Isha Sanghvi, Staff Writer

Throughout the highly ridiculous but entertaining 2016 presidential election, all Americans, conservative, liberal, or moderate, can agree that this year’s topics can be summed up in three words: taxes, walls, and emails. But as the end approaches, a new phrase is likely to be added to the American people’s phrasebook- the first gentleman. With Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by a sizeable margin in most election polls, Clinton’s probable election will not only be a milestone for women’s equality but also the mark of the first male spouse to ever inhabit the White House’s East Wing. Politicians and skeptics alike are now debating Bill Clinton’s role in the Hillary Clinton’s administration, particularly wondering if he will stick to traditional first lady tasks or venture into more policy-oriented roles. Regardless, the 42nd President’s unparalleled political experience provides a unique opportunity for him to broaden the roles for the first spouse as well as redefine patriarchy and gender roles in politics.

First ladies who have involved themselves with policies have historically received heavy public disdain and criticism. During her time as first lady, Hillary Clinton was criticized for taking on a prominent role in passing the Health Security Act.Similarly, first ladies such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosalynn Carter, and Barbara Bush have all been criticized for their over-involvement with politics, when in reality, their involvement was crucial to breaking gender stereotypes in America’s political landscape, just as Bill Clinton’s involvement will be.

Ever since the creation of the role, first ladies have involved themselves in traditional and sexist duties of floral arrangement or White House china selecting. Mr. Clinton is most likely not to shoulder these roles and instead pass the ceremonial duties to the White House social secretary or chief or protocol. If Bill Clinton is able to break the expectation that first ladies must fulfill certain roles, it allows for the potential eradication of these constricting gender boxes in the first place.

Another downside about the inflexible role as the first spouse is the fact that the first ladies in the past have not been able to continue their old job – instead dropping their old way of life to support their husband’s role as the president. Once again, Bill Clinton’s expected defiance of the status quo is a blessing in disguise. It provides the necessary option for the first lady or gentleman to continue their work while the president continues theirs.

The will for Bill revolves around the hope that his position can redefine patriarchy and gender roles in politics. While there is a double standard with the fact that individuals believe Bill shouldn’t involve himself with traditional first lady duties, it finally exposes the idea that the roles of the first spouse are based on gender rather than merit. Only when individuals can finally accept this fact can we make it easier for future first spouses to oppose roles they don’t feel comfortable embodying.

However, Bill Clinton also has to ensure he keeps a fair distance away from the key issues of the campaign. This is to ensure any accomplishments of Hillary’s administration will be attributed to Madame President rather than Bill. Regardless, Bill’s support and role as a secondary character also sends a message for men to be comfortable being second to women in power. It demonstrate how far we have come in society in terms of gender equality, regardless of the excruciating miles we still have yet to cover.

After the monumental election, Bill Clinton is likely to reform the first spouse role for the better while still maintaining integrity and key purpose of the role – supporting the president. With this, first spouses will be given more flexibility to reshape their own roles, specifically pertaining to them. Bill Clinton’s actions set a precedent for future actions and provide a promise for a future of increasing flexibility for those serving the country as the first spouse. But, as of right now, all we can do is hope that #FGOTUS is trending on Twitter the day after the election.