Dr. Jill Biden Says Women’s Accomplishments Should Be Celebrated After WSJ Op-Ed Advising She Drop 'Dr.'
Michelle Obama showed her support for the incoming first lady after the op-ed — which The Wall Street Journal defended as "fair comment" — received major backlash
Dr. Jill Biden said Sunday she looked forward to a world “where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated” after a Wall Street Journal op-ed urged the soon-to-be first lady to drop the "Dr." before her name — sparking widespread backlash online.
Published on Friday, the column, written by Joseph Epstein, referred to the former second lady — who has a doctorate in education and has been teaching for decades — as "Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden— Jill—kiddo" before sharing "a bit of advice" about her title. The opinion piece was quickly met with backlash online, deemed "sexist" as many supported Dr. Biden, 69.
"Any chance you might drop the 'Dr.' before your name?" Epstein wrote. "'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," Epstein added. "Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc."
On Sunday night, Dr. Biden appeared to address the op-ed by tweeting, "Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished."
The article received significant response, with many public figures lambasting the Journal and Epstein's "kiddo" comment on Twitter while coming to the defense of Dr. Biden.
"Dr. Biden earned her degrees through hard work and pure grit. 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," wrote Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff.
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Former First Lady Michelle Obama also showed support for Dr. Biden on Monday morning, calling out the double standard surrounding women's accomplishments.
"For eight years, I saw Dr. Jill Biden do what a lot of professional women do—successfully manage more than one responsibility at a time, from her teaching duties to her official obligations in the White House to her roles as a mother, wife, and friend," Obama, 56, wrote on Instagram. "And right now, we’re all seeing what also happens to so many professional women, whether their titles are Dr., Ms., Mrs., or even First Lady: All too often, our accomplishments are met with skepticism, even derision."
"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," she continued. "Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?"
Obama added that Dr. Biden "will be a terrific role model not just for young girls but for all of us, wearing her accomplishments with grace, good humor, and yes, pride."
"I’m thrilled that the world will see what I have come to know—a brilliant woman who has distinguished herself in her profession and with the life she lives every day, always seeking to lift others up, rather than tearing them down," she concluded.
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The Journal defended its decision to publish the op-ed despite the backlash. Editorial page editor Paul A. Gigot wrote in a column on Sunday: "... these pages aren’t going to stop publishing provocative essays merely because they offend the new administration or the political censors in the media and academe. And since it’s a time to heal, we’ll give the Biden crowd a mulligan for their attacks on us."
Gigot wrote that he felt Epstein's column "was fair comment" and that a doctorate "isn’t sacrosanct or out-of-bounds for debate." Epstein's use of "kiddo," which many readers likewise criticized as condescending, was not unlike how Dr. Biden's husband referred to her, Gigot wrote.
Prior to the Nov. 3 election, Dr. Biden confirmed that she would continue teaching if she and her husband, President-elect Joe Biden, 78, reached the White House. "I hope so. I would love to," the community college teacher said in a profile for CBS Sunday Morning in August when asked if she would continue teaching as the first lady. "If we get to the White House, I’m going to continue to teach."
Dr. Biden added at the time, "It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up their profession."