Former first lady Michelle Obama shared an impassioned Instagram post on Monday that expressed her admiration for incoming first lady Jill Biden, but also her disappointment with an opinion piece about Biden that The Wall Street Journal published Friday.
The “Becoming” author celebrated Biden for how she managed to juggle her teaching, her White House obligations and her personal life during the Obama administration.
Obama was responding to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Joseph Epstein that has been widely criticized as sexist and condescending. Epstein called on Biden to drop the “Dr.” title before her name. Biden holds a doctorate degree in education.
“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,” Obama wrote.
“We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect,” she continued.
Epstein began his op-ed by purporting to offer “a bit of advice” to Biden, 69, whom he patronizingly referred to as “kiddo.” He later opined that the prestige of doctorate degrees has “diminished by the erosion of seriousness” and encouraged Biden to “consider stowing” her “Dr.” title during her term as first lady.
In response to Epstein’s arguments, Obama asked: “Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?”
She added that Biden will serve as a “terrific role model” and wears her accomplishments with “grace, good humor, and yes, pride.”
(HuffPost, like many publications, follows the Associated Press style guide, which only uses the title “Dr.” for medical doctors on first reference. The AP also discourages using such titles in subsequent references and recommends identifying a person’s area of specialization if they hold a doctoral degree.)
Biden, who notably taught at Northern Virginia Community College when her husband was vice president, has signaled that she plans to continue teaching as a college professor outside the White House while serving as first lady.
The longtime educator has also earned two master’s degrees, according to her White House biography.
On Sunday, Biden appeared to respond to Epstein’s op-ed by tweeting: “Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.”