American essayist Joseph Epstein addressed Jill Biden as "Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo" before proceeding to tell her why she should drop the title.
A Wall Street Journal (WSJ) op-ed recently created some uproar after the writer asked Dr. Jill Biden to lose the title from her name. Written by American essayist Joseph Epstein, the article addresses the 69-year-old teacher as "Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo."
Epstein then goes on to say that he has "a bit of advice" about her title. The article, titled Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D., goes on to say: "Any chance you might drop the 'Dr.' before your name?" Epstein added, "Dr. Jill Biden sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title 'Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.'"
"A wise man once said that no one should call himself 'Dr.' unless he has delivered a child," Epstein opines. "Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc." He goes on to say, "I was sometimes addressed, usually on the phone, as 'Dr. Epstein.' On such occasions, it was all I could do not to reply, 'Read two chapters of Henry James and get into bed. I’ll be right over.'"
After the article was published, there was a severe backlash against the writer and the publication. Many people supported Dr. Biden online and defended her use of the title. "Dr. Biden earned her degrees through hard work and pure grit. She is an inspiration to me, to her students, and to Americans across this country. This story would never have been written about a man," wrote vice president-elect Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, as per People.
Rev. Dr. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted, "Dear @DrBiden: My father was a non-medical doctor. And his work benefited humanity greatly. Yours does, too."
King added, "Both non-medical doctors whose work benefits humanity does not = a comparison of experiences, contributions, leadership, and influence. Please don’t contrive reasons to be frustrated. There are enough legitimate reasons."
The backlash also forced Northwestern University to distance itself from Epstein who is a former lecturer of the university, as per the Independent. The university has removed Epstein’s page from its website, even though he was previously listed as an emeritus lecturer of English. In a statement, the university said that it is "firmly committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion, and strongly disagrees with Epstein's misogynistic views."
Epstein, former editor of The American Scholar, added in his piece that those who display their Ph.D. credentials are "pathetic." "In contemporary universities, in the social sciences and humanities, calling oneself Dr. is thought bush league," he added.
Multiple people from Joe Biden's campaign criticized the WSJ article. Michael LaRosa, Biden's transition team spokesperson, called out James Taranto, the editorial features editor for the WSJ's op-eds. "@jamestaranto, you and the @WSJ should be embarrassed to print the disgusting and sexist attack on @DrBiden running on the @WSJopinion page," LaRosa wrote. "If you had any respect for women at all you would remove this repugnant display of chauvinism from your paper and apologize to her."
"Sexist and shameful. Be better @wsj," wrote Elizabeth Alexander, Dr. Biden's communications director.
Her name is Dr. Jill Biden. Get used to it.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 13, 2020
However, the article only opened up a debate about whether she should drop the honorifics from her name. "But Jill Biden is not a real doctor," said one person on Twitter. Some people took it upon themselves to explain why someone with a Ph.D. is called a doctor. "You can be a Doctor of any subject - Divinity, Law, Economics, Medicine. A Doctor is someone who holds the highest university degree. Someone holding the title of Chair (e.g. at a University, or even a local football club) is not literally ‘a chair’ so let’s stop the pettiness!" said the Twitter user.
Any MD is a real MD 😜 A PH.D, an ED.D and even JD are all referred to as Drs because that’s the DEGREE they hold not their profession. I hold an ED.D and my students call me Dr. They know the difference. It’s really not that hard.— RKH (@rkay63) December 15, 2020
Meanwhile, Biden only responded saying, "Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished."
Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.— Dr. Jill Biden (@DrBiden) December 14, 2020
I am so excited for my daughter (and my son), to see a woman like you as our FLOTUS!— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) December 14, 2020
Between you & Vice-President Elect Harris, this is going to be an amazing time to raise kids. They’re going to see that women will not be diminished. That women have equal power. And Equal voice.