Wall Street Journal contributor Joseph Epstein faced criticism over the weekend for “misogynistic views” after penning a column suggesting soon-to-be first lady Jill Biden stop using the title “doctor,” though she is one.
Doug Emhoff, husband to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and Northwestern University, where Epstein says he taught for 30 years, were among those who responded to Epstein’s Friday column, which also referred to the 69-year-old educator with a doctorate of education degree as “kiddo.”
“Dr. Biden earned her degrees through hard work and pure grit,” Emhoff tweeted Saturday. “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.”
In his column, Epstein suggested Biden “consider stowing” away her title, “at least for now,” inviting her to “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.”
“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,” Epstein began his column. “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.”
Biden spokesman Michael LaRosa condemned the Journaland the editor in charge of its op-eds, tweeting the outlet “should be embarrassed to print the disgusting and sexist attack” on 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 added.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary shared a page exploring the origins of the word “doctor,” which noted that though modern English primarily uses “doctor” to refer to those who practice medicine, it stems from the Latin word for “teacher.”
Many publications including USA TODAY and the Journal follow AP style, which dictates that “Dr.” should not be used for academic credentials in news articles.
Epstein had previously been listed as a lecturer at Northwestern, though the school noted in a statement Saturday that he had not taught for them since 2003.
Northwestern and its Department of English denounced Epstein’s views, noting they “firmly support academic freedom and freedom of expression” but do not agree that only those with an M.D. should hold the title of “doctor.”
“Northwestern is firmly committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, and strongly disagrees with Mr. Epstein’s misogynistic views,” a statement on the school’s website read.
Biden holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Delaware, and also has master’s degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University.
Meghan McCain, the daughter of late Republican senator John McCain and a commentator on the morning talk show “The View,” wrote Saturday that she was “so sick of the way accomplished, educated, successful women like @DrBiden are talked about in the media by misogynistic men. BEYOND SO SICK OF IT.”
“Her name is Dr. Jill Biden,” Hilary Clinton tweeted. “Get used to it.”