After a condescending op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing the incoming First Lady for using the well-earned title of “Dr.” swept across social media yesterday, people are clapping back — including soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff.
Essayist Joseph Epstein penned the widely panned piece, and there doesn’t seem to be a single redeeming thought in sight.
The premise is that because Dr. Jill Biden has her degree in education, and because Epstein believes a Ph.D “has been diminished by the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences,” Dr. Biden should discard the “small thrill of being Dr. Jill” and lose the title from her name.
“Condescending” really doesn’t even begin to cover it, especially as the op-ed opens with Epstein, for some confounding reason, referring to Dr. Biden as “Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo.”
While there are many reasons to eviscerate this absurdity that never should have been given a platform by a reasonably respectable publication, the most common sentiment is that it’s blatantly misogynistic, something the Vice President-elect’s husband seemed to agree with when he wrote his own tweet rebutting the nonsense.
“Dr. Biden earned her degrees through hard work and pure grit,” Emhoff wrote. “She is an inspiration to me, to her students, and to Americans across this country. This story would never have been written about a man.”
While earning an advanced degree is reason enough to use the title it comes with, it’s still worth noting that Dr. Biden has continued to use her degree throughout her husband’s political career. Shortly after Barack Obama became President (and Joe Biden, Vice President), Dr. Biden transitioned from teaching English and writing at Delaware Technical & Community College to being a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College. As of now, she plans to continue teaching while also juggling her responsibilities as First Lady.
The audacity of a man with a bachelor’s degree — and an “honorary” doctorate, which he uses as justification for his stance — complaining that a woman with two master’s degrees and a doctorate of education comes across as “fraudulent” and “comic” for actually using her hard-earned title is something else. And Emhoff was far from the only person to push back at his statements.
Rather than Dr. Biden dropping her title, Epstein — and anyone who agrees with him — should consider dropping both the condescension and the misogyny, instead. That’s something that would actually benefit society, unlike Dr. Biden purposely lessening herself so that men can feel more comfortable.