Feminist professor breast-feeds her baby in class

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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.”


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0 responses to “Feminist professor breast-feeds her baby in class

  1. Reblogged this on News You May Have Missed and commented:
    Feminist professor breast-feeds her baby in class

  2. Grouchy,

    I can 100% assure you, having been a prof myself, that:

    1. Prof. Pine most definitely can take a sick leave that day, first day of class or not.
    2. Prof. Pine most definitely could have stepped out of the classroom for 10 minutes to breastfeed her baby in the ladies’ restroom or better still, her office. Doing so doesn’t mean Prof. Pine is stranding her students because the article mentions a TEACHING ASSISTANT was present in class!!!!! For those who don’t know, a T.A. (teaching assistant) is a graduate student who earns a salary by helping the professor of a large undergraduate class (100s of students) — by grading exams and holding small discussion groups. However, Adrienne Pine’s class of 40 is not large enough an enrollment to warrant a teaching assistant — in most universities.

  3. “The single mother worried that she had no good child-care options.” As a working lady, shouldn’t she have investigated child care options before/shortly after giving birth in case her baby got sick? I don’t want any co-workers coming to work sick nor bringing a sick baby to the office!

  4. How many mothers would allow their sick baby to crawl around the floor of a lecture room at ANY university or classroom? This woman just doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s no wonder the baby is sick.

  5. I agree, Kathy. This is not about breastfeeding or mothers or babies. This is about being in your face, which is so like the Left.

    Pine was being in-your-face about her breastfeeding. By doing it publicly, in class, she was forcing her students to look at her breastfeeding or to deliberately NOT look at her, out of a concern for her privacy/modesty — privacy/modesty that, ironically, she herself doesn’t value. That was disrespectful of her students and their personal boundaries.

  6. What makes some people think we want to see their body parts? I think it’s disgusting no matter what they are doing! Reminds me of a way out, hippie liberal teacher I had in high school. Years later I saw her at a rock concert passing out literature for the SDS.

    • sparrow,

      I think it’s a power trip. By flaunting their body parts in public, they’re exerting their power over us — at least that’s what they think in their sick minds.

  7. Frankly, this lady is saying, “Fuck you” to society, – “I’ll do what I want whether it offends you or not!.” You know that I do not use that word in a public forum, but in this case, there is no other word that suffices her narcissism and enchantment with herself. I had two boys who were eleven months apart and I never, never, breastfed them in public. Nobody wants to look at my breasts hanging out! Nobody wants to see other people’s breasts hanging out, unless they are perverts! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, IF A CHILD IS SICK, A GOOD MOTHER WOULD NEVER, NEVER TAKE THE CHILD INTO AN ENVIRONMENT WITH OTHER PEOPLE FOR THE CHILD’S SAKE, FOR THE HEALTH OF THE CHILD, NOTWITHSTANDING THE SAKE OF OTHER PEOPLE ALSO CATCHING SOMETHING. This woman with her smug look makes me sick. As Dr. Eowyn said, SHE CAN TAKE SICK LEAVE! That is what I did! She used this opportunity to make a big deal out of herself under the false guise of “sensitivity.” She is anything but sensitive. Good women can see through her as set forth above from the comments! Does she think everybody is stupid not to pinpoint what is really happening here? This just confirms more of her narcissistic assumptions and her sense of entitlement to do anything that she wants.

  8. While I agree that what the prof did was not normal and in your face, I nursed my children in public places when needed. I think as long as you are covered by a blanket or something that will not expose any skin, then what is the big deal? That being said, I always did try to find a quiet corner that was out of view, but you can’t always be completely hidden. Babies need to eat and that is just a fact of life. I don’t think nursing Moms should have to crawl in a dark corner and hide, but they should have decency and decorum. This mom obviously did not.

    • News to Liz:

      Adrienne Pine is an Assistant Professor at American University, Washington, DC — a major university. That means:

      1. She’s a tenure-track professor, not some part-time slave-labor-wage “lecturer” or “instructor”
      2. This means SHE HAS HER OWN OFFICE.

      How do I know that? Because:

      1. I am a (Full) Professor Emerita, who had gone through the academic ranks, beginning with part-time Lecturer (while I was finishing my Ph.D.), then Visiting Assistant Professor (which means I wasn’t on tenure track, but temporary appointment), to Assistant Professor (tenure track, finally), to tenured Associate Professor, to Full Professor.
      2. Even when I was a “mere” part-time Lecturer, I had access to an office, albeit shared with 2 other faculty — who were never in the office when I was using it. Beginning with my Visiting Assistant Professorship, I had MY OWN PERSONAL OFFICE.
      3. I’ve been to American U. for a job interview (and turned down the offer because it meant my husband and I would be on separate coasts) and I’ve seen the campus.

      Everyone needs to stop making excuses for Adrienne Pine. There is no excuse for her breastfeeding in a classroom in front of students. PERIOD.

      • I was not making excuses for her. I do not agree with what she did and thought it was just plain tactless. I do not believe as some do however, that nursing mothers must hide or nurse in a public restroom (gross!). That was my only point.

  9. Reminds me of the neutered Cambridge women who scourged my college days in Boston.

    • I found this very cryptic; can you please explain your recall in more detail?

      • Sorry josephbc69, I’m keeping it cryptic.

        Others on this thread broke down the subject with a very good analysis of narcissism and power vs the genuine needs of the child.

        My response is an emotional expression of exasperation with this kind of thing, which I first experienced in the early 1970s. “Neutered Cambridge women” is a term I first heard from a friend who was tired of man-hating women in the Cambridge area.

  10. twixt a rock and a hard nipple, Grouchy 🙂

  11. Enlighten me, o fellowship….she could have just used a bottle for the day , right? I understand she was feeding her own narcissism by HAVING to breast feed in front of the class, but are there some health issues associated with bottle feeding, that it is an unused practice nowadays?

    • There are health issues involved with bringing a sick child to a college campus. Get a babysitter or stay home with your sick child.

      • The mere thought of bringing a still breast feeding child to any workplace, ill or not, is ridiculous to me. If the lady felt the need to take her child to her workplace, she could have shown a little modesty and used a bottle.Not one person mentioned using a bottle, so I was merely wondering if a bottle is no longer used when a mother feeds a child;if the concept was too antiquated for this day and age. I saw people commenting on going to her office, stepping out of the classroom for a few minutes, and staying at home. So, I thought I’d ask.

  12. I do not want this response to come across as me defending this woman because I’m not, but it does seem like there is some lack of understanding regarding nursing here. Bottle feeding was not the norm until the 50’s and in recent years, people have begun to realize that formula is not ideal for infants and at times, harmful. This is hard for some boomers. My grandmother couldn’t stand the fact that I nursed both of my children because she raised all 5 of hers on bottled formula. Had to after all because women were then expected to be supermoms and have a family and a career….but I digress…my son had severe allergies to dairy and soy among other things. At 2 months after desperation in not knowing what was going on with him (horrible exzema, crying, scalp infections), we tried formula & he projectile vomited immediately after being given formula & and from then on refused to take a bottle even of breast milk. Once we figured out (no doctors help here either) that he was allergic to dairy & soy and it was in my milk because of my diet, I eliminated what was harmful to him in what I ate. He was a completely different baby. Bottles were not an option for us as he refused them completely. Again, I restate that she could have gone someplace else to nurse, and it is entirely unquestionable from a personal and professional standpoint to do what she did, but just so people are aware, bottles & formula are not an option for every baby.

  13. That dude is a tool – on his way to being a right winged fanatic – why would an 18 year old in college be so “appalled” by this. His moral compass should be judged by his behavior in the dorms not this professors. If he can’t handle a breast in a class room being used for what it was intended he doesn’t belong in a university setting – OPEN UP YOUR BRAIN – thats what you’re in school for you tool!


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