Apparently, one Joseph Epstein doesn’t think Dr. Jill Biden’s degree — a Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware — is anything to write home about. In a new Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Joseph asks the future first lady to drop the “Dr.” before her name, suggesting her doctorate doesn’t matter because she’s not a medical doctor.
“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,” Joseph writes. “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.”
Joseph Epstein says “‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fradulent.”
“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?” Joseph continues in the article. “‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.”
He goes on: “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.”
To recap, this man is calling the future first lady “kiddo,” saying her honorific sounds “fraudulent” and even “comic,” belittling both her degree and even her dissertation. And by the way, note how he uses male pronouns when talking about doctors he deems legitimate.
Anyway, Joseph spends the rest of his opinion piece carping about the standards around doctorates, honorary degrees, and even commencement speakers. He even says he wrote a “complaining email” to the president of Northwestern after Stephen Colbert was a commencement speaker. (Would that we had such time on our hands!)
Commenters say Joseph’s essay is misogynist and exposes his “status anxiety.”
Suffice it to say, Joseph’s opinion piece has found little support online. “F*** this piece so hard,” tweeted Dr. Sarah Bond, an associate history professor at the University of Iowa. “Jill Biden is Dr. Biden. Not a good take at all.”
Chasten Buttigieg, a teacher and the husband of former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, tweeted, “The author could’ve used fewer words to just say, ‘Ya know, in my day, we didn’t have to respect women.’”
And Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, wrote, “Translation of this piece: ‘I have status anxiety and I’m playing it out by attacking a woman for using the title Dr. — which she is fully entitled to use.’”
Commenters also criticized the article directly on the WSJ website. “What is remarkable to me is not that men like this still exist — as a woman with a Ph.D, I’m well aware they do — but that The Wall Street Journal would print this ‘opinion’ piece. Really, kiddo? Would you condescend to a man this way?”
Another commenter wrote: “The Wall Street Journal should be ashamed of itself. This is a minsogynst and intellectually corrupt piece that denigrates real work accomplishments. I realize it’s fashionable to bash learning and intellectualism at this point in history, but this piece is vile and very ugly.”
Or take this well-worded burn: “Dear Mr. Epstein — It is said that with age comes wisdom, but in your case age showed up all alone. Dr. Jill Biden is a class act, which may explain why you’re having trouble handling your assignment with aplomb. Take two Senokot and follow with some prune juice. That might put a smile on your face and a skip in your step.”