Tag Archives: Adrienne Pine

Feminist professor breast-feeds her baby in class

Adrienne Pine, a single-mother Marxist-feminist assistant professor of anthropology at American University, brought her sick baby to class. Then, when the baby became restless, mom decided that the only way to pacify her daughter was to breast feed her — in front of the students.

Feminist anthropologist Adrienne Pine

Below are excerpts from Nick Anderson’s rather long article, “American University professor breast-feeds sick baby in class, sparking debate,” in The Washington Post, September 11, 2012:

Adrienne Pine was in a jam. The assistant anthropology professor at American University was about to begin teaching “Sex, Gender & Culture,” but her baby daughter woke up in the morning with a fever. The single mother worried that she had no good child-care options. So Pine brought her sick baby to class.

The baby, in a blue onesie, crawled on the floor of the lecture hall during part of the 75-minute class two weeks ago, according to the professor’s account. The mother extracted a paper clip from the girl’s mouth at one point and shooed her away from an electrical outlet. A teaching assistant held the baby and rocked her at times, volunteering to help even though Pine stressed that she didn’t have to. When the baby grew restless, Pine breast-fed her while continuing her lecture in front of 40 students.

[...] On Tuesday morning, university officials issued a statement about the incident that seemed to indicate some disapproval of Pine’s actions, generally citing them as a health issue because the baby was sick. But school officials also noted that the situation was one that could confront any parent with multiple responsibilities. The university emphasized that faculty members should take advantage of options such as sick leave, break times and private areas for nursing mothers to express milk so they can “maintain a focus on professional responsibilities in the classroom.” [...]

Some students interviewed Tuesday said breast-feeding doesn’t belong in the classroom.

Pine [...] sought to frame the discussion with an online essay titled “The Dialectics of Breastfeeding on Campus: Exposéing My Breasts on the Internet.” In the Sept. 5 essay, Pine wrote that she was “shocked and annoyed that this would be considered newsworthy.” She lamented that her workplace had suddenly become “a hostile environment.” She also upbraided journalists at the Eagle student newspaper — which, as of Tuesday afternoon, had not published any article on the matter — and wrote that the tone of a reporter’s questions implied an “anti-woman” view.

University officials, however, said professors should avail themselves of other options rather than expose students to potential illness. “For the sake of the child and the public health of the campus community, when faced with the challenge of caring for a sick child in the case where backup childcare is not available, a faculty member should take earned leave and arrange for someone else to cover the class, not bring a sick child into the classroom,” university spokeswoman Camille Lepre said in an e-mail. That statement indicated that the university follows federal and D.C. law for nursing mothers.

The university also said that Pine’s essay “does not reflect professional conduct,” with officials taking issue with the professor’s sharply critical characterizations of the student journalists. Pine, in her fourth year of teaching at AU, continues to teach, Lepre said. [...]

Pine’s essay, published on CounterPunch.org, summed up her view: “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.”

Jake Carias, 18, a sophomore from New York, said Tuesday that he was in Pine’s classroom the day she brought her daughter and that he was okay with the situation once the professor explained the circumstances. “I wasn’t too distracted initially,” he said. “We’re college students, things go on all the time. Whatever. We’ll survive.” But when Pine started to breast-feed mid-class, Carias said, it crossed a line. “I found it unprofessional,” he said. “I was kind of appalled.” [...] He said he later dropped the class.

[...] But some faculty members said it is not unheard of for a professor to breast-feed in the classroom. Eileen Findlay, an associate professor of history, said she breast-fed her two children during AU research seminars after obtaining permission from students. Findlay said Pine’s response to her parenting challenge provided a teachable moment. “Why don’t we use this as an opportunity to have a discussion about how one can actually be an embodied person in a classroom?” Findlay said. She said the episode challenges the notion that faculty members “are ‘walking brains’ — that we don’t have lives and we don’t have bodies.”

“an embodied person” … “hostile work environment” … “the dialectics of breast feeding” … “feminist anthropology”… “anti-woman”….

Seldom have I seen so much leftist PC nonsensical jargon in one article. But then, I’ve been away from the academic environment for several years now.

This is how the breast-feeding Adrienne Pine describes herself in her American University profile (more mumbo-jumbo jargon!):

Adrienne Pine is a militant medical anthropologist who has worked in Honduras, Mexico, Korea, the United States, and Egypt. In her book, Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras, she argues that the symbolic violence resulting from Hondurans’ embodied obsession with certain forms of ‘real’ violence is a necessary condition for the acceptance of violent forms of modernity and capitalism. Dr. Pine has worked both outside and inside the academy to effect a more just world. Prior to and following the June 2009 military coup in Honduras, she has collaborated with numerous organizations and individuals to bring international attention to the Honduran struggle to halt the state violence (in its multiple forms). She has also conducted extensive research on the impact of corporate health-care and health-care technologies on labor practices in the U.S.

Any day now, I expect a male teacher or professor to expose his penis before students in class. After all, by Professor Pine’s impeccable compelling logic: “But if they did see my penis, they now know that I too, a university professor, like them, have a penis.”

~Eowyn