Call her ‘Doctor’


Dr. Jill Biden is now our First Lady of the United States and has made the decision to continue working as an educator and to also publicly retain her title, Dr. Biden. After earning two master’s degrees, Dr. Biden earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Delaware in 2007. She teaches English at Northern Virginia Community College and will continue to teach through her husband’s presidency. Recently a prejudiced and sexist article was written by Wall Street Journal contributor Joseph Epstein claiming that it is improper of her to not drop the Dr. prefix in her name to take on the more traditional title of Mrs. Biden and First Lady. 

The article can still be found on the WSJ Online, and Washington Post columnist, Monica Hesse, wrote an opposing piece about what Epstein did wrong and what was inappropriate.

I want to join Hesse in her scolding of Epstein. The disrespect and condescending tone in Epstein’s WSJ article is shocking, sexist, and elitist.  He starts off, “Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo: a bit of advice on what might seem like a small thing but I think is not an unimportant matter[…].” He continued, “Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels a touch fraudulent, not to mention comical.” Epstein also continued to demean her doctorate degree in Education by saying, “no one should call himself a  Dr. unless he has delivered a child,” as in one can only call themselves an actual doctor once they have delivered a baby or saved a life. Note his use of the pronoun ‘he’ in that statement. Epstein also wrote, “For Biden to use the title of ‘Dr.’ is highfalutin and misleading,” which was not only insulting but generally incorrect, seeing as she earned a doctorate degree, therefore making her a doctor. He also implied that her degree was easy, and therefore irrelevant, because it wasn’t earned at a prestigious school.  

Simply put, Epstein tried to undermine the degree she earned, celebrate not-so-subtle patronizing sexism (‘kiddo’), and use Dr. Biden’s husband’s success to criticize her own. The entire thing is repulsive, but the worst part of this piece was the last sentence, when he said, “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,” instructing her to quit her job as a professor and live for her husband’s term.

Before it was pulled by the publisher, Epstein’s article got plenty of negative attention from people ready to come to Dr. Biden’s defense, including Hesse.

If he wants to get technical about it, Biden did deliver a child, out of her own uterus,” Hesse said. “The fact that she accomplished this later in life, after having raised three children and worked another career, is admirable. The title of her dissertation — ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level’ — sounds important and not, as Epstein writes, ‘unpromising.’”

In my opinion, Epstein has gone out of line to humiliate and discourage our First Lady in order to make others believe that her education is inadequate. This response to a woman’s profession and title is completely ridiculous and mocking.