The topic of women breast-feeding in public has always been a highly-debated subject. Many women feel it is a natural action and find nonthing wrong with breast-feeding in public. Others, however, find it to be a highly offensive practice. We always hear about women breast-feeding their children in parks and on the subway, but a recent story just emerged of a women breast-feeding in place I’d never heard — a college classroom full of students.
The woman from the story is Adrienne Pine, an anthropology professor at American University. She is causing controversy because she recently breast-fed her daughter while lecturing in her “Sex, Gender and Culture” class. Pine said because her daughter was sick and therefore couldn’t attend daycare, she had no other choice than to bring the baby to work. The school newspaper contacted Pine because they had planned on publishing a story about the occurrence. Pine, however, didn’t think the story was newsworthy at all. Here was her response e-mail to the newspaper editor, first published in an essay she wrote about the incident on Counter Punch:
“I really wish this weren’t considered “newsworthy,” but I suppose that’s why a feminist anthropology course is necessary at AU. I had no intention of making a political statement or shocking students. I merely had a sick baby who I couldn’t leave at daycare on the first day of class. It was unfair to leave the job of teaching the first class to my teaching assistant, so I had two choices: cancel class, which would have been disruptive to students (and which could also negatively affect my student evaluations, putting my tenure at risk), or bring the baby to class. I chose to do the latter. As it turned out, the baby got hungry, so I had to feed it during lecture. End of story.”
I’m all for a woman’s right to breast-feed her child in public, but I think Pine’s decision to breast-feed her child while teaching a class was completely inappropriate and unprofessional. She interrupted her job, which students are paying for, for personal reasons. If she really couldn’t find alternative childcare for her sick baby, I think she should have stayed at home and had her T.A. teach the class. End of story.
Do you think it was appropriate for Pine to breast-feed her daughter while teaching? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!