Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Walking Brains and Unprofessionalism

One of my best friends asked me last night if I was aware of any news stories recently about American University, where she is finishing her Master's degree. I wasn't, but now I am.

A few weeks ago, during the first class session of AU''s "Sex, Gender & Culture" class, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Adrienne Pine brought her sick baby to class and breastfed during her lecture. Cue hysteria, a dogged student reporter and several student editors intent on the possibility of a news story that grosses abuses the wishes of the person-of-interest, and shouts of unprofessional behavior on the part of a single parent with no viable childcare options.

Professor Pine responded to the criticism she has received in kind, publishing a piece entitled "The Dialectics of Breastfeeding on Campus: Exposéing My Breasts on the Internet" on

Now, I can understand some students feeling uncomfortable with their professor, who would otherwise be a "walking brain" and not actually a person, breastfeeding in class. If you see breastfeeding as a private and intimate action between mother and child, okay legit. However, I think it goes too far to say it is unprofessional. Sometimes life deals you lemons for the day and I say, better to drink the lemonade than waste it. Yes, ideally other arrangements could have been made, but from what I've read about this "issue," Professor Pine tried her best not to disrupt the class and still care for her feverish baby. You can't take a baby with a fever to daycare!

Also, not a fan of this line from the Washington Post article (linked above): "The mother extracted a paper clip from the girl’s mouth at one point and shooed her away from an electrical outlet." Hmm. That seems a bit unnecessary to point out. Babies crawl around. Babies put things in their mouths. It happens. What was the point of this? To insinuate that she is a bad mother? Her baby woke up with a fever. Her choices, it seems, were to cancel the first class session of the semester, or push through a potentially awkward situation and carry on with the lecture, come what may.

Personally, I commend her for the decision to do just that. As for her response on, I suppose I can understand that seems a bit ... angry, but any anger on Professor Pine's part is warranted. This is a ridiculous issue! By her account, the student reported who hounded her for the "story" should have read the signs (verbal, body language, etc.) and backed off. Perhaps the administration at AU should have spoken privately to Professor Pine about the "incident," if even that.

There's real news in the world, people. This isn't it.

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