Controversy Erupts Over ‘Doctor’ Jill Biden

Joe and Jill Biden in Lancaster - November 4th by Barack Obama is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A recent Wall Street Journal column over Joe Biden’s wife Jill Biden is causing quite the stir. The op-ed by Joseph Epstein – no relation to Jeffrey Epstein – recommended that Jill stop calling herself “Doctor” Jill Biden, and wrote that her asking for people to say “Dr.” feels phony, considering she is not a medical doctor.

Critics Say Column is Anti-Woman ‘Trash’

Various critics on social media called Epstein’s piece “misogynist” and others claimed that it caused them to cancel their WSJ subscription, calling it “an ignorant, sexist screed.”

Specifically, Epstein says that calling herself “Dr.” is off base and “feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.”

Jill Biden has a Master of Education from West Chester University of PA, a Master of Arts in English from Villanova and a doctorate in Education (Ed. D) from the University of Delaware. Epstein mocked her dissertation, which was called “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” Epstein went on to joke that unless you’re a real doctor who has delivered a child you should not call yourself doctor.

Among those who sounded off were Kamala Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff, who praised Jill Biden’s “pure grit” and said she is an “inspiration” to him. He said the column was motivated by misogyny or the belief that women are not equally worthy of respect as men.

Playing the ‘I’m So Offended’ Game

Epstein’s column is actually not as harsh as some critics have characterized it, joking that the standards of education have fallen and that having an Ed. D. and using that to call yourself “doctor” is only a “small thrill” and it will be a much greater thrill to be “living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.”

Numerous prominent politicians and commentators going online to say Epstein is part of some horrific male attitude to silence and insult women shows where people’s priorities are right now.

It is very easy to talk about how offended you are and go online to denounce the “patriarchy” and other such feminist bogeymen. What’s much harder is to actually focus on things that matter and admit that one column joking about Jill Biden’s obsession with being called “Dr.” is not actually that important one way or the other.

At the same time it also seems like Epstein’s column was brash and ill-timed, coming in the middle of a deadly pandemic and economic crisis. Now is not the time to argue about stupid things like how Jill Biden refers to herself, even if it does provide a good laugh to some.

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden by acaben is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Jill Biden’s Reaction

So far Jill Biden has not officially reacted to the controversial column, although her social media proudly displays Dr. next to her name. Instead, her accounts focus on her longstanding outreach and volunteer efforts to help America’s military and make life better for veterans. Jill has a long history of reaching out to help the nation’s fighting men and women and published a book for children in 2012 entitled Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops, with a story told around the military career of her late stepson Beau Biden.

Jill Biden married Joe Biden in 1977 at the Chapel at the United Nations in New York. She went on to serve as second lady from 2009 to 2017 and works as a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College. As Michelle Obama said while traveling with Jill Biden, she was usually “grading papers” during their time together.