Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed titled “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.,” in which writer Joseph Epstein called for future First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to drop her Dr. title because she doesn’t work in the medical profession.
Mere minutes after its publication, the piece was heavily criticised for being misogynistic and unnecessary – Dr. Biden has a doctorate degree in education from the University of Delaware and it is customary for people who have doctorate degrees to refer to themselves as “doctor”. Medical doctors, by opposition, use the letters “MD”.
At the very beginning of the op-ed, Epstein calls the future First Lady “kiddo”, before going on to belittle her and her profession in a myriad of ways. “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,” he wrote. “Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘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. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.”
Of course, many are wondering why this opinion was given such airtime, including, but definitely not limited to, former First Lady Michelle Obama and future Vice President Kamala Harris.
On Instagram, Obama questioned, “Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?”
“For eight years, I saw Dr. Jill Biden do what a lot of professional women do—successfully manage more than one responsibility at a time, from her teaching duties to her official obligations in the White House to her roles as a mother, wife, and friend. And right now, we’re all seeing what also happens to so many professional women, whether their titles are Dr., Ms., Mrs., or even First Lady: All too often, our accomplishments are met with skepticism, even derision,” she wrote. “We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect. And yet somehow, their words can stick—after decades of work, we’re forced to prove ourselves all over again.”
Following Obama’s post, Harris was asked during an interview with Good Morning America how she reacted to the editorial. “I was deeply disappointed that in 2020, that kind of approach would be given any legitimacy,” she responded.
Harris said Dr Biden “worked hard” and continued her education while raising a family. “She got degrees, she earned everything she has,” Harris added. “That’s the American way. That’s the American spirit. So when there’s anyone who tries to diminish the significance of people who work hard, I think it’s just not the American way, frankly.”
One more time for the Dr.’s in the back.