Sexist WSJ Op-Ed Urges Jill Biden To Drop Her Dr. Title

by Kristine Cannon
Dr. Jill Biden
Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

“The author could’ve used fewer words to just say, ‘ya know, in my day, we didn’t have to respect women'”

In what might be the most sexist, condescending piece published amid this hellscape of a year, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) writer, essayist and man without a real doctorate Joseph Epstein not only referred to First Lady-elect Dr. Jill Biden as “kiddo,” but he also actually suggested — nay, urged — her to drop the “Dr.” title. And absolutely, irrefutably no one was here for his misogynistic bullshit.

In the op-ed titled “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.” and published with the anger-inducing subtitle “Jill Biden should think about dropping the honorific, which feels fraudulent, even comic,” Epstein had the absolute nerve to kick off the opinion piece published Friday with the following paragraph, wherein he dismissed and belittled her hard-earned honorific.

“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. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name?” Epstein starts, and it’s about right here that we begin to see red.

“‘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,'” he continued. “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.”

Many women in academia, who also worked for years to earn the honorific, took to Twitter to rightfully push back against the attack and defend Dr. Biden’s title.

“If you’re a man who feels the need to write an op-ed in a national paper of record shaming Dr. Jill Biden for her Ed.D, when you only have an honorary Doctorate, it sounds like you have a serious case of… D envy,” wrote professor and award-winning author Dr. Sarah Parcak.

“This article is a thesis as to why women and esp. BIPOC end up extra credentialing ourselves because there is that dude who did 1/3 of work for more pay,” tweeted political strategist, women’s rights advocate, and former president of the Young Democrats of America, Atima Omara.

On Saturday, as women took to Twitter to add Dr. to their names in solidarity, the slow clap-worthy tweets kept on comin’:

Chasten Buttigieg, husband of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, also tweeted Saturday, “The author could’ve used fewer words to just say ‘ya know in my day we didn’t have to respect women.’”

And Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for Dr. Biden, addressed the op-ed, calling it a “disgusting and sexist attack.” He also urged WSJ to remove it and apologize to Dr. Biden. “If you had any respect for women at all you would remove this repugnant display of chauvinism from your paper and apologize to her,” LaRosa tweeted.

Epstein, man with a bachelor’s degree and an honorary doctorate, are you listening? Because you clearly need this lesson. Let’s start with where the word “doctor” even comes from: It comes from the Latin word for “teacher.”

Dr. Biden is a lifelong educator who has worked as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009. And when she steps into the role of First Lady, she will not only be the first FLOTUS to have a doctorate degree, but Dr. Biden will also be the first FLOTUS in the role’s 231-year history to keep a paying job while living in the White House and serving as First Lady.

“She will really be bringing the role of first lady into the 21st century,” first-lady historian Katherine Jellison, a professor at Ohio University, told USA Today in November.

“The beauty of (being FLOTUS) is that you can define it however you want,” Dr. Biden, who also has two master’s degrees, which she earned while working and raising a family, told Vogue in July 2019. And that includes rightfully keeping the Dr. in her name.