Should a teacher breastfeed in class? –

Should a teacher breastfeed in class? –

This is not a story about breasts.

You might not know that though, given the headlines over the past few days, the ones about the controversy that erupted when an American University professor brought her baby to class — and breastfed while she taught.

As Romenesko reported Monday, Heather Mongilio, a news assistant at American’s newspaper The Eagle, reached out to professor Adrienne Pine for a comment when “it was brought to our attention that you breast fed your child during your Sex, Gender and Culture class” on August 28. The reporter went on to invite Pine to “discuss what happened in class,” adding, “I understand the delicacy of the matter and I do not want to make you feel uncomfortable, but for the story to have the most balanced angle it would be best to have your thoughts.”

Pine, noting the irony of it all, replied that “I really wish this weren’t considered ‘newsworthy,’ but I suppose that’s why a feminist anthropology course is necessary at AU.” She explained that she “had no intention of making a political statement or shocking students,” but merely felt “it was unfair to leave the job of teaching the first class to my teaching assistant” when she had a sick baby she couldn’t bring to daycare. She said she was concerned opting out of the class would “be disruptive” and even put her tenure at risk. “The baby got hungry,” she wrote, “so I had to feed it during the lecture. End of story.”

But end of story it was not. Ever since the class, the Eagle’s Rants page has been awash in conflicting and spirited debate over what went down. And some of Pine’s students told the Washington Post they didn’t mind the baby but were “appalled” at the nursing. “Just don’t breastfeed in class,” said one student. An 18-year-old may not grasp this concept yet, but a baby doesn’t understand “I’ll feed you after class.” If you’re bringing your baby anywhere with you, you’re feeding your baby.


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