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Like Most Married Indian Women, Dr Jill Biden Was Told To Drop ‘Dr’ And Just Be First Lady!

A sexist article in the Wall Street Journal asked Dr Jill Biden to drop the  honorific Dr to just be First Lady, now that her husband is President Elect of the US. 

A sexist article in the Wall Street Journal asked Dr Jill Biden to drop the  honorific Dr to just be First Lady, now that her husband is President Elect of the US.  

Our world has moved beyond ahead on the road to feminism and women’s achievements, yet most people with their mindsets in the 18th century cannot see women accomplishing their own goals even now. Why is that?

“Madam First Lady – Mrs. Biden- Jill-Kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem small but I think is not an unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name?”

These are the introductory lines of a sexist article published in the Wall Street Journal where the author, a man, asks the future First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden to drop “Dr.” from her title because apparently, “it sounds and feels fraudulent” to him.

The author made more sexist remarks, such as “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.”

Dr. Jill Biden who has been an educator for more than three decades and earned her Doctorate from the University of Delaware in 2007 was made the target of this piece because our society cannot comprehend the thought of a woman accomplishing something beyond her assigned traditional roles.

Woman achiever or ‘just a wife’?

This is not the first time that a woman was asked to diminish her achievements for the comfort of others.

For too long, women have been asked to slow down their pace so that things don’t get ‘too difficult’ for others. But how many times have women been asked to fight against the sexist mindset that prevents them from celebrating their achievements that they have rightly earned? Not a lot.

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In a Linkedin post, CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi revealed that she was asked by her mother to “leave that crown in the garage” after stepping into her house. For too long, women have been conditioned to believe that jobs and careers are meant to come secondary to any other roles they play in their lives while most men aren’t pressured to comply with such claims.

Sacrificing careers – sometimes voluntary, sometimes not

Women with bustling careers have often made the decision to leave their careers to devote their time to their families, sometimes voluntarily  and sometimes reluctantly.

We’re aware of so many Indian women in the public eye who have taken the decision to leave their careers behind. Like Anjali Tendulkar, a doctor by profession who left her career behind to raise a family with cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Or some very talented women among actors who have cut short their career post marriage.

Similarly, former First Ladies of the United States that we know much more about than earlier ones – Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton, had both taken leave of absence from their brilliant careers to support their respective husbands and were just the First Ladies then. 

Data from a survey on the Harvard Business Review reveals that when high achieving and highly educated professional women leave their jobs after becoming mothers, the vast majority of them leave reluctantly and because they have no resort. In subtle ways, they are communicated to, that they are no longer considered ‘players’.

So many people in our society are threatened by ambitious women, especially by those who proudly own their accomplishments. We do not need to humble down our accomplishments to make others feel comfortable.

A thought that seems to be proven by the fact that the author of the piece, Joseph Epstein, faced a severe backlash from readers, and his name has been wiped from the website of the University with which he had been associated as a lecturer.

In Jill Biden’s words, “Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.”

It is a hope that going forward, young girls and women will not feel this pressure of conditioning to believe that they need to put their careers aside, and that they are supposed to preside by this sexist belief. 

Images source: YouTube

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About the Author

Aditi Singh Kaushik

History, politics and pop culture enthusiast.

46 Posts | 112,005 Views

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