The Wall Street Journal sparked widespread backlash for publishing an opinion piece on Friday calling on incoming first lady Jill Biden to “drop the doctor” title before her name, saying it “sounds and feels fraudulent.” Several public figures slammed the op-ed, calling it “trash” and “misogynistic.”
In the op-ed, conservative columnist writer Joseph Epstein, argues that “‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic” and opens by addressing President-elect Joe Biden’s wife as “Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo.”
“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,’” Epstein writes. “A wise man once said that no one should call himself ‘Dr.’ unless he has delivered a child.”
“Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc,” the writer adds.
“The Ph.D. may once have held prestige, but that has been diminished by the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences,” Epstein argues.
“As for your Ed.D., Madame First Lady, hard-earned though it may have been, please consider stowing it, at least in public, at least for now,” Epstein concludes. “Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill, and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.”
By Saturday afternoon, “Joseph Epstein” and “Dr. Biden” were the No. 1 and No. 3 top trending topics on Twitter in the U.S.
Several people, from medical doctors and Ph.D. holders to political figures, took to Twitter to criticize Epstein’s argument.
Fellow education scholars also came to Jill Biden’s defense, with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education writing, “President and Dr. Biden will be how they are addressed. Period.”
Multiple users holding medical degrees also vocalized their support for Jill Biden to use the title of doctor, including Cathleen London, a family medicine physician from Maine.
“Dr. Biden can absolutely use her honorific,” London tweeted. “It was not bestowed upon her, she earned it. Those of us with MD will not suffer for her using it.”
Read some of the reactions below:
I am appalled and unsurprised that the @WSJ would print this trash.
She is Dr. Biden, First Lady-to-be, give her the respect she deserves. https://t.co/GYZUknPVBm
— Dara Kass, MD (@darakass) December 12, 2020
The author could’ve used fewer words to just say “ya know in my day we didn’t have to respect women.” https://t.co/jr9hICPzV4
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) December 12, 2020
President and Dr. Biden will be how they are addressed. Period.
— Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (@Ebonyteach) December 12, 2020
A waste of column space. After calling Dr. Biden kiddo & dismissing her dissertation on support for community college education, we have to endure a long brag because the author took his final exam on a pool table on a military base. Tired of the misogyny. https://t.co/M2UjbVsp9h
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) December 12, 2020
One of the signs that the conservative movement is acknowledging Biden’s win is that they’ve moved on to attacking prominent women for not knowing their place.
That Epstein doesn’t have a Ph.D while attacking hers isn’t hypocrisy, it’s his point.https://t.co/71kl4MCiGX
— 𒇷 𒁯𒅗 (@Lee__Drake) December 12, 2020
Mr. Epstein is clearly making up for something. Dr. Biden can absolutely use her honorific. It was not bestowed upon her, she earned it. Those of us with MD will not suffer for her using it. #misogynist much? https://t.co/jqFCtIRyt7 via @WSJ
— Cathleen London MD (@DrChaya) December 12, 2020
Apparently, the @WSJ prefers pole dancers for First Ladies. They never know how to respond to educated, intelligent, strong women. The intimidation factor must be too much for them to handle.
— The Honorable Terri Lee Watson (@dancertav) December 12, 2020
Why would the WSJ print such garbage?
— Andy Hasenyager (@awhasen) December 12, 2020
The fear of intelligent articulate women in powerful positions strikes me as funny. These extremely fragile men show they are scared of these women and are so worried their insecurities will be revealed. Vulnerable and exposed as petty they are dinosaurs and will soon be extinct.
— Pam Giger (@hawley1955) December 12, 2020