Beyond so sick of it

I daresay non-Doctor Joseph Epstein is happy, because even the BBC is reporting on his rude sexist pugnacious attack on Dr. Jill Biden. Global notoriety!

Joseph Epstein called Jill Biden “kiddo”, comparing her doctorate in education to an honorary degree.

“‘Dr Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

But social media users argued that the article reflected sexist attitudes faced by many women in academia.

Well, yes – calling her “Jill” and then “kiddo” for example.

Let’s be clear about this – it was obviously very deliberate. He knew it would cause outrage, and that must be why he did it, because why the hell else would he do it? He doesn’t write a humorous etiquette column in the style of Miss Manners, and he didn’t have to word his column so insultingly, so he was going for the outcry. Attention!

Or maybe he’s a secret agent, teaching us lessons about the patriarchy from deep under cover.

But seriously, he wanted the outrage and we’re giving him the outrage so we’re giving him what he wants so maybe we should just ignore him. Maybe, yes, but I refuse, because I am so sick of people with more social clout throwing buckets of shit over people with less. Jill Biden herself has plenty of social clout now, of course, but women in general don’t, women as such don’t, and that’s the point here. Epstein is sneering at all women who have the gall to get a credential or honor or top job. He’s telling us all we’re just little girls called by our first names, just “kiddo,” and to stop thinking we get to hang out with the adults.

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris responded: “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.”

“I am so sick of the way accomplished, educated, successful women like @DrBiden are talked about in the media by misogynistic men. BEYOND SO SICK OF IT,” wrote Meghan McCain, daughter of late senator John McCain.

Some pointed out that many women and members of minority groups often choose to use their titles “to insist people… not overlook their real credentials”.

Northwestern University, where the author of the article taught until 2002, said it “strongly disagrees with Mr. Epstein’s misogynistic views”.

Figures in other administrations have used the non-medical title of doctor: they include Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under presidents Nixon and Ford, and Sebastian Gorka, a former aide to President Donald Trump.

This is not the first time the issue of women using their academic titles has caused controversy online. In 2018, UK historian Fern Riddell started the hashtag #ImmodestWomen after receiving a backlash for referring to herself as Dr.

Punchline: the BBC style guide “uses the title Dr to refer to doctors of medicine, scientific doctors and church ministers who hold doctorates, when relevant.” So it won’t be calling Dr. Jill Biden Dr. Jill Biden.

10 Responses to “Beyond so sick of it”