I thought I had written enough about First Women in the White House, at least for now, but former President Bill Clinton led me to an addendum. Recently, he said,
“There has been a lot of talk about breaking the glass ceiling. . .
I want to break a ceiling. I am tired of the stranglehold that women have had
on the position of America’s first spouse.”
Okay, first, we laugh. Then we realize that if we have a woman president, a male presidential spouse would be in the same position as all First Women. Being the first of one’s gender to hold a position means the ability to define that position for others, but it also means that the person in that position must expect slurs about one’s suitability. Perhaps Bill Clinton would be a good choice for First Spouse. Surely his public errors of the past have made him more immune to criticism than many other men.
Bill Clinton would not be the first man who defined a roll for himself when his wife became a prominent First Woman, but he could wind up being the most visible. In any event, I am certain that many American women would be interested in watching how he and his wife would adjust to this change.
Personally I would hope that the partner of a First Woman President would retain the model set by women who had held the position. I would wish that the role is more than supporting the president, but also one where the spouse promotes a personal agenda that improves the nation.