California's New First Lady Wants To Be Called Something Else

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has decided that in the name of gender equality she does not want to be referred to as California’s “First Lady,” but rather as “First Partner.”

The Hill reported, ”Siebel Newsom changed her Twitter bio this week to reflect the decision following her husband’s inauguration on Monday, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The page describing Ms. Newsom on the website for the governor reads:

Jennifer Siebel Newsom – First Partner

After graduating with honors from Stanford University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Jennifer worked in Africa and Latin America, helping women entrepreneurs create their own socially and environmentally responsible businesses. She then moved to Hollywood to pursue acting and producing.

Dismayed by the way women were represented both in front of and behind the camera, Jennifer decided to rewrite this story and wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning documentary film “Miss Representation.” Released in 2011, the film exposes how the misrepresentation of women in the media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls. In response to the film’s powerful impact, Jennifer launched The Representation Project.

Jennifer’s second film, “The Mask You Live In,” made its world premiere in 2015 and explores how our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming boys, men, and society at large.

In August, The Daily Democrat reported that Siebel Newsom was already considering her title-to-be:

“What if I was called — if Gavin was fortunate to be elected governor — ‘first partner?’” Siebel Newsom suggested in a recent interview. That title would help “women to be seen as more than a stereotypical lady,” she argued, and also work for spouses of future governors who aren’t straight men.

Gender roles are “straitjackets,” she said. “You lose something in the process of performing masculinity, or performing femininity — which is being a ‘lady.’”

In October, roughly one month before the election in which her husband was elected governor, Politico reported: “First ‘partner’ might be a more apt term," Siebel Newsom told POLITICO’s Women Rule podcast, "because we’re going to have a female governor someday soon." And, she added, "it opens up the opportunity for any couple to really step in, and that’s exciting to me.”

Gavin Newsom has made his own statements regarding gender equality. In February 2017, speaking to alumni of the University of San Francisco, he intoned:

“Be a man.” Someone said those are probably the three most damaging words in the English language. “Be a man.” What does the boy do? Puts in a mask, right? Puts on a mask and his face grows into it he becomes how society expects him to behave. Man up. Robbed of emotion. Robbed of empathy … I say all that because I am a feminist. And I’m a proud feminist. And I hope you are too. And I hope you call these things out. It’s not for women here to talk about; men in here need to start talking about these things.

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