The highly-insulting and misguided article was called out widely across social media for its misogyny and suggestion that decades-long educator and soon-to-be first lady Jill Biden should drop the title of “Dr.” from her name.
Epstein got dragged mostly on Twitter and justly so, in my opinion. The WSJ took heat too for publishing the piece in the first place. Though some noted the article was an op-ed, that still does not give writers carte blanche to post without first examining the implications. This is one of the essential duties of Managing Editors, not to censor a writer, but to sometimes assess when a particular article may not be best published during certain social climates. As Joe Biden is already embattled with bad actors looking to delegitimize his presidential win, this is one of those discretionary times.
The detractors rallying against Epstein found his article denigrating and offensive. It attempted to delegitimize Dr. Biden despite the accomplishments of having earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education.
Personally, Epstein’s op-ed pissed me off too. I was stunned at 83-year old Epstein’s audacity to speak of Dr. Biden so disrespectfully, at one point even addressing her as “kiddo.” It was not just an insult to women, but to anyone who has committed to advanced academia to earn a Doctorate. Epstein’s denouncement of secondary and graduate education is ridiculous, a nonsensical view by which the value of one’s academic titles can be willfully discarded at others’ discretion. Old men, especially old, white men, with their early 1900s, antiquated thinking need to just stop talking so their nonsense does not influence emerging generations:
“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?” – wrote Epstein.
Of course, women were the most offended by Epstein’s chauvinism, citing little to no examples of anyone publicly suggesting a male Doctorate professional remove the title of “Dr.” from his name. And let’s not forget how Republicans rallied in defense of Melania Trump after her disgraceful thievery of Michelle Obama’s Inauguration speech. And that was after she got caught lying about graduating college altogether. She had not and still has not.
So, seriously, now Dr. Jill Biden is supposed to dumb down her degrees? Is she supposed to dim her intellectual flame to make a has-been, lecturer and op-ed writer feel better about his shortcomings in life?
LA Times Columnist Virginia Heffernan was having NONE of Epstein’s misogyny:
Joe, kiddo. I got my PhD when 2 ancient & 2 mod langs were required & 10y of bowing & scraping to men like you. So I use my title. Sure, It’s not for BAs like you mistaken for MDs, but for ppl like me & Dr. Biden who are mistaken for housewives. https://t.co/0Qq1wBWFij
— Virginia Heffernan (@page88) December 12, 2020
The Wall Street Journal article is appalling. The managing Opinion Editor needs to apologize for such an egregious suggestion; men getting to decide that women’s accomplishments are disposable. On top of that, this notion also denigrates the very construct of higher education. Paul A. Gigot – The Opinion Editor didn’t apologize, though. In fact, according to Newsweek, he doubled down and defended Epstein’s work, stating:
“There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism,” Paul A. Gigot said as he accused Democrats of orchestrating a coordinated response to an op-ed piece.
It’s rich that Gigot would accuse Democrats of playing a “race” card in his attempts to defend the indefensible. Perhaps he had not yet seen Epstein’s unearthed essay from 1970 for Harper’s Magazine that denounced homosexuality and tossed the n-word around like confetti. This is an excerpt of the infamous article, now removed from Harper’s online archives:
“They are different front the rest of us. Homosexuals are different, moreover, in a way that cuts deeper than other kinds of human differences—religious, class, racial—in a way that is, somehow, more fundamental. Cursed without clear cause, afflicted without apparent cure, they are an affront to our rationality, living evidence of our despair of ever finding a sensible, an explainable, design to the world. One can tolerate homosexuality, a small enough price to be asked to pay for someone else’s pain, but accepting it, really accepting it, is another thing altogether. I find I can accept it least of all when I look at my children.
There is much my four sons can do in their lives that might cause me anguish, that might outrage me, that might make me ashamed of them and of myself as their father. But nothing they could ever do would make me sadder than if any of them were to become homosexual.
For then, I should know them condemned to a state of permanent n*ggerdom among men, their lives, whatever adjustment they might make to their condition, to be lived out as part of the pain of the earth.”
Let me get this straight; we are now a country where if black voters overwhelming deliver a legal victory to a presidential candidate, a large segment of white men will demand those votes be invalidated and discarded, AND when a woman accomplishes one of the most elevated, established academic titles in higher education, white men now get to suggest she should invalidate and discard such titles?
There’s a clear pattern here, and it’s getting old, America. REAL OLD.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama also chimed in on Epstein’s insult and she minced no words:
“For eight years, I saw Dr. Jill Biden do what a lot of professional women do—successfully manage more than one responsibility at a time, from her teaching duties to her official obligations in the White House to her roles as a mother, wife, and friend,” Obama wrote on Instagram. “And right now, we’re all seeing what also happens to so many professional women, whether their titles are Dr., Ms., Mrs., or even First Lady: All too often, our accomplishments are met with skepticism, even derision. We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect. And yet somehow, their words can stick—after decades of work, we’re forced to prove ourselves all over again. Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?”
In response to the barrage of complaints at Northwestern University where Epstein was a professor and lecturer, the college promptly removed his image and bio from their website and released the following statement:
“While we firmly support academic freedom and freedom of expression, we do not agree with Mr. Epstein’s opinion and believe the designation of doctor is well deserved by anyone who has earned a Ph.D., an Ed.D. or an M.D.,” the university said in a statement, adding that the university strongly disagreed with “Epstein’s misogynistic views.” – news.northwestern.edu
Well done, Northwestern University. Well done indeed.
You can read Epstein’s appallingly obnoxious original piece here at the WSJ.
This piece is an opinion piece by one Contributing Writer for Instinct Magazine and may not reflect the opinion of the magazine or other Contributing Writers.