa. The NY Daily News dedicated an entire article to Huma’s hair, entitled “Huma Abedin's rich, glowing hair draws looks of envy from many women, scandal or not.” The article even included a “how to” guide to get Huma’s hair: “#1 Make a loose ponytail. #2 Twist the elastic band around once, twice and, on the third time, don’t pull the hair through. #3 Twist the bun and pull the hair apart for fullness. Pieces will separate for that draped look.” Similarly, the NY Daily News also published a photo essay of Huma’s public day out to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. One of the photo descriptions noted that “Abedin donned a stylish blue shirt dress and cream cardigan as she made her way uptown to the spa.” Huma is undoubtedly a beautiful and stylish woman but the timing of the articles implies that she’s risen above and is unaffected by the scandal surrounding her. We expect her to look bedraggled, upset, and totally unhinged from the trials she’s undergoing in her marriage. Where did the scared “stand by your man” woman go? The commentary on Huma’s physical appearance implies that if her marriage ultimately ends up failing, at least she’ll be able to kill it professionally with her flawless hair, style and, least importantly, her intelligence.
The “war on women” won’t be over until there is a shift in how women in the public eye are perceived. A woman should be defined by the type of person she is, the decisions she makes, and by her achievements, not by materialistic values and her relationships with men. We should be spending less time analyzing whether or not Huma is making the right decision by supporting and staying with her husband, (and how fabulous she looks doing it) and more time applauding a woman who has been through political/marital hell and who has undeniably had to make one of the hardest decisions of her life.
About Claire: Claire “Bear” Cook is a regular contributor to I AM THAT GIRL who spends her days working in marketing at a multimedia company in Los Angeles. Having lived in New York City for 3 years and grown up on the East Coast, she moved to LA in 2013 on a leap of faith to build her career and broaden her perspective. Claire is passionate about travel, running, music, karaoke, walruses & wine and enjoys spending her free time with free-thinking, creative & positive people.