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Who is Joseph Epstein? Writer labeled 'misogynist' for op-ed advising Jill Biden to drop 'Dr' from her name

'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,' Epstein said
UPDATED DEC 13, 2020
Joseph Epstein and Dr Jill Biden (Hillsdale College/YouTube/Getty Images)
Joseph Epstein and Dr Jill Biden (Hillsdale College/YouTube/Getty Images)

An opinion piece by essayist Joseph Epstein has left some people miffed. Epstein in his opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, titled ‘Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an MD’, commented on Jill Biden's usage of ‘Dr’ before her name. He said, “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. Any chance you might drop the “Dr” before your name? “Dr Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.”

Epstein continued, “Your degree is, I believe, an EdD, 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.” He added, “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.”

He opined, “The PhD may once have held prestige, but that has been diminished by the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences.” As mentioned in The Hill, he also said, “As for your EdD, Madame First Lady, hard-earned though it may have been, please consider stowing it, at least in public, at least for now.” He added, “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.”

Who is Joseph Epstein?

He currently serves as an emeritus lecturer of English at Northwestern University. Epstein was the editor of ‘The American Scholar’ from 1975 to 1997, and wrote essays under the name Aristides. He has written ‘Fabulous Small Jews’ and ‘Snobbery: The American Version’, among several other works. Epstein taught writing and literature at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, from 1974 to 2002. Speaking about being removed from ‘The American Scholar’, he told Joshua Cohen of Forward, “I believe I was fired from this lovely, cushy job for being insufficiently correct politically.” In 2003, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Twitter reacts

His opinion piece was widely discussed on Twitter. Soon, Epstein, Jill Biden, and WSJ started trending on the micro-blogging site. The niece of vice-president-elect Kamala Harris, Meena Harris, wrote: “As if it weren't bad enough, the WSJ op-ed opens by calling Jill Biden "kiddo." How disgusting and sexist.” Doug Emhoff, who is married to Kamala Harris wrote, “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.” Chasten Buttigieg, Pete Buttigieg’s husband, said, “The author could’ve used fewer words to just say 'ya know in my day we didn’t have to respect women'.”

A user opined, “#JosephEpstein’s misogyny is showing @WSJ @WSJopinion.” Another said, “The more I think about this article, the angrier I get. I don't know who #josephepstein is, but I do know he has some sort of fear of educated, strong women that are exponentially more successful than he ever will be. #itsDRBiden.” One stated, “It’s Dr Jill Biden...and don’t you ever forget it!!”  A user commented, “Astounded that @WSJ would publish that sexist essay attacking @DrBiden for deigning to use her earned title. Haters gonna hate.”








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