First Gentleman? What Will We Call the Spouse of a Woman President?


We may have to sift through history for an idea.

The day may arrive - eventually - when America boasts a female President. (Possibly not before we elect men representing every minority in the country instead of someone representing the majority of Americans - women - but eventually.) When that day finally comes, several questions will have to be answered. Primary among them: what to call the President's spouse, and what role will he or should he play in American life?

But first, a woman has to get herself elected. Many a politician has either praised his spouse for her role in his success or paid tribute to her support in spite of his loss. The two women who have launched the most credible campaigns for the highest office in the land might not be quite so quick to praise the contributions their husbands made to their unsuccessful campaigns.

Former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come closest to occupying the Oval Office, Now the presumptive Democratic nominee, "The Bill Factor" has always been a concern within her camp. To some he was a shrewd politician, a president who presided over two administrations marked by relative peace and unquestioned prosperity. To others he was "Slick Willie," a known womanizer even as a former governor and presidential candidate, whose personal life marred much of his second term. Flashes of temper when his wife was the topic of negative questioning during her campaign reduced his influence as a former president. At other times, her influence was reduced as he appeared to be self-promoting at her expense. A recent example would be his impromptu visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Arizona airport.

"My guess is that Clinton doesn't truly get it yet—that he really will have to take a back seat," says a Bush family friend who asked to remain anonymous. "That happened to the Bushes ... It was hard for the father to recede completely to make way for the son. Bush Senior thinks Clinton had better be careful what he wishes for; her winning will be harder for him than he can imagine.”

The woman who came second-closest to being the nominee of her party for President was North Carolina Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole. She was married to both a presidential and vice presidential candidate, the well known Senator Bob Dole of Kansas. His television commercials during her campaign, one for the erectile dysfunction medication, Viagra, and one with then teen star Britney Spears for Pepsi-Cola, brought on many questions about not onlly his judgment but also his commitment to his wife's run for the presidency. He also did her no favors by reminding voters he could “impart valuable advice to his wife about the inner workings of the Senate.” He once even commented he was considering making a donation to another candidate, John McCain. Both Doles later downplayed the statement as a joke.

Hillary and Elizabeth each suffered from the past financial scandals involving themselves and their husbands. The late Geraldine Ferraro, the only woman ever on the Democratic ticket as vice president, also felt the impact of negative press as her husband's financial dealings were vetted during her unsuccessful campaign.

America's first First Gentleman, First Spouse, First Consort, First Hubby, or whatever he eventually is called, might wish he could call up spirits from the past to seek advice from, such as Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He became the husband of Queen Victoria of England only after, by law, she proposed to him. He was known as the Prince Consort and fathered their nine children, including the future King of England, Edward VII. Albert began his marriage with no official title or duties, but made himself useful by economizing the Queen's household, to include her estates, turning them into profitable enterprises. He eventually was a champion of educational reform and, though slavery was already outlawed in England, lent his voice to a worldwide abolition of slavery. Some would say modern Britain's constituional monarcy owes this mere husband a debt of gratitue for persuading his wife to show less partisanship in her dealings with Parliament. World reknown Royal Albert Hall is a lasting monument to a man who started his marriage with nothing to do officially other than procreate.

Among the living, the U.S. First Whatever would be wise interview Prince Phillip, husband to the reigning British monarch, Elizabeth II. After renouncing his birthright to Greek royalty, Phillip's father in law, King George VI, bestowed him with the title of Philip Duke of Edinburgh on the day before the wedding. This gesture opened the door for him to become the patron of organizations such as The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the World Wide Fund for Nature. He is currently the Chancellor of both the University of Cambridge (as was Prince Albert) and the University of Edinburgh

Elizabeth was a princess (though heir apparent) when she married Phillip. He reportedly proposed to her. He was not under law to wait for her to offer marriage as Albert was in the case of Queen Victoria, both Elizabeth and Phillip's great grandparents. But in order to position himself for marriage to his second cousin, he became a naturalized British subject and converted from Greek Orthodox to the Anglican religion. Upon renouncing his ties to Greek royalty, Phillip took the surname of Mountbatten, the anglicized version of his mother's name, Battenberg.

Elizabeth came to the throne upon her father's death in 1952 because of her Uncle Edward's abdication in December 1936. As the King's only grandchild, she was born third in line to the throne. Edward's abdication without a child of his own changed the course of her life. It was reminicent of Victoria who became Queen because her uncles, ahead of her in linage, produced no legitimate heirs. As fate would have it, Edward went on to marry the woman he gave up the throne for, but still had no children. So Elizabeth would have become Queen eventually even if Edward had not abdicated. It just would have happened twenty years later.

(Apologies. I really chased that rabbit down a hole, which is easy to do when you attempt to write about the British monarchy)

When the day eventually does arrive and the United States has a female President, the role of her spouse will need to be defined. It is fair to speculate the woman who attains that position will certainly have the ability to choose as her mate a person equal to the task of defining the role for himself. We've come a long way from the days when the First Lady redecorated the White House and selected a new china pattern. A First Gentleman, the first of possibly many, will no doubt chart his own course within whatever limits the American people - and his wife - set. And, based on the experience of the women who have made the attempt in the past, in order to make it all the way to the White House, future female contenders might find it helpful to choose a husband who was not previously in politics himself.

More by this Author

Comments 43 comments

michiganman567 profile image

michiganman567 5 years ago from Michigan

It's already been decided. The first dude!

Steve Orion profile image

Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida

While it may be a while before we do have a female President, I wonder, as well, what her spouse will be called. First Gentlemen does seem probable. In spite of some digression, good Hub =)

34th Bomb Group 5 years ago

Dennis Thatcher

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

It would be an interesting dilemma to resolve. Let's hpe we face it soon. Great Hub.

cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 5 years ago from Cebu

Well here in our country we had a female president and we called her hubby as the First Gentlemen. :D

On a side note he was not a gentlemen hahahah

j80caldwell profile image

j80caldwell 5 years ago

lol, cool Hub,, I'm a real big fan of both Elizabeth and Hillary.. If either of them are on the ballot I wouldn't hestitate to vote for them--as I think they both make two fine state women. Oh and I'm voting for 'The First Dude' as well. lol

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks for the interest folks. J80caldwell, I had to read your profile because I have an ex-son-in-law Jcaldwell. You, I welcome to my world!

j80caldwell profile image

j80caldwell 5 years ago

Cool Kathleen, I'm honored to have been welcomed!

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

That works, Frog!

Frankracetteconsu profile image

Frankracetteconsu 5 years ago from Montreal

Billary . love it !

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frankracetteconsu: Good to meet you. I have some marketing in my background also, and it will be interesting following you. Thanks for the read and the comment.

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

In my opinion, he can call himself whatever he likes as long as he's elected by default to his position asap. Rated up and awesome.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

By default and asap - you and me both!

FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

All right, I have to admit to being thouroughly sidetracked by the rabbit and royalty comment towards the end of the article. It made me wonder why British royalty (with their British sense of humor) have not chosen to give all their female heir apparents the name Alice, who could then possibly grow up to marry men with the name Hatter.

Let's see, to get us back on topic, If Alice then became Queen, would her husband be the First Hatter?

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Oh, this is going to be fun! FitnezzJim, First Hatter is as good as all the Edwards and Henrys as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for the read!

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

I liked reading about the British royalty :) Thanks for writing this Hub. I was hoping we could learn the answer to the question posed by this Hub earlier, as I had voted for Hillary Clinton (careful to not just say "Hillary" - since all of the male politicians aren't just called by their first names).

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I don't like calling these women by their first names either. In both cases, where I do it, it is to differentiate them from their husbands.

Glad you liked the hub. I have one on Britian's historic search for "A Male Heir" you might like too. Thanks for your interest.

ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

In the case of Bill Clinton he was never in charge once Hillary became the first lady. He got more distant when she became Senator, and now Hillary and Bill are continents apart now that she is Secretary of State.

Bill will continue in Hillary's pursuit of the presidency, but only because he will take any opportunity to be in the spotlight. That was proven when he spoke for Obama to be reelected president.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Interesting point of view. Thanks for the read and for the comments. Hope you enjoy more of my hubs.

Vista15 profile image

Vista15 3 years ago from Columbus, OH

Well! First, I think Hilary already did her stint as Prez... Next, I am running for Prez in 2016... and I have a Hub page, 2016 Prez Campaign.

And, I am not married, but I have a Significant Other who will accompany or follow me to the White House, if I have to get him out of prison first. I call him my First Man. I have a Hub page on why he is still in prison, Victim of the Times. Look me over...

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I certainly will. Sounds like you have the makings of a great novel from real life! Thanks for visiting Vista15. I think this is your first time.

Vista15 profile image

Vista15 3 years ago from Columbus, OH

Haha... a novel from real life. I actually have a novel based on my 'First Man' in process... plus another 30 or so unfinished. I do have a non-fiction book done, but not published.

Oh, and did I mention I'm the Queen of Hearts?

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

How did I miss this before? Great hub, and certainly relevant. I actually wrote a flash fiction short story about this issue. I can't recall whether or not I published it on HP because I entered it in a FF contest. I've since removed all of my fiction from the site because my non-fiction is being plagiarized so much.

At any rate, it was fun speculating about what the spouse of a female POTUS will be called by the White House and the media.

Voted Up+++


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Kathleen....Very interesting question. I often wondered that myself. I remember a short-lived TV series about a female POTUS, (Geena Davis) but I cannot recall if she was even married, much less what they may have called her husband. (Don't thank me, I'm always a lot of help like this) the case of Hilary....I want to thank YOU for giving us all an opportunity for some pretty hilarious answers.....

Unfortunately, my mind is sick and twisted.....and I get into enough trouble around here. I plead the 5th....LOL Up++++

travmaj profile image

travmaj 2 years ago from australia

When Julia Gillard was Prime Minister in Australia, her partner Tim Mathieson was known as the First Bloke.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

travmaj: I vote for "The First Bloke" of the US. I think it would sum up the situation beautifully! Thanks for the comments as well, fpherj48 and Jaye!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

I love going into the rabbit hole, even wrote a hub about it ;) As all your hubs are, this was interesting and thought provoking. Loved the lesson in English Royal history.

I don't think I stopped to wonder about naming a First Gentleman....First Lady, First Gentleman. Why should he get better billing than the women have? It will be interesting for sure.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tilsontitan: My serious vote is the same as yours for the same reason. Already, I'm not happy with Secretary Clinton (whether she wins or loses eventually) being referred to as "Hilary" but that is obviously the basis of her marketing plan. We've had more than 200 years of "First Ladies" and anything other than "First Gentleman" is inappropriate. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

My pleasure Kathleen as this is could be a very imminent conundrum. BTW, I've started using conundrum since my five year old grandson seems to think it is an appropriate word.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I have a five-year-old grandchild as well. They are great resources! My Bella has taught me what it means for a song to be "My Jam!" Otherwise I would never have known.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Kathleen.....I LOVE the name, "Bella." So, you're telling us "My Jam," is the term of the day with our young ones? Interesting. Thanks so much for that info! I like being able to sound 'cool" or "with it" where my grandkids are concerned...........what does it mean, Kathleen? LOL

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Annabelle Bryn, but we have always called her "Bella" (no Twilight connection!!!). I think My Jam means my favorite song of the moment, but someone younger than me will need to confirm this info!

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

Though I was but a very young child, I recall overhearing the grownups speak of the Prince Edward/Grace Kelley affair; it was quite the scandal of the day.

It is quite the conundrum of what a male spouse of a female president would be called. "The First Man?" No, that's been taken... LOL How about "The First Mate?" Nope--already taken by the Navy... umm...yes, quite the puzzler indeed.

Very interesting, and I believe your final sentence contains a world of wisdom!

Voted up, interesting and useful.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Wise or not, it doesn't look like that advice is going to be put to use by the first female president! Thanks for your suggestions. We may just have to end up stealing from the Navy!

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 2 years ago from US

Might as well call him Mr President because she is too old (put a current photo of her up there!) and has no memory (but what difference does it make?) so he would be running the show...if he can get away from his desk.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

This was a good concept for you to write about. I would not be surprised if Hillary is our next, and first female president, and it will surely be interesting.

Arachnea profile image

Arachnea 2 years ago from Texas USA

We could also just call him the First Man. Hee, hee. This is a good thread and it amused me to no end to think about the topic. The First Sir (Sire)? The FIrst Dude? Okay, in all seriousness. I don't want to be on the protocol rule-making board that has to determine this.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Pollyannalana, rebeccamealey, and Arachnea: Thanks for playing! I enjoyed your comments and I'm glad you found this hub. I guess we'll eventually answer this question - anything is possible.

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

"coarse" and "chose" in your last paragraph could stand a fix, though any reader will forgive you, including me. How about "First Gent" in keeping with American informality? Or, "First Grandfather" to get us elders more attention (only if he is one, of course)?

By the way, if Hillary is elected will she wear dresses most of the time, or slacks?

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Perspycacious: Thanks for the corrections. Everybody needs an editor. I appreciate your comments and for taking the time to read this and join in the conversation.

KeithTax profile image

KeithTax 22 months ago from Wisconsin

In the case of Hilary Clinton we will call her husband, Mr. President because that is the proper way to address a former President of The United States. When someone calls "Mister President" and both answer "yes" I think we will have some fun in the press.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 22 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You know, that really is the obvious answer. I could have saved myself the trouble of writing this hub:) I think there is going to be plenty of fun for the press whatever happens! You have an interesting name. I'll have to read some of your work. And welcome to my hubs!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article