Upon graduating college with my hard-earned degree to teach high school English, I almost immediately began planning for my graduate studies. Lots of high schools around the country require their teachers to have a masters degree, so that was a motivator. Plus, it came with a pay raise. And, I truly enjoyed going to school. In fact, at the time, I hadn’t ruled out going on and earning my doctorate as well.
I did end up graduating with my M.A. in secondary education, after writing a thesis I’m damn proud of. My path changed a bit and I never went on for my doctorate, but you can be sure as hell if I had that I’d claim that Dr. title. That my students—even the grumpiest of teenagers whose eyes shot daggers at me as I made them read Shakespearean sonnets—would be calling me Dr. and not Mrs. or Miss.
And as I’ve encountered other professionals with that Dr. title, I’ve never hesitated to refer to them that way. My children’s formal principal went by Dr. Matthews. No one questioned it. I’ve had professors at the undergraduate and graduate level use the title. Again, that’s what we all called them. With respect. And without hesitation. Just as we refer to famous figures like a man we’ve all heard of—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.— because each of these people put in the work, the years, the money, the commitment, and the dedication. Each of them earned their Dr. title.
So yeah, when Dr. Jill Biden completed her education and earned her Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from the University of Delaware, she rightfully earned the title “Dr.” and deserves to be referred to as such. Just as any other professional with that level of expertise does as well. Is she a medical doctor? No. Does she claim to be? No. Have professionals in academia added Dr. to their titles once they’ve earned their doctorate for centuries? Yes.
However, because some ignorant asswipes remain stuck in 1950, or don’t understand how higher education works, or simply are bound and determined to hate on the Bidens as they hated on the Obamas even though they are kind and supportive of others—regardless of political party, her title is under scrutiny.
The Wall Street Journal stupidly published an op-ed, which has now gone viral, that was moronically entitled, “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.” And, of course, this piece of trash essay included a byline that reads, “Jill Biden should think about dropping the honorific, which feels fraudulent, even comic.”
Joseph Epstein, the “writer” of this ignorant word vomit, opens by condescendingly calling Dr. Biden “kiddo” and offering her advice, as if he is in any position to advise the First Lady of the United States on literally anything. “Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter,” Epstein mansplains.
He then goes on to insult her dissertation on student retention at community colleges, calling it “unpromising” and, in the same paragraph, refers to the idiotic but commonly used quip that no one can call themselves “doctor” unless they’ve delivered a child.
Let’s break this bullshittery down, shall we? First of all, Mr. Epstein, your piece reeks of envy. We’re sorry you didn’t have the… guts? courage? stamina? intelligence level? (who knows) to actually ever earn a doctorate, but you sound bitter. It’s not a good look. Also, it’s clear that you don’t respect the value of community colleges, which is where Dr. Biden has spent a large portion of her career. And, finally, the world now knows that you are threatened by smart women. Bravo.
Also, we’ll be sure to let all the medical doctors out there who’ve tirelessly fought COVID-19 this year, holding the hands of dying patients, and also those brilliant scientists who thankfully have brought us a vaccine that offers a beacon of hope, that they don’t get to call themselves “doctor” because they’ve never caught a newborn baby. I’m sure they’ll appreciate that tidbit of info from you—*checks notes*—a man with one single undergraduate degree, no earned doctorate, and zero medical expertise.
Basically, Joey, it’s obvious that you have some personal issues you need to unpack. Maybe take some time over the holidays to do a little self-reflection? Like, why do you even care what title Dr. Biden goes by? Why are you so scared of women who are more successful than you?
Your piece then goes on a long, barely coherent rant about “honorary doctorates,” which is not what Dr. Biden has. If you’d like to blast the validity or point of bestowing honorary doctorates on celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers, for example, go right ahead, but that has nothing to do with Dr. Biden. This lack of cohesive argument is why I’ve referred to you as a “writer” a few paragraphs up, because it seems apparent that you don’t understand the need for basic textual support.
(Calling you a jealous asswipe, well, that’s just a reflection of your character.)
Finally, your last “supporting argument” (again, use of quotes intentional here) as to why Dr. Biden should drop her title is because apparently doctorates don’t count anymore. Back in the day, you explain, doctoral exams were far more grueling, but today’s candidates get off way too easy.
“One had to pass examinations in two foreign languages, one of them Greek or Latin, defend one’s thesis, and take an oral examination on general knowledge in one’s field,” your op-ed states. “At Columbia University of an earlier day, a secretary sat outside the room where these examinations were administered, a pitcher of water and a glass on her desk. The water and glass were there for the candidates who fainted. A far cry, this, from the few doctoral examinations I sat in on during my teaching days, where candidates and teachers addressed one another by first names and the general atmosphere more resembled a kaffeeklatsch.”
(I had to look up what kaffeeklatsch meant—it’s an informal social gathering at which coffee is served. Excuse my lack of knowledge there. I’m just a silly woman with a higher degree than you.)
And, as you end with, “Dr. Jill, I note you acquired your Ed.D. as recently as 15 years ago at age 55, or long after the terror had departed,” you not only insult her by addressing her as “Dr. Jill”, but you also imply that because she likely didn’t faint while taking her exams or defending her dissertation, that somehow her degree isn’t real.
That’s the crazy thing about education—it evolves. Today, kids even use these neat little things called computers! You wouldn’t believe it. Another way we’ve evolved is to realize that shockingly, our doctoral candidates don’t have to become physically ill to prove they are smart and worthy of their degree!
(I mean, you never even tried, Mr. Epstein, so I guess even today, doctoral programs are only for the toughest among us, like Dr. Jill Biden.)
Also, it seems that Northwestern University, where you were previously listed as “emeritus lecturer of English,” has scrubbed you entirely from their website, stating that it is “firmly committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, and strongly disagrees with Epstein’s misogynistic views.” Again, evolution! Change is good.
Hmmm. So one of you is a misogynist with no teaching history to even brag about as your previous employer has disassociated with you, and another is a successful educator committing to helping all Americans have access to a proper education. Oh, and the second one goes by Dr.
Looks like the real “comical fraud” is you, bruh.
And just so we’re clear, Dr. Biden has always been committed to ensuring that everyone (not just pretentious twats like you, Joseph Epstein) has access to a fair education. Earlier in her career, she worked in a psychiatric hospital where she taught English to adolescents with emotional disabilities. During that same time she also earned two (yes, TWO) master’s degrees, one from Villanova University and one from West Chester University. In 2009, after earning her doctorate, she began teaching English at Northern Virginia Community College, and advocating for community college education has since been her passion. “Dr. Biden has always said that community colleges are ‘one of America’s best-kept secrets.’ As a teacher, she sees how community colleges have changed the lives of so many of her students for the better,” explains former president Barack Obama’s White House website.
Sorry, Mr. Epstein, but not everyone can afford to enroll in an English class at Northwestern taught by a raging sexist who gets his balls in a bunch when women succeed. For many, community college is a better fit, and Dr. Biden is a big part of that.
“In 2012, she traveled across the country as part of the ‘Community College to Career’ tour to highlight successful industry partnerships between community colleges and employers,” the website goes on to say. “In the fall of 2010, she hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges with President Obama, and she continues to work on this outreach on behalf of the Administration – frequently visiting campuses, meeting with students and teachers, as well as industry representatives around the country.”
Imagine all of the hard-working Americans Dr. Biden has helped by supporting community colleges. Future teachers just like her often get their degree while working full time, raising a family, and going to college at night. Who knows, some of them may even—gasp—go to grad school too. High school kids who choose to forego going away to a full-time university and instead, take classes at a community college closer to home, are given that option because of people like Dr. Biden. Kids who go on to be EMTs, police officers, technicians in trade industries, engineers, and find success in the business world. Or, they transfer those college credits to a larger university down the road when they have the means to do so. Single moms doing their best to give their children a good life often attend community college classes online, after their children are asleep, proving that they have the drive and determination to do more and be more.
So, what it all boils down to, Mr. Epstein, is that you really, really hate that there’s about to a woman in the White House who’s smarter than you. And not only that, but she inspires women everywhere to work hard, earn their degrees, and then they’ll be smarter than you too. Yikes. That’s a tough pickle to be in, Mr. Epstein. We’re sorry that you are so insecure and unhappy with your own lack of success.
At least you can still write those stellar op-eds though! Good luck with your “writing” career, kiddo.
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