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My friends are upset that I’m not more upset about that Wall Street Journal opinion piece about Jill Biden. One female lawyer text me: “You’ve got to dig up things about this joker and make sure he never works again!”

Obscure until now, Joseph Epstein is now the newly designated poster boy (if an 84-year old qualifies as “boy”) of misogyny. He urged the future first lady to drop “Dr.” before her name, writing in the Journal: “‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.’”

Oh, lordy, I’m not sure I want to tackle this mess, but here it goes: First, it’s obvious that Epstein’s tone is condescending, snarky and obnoxious. However, as someone whose stock-in-trade is writing columns that push people’s buttons, I have a strong stomach for offense.

Let’s talk, then, about the substance of Epstein’s argument. His main thesis is that the title “Dr.” be limited to medical doctors, and that anyone else who uses the term is somehow appropriating it. “In contemporary universities, in the social sciences and humanities, calling oneself Dr. is thought bush league,” he writes.

So here’s the issue: Is Epstein articulating a valid argument about the (mis)use of “Dr.” in our society? Or is he pushing a sexist, elitist message? The short answer: Yes and yes.

I know Biden has a perfect right to insist on the “Dr.” appellation, but I’ve always found it a bit ridiculous to append a title of any sort to one’s name. I wouldn’t dream of calling myself “Dr.” even though I have a degree that says “Doctor of Jurisprudence,” or be identified as “Esquire,” any more than I would add HRH after my name. Aren’t all honorifics a relic of classism, a type of royalty worship? (For the record, I did not swoon over episodes of “The Crown.”)

Epstein could have targeted a man for the same reason—say Kamala Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, if he called himself a “Dr.” for a nonmedical degree. But here’s where the sexism comes into play: The reality is that women earn the vast majority of doctorates in education. (According to CGS/GRE Graduate Enrollment & Degrees: 2007-2017 report, women earned 68.8% of doctoral degrees in education, while men earned over 70% in engineering, math and computer science.)

So yes, an attack on Biden’s degree, especially that gratuitous dig at her “unpromising” thesis topic, feels like an attack on women’s careers, particularly those in female-dominated fields like teaching, health care or social work. And if there’s any doubt that Epstein is dissing the seriousness of Biden’s career, he made it explicit in the last line: “Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill, and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as first lady Jill Biden.”

The message: Ditch your trivial career and do your feminine duties. Be the traditional first lady, pour the tea, serve the cookies and decorate the White House!

Of course, it’s sexist and irritating. So why am I not as outraged by this article as everyone else seems to be? Because it’s really a little trifle by a curmudgeon octogenarian who’s mourning the decline of the centrality of European elitism. Back in the day, he writes, “getting a doctorate was then an arduous proceeding: One had to pass examinations in two foreign languages, one of them Greek or Latin.”

For what it’s worth, I think Epstein is more of a classist than sexist. (Query: Would he have bothered to pick on Biden if she had received her degree from a more prestigious institution like Harvard?) Though Biden was ostensibly the object of his ire, most of his article was a rant about how the doctorate has lost its elite patina. He spends considerable time lamenting the proliferation of honorary degrees given to wealthy donors and celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. (I agree with his general criticism of honorary degrees, but I take exception with his snipe at Colbert, who’s a living genius in my opinion.)

But back to my point: I honestly don’t think any of this would have gained much traction except for the fact that women take these public slights of working women very personally. “It is already starting; they are taking her down piece by piece,” said one of my friends, a senior lawyer at a bank. “They’ll knock her credentials, then her job. She’s working as a teacher; she’s not a woman for hire like Melania. Can’t we leave it at that?”

In other words, Jill Biden is one of us. So let her be.

Vchen@alm.com

Twitter: @lawcareerist