After the Vice President and her husband Doug Emhoff returned from their first diplomatic trip abroad, they shared a lighthearted moment. Harris, a foodie, stopped by E. Dehillerin, a legendary retailer of kitchenware, before boarding Air Force Two for Washington.
Harris said to the group of reporters behind her, “I am looking around, but I want to buy a pot,” as she looked up at the dozens of copper pots hung on the pegboard, while Emhoff awkwardly stood by. The second man was questioned on whether or not he is a skilled chef. Harris, with a wry smile on his face, identified him as an apprentice.
After nearly burning down their apartment,
“She taught me during COVID,” Emhoff recounted, “out of necessity after almost burning down our apartment, then I got a little bit better.”
Emhoff used this first international diplomatic trip with the vice president to demonstrate his conventional approach to the unpaid and underappreciated role of second spouse while also sending a statement about gender fairness, one of his top priorities. Emhoff conforms to the type of loyal political partner.
Harris grilled the tour guide with questions as she paid her respects at the Surenes American Cemetery, which honors American service members who perished in World Wars I and II. Tradition called for the vice president to speak. Emhoff observed in silence, occasionally placing a respectful hand on a gravestone.
Professor of women and gender history at Ohio University Katherine Jellison said that as America’s first second gentleman, Emhoff is
“following the usual patterns, playing the part of the dutiful political spouse — very supportive,”
According to Harris, many people in the United States still find Emhoff to be somewhat of a curiosity and wonder how he would fare as first spouse should she ever run for and be elected to office. He is less of a novelty to Europeans.
“For Europeans, they’ve seen male spouses of high-ranking officials, including heads of state, much more so than is the case here in the U.S.,”
While in Paris, Emhoff paid her customary first lady visit Brigitte Macron, the current first lady of France. And he took Harris along with him to a supper at the Élysée palace for international leaders. Jellison noted that, unlike previous second spouses, nobody seems particularly interested in what Emhoff is wearing.
Emhoff is hardly the only one with a forum at his disposal. The law class that Emhoff is instructing at Georgetown University is being taught by the entertainment attorney. However, the majority of his time is spent advocating for COVID-19 vaccinations and other administration initiatives. Since January, he has been to 30 different states.
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While Harris spent most of his time in Paris locked away in diplomatic sessions, Emhoff engaged in more public cultural interchange. While Harris was holding a press conference in France and then rushing out in a vehicle to meet with other international leaders to address the situation in Libya, Emhoff was meeting with culinary arts students at a French school.
While Harris was speaking about global inequality at the Paris Peace Forum, Emhoff hosted a listening session on the topic the day before.
“One of things I’ve learned from being married to Kamala Harris is that to be first in so many things is hard. She said once that breaking barriers involves breaking, and when you break something sometimes you get cut, and when you get cut, sometimes you bleed… But it’s worth it,”
Emhoff said he believes more men should do what he and believes is “on the regular” which is to assist women.
“Men need to step up and be part of the solution and not be part of the problem,”
“I’m going to do everything I can in this role to keep on messaging that.”
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