- An op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal on Friday sparked criticism after it suggested that First Lady-elect Jill Biden should drop her "Dr." title because she is not a medical doctor.
- Essayist Joseph Epstein urged Jill Biden to "drop the doc" in her name, saying that it "sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic."
- A spokesperson for the first lady-elect called the op-ed a "disgusting and sexist attack," as many public figures, including Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, tweeted in support.
- Jill Biden holds a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees, and a doctorate of education and will become the only first lady to keep a full-time job while serving in office.
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An op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal on Friday sparked backlash after it suggested that First Lady-elect Jill Biden should drop her "Dr." title because she is not a medical doctor.
In the opinion article, essayist Joseph Epstein addressed the President-elect Joe Biden's wife as "kiddo." Jill Biden is 69 years-old.
Epstein went on to offer her "advice" on "what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter."
"'Dr. Jill Biden' sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic," he wrote. "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," Epstein added.
Jill Biden is a university professor with a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees, and a doctorate of education, which she obtained from the University of Delaware in 2007.
Throughout her husband's career, she has expressed her commitment to continue teaching and will become the only first lady in the role's 231-year history to keep a full-time job while serving in office.
Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for Jill Biden, described Epstein's piece as a "disgusting and sexist attack" and called on the Wall Street Journal to apologize and retract the article.
The communications director for President-elect Joe Biden, Kate Bedingfield, also condemned the article, calling it "patronizing, sexist, elitist drivel," according to Newsweek.
—Michael LaRosa (@MichaelLaRosaDC) December 12, 2020
"Dr. B earned a doctorate in education, so we call her Doctor. The title Mr. Epstein has earned here is perhaps not fit for mixed company," Bedingfield added.
Epstein's comments also sparked anger on social media, with many public figures in politics and academia alike stepping in to support Jill Biden.
Melissa Korn, who is the higher education reporter at the Wall Street Journal, called the column "disgusting."
"Pieces like that make it harder for me to do my job," she wrote.
Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the country's first incoming second gentleman, said Biden had earned her degrees "through hard work and pure grit."
"She is an inspiration to me, to her students, and to Americans across this country," he wrote on Twitter. "This story would never have been written about a man."
—Doug Emhoff (@DouglasEmhoff) December 12, 2020
"The author could've used fewer words to just say 'ya know in my day we didn't have to respect women,'" Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, tweeted on Saturday.
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education tweeted:, "President and Dr. Biden will be how they are addressed. Period."
Jill Biden will use her background in education in her role as the first lady, with a close source telling Yahoo News earlier this month that she will push for debt-free community college.
"If we get to the White House, I'm gonna continue to teach," she told CBS in August. "It's important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession."
Epstein has not yet commented on the criticism.
- Read more:
- The life of Dr. Jill Biden, an educator who worked full-time during Joe Biden's career and plans to keep her job after moving into the White House
- Jill Biden would be the nation's first FLOTUS to have a full-time job in the role's 231-year history
- Jill Biden will reportedly back debt-free community college as first lady
- Meet the Bidens: America's new First Family