We've set up this really odd dynamic in this country when it comes to mothering and professional responsibilities.
On the other hand, in the U.S. we provide our mothers 0 weeks of mandatory paid maternity leave, have varying rules about which jobs are required to give women time to pump during their workday, and still have this idea that nursing should only be limited to private areas, likes bathrooms.
Men and women alike who have issues with women breast feeding in public don't bat a eye when a propped up breast (minus the nipple of course) serve them their favorite beer or model designer bathing suits. But, use those SAME breasts to feed your child in the most natural and healthy way possible and you are labeled inappropriate or even disgusting.
I know Americans are public prudes, but breastfeeding child has nothing to do with sex and if you are appalled you have the choice to look away.
Recently a professor at American University was publicly flogged by the school newspaper for her provocative behaviors.
Adrienne Pine was faced with an issue every working mom has dealt with at one time: Your kid has a fever, your daycare provider won't take them and you still have to go to work.
Ms. Pine, who is a single mother, had a tough decision to make. Instead of missing the first day of her feminist anthropology class she decided to bring her baby with her. But it wasn't this act that had some of her students in an uproar. It was the fact that she had the audacity to soothe her fussy baby by nursing her during class.
The student newspaper jumped on this story creating national scandal around the incident and highlighting the hypocrisy in our culture around gender and parenting. This event probably would have gone unnoticed if the professor hadn't breast-fed her baby in front of a bunch of immature 18 year old boys, who only equate breasts with their favorite wing joint or porn fantasies.
Thankfully many students were outraged by the treatment their teacher and protested against the article.
My issue with this situation is less about the students who felt uncomfortable (Though if it had been me I would have excused myself to nurse.) I understand the students would have seen even the most discrete nursing session as a distraction. But you WOULD think anyone taking a class titled "Sex, Gender and Culture" would be a little more sensitive to the struggles of a single mom. Though, if Ms. Pine had stepped out to nurse in private, she could have been labeled unprofessional for leaving her class.
She told CNN:
Frankly I felt, and I continue to feel, that the most professional thing I could do was to carry out the class with as few as possible interruptions. Leaving class for 10 minutes would have been a serious interruption for my students. And I also feel that since I've been breastfeeding in public in every place possible -- in buses, on planes -- I didn't realize the degree to which people are afraid of breasts in this country and in particular, in the workplace.The real problem here is that working mothers are not supported AT ALL in this country. We have unrealistic expectations about a woman's ability to not only do it all---but do it all WELL. I think the professor tried to do what was best for her students and her baby.
That being said, all of this could "controversy" have been avoided if American University provided emergency childcare for their staff.
What do you think? Was the professor's behavior inappropriate?
Happily Without a 9-5 in Granolaville,