burning questions

Why Didn’t Huma Recognize Weiner’s Dick Pic?

Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP/Corbis

Among the many harrowing revelations from The New York Times Magazine’s profile of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin is Anthony’s confession that he lied to his wife by denying tweeting a picture of his penis — and Huma’s parallel confession that she believed him. It’s a study in how incongruous knowledge can amplify deceit. Jonathan Van Meter quotes Huma,

“The next morning he had left me a message: ‘My Twitter was hacked. When are you going to be here?’ ” […] “Anthony was Anthony,” Abedin says. “Confident! Determined! Defensive! I was right there with him: ‘Let’s fight! Defend! I don’t understand. Why don’t you just say this is not your picture?’ I was with him. One hundred percent.”

How did Anthony dupe her? Was Huma willfully ignorant, or reasonably trusting?

The crotch shot in question features a clear shot of Weiner’s grey boxer-briefs, underwear-clad boner, left thigh, left knee, and shirt hem. (Click here and scroll down if you’d like to follow along.) The shape of his erect penis is apparent. Perhaps more significantly, his underwear is in focus and identifiable. Commercial goods being more instantly recognizable, in this day and age, than the human form, shouldn’t Anthony’s undies have been the telltale sign? How do we explain Huma’s ignorance, and what can we learn from it?

As I see it, there are five explanations for Huma Abedin failing to recognize her husband’s dick pic: 

1. She never looked at Anthony’s penis picture. Huma had, at the time, “never been on Twitter.” It is unclear which news sources she engaged (or avoided) during the scandal, but if she only read, say, the New York Times, she wouldn’t have seen the picture. Still, curiousity never got the better of her?

2. She never looked at Anthony’s penis. Pregnant and exhausted, Huma “was falling asleep at 6 o’clock at night on the sofa” throughout the scandal. When the news broke, she was overseas with boss Hillary Clinton; before the couple’s post-scandal babymoon, Huma says, they “had not spent more than 10 consecutive days together.” Perhaps she had forgotten what his penis looked like? Maybe they’re one of those couples that always turns the lights off during sex?

3. She never looked at Anthony’s underwear. In a long-term monogamous relationship, you become intimate not only with your partner’s body, but the things your partner puts on his body. You know the place in his jeans that always gets the first hole. You know which button she always forgets on her blouse. And you know your partner’s underwear — its stiching, its hue, its texture, the places on his body that it fits him loosely, and the places on his body that it fits him tightly. Unless your partner never wears underwear (except for photos ops) or always undresses in the dark?

4. Penises actually aren’t that recognizable. Maybe penises and boxer-briefs aren’t actually so unique. Would you recognize a tightly cropped, context-free image of your husband’s underwear-clad boner? There’s only one way to find out.

5. She didn’t want to recognize it. I’d like to think Huma would be too clear-minded and practical for the nonsense of self-delusion, but matters of the heart can be tricky. Weiner, too, seems unsure where self-delusion ends and errors in judgment begin:

“Is it that I had this exaggerated notion of ‘No one will believe it?’ Or, since I didn’t think I was doing anything that was all that serious in my mind, that the world wouldn’t see it as being all that serious?” Finally, he said: “I knew when I did it, almost from the moment I did it, there was no good way for it to end. When I sent that fateful tweet.”

So what’s the lesson here? First, if your husband denies that a picture of an erect penis is his, look at the picture before offering unconditional support. Second, should any ambiguity arise, look at your husband’s penis. Even if you’re too busy for intimacy, you need to know, for forensic purposes.

Why Didn’t Huma Recognize Weiner’s Dick Pic?