In a preview of his upcoming CNN segment, Being…The Second Gentleman, the 58-year-old lawyer addressed some of the stigma surrounding a man’s decision to take a step back from his job to support his wife, who has a bigger career than her spouse does.
Speaking to anchor Dana Bash, Emhoff revealed that he’s “definitely” trying to lessen this stigma, after entering his role as second gentleman and seeing an inaccurate depiction of what a man should do throughout his career.
“You really see that not all men naturally would do this, and would push back,” he explained in the clip, shared via People. “There’s this toxicity, this masculine idea of what a man is that’s out there that is just not correct. And that’s something that you really see when you’re doing this [job].”
He went on to explain that he wants to “push back” on the belief that being married to a woman who has a more important job makes him less of a man.
When asked what masculinity meant to him, Emhoff acknowledged how it was about caring for his loved ones and not being penalised for his compassion towards them.
“Masculinity is loving your family, caring about your family and being there for your family and supporting them each and every way,” he said. “And no one would say I’m not tough and no one would ever accuse me of not being there and sticking up for those that I love, but I also care about people. I’m compassionate, empathetic.”
Emhoff further described how toxic masculinity can be an issue, adding: “So we’re kind of mixing up this concept that if somehow a man shows kindness or empathy or consideration for others, that’s somehow not masculine and that is just not okay. That’s just not true.”
This wasn’t Emhoff’s first time vocalising his love and support for his wife. In August, he posted a sweet tribute to Harris on his Instagram, in honour of their wedding anniversary.
“What an adventure these past eight years have been,” he wrote in the caption of the post. “Through it all, you have loved and supported me and our family with everything you have. Life is better with you by my side.”
In January 2021, Harris and Emhoff opened up about their relationship in a joint interview with CBS News, revealing that they first met on a blind date.
“We sat there in the stands and we came up with this text, which was something like, ‘Hey, it’s Doug. Awkward, I’m texting you,” Emhoff recalled. “I left this ridiculous voicemail, which she has saved and plays back to me on our anniversary every year.”