But there is unease for other reasons. When I read assistant professor Adrienne Pine’s essay on the website Counterpunch.org, entitled “The Dialectics of Breastfeeding on Campus: Exposéing My Breasts on the Internet,” I couldn’t help but feel that somehow we’re all missing the point.
To back up here, in case you missed the news reports about this: About a month ago, on the first day of her course “Sex, Gender & Culture” (I love that detail), Professor Pine, a single mother, woke up to find her baby daughter with a fever. Stuck without child care – she didn’t want to bring a sick baby to day care – Pine had the choice to either cancel class or take her daughter to work with her. She chose the latter.
So, the baby spent the 75-minute class either on Pine’s back, crawling around the floor, or being held by a teaching assistant. At one point, Pine nursed the infant.
“When Lee grew restless, I briefly fed her without stopping [the] lecture, and much to my relief, she fell asleep,” Pine wrote in her essay. “The end of class came none too soon, and I was happy to be able to take the bus home and put my sad baby in bed where she belonged. It seemed like things had gone as well as they could, given the circumstances.”
But then a college newspaper reporter e-mailed. And here, Pine gets snarky. See, according to Pine’s recount of the e-mail, this reporter, Heather Mongilio, asked to talk about what happened in class, while saying that she understood “the delicacy of the matter and I do not want to make you feel uncomfortable.”