The Wall Street Journal has come under a torrent of denunciation for publishing a “sexist” opinion article that calls Jill Biden, the first lady-in-waiting, “kiddo”, and questions her right to use “Dr” in front of her name.
The article, written by a former adjunct professor at Northwestern University Joseph Epstein, purports to offer Biden “a bit of advice”. Opening on the provocative note of calling her “Madame (sic) First Lady – Mrs Biden – Jill – kiddo”, the author goes on to recommend that she drop the honorific of “Dr” before her name.
“‘Dr Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” Epstein writes. He justifies his condescension towards her title on grounds that it referred to an “Ed D – a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware”.
Perhaps not the politest article ever written. And I’m not entirely au fait with American practises. The English solution is fairly simple. Which is that a PhD doesn’t use the title Dr. outside purely academic arenas. That’s reserved – socially, societally, not formally – for MDs.
Pointing out that this might be the way to do it doesn’t deserve a torrent of denunciation of course.