Males and their mea culpa

Updated Aug 04, 2013 03:42pm

In America, breaking news is often about immoral indiscretions of male politicians rushing to apologise. These characters jam the news channels when they fall from grace. Public interest is heightened with the tittle-tattle. Never short of scandals, the media has a field day airing salacious details with graphic images pixelated in parts not meant to be exposed to the viewers.

Today’s daily feed is the cringe-inducing photos and lewd text circulating the airwaves and cyber space. This is making many New Yorkers nervous. What if Anthony Weiner, the serial ‘sexter’ (sending his nude pictures to others through a text message) becomes their new mayor? More perplexing is wife Huma Abedin’s role amid the sleaze and vapidity harvested by the media acreage.

Gossip websites, investigative online journals, TV channels and national dailies like the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today wonder why Huma, whose mother is Pakistani and father was born in undivided India, still stands by her sexually deviant husband, Anthony Weiner. Why, ask all.

Mayoral race aside, the man standing for the comptroller’s job too carries extra baggage bulging with a damning portfolio of his past sexual secret rendezvous with prostitutes.

The title of this story can well be ‘Sex and the City.’ It’s a tale of two unfaithful husbands and their forgiving wives. The scene of action is New York, the city that never sleeps for fear it may miss the dizzying pulsations gyrating on life’s conveyor belt. But as the race for a new mayor and comptroller heats up, disbelief and disdain levitates.

The two men continue to say ‘sorry’.

Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York in 2007. He resigned a year later after admitting that he patronised high-end prostitutes hiring their services for $4,000 a night. Wife Silda stoically stood by her husband’s side at his first press conference. She later moved out and lives in a separate apartment. The couple is not estranged as once more she has rallied around Eliot to support him for the second most important public office in New York City. Silda, like Huma has forgiven her husband. New Yorkers, however, have a different take. Shocked are women especially. They question why the wronged wives didn’t divorce their husbands, leave alone support their candidacy.

“When the significant other forgives you, it makes your road back in politics that much easier,” Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University is quoted as saying. “If the wife goes on the campaign trail or seems really supportive, it makes a huge difference. If she doesn't, it may raise doubts with women.”

The world’s most ‘influential paper’ named after the city is not sitting idly watching Weiner’s drama unfold. In a strongly worded editorial, the New York Times advised the mayoral candidate, addicted to sexting, “should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the web and out of the race for mayor of New York City”.

Weiner’s posts to women were revealed two years ago. He first denied sending them. Then admitted, promising never to do it again. But he’s done it again. “A website called The Dirty had another woman’s story, another round of sex texts [under his pseudonym Carlos Danger] and another picture of Mr Weiner’s xxxx,” says the paper. The NYT editorial scolds the couple. It’s message: enough! “Mr Weiner and Ms Abedin have been saying that his sexual behaviour is not the public’s business. Well, it isn’t, until they make it our business by plunging into a political campaign … To those who know his arrogance and have grown tired of the tawdry saga he has dragged the city into, this is not surprising”.

Huma Mahmood Abedin, 36, is a practicing Muslim, fluent in Arabic and Urdu. Her father, Syed Zainul Abedin, was born in undivided India and studied at Aligarh University. Her mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, is Pakistani, currently teaching at a college in Jeddah. She wears the hijab.

For a decade, Huma has worked as staff chief for Hillary Clinton who once said, “I only have one daughter. But if I had a second daughter, it would be Huma.” She told the Vogue magazine that profiled Huma in 2007: “Huma Abedin has the energy of a woman in her 20s, the confidence of a woman in her 30s, the experience of a woman in her 40s and the grace of a woman in her 50s,” President Bill Clinton officiated at the Weiner/Abedin wedding in 2010.

Abedin is Muslim and Weiner is Jewish.

Aren’t we lucky? Such scandals don’t ‘happen’ in Pakistan. Only honour killings do. We hear gruesome stories of how young, innocent women are ruthlessly killed by their male relatives on suspicion of ‘infidelity’ and must therefore be done to death to save the ‘honour’ of the males in the family. To an outsider, making a distinction between saints and sinners should be easy street: males are pure; unflawed. The women are impure; sinners.

One of the abiding features of a closed, patriarchal society is that the real story remains sequestered under layers and layers of male hypocrisy grounded in male DNA from centuries. Maybe it’s the soil? Maybe it’s the culture? Or maybe it’s tribal?

Surely we have Weiners, Spitzers, Clintons, pedophile cardinals in our midst too. Do we see them ever? The word ‘moral turpitude,’ is non-existent in Pakistani lexicon. Yes, we hear every day of power horses grabbing media attention with financial corruption. Nothing ever about ‘moral corruption.’ But we know it does exist. Why else would Zardari have signed the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill 2010, aimed at providing a safe working environment?

The president promised the 100 women activists, parliamentarians and members of civil society that “We shall do our utmost by the end of this tenure. All the rights that we enjoy as men shall be enjoyed by women as well.” But promises by politicians carry no currency. They are merely statements in black and white consigned for yesterday’s history.

The only truth that the president’s words carried were: “My wife was much stronger than me. She left a legacy for us to follow, she is guiding us from her grave.” Give him credit for admitting before all that Benazir Bhutto was “stronger” than him. How many men do you know who will make such a statement?

anjumniaz@rocketmail.com


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

More From This Section

Sport is war, is peace

A wave of anger swept across the Indian electronic media soon after the Pakistan hockey team downed its archrivals.

Comments (7) Closed




whitesky
Aug 04, 2013 01:26pm

The moment a Muslim girl married a Jewish She is no more a Muslim, has disgraced Pakistan and probably her mother ( holding Pakistani citizenship) if comes back to Pakistan may not be treated well. Courtesy the extreme religious mindset

noman
Aug 04, 2013 03:45pm

how can a muslim woman be married to a non-muslim man? and still be called a practicing muslim. Anybody with even trivial knowledge about islam knows its prohibited for muslim woman to marry a non-muslim man. Almost all the scholars belonging to both leading sects same views on it that its haraam.

Ali Shah
Aug 04, 2013 07:02pm

I found it difficult to grasp the point of the article. I wish the author could be a little more succinct and at least try to draw a stronger connection between the deviant behavior of the weiner couple and its relevance to Pakistan than the one she has drawn.

independentthinker
Aug 04, 2013 11:39pm

Americans have a tendency to forgive and forget easily - when it comes to holding their politicians morally accountable! We know about Kennedy, Clinton, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc. etc. As much as the United States claims to believe in gender equality, we have seen many examples, where this is not so. It is unfortunate - that these same people who have no control over their own hormones - are allowed to control the affairs of the government. While I do believe what people do in their personal lives is their own business and we should not be allowed to judge them, I still strongly feel that we should demand strong leadership skills - which obviously, these people have not demonstrated. As for Pakistan, I am pretty sure that our politicians are a step ahead of the the western countries - however, because of the huge gender inequality and corruption, they seem to get away without any unaccountability.

Modi
Aug 05, 2013 01:02am

@whitesky: With guys like your mentality nobody is safe in Pakistan .

Bilal
Aug 05, 2013 05:33am

@Noman, @Whitesky,

Congratulations on completely missing the point of the article.

@Noman Perhaps you answered your own question. You said "Almost all." Perhaps the opinion of the scholar she subscribes to does not condemn it as Haaram. Not that I care what she does with her personal life.

pradip
Aug 05, 2013 06:49am

@noman: Go back to your cave if after reading the article, that was the best you could come up with.

In this country, a practicing Muslim woman can marry a Jewish person and hold her head high in society...not because of what the books said but because of her personal authenticity.