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Second Gentleman Emhoff on Men and Marriage

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

We need a more mature and refined version of masculinity.

We need a more mature and refined version of masculinity.

It's hard to explain what that means on a bumper sticker, which makes it hard for society to understand and accept.

I see Second Gentleman Emhoff as a model modern husband who has broken perceived gender norms, just as leaders from different political persuasions have broken gender norms, such as, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Douglas Emhoff and Vice-President Kamala Harris married in August 2014. Emhoff is an attorney who has served as the managing director of Venable LLP’s West Coast offices and was later a partner at DLA Piper before taking time away to serve as the Second Gentleman.

Gentleman Emhoff recently shared, in an interview on March 4th, 2023, his thoughts on gender roles and how he perceives his role in his marriage. The interview begins with the following question:

Question: has being Second Gentleman changed your view of perceived gender roles or what it means to be a man?

"There's too much toxicity, masculine toxicity out there. We kind of confuse what it means to be a man... what it means to be masculine." - Second Gentleman Emhoff

It’s important to point out that “masculinity itself is not toxic, but masculine norms can end up promoting toxic behavior.” - Psychology in Action

Second Gentleman Emhoff continues…

"Where you've got this trope out there, they have to be tough, angry and lash out to be strong. I think it's the opposite. Strength is how you show your love for people, how you are for people, how you have their back, how you stick up for them and other people. Pushing out against bullies."

Men are hurting. Men end their own lives at nearly 4x the rate as women. For the sake of men, cultural norms need to continue to evolve. And those who distort masculinity into something it’s not perpetuate the problem, which especially hurts men.

Toxic masculinity consists of the harmful social norms about how men should behave that lead to misogyny, homophobia, violence, and mental health issues. The mental health effects of toxic masculinity on men can include the following:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Higher risk for suicide

  • Increase loneliness

  • Increased risky behavior

  • Increased substance and alcohol use

This is why the words of Second Gentleman Emhoff are so important to internalize.

"We kind of confuse what it means to be a man... what it means to be masculine..." - Second Gentleman Emhoff

It takes a confident and masculine man to marry a strong, high-achieving woman in the modern world. A man like Second Gentleman Emhoff is a modern husband who is visibly proud of his wife and dedicated to supporting her as she faces one of the most visible leadership challenges ever faced by a woman.

Special Thanks

A special thanks to multiple Modern Husbands Advisory Board Members who contributed to this point, including Aliyha Amani who served as the editor.


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