The President's husband

ampurdan

Senior Member
Català & español (Spain)
Yesterday I saw a movie which pictured the US Secret Service putting the President in jeopardy. It was so good that I had time to think about this question: how will US citizens call the first woman President's husband? "First sir"? I don't think so. Probably just "the President's husband". But then, what's that for a non-sexist official language?

Of course, this question is valid for any other country where the "first lady" has such an important role as in the States.
 
  • Chazzwozzer

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Far as I know, they say First Gentleman in English. I'd say first guy, though. :p

    We also use "first lady" in Turkish to refer to president's or prime minister's wives. I don't think it has anything to do with sexism in language, people have sexes, how'd you avoid it? I might have gotten your question wrong, so please correct me if I am wrong. Anyway, if it's the answer: it's the same as in sexist languages in non-sexist languages, at least in Turkish.

    For Tansu Çiller's husband, we just used his name. He accepted his wife's last name, he was known, like, a henpecked husband, so I think nobody thought saying "first" for him. Rather, if I am not mistaken, they call Tansu Çiller first lady herself.

    Very interesting thread indeed.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    If Mrs. Clinton becomes president, I can think of any number of things to call her husband... :rolleyes:

    In a more general sense:
    The First Gentleman
    President and Mister [Your Name Here]
    The little man behind the great lady
    The president's lovely helpmeet
    The White House host with the most

    Oh, you were serious? Sorry. I'll just slip quietly back into my cell... But the first two would be serious logical alternatives, and I don't believe I'll live to see it happen.

    :)
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I imagine that the term "The First" will be dropped as the PC brigade will object to "gentleman", the term "the first man" would be ludicrous, and "Ol' moneybags" would be too blatant! :D



    and I don't believe I'll live to see it happen.

    Of course you won't - Condoleeza isn't married! And as with Margaret Thatcher, once Americans have had one woman leader they may be awfully slow to elect another.
     

    Henryk

    Senior Member
    Germany, German
    Well, we have a female chancellor in Germany and the media call Miss Merkel's husband "First Man".

    But, nonetheless, the press is totally wrong since the "first man" in Germany is Horst Köhler, our Federal President.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    I'm sorry, I know this IS a serious discussion but, for some reason, I keep thinking that the PC would probably opt for something like the First Male which brings chimps and whatnot to my mind (after all, it's only one step away from Prime Male)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I'm sorry, I know this IS a serious discussion but, for some reason, I keep thinking that the PC would probably opt for something like the First Male which brings chimps and whatnot to my mind (after all, it's only one step away from Prime Male)
    Tsk, tsk, tsk, you just don't understand political correctness. On the contrary, it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce the new term "First Partner"! ;)

    A bit more seriously, it would be interesting if Hillary Clinton were elected president, for another reason. Americans often seem to address former presidents as "Mr. President". So there would be a president Hillary Clinton in the White House, and a president Bill Clinton married to her! :D
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    I can just picture the press falling all over themselves trying to come up with an acceptable and catchy title for the first First Alpha Male Dog Man Thingy!
    They'd probably spend all of the first term trying to agree on the term, and then get the Fox network to elect them again so they can use the term with gusto!
    Here's a possible news blurb from the future:
    "President Clinton and Former President Clinton welcome the heads of state of many countries in the back lawn of the White House, as they don't want them to soil the new carpet..."
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    I agree that the idea of the President's spouse having a title is silly, but the US has so few traditions that we cherish those we have.

    Our next female president will be called Madam President.... assuming she's married. At this point, however, I can't imagine that US voters would elect a single person (man or woman) to be president, any more than I can imagine them electing a woman. :mad:

    I vote for the term First Husband, if only to avoid the debate with those who believe that Bill Clinton is no gentleman!
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    > Our next female president
    "first", surely?

    > assuming she's married. At this point, however, I can't imagine that US voters would elect a single person
    Would it have to be a married non-single? Could it be divorced, or widowed (be it male or female)?
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    maxiogee: I suppose Americans would be more likely to elect a widower or a widow than a single person, but even so....

    outsider: Do you mean "funny = ha-ha" or "funny = strange"? ;)

    "Next" female president? Some cynical anti-Democrats like to paint Hillary as the real power behind the throne, as it were. And of course there is Eleanor Roosevelt. During FDR's grave ilness between fall of 1944 and April of 1945, somebody had to be running the country. Many people claim that it was Eleanor.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Of course, this question is valid for any other country where the "first lady" has such an important role as in the States.
    Our president's wife collects coins to fund projects for children in hospitals. Would you call that an important role?
    We just call her "Bernadette". It's her first name and it suits her very well.

    If Ségolène Royal wins the 2007 presidential elections, we could probably call her partner François Hollande (indeed they're not married, shocking!) "the looser", since he would probably like the position too. He was given the name of "Monsieur Royal" for a while though, so there would be a chance that this comes up again.
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finland we have a female president but we have no such problem because we have never used the expression "first lady". The husband of our president is called simply by his name and title. Besides, they were not married when she was elected.
     

    moirag

    Senior Member
    English, England
    In Finland we have a female president but we have no such problem because we have never used the expression "first lady". The husband of our president is called simply by his name and title. Besides, they were not married when she was elected.
    As far as I remember, Margaret Thatcher's husband was simply referred to as Dennis - and that's as it should be, surely. If you need to explain further, it's "Dennis, Margaret Thatcher's husband" , or whatever.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Assuming that Hillary Clinton would be the Pres., then history might lead us to name her spouse "First Adulterer". Of course that would be a comparative designation, and not a temporal one...first among equals, rather than first ever to have achieved such status.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Would Premier fit the bill.
    It has an established political definition as a word that means a head of state.
    It also means;
    First in importance, rank etc,
    first in occurrence, earliest,
    It is from the Latin primus first.

    .,,
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Would Premier fit the bill.
    It has an established political definition as a word that means a head of state.
    It also means;
    First in importance, rank etc,
    first in occurrence, earliest,
    It is from the Latin primus first.

    .,,
    I don't think so. In American parlance, at least, "premier" means "prime minister". In addition, the Presidential Spouse has only a ceremonial role. (Unless she's Eleanor Roosevelt...) :)
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    As far as I remember, Margaret Thatcher's husband was simply referred to as Dennis - and that's as it should be, surely. If you need to explain further, it's "Dennis, Margaret Thatcher's husband" , or whatever.

    That's because the spouse of a British Prime Minister has never had a title - not even an informal one. Harold Wilson's wife was just Mary Wilson, and so forth.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Suppose the spouse of a sitting president should die while the mate holds office, or run away, get divorced or otherwise cease to be the "First Pooobah". Next, suppose that the president begins to date someone else. What would we properly or improperly call that new contact?

    First Date?

    First pretender?
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    The spouse of the Prime Minister of U.K. wouldn't be a First Whatever anyway since the head of state is, officially, Her Majesty the Queen or His Majesty the King as the case might be.

    Cuchuflete how about First Man to be scared to death to go even for First Base what with all the cameras and so on?
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Suppose the spouse of a sitting president should die while the mate holds office, or run away, get divorced or otherwise cease to be the "First Pooobah". Next, suppose that the president begins to date someone else. What would we properly or improperly call that new contact?

    First Date?

    First pretender?

    Don't be silly! :(
    Second Best is the obvious alternative :cool:
     

    justjukka

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - USA
    I pray to HIGH HEAVEN that Hillary does not become President.

    I agree that First Gentleman would work.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Excuse me but I can't understand why this title "First" seems to be so important for the Americans. Can anybody explain?
    Great question:thumbsup: I was wondering this too. I reckon it's because they are proud of the (dubious claim) that the USA are founded on absolute egality. Therefore how can you have titles in a world where everyone is equal? And yet some are more equal than others and so you have the first among equals. That's my theory anyway.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Great question:thumbsup: I was wondering this too. I reckon it's because they are proud of the (dubious claim) that the USA are founded on absolute egality. Therefore how can you have titles in a world where everyone is equal? And yet some are more equal than others and so you have the first among equals. That's my theory anyway.

    I think they got it from Thycydides who said about Pericles that, during his time, the "regime" was in name democracy, in reality (practically) it was being governed by the first man. In other words "“So, in what was nominally a democracy, power was really in the hands of the first citizen".

    Now, given that his lover Aspasia was (cough cough) a naughty girl , I doubt any First Lady would like any connection with her (although, if what we know of Aspasia is to be believed I wish more "First Ladies" of any country were more like her )

    P.S. I browsed all articles and they all seem poerfectly fine
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    In the Democatic party's primary election to select their nominee for the Presidency, one of the candidates was Pete Buttigieg. He was a homosexual who called his partner his "husband." I wonder how the media would have referred to his partner?...

    Edit: My mistake; his partner calls Mr. Buttigieg his husband, and took the name of "Buttigieg" when they were married. [Thus the couple would be called "the Buttigiegs", but that may be wandering from the topic a bit.]
     
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    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    No differently than they would refer to Hillary Clinton's partner if she had been elected. Pete is just as married to his husband as Hillary is married to her husband. Marriage is marriage. So both Chasten and Bill would take the same title, such as First Husband or First Gentleman.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Or if you follow Antipodean logic then ex-Prime Minister of Australia's Julia Gillard, and present 'other half' of New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were/are known as 'First Bloke'.

    The British are a bit more conservative (capital 'c' optional) in this regard and Mr Thatcher, Mr May and Mr Foster (First Minister of Northern Ireland's husband) and Mr Murrell (First Minister of Scotland's husband) were/are known only by these titles and not as appendages to their wives' leading political roles.
     

    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Isn't the role given to the US' First Lady strange in the first place?
    How does being married to someone qualify you to do have a role in his professional life?
    "I'm sorry, the surgeon who was supposed to operate on you is sick, but his wife will stand in for him. Yeah, she's a farmer, but most important, she's the surgeon's wife, so don't you worry!"
    So just to say that it makes sense to just call Mrs Tchatcher's husband, "Mr Thatcher", Mrs Merkel's husband, "Mr Sauer" (I had to look this one up)...
    Why do we even need to talk about them actually? :confused:
    Personally, I think titles for spouses of elected official are daft.
    Agreed :thumbsup:
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    When Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Glezman got married, the latter changed his name to "Buttigieg". So "President and _____ Buttigieg" ??? For man-and-woman couples, we say "The President and Mrs. [e.g.] Lincoln/Wilson/Carter". But Chasten is a man, so we can't call him "Mrs.", right? (This is a serious question; I don't know what I'd write if I were a newspaper editor

    By the way, I hope swift_precision (#23*) got to see their prediction disproven.

    (We can't "Reply" to or "Quote" posts when we edit our own, or I'd have done so in my previous.)
     
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    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    President and Mr. Buttigieg. I'm not sure what your question is. Are you confused because both of them are now "Mr. Buttigieg"?
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    The President of the United States and the first gentleman?
    The President and Mr. Smith may sound strange at first because it's novel but over time it would become absolutely normal and accepted.

    How are they referring to Kamala Harris' husband? It wouldn't be that much different for a same sex couple.

    Perhaps there are countries in the world where this has already happened.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Perhaps there are countries in the world where this has already happened.
    ___________

    See my note 36 as examples, @merquiades. (I don't know what they do in Germany, though. And I don't speak German, either.) Also, what did they do with Mme Cresson's husband when she was PM of France?
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I suppose one could look up the Peoria media to see if the called them "Mayor and Mr. Buttigieg" after they got married during his second term in office. For VP-elect Harris's spouse, "the Second Gentleman" sounds strange, not least because it would seem to mean there is a "First Gentleman", and President-Elect Biden isn't referred to as that.

    By the way, in Senate hearings, a woman Senator is called 'the Gentlelady from (state)".
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    Isn't the role given to the US' First Lady strange in the first place?
    How does being married to someone qualify you to do have a role in his professional life?
    "I'm sorry, the surgeon who was supposed to operate on you is sick, but his wife will stand in for him. Yeah, she's a farmer, but most important, she's the surgeon's wife, so don't you worry!"
    So just to say that it makes sense to just call Mrs Tchatcher's husband, "Mr Thatcher", Mrs Merkel's husband, "Mr Sauer" (I had to look this one up)...
    Why do we even need to talk about them actually? :confused:

    Agreed :thumbsup:
    The President's or Vice President's wife (in the US) has traditionally been obliged to take on some social duties. It's not the equivalent of a surgeon's farmer husband standing in for the surgeon in the operating room if the surgeon is ill. The President's wife doesn't stand in for him in cabinet meetings, appoint judges, or veto or approve legislation. Socially, she is charming to visitors at fancy dinners, decorates the White House for Christmas, visits hospitals and such.

    But some wives of presidents have taken a larger role than that. Eleanor Roosevelt was a political activist before FDR became president, and she did a lot for civil rights and African-Americans, among other things, as First Lady. She was basically born a generation too soon; if she were born 20 years later, she might have been a senator.

    Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama performed social functions, but they are also lawyers who graduated from prestigious law schools (Yale and Harvard respectively). They both had careers before their husbands became President, and they were advocates for various social and political issues when they lived in the White House. They probably would have done that even if their husbands were senators or governors. Jill Biden has a doctorate and is a professor at a community college; she taught while her husband was VP, and she has said that she will continue to teach after her husband takes office as President.

    I suppose that the title of First Lady is a little old-fashioned, and it will become more old-fashioned the more presidents have wives who have careers and are leaders in their own right. One reason we talk about them is because they are visible, since their husbands are. It will be interesting to see how visible Jill Biden is.
     

    Aliph

    Senior Member
    Italian (North)
    I suppose that the title of First Lady is a little old-fashioned, and it will become more old-fashioned the more presidents have wives who have careers and are leaders in their own right. One reason we talk about them is because they are visible, since their husbands are. It will be interesting to see how visible Jill Biden is.
    Jill Biden announced that she would like to go on in her activity as a teacher. She has a PhD in social sciences.

    In the TV series “Madam secretary” where the protagonist later on becomes “Madam President”, her husband is called “ First husband” and sometimes “First gentleman” if I’m not mistaken.
     

    Mrs JJJ

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (British)
    On the contrary, it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce the new term "First Partner"!

    I like this. I'm sure that suitable terms will be adopted, anyway. Back in the fifties, a friend of my mother's became the mayoress of a London suburb. Not because she was married to the mayor. Her widowed mother-in-law became the mayor and chose our friend to be her sidekick. I wish now that she had chosen her son, so that I might have provided a more helpful precedent.
     
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