Huma Abedin announced her separation from husband Anthony Weiner on Monday morning, after The New York Post reported that the former congressman was allegedly sexting with another woman -- the third such scandal the couple has had to face in the public eye since they married in 2010. It seems that after every Weiner sexting scandal, the same question arises: Why doesn't Abedin divorce Weiner? People wondered after the initial 2011 sexting scandal, which saw the end of Weiner's congressional career. The same questions came up in 2013 after his second scandal. And after the 2016 release of the documentary Weiner, William D. Cohan at Vanity Fair posed the same question.
In some ways, it makes sense that so many want to discuss and dissect Abedin's decision to stand by her husband during these scandals. Both husband and wife, after all, are public figures, and Weiner's sexting scandals are certainly relevant to questions of his judgment and self-control. His scandals are not relevant, though, to questions about Abedin's fitness to serve in politics. Nor are questions about their marriage relevant for public debate.
There is a very fine line between questioning Abedin's reasons for staying with Weiner and implicitly blaming her for his actions. Well, what did she expect? She knew what he was like. As Bustle's Krutika Pathi has pointed out, sexist reactions on Twitter have included people blaming Abedin for her husband's actions. In some ways, it's reminiscent of some of the rhetoric used to criticize Hillary Clinton's decision to stay with Bill after his infidelities.
Granted, by betraying the trust of his constituents, Weiner has opened himself up to criticism of his personal life. He allowed a film crew to follow him even as the second wave of sexting allegations broke, which turned into this year's much-praised documentary Weiner. Abedin, on the other hand, reportedly did not even consent to appear in the documentary. Weiner told The New York Times that Abedin didn't sign the release to participate. Lisa Califf, the spokeswoman and counsel for Weiner, told The New York Times in an email: “As is clear in the film, the filmmakers had consent from everyone who appears in the film, including Anthony and Huma."
Abedin's personal life is not fair game. She does not owe the public an explanation for why she remained married to Weiner. In a recent interview with Vogue, Abedin cited faith, friends, and family, especially her son, Jordan, as key factors that helped her get through past scandals. “Our primary concern was the well-being of our son, and ensuring he had everything he needed to feel loved and cared for and to thrive,” Abedin told Vogue. We are not entitled to know more.