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Breastfeeding brouhaha

American University professor Adrienne Pine shared with the world recently of how she came to breastfeed her 1-year-old daughter in front of about 40 students on the first day of her “Sex, Gender Culture” class, and the brouhaha that followed.

The nearly 4,000-word post, aptly titled “The dialectics of breastfeeding on campus: Exposé-ing my breasts on the Internet,” included copies of Pine’s emailed back-and-forth with members of the school’s student newspaper, as well as the professor’s shock her actions amounted to a story.

Pine says her daughter ran a fever on the first day of class, so she opted to bring her to work instead of daycare, and when the child got hungry during class Pine “briefly fed her without stopping lecture.”

The professor was offended when, later, a student journalist approached her to ask her about breastfeeding in front of the class. Pine writes:

“AU is … a campus that prides itself on its gender and sexuality inclusivity, a place where students commonly refer to themselves using words like cisgender, and where the male-bodied student body president came out last year as a woman. It wasn’t until some of my undergraduate students saw me feed my baby through my breast that my workplace became a hostile environment. …

I was shocked and annoyed that this would be considered newsworthy, and at the anti-woman implications inherent … What did the Eagle, AU’s official student newspaper, think I was? A rice paper painting? A hymen? …

In an increasingly anti-woman national context, I have it easy. I am among the privileged white professional class that legislators would like to see breeding, and I have conformed to my alleged biological mandate. And yet, having worked for many years to build a reputation based on my scholarly and other work, I was loathe to become the victim of the “scoop” of a sexist third-rate university newspaper available online for all eternity, or the darling of a pro-lactation movement that in many ways I find myself at odds with.

As an aside, Pine also used the post to proffer her views on breastfeeding.

“Sure, there are health benefits, but … the whole argument about the breast being more “natural” than the bottle leads down a slippery slope of biological determinism, in which (as anthropologist Sherry Ortner once famously posited) woman is to nature as man is to culture. … So why do I breastfeed? Because it’s a guaranteed food supply for my baby when I’m traveling, it’s free, I can, and I hate cleaning bottles. …

Pine’s piece goes on to detail the back and forth between herself and student newspaper editors, wherein she defends her position that it’s not a story, and the students eventually reply that it is. So Pine one-upped them:

“… and decided the only option left was to exposé my breasts—on my own terms—on the internet. So here’s the story, internet: I fed my sick baby during feminist anthropology class without disrupting the lecture so as to not have to cancel the first day of class. I doubt anyone saw my nipple, because I’m pretty good at covering it. But if they did, they now know that I too, a university professor, like them, have nipples. Or at least that I have one.”

But as of Thursday, The Eagle student newspaper had yet to publish anything, at least online, about the breastfeeding brouhaha.

Click here for Pine’s full account of things.

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Add to the Discussion

  • Robby Soave

    “You want to write a story about me? How dare you! How dare you, I say! Unacceptable! Outrageous! (Are you getting this all down? Good) The ignorance! The audacity! The blatant sexism!”

  • Pingback: What A Boob « Left, Right, and Centered()

  • joe

    I suppose it is too much to hope for, in this day and age, that an American University professor would know the difference between the words loathe and loath.

    • RobL_v2

      The ‘professor’s’ expertise is in ‘sex culture gender’. In other words she’s an uneducated liberal propagandist automaton.

      You really shouldn’t expect anything more, although I hope that one day our Universities will trash these faux curricula and return to actual teaching. Don’t our children receive enough indoctrination in primary and secondary school??

  • RobL_v2

    I’m not sure what is worse…

    her udder (get the misspell yuck yuck) lack of foresight – in the age of twitter, you tube and the like she didn’t think breast feeding in front of her students would cause arousal for some and others to stir??

    her rambling 4000 word diatribe.

    her psychotic belief in an “increasing anti women context”.

    or the mere fact this loon is getting paid (likely by our tax dollars) to teach our children.

    I’m not sure who i feel more sorry for, the students that have to pay to listen to her insufferable rantings or her daughter that is stuck with her for life.

  • What an idiot. Let us count the problems with her attitude.

    I have five kids. I breastfed them all. The last two I fed in public with some frequency; since it was Hawaii and hot, I generally kept covers off, but sought discreet places or had my husband stand between me and the bulk of people.

    I would never breastfeed in a professional setting, never, just as I would not eat my lunch while attempting to teach a class. Why? Because I am being paid to do a job, not fuss with my baby, sick or not. Those students were cheated of their professor’s full attention.

    If someone asked me about breastfeeding in any setting, I would not act huffy and offended. Why should I? It’s a natural act, and in most cases people need to be educated about its benefits (not proselytized to, you understand – I don’t care if someone else uses Similac). My bet is that the student reporter just wanted to know why she did it, in hopes she’d found a good story – then backed off and said forget it when Ms. Overreact got upset about it instead.

    As far as I can tell, Ms. Overreact has suffered no repercussions from her action, nor did anyone complain. Did she do this in order to get a reaction from someone? Was she primed to fly off the handle at the merest mention of breastfeeding? If so, she doesn’t belong in any professional setting, let alone a college campus. God help her daughter.

  • With a mom like Adrienne Pine that baby already has two strikes against her.

  • Publius

    Isn’t it exciting to know that millions of college students are taking classes such as FEMINIST ANTHROPOLOGY? That’s almost as thrilling as learning that universities all over the country are re-labeling their biology departments, as Ohio State University has, the “department of evolution and organismal biology,” or the “department of ecology and evolutionary biology,” as has UCLA, Princeton, and many others.

    We lost the humanities evades ago. We’ve lost the culture to the women’s/black/peace/queer studies people over the last thirty years. Now we’re losing even the sciences.

    What’s the plan for liberating the students from their university indoctrination camps?

  • Just a Girl

    If I heard her correctly, what she is saying is “I want to do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it and HOW DARE YOU or anyone else QUESTION ME about what I have done.”

    She needs to get over herself.

  • Guest

    Whether you are a male or a female, if you want to be taken seriously in your career, you should not bring your child to class.

    She is obviously manufacturing outrage so that nobody notices her incompetence – that is, her inability to manage her responsibilities like a professional.

    It’s because of idiots like her that women are viewed as less career-oriented than men. Imagine a male professor thinking he has the right to take care of his children during class.