explainer

Why some men are angry that Dr Jill Biden calls herself a doctor.

Last Friday, a man told the future First Lady Dr Jill Biden to "drop the doc". The opinion writer argued that he doesn't believe Dr Biden has earned her title. 

"'Dr Jill Biden' sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic," Joseph Epstein wrote for The Wall Street Journal.

After calling the 69-year-old woman "kiddo," he went on: "No one should call himself 'Dr' unless he has delivered a child." (Epstein did not provide criteria for if that "he" is a "she".)

Dr Biden has two master's degrees and earned her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007. She works as a professor at a community college, and intends to continue her profession whilst in the White House - likely becoming the first FLOTUS to do so.

Readers slammed the article as sexist and misogynistic, with many saying the opinion was emblematic of the tendency for men to undermine the achievements or credentials of women.

"Some men are so threatened by educated women," tweeted Dr Audrey Truschke, an associate professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University. "The WSJ should be embarrassed by printing this misogynist, self-absorbed screed."

"If you had any respect for women at all you would remove this repugnant display of chauvinism from your paper and apologise to her," Dr Biden's press spokesperson, Michael LaRosa, said in a tweet directed at the newspaper.

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Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, pointed out: "This story would never have been written about a man."

Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton also both added to the chorus of condemnation against the article. 

"Her name is Dr Jill Biden. Get used to it," wrote former Secretary of State Clinton. 

"All too often, our accomplishments are met with skepticism, even derision," former FLOTUS Michelle Obama shared to Instagram in response. "We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect. And yet somehow, their words can stick—after decades of work, we’re forced to prove ourselves all over again."

Dr Biden herself responded to the article, saying: "Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished."

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Screams for an apology grew, but were denied by the publication. Instead, the paper defended and doubled down on the writer's opinion.  

The opinion editor for the publication, also a man, said: "There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism...Mrs. Biden is now America’s most prominent doctorate holder and is taking a leading role in education policy. She can’t be off-limits for commentary."

The author's former employer, Northwestern University, said it "strongly disagrees with Mr Epstein's misogynistic views".

“The Department is aware that a former adjunct lecturer who has not taught here in nearly 20 years has published an opinion piece that casts unmerited aspersion on Dr. Jill Biden’s rightful public claiming of her doctoral credentials and expertise,” the statement says. “The Department rejects this opinion as well as the diminishment of anyone’s duly earned degrees in any field, from any university.”

Dr Biden is a life-long educator, and when asked by CNBC what she will do as First Lady, she replied, "Education would be right up there".

"I'd travel all over this country trying to get free community college," she explained. "We need good reading programs, and we need equity in schools. We're competing in this global market, and the US's standing has got to get better."

Needless to say, Dr Biden won't be taking the advice from a man who, as he admitted, has never earned “a doctorate or any advanced degree".

Feature image: Getty. 


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