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Mon Sep 10, 2012, 02:01 PM

Professor notified that breast feeding while teaching "incident" would be subject of article

Breast-Feeding While Teaching


Adrienne Pine didn't want student journalists at American University to write an article about how she had breast-fed her sick infant on the first day of classes this semester. And when she became concerned that The Eagle, the newspaper there, was going to proceed, the assistant professor of anthropology decided she should be the one to tell the story.

So last week, Pine wrote an essay at the liberal publication CounterPunch called "The Dialectics of Breastfeeding on Campus: Exposing My Breasts on the Internet." In the essay, she described how her baby woke with a fever on the first day of Pine's course, "Sex, Gender, Culture." Pine couldn't take her baby to child care because of the fever, and didn't want to cancel class or turn it over to a teaching assistant on the first day. So she opted to take the baby to class.

Pine described what happened: "I sped through the lecture and syllabus review with Lee, dressed in her comfiest blue onesie, alternately strapped to my back and crawling on the floor by my feet. The flow of my lecture was interrupted once by 'Professor, your son has a paper-clip in his mouth' (I promptly extracted it without correcting my students’ gendered assumptions) and again when she crawled a little too close to an electrical outlet." At one point, Pine said, her daughter became restless and -- without stopping the lecture -- she breast-fed her. Class ended, but then Pine was contacted by a student journalist.

In e-mail messages and personal discussions with Pine, the student journalists at The Eagle told Pine that "umors about the incident are already spreading through the student body," and that there was an obligation to tell readers what happened. In her essay, Pine objected to calling breast-feeding an "incident" and said that publicizing her action would create a hostile workplace for her. In a note she sent a student reporter, Pine said: "I feel that the focus on my protected actions in class singles me out unfairly in the workplace and as a woman. Especially if you are going to go the typical journalistic route of finding 'both sides' of this 'story' which I believe shouldn’t be one by seeking out students who felt uncomfortable by my actions...."

Feeling that The Eagle wasn't taking her concerns seriously, Pine wrote that she "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."

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/09/10/unusually-public-discussion-breast-feeding-while-teaching#ixzz265hmljOW
Inside Higher Ed

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