The White House

If you missed the Wall Street Journal op-ed this weekend that set social media discussions ablaze, here's a brief recap:

Joseph Epstein, a professor emeritus at Northwestern University, penned an opinion piece titled "Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D." that was bafflingly sexist in both its premise and its delivery. After an opening line that read, "Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice..." he proceeded to explain how the doctorate that Dr. Jill Biden earned is not the same as having an M.D., and so she should cease using the title of "Dr."

The entire op-ed reeked of condescension (referring to a grown adult as "kiddo" is rude under any circumstances) and misogyny (imagine addressing an accomplished man in such a manner). It was also just a bizarre and cringe-inducing take overall. Epstein shared how he'd somehow fallen into a 30-year teaching job at Northwestern with just a B.A. degree, whined about the standards for doctorate degrees (which he himself does not have), complained about honorary doctorates (which he does have) and claimed that Dr. Biden using her title of doctor feels "fraudulent" and "comic," despite the fact that she literally has a doctorate in education and teaches at a university where professors with doctorates are generally referred to as "Dr."

People pounced in righteous outrage, and understandably so. Women with doctoral degrees of all kinds changed their handles to include their doctor title. Women and men alike explained why the piece was so incredibly problematic. Female former students of Epstein's shared their experiences in his classes, adding credence to the accusations of misogyny.

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