I’m reading a post over on The Takeout, and a commenter says this:

Semi-related rant: Do we really need to add Dr. before the name of someone who has a doctorate in something other than medicine? It’s annoying enough that medical doctors believe they are so important that they need to be referred to as Dr. Smarty Pants, but let’s not extend it to people with doctorates in things like education administration. Nothing wrong with those degrees, but let’s just take a breather on this Dr. business.

Now, this bothers me. I know I shouldn’t do this, but I respond:

I don’t find it offensive if people don’t call me “doctor”, but I do find it offensive if people tell me that I shouldn’t be.

Now, this person comes back thusly:

Well first off, if you don’t care if people don’t call you “doctor,” then you aren’t the problem. But, why is it offensive that you might not get to put “Dr.” in front of your name if you aren’t a medical doctor? Put it on your resume, that’s what it’s for anyways, you don’t need to carry your honorific around with you.


This is my response to that:

I earned my doctorate as much as any MD out there. You seem to be saying that my degree is somehow less than a physician’s, a statement which has no logical foundation and implicitly diminishes my accomplishments. By extension, it sounds dismissive of an entire population of people who have earned the honorific.

The word doctor is not a exclusively applied to a medical doctor. It is an appropriate designation that recognizes and respects a person’s standing in his or her professional context. Within my professional field, my students and colleagues properly call me “doctor”. To do otherwise and call me “mister” would be an obvious omission and signify a lack of respect. Outside of my professional context, I wouldn’t feel offended the honorific is omitted, especially because most people who don’t know me wouldn’t be in a position to know about my title, and aren’t relating to me in my professional capacity anyway.

But I have every right to be called “doctor” in any context. It is insulting to say that I should be allowed to be called that.


I’m telling you guys about this, I think, as much to vent my frustration over this because it’s stupid, and I need to flush it. I shouldn’t let some callous douche get my dander up.

Ironically, I do roll my eyes at colleagues who insist that the people around them call them by their honorifics (outside of professional context). I usually feel they need to get over themselves.