Jennifer Siebel Newsom will be the California governor's 'first partner'—not the 'first lady'

First Lady of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom speaks during the inauguration of husband Gavin Newsom as governor of California on January 7, 2019 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

In a bold stand for gender equality, Jennifer Siebel Newsom insists she be called California governor Gavin Newsom’s “first partner.”

The filmmaker and women’s rights advocate is eschewing the traditional “first lady” title, instead going by what she feels is more apt because “we’re going to have a female governor someday soon,” she told POLITICO. The official site for the California governor also lists Siebel Newsom as first partner. 

“There’s a status quo that devalues women and, unfortunately, puts women as second-class citizens in this country,” Siebel Newsom tells MAKERS. “People need to be awakened and re-educated to our own internal sexism and acceptance of the status quo.”

Also on the unprecedented “first partner” page, you can even find her extensive list of accomplishments including graduating with honors from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, a degree that she was asked to erase (along with her age) while she was pursuing a career in Hollywood. 

“I was struck by the messaging that was being communicated not only to me but women about our value in Hollywood culture and a culture that’s being exported overseas,” Siebel Newsom tells MAKERS.

“I couldn’t imagine raising a healthy girl in a culture that objectifies, demeans and degrades women on a regular basis,” says the mother of four. “I knew I had to question it and I knew I had to explore it.”

Siebel Newsom did that with her award-winning film Miss Representation, a documentary about the underrepresentation of women in power and influence that “challenged the media’s limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.”

In her second film, The Mask You Live In, the award-winning filmmaker flipped the script, examining how “our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming boys, men and society at large.

After an overwhelming response to her first film, Siebel Newsom launched The Representation Project, a nonprofit that inspires individuals and communities to challenge gender stereotypes and shift norms using film and media. 

“My purpose and passion in life is to elevate women and men up in our culture,” Newsom tells MAKERS. “So many people think we’ve achieved parity in the U.S because Hillary Clinton ran for president and because you had Indra Nooyi running Pepsi — but you can’t just have one woman at the top.”

That’s why, in her recent interview on Politico‘s podcast Women Rule, Siebel Newsom said she plans to use her platform to advance women while also addressing the state’s issues with housing, homelessness and the gender wealth gap between white and Latino women. “I think we have a huge opportunity here in California to try and get this right.”

Learn more about Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s inspiring story below:


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