Last year, before stopping off at a campaign rally in Iowa, Kamala Harris – then a 2020 presidential candidate – encountered a battery. Pure bliss ensued. As a video has since gone viral, Harris boiled alongside a group of young girls, demonstrating the image that she organized herself as a candidate full of exuberance and enthusiasm, the rare politician who really moved.
Halfway through the 30-second clip, you can see a man in jeans and a blazer jumping in and out of the frame. Its dance is not entirely rhythmic, but it remains a great sport nonetheless.
Meet Doug Emhoff, Harris’ husband. His flashing cameo and you will be missed in this video shows just about everything you need to know about America’s very first second gentleman. The 64-year-old lawyer has been by his side throughout the electoral cycle, but quietly. He never seems to bask in the spotlight, although he does look extremely comfortable in front of the camera.
The spouses of politicians – which to so many still means simply “wives” – have long been seen as mere adornments, a body present to be hugged and waved to the crowd. Some of them are also infamous, miserable, like Melania Trump complaining about Christmas decorations or wiping her husband’s hand.
Emhoff does not appear to check any of these boxes. He is not a trophy husband and was adopted on the country trail with the ease of a privileged white dad who seems to genuinely enjoy being with him on the ride. (An Emhoff spokesperson declined to comment for this story.)
With college professor Jill Biden set to become the only first lady in January to hold a professional job outside the White House, Emhoff has taken a leave of absence from her Los Angeles law firm.
If his wife’s victory is historic – she will be the first female vice president, the first black vice president, the first South Asian American vice president – Emhoff claims another “first” other than her gender. He’s a Jewish man, which brings another level of excitement for some.
“Kamala Harris’ husband is our big crush on a Jewish father,” Jenny Singer wrote for Forward Last year. “Schlubby Jewish husbands of much more impressive and attractive wives, this is OUR time” Atlantic Adam Serwer tweeted.
Emhoff is the father of two grown children, from a previous marriage to Kerstin Emhoff, founder of the production company Prettybird. In an essay written for She in 2019, Harris revealed that the Emhoff children (named Cole and Ella, after John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald) are responsible for giving their stepmother the now ubiquitous nickname “Momala.”
Born in Brooklyn to a shoe designer father, Emhoff has been a West Coaster since high school; he attended the University of Southern California for Law and has been a lawyer since 1990. He specializes in entertainment litigation; as The Hollywood Reporter revealed last year, one of his clients included the ad agency behind the Taco Bell Chihuahua commercials.
He met Harris in 2013, after being set up on a blind date by public relations consultant Chrisette Hudlin. They got married within a year. True to form, Harris wrote in She to wear his essential Converse sneakers to meet his children. She and Kerstin are “dear friends” and were co-conspirator “cheerleaders” at Ella’s swim team meetings. “In Harris’ words, we sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional.”
So how do we talk about Doug? A Marie Claire Last month’s profile written by Jessica M. Goldstein portrayed him as an unpretentious family man, the kind of guy so devoted to his wife that he apparently wore nothing but his campaign shirt in the past two years. last years.
“Our relationship and the way I ride, my whole life has only been supporting the people I love unequivocally, and they support me,” he said in this interview. “Everything is based on parity and mutual respect.”
For many women, it could be mind-boggling, almost pornographic, after enduring four years of Trump forgetting his wife’s name and reading his many alleged affairs. When Harris learned that Joe Biden had won the presidency, the couple were jogging. A current photo shows Emhoff hugging Harris. Who doesn’t want to root for their easy privacy?
“If you don’t feel that way, I don’t know if you have a heart,” said Patricia McKinney, 61-year-old director of human resources and a so-called #DougHive member at The Daily Beast. “It was so real and genuine.”
McKinney, who joined the “Doug Emhoff for Second Gentleman” Facebook group this week, first learned of his name when Harris began running for president. She searched Wikipedia for the candidate, then clicked on her husband’s name. “The first thing I noticed was his smile,” McKinney said. “It’s always one of the things I love about him. It seems so contagious.
Body language experts could write essays on how the couple kiss. “Every time he kisses her, he puts his left arm on her back,” McKinney said. “It’s Doug’s hug.
McKinney says she wants to know about Emhoff’s fashion the same way she followed Michelle Obama’s style. “I want to know what Doug is wearing when he jogs,” she said. “What is the brand? We all have our specific brands. Is Doug wearing Ralph Lauren? It is important to know this because it gives you a sense of communication. If I see Doug in a Ralph Lauren shirt, and I recognize him, I might go and buy one to be like Doug.
The Daily Beast couldn’t find any men’s brands willing to officially declare their desires to dress the Second Gentleman; if he were a woman, the designers would no doubt rush to send samples.
“I just don’t think we’ll have anything to discuss with him artistically,” said fashion writer Evan Ross Katz. “Fashion is such a window into who the first lady is, and with Michelle Obama, bigger conversations have come out of what she wore. I don’t think we’re going to see Doug wearing Supreme. I don’t think there will be any point in dressing her up.
Does that give her a pass against the control that first ladies have endured for generations? Sure. “We can not do not talk about what Doug is wearing not to mention the gender politics in it all, ”Katz added. “This is going to show you how misogyny rears its ugly head.”
A popular meme account, @queeraioli, run by a 26-year-old queer woman from Portland, Oregon, spent this weekend highlighting the absurdity that comes with media thirst when it comes to Doug.
@Queeraioli, who declined to give his full name to The Daily Beast, posted a Twitter thread that began: “Please only give Doug the attention of the fashion and dress media like all White House brides throughout history. A little sassy fairness as a treat?
“Diagonal stripes? Bold choice, Doug, ”read the caption of a photo of Emmoff in an entirely boring blue suit.
“We are not conditioned to criticize or even pay attention to the normative appearances of men as long as we are conditioned to criticize and focus on the appearance of all women and non-gendered people,” said @queeraioli. “A white, cis-heterosexual, upper-class man named Doug?” It looks hilariously uninteresting and forgettable. I think a fashion magazine would have a hard time writing an intriguing article, which is why it is so funny trying to make the headlines about it.
The “memes punchline,” @queeraioli said, “Isn’t femininity applied to a cis man. These memes are funny because they articulate a double standard that non-men are well aware of and against which they have spoken out for centuries, ”she explained. “The joke is the way society has seen and talked about women and women.”
Aparna Thomas, professor of political science and gender studies at Cornell College, believes that Emhoff’s rise is “a great time to have this conversation about traditional gender roles and norms that have been turned upside down.”
Emhoff himself may not be an avatar of empowerment, but he could be a subtle role model for men, especially after years of Trump’s toxic turn. “We always think along the gender binary when we talk about a second gentleman,” Thomas said. “Even this term ‘second gentleman’ carries with it this charged connotation. We have to go beyond that, in our language, in our attitude, in our thinking.
Michael Sebastian is the editor of Squire, and while he wants his team to cover Emhoff, he hopes to do so with caution. “If you focus on him too much it would belittle what he did a good job in the first place, don’t distract from her,” Sebastian said. “Somehow I had to remind myself that Doug is here and that we should write about him. Kamala is a much bigger story.
Squire could cover Emhoff’s clothes – if he steps up his game. “If you look at his style right now, he’s not wearing anything bold and unusual,” Sebastian said. “He’s really a daddy lawyer. The only thing I have seen that stands out, what I love, is when he wears the Kamala t-shirts with a blazer. It’s a very daddy movement, a middle-aged father movement, and he’s doing well.
Sally Holmes, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire, also noted Emhoff’s penchant for Wife Guy fashion. “It’s pretty funny that he’s supporting his wife through his shirts,” Holmes said. “It’s significant. It’s something that shouldn’t be a title or shouldn’t be remarkable, but unfortunately it still is. I think it brings back a lot of excitement to the idea of covering political fashion.
Emhoff is projecting a message of “unwavering support,” said Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Leah Cherkinoff. “It’s not telling, but it’s kind of a role that has been expected of women for so long. It’s refreshing to see this reversed.
So maybe we can expect a bit of Doug-mania in the coming months. “The Internet loves straight white men who ‘look’ – I use heavy aerial quotes – atypical in appearance,” said Katz, the fashion writer. “He’s going to have a bit of that in terms of people going like, ‘Isn’t Doug cute?’ There is a viral life for someone like Doug.
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