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Is It Unprofessional for a College Professor to Breastfeed During Class?

One morning, American University anthropology professor Adrienne Pine found her baby daughter sick with a fever. Consequently, she was unable to leave the child at day care. It was the first day of the semester and Pine didn't want to miss class. So she brought the baby to class and, at one point during her lecture, she breastfed the child. Some students, including freshman Jake Carias, thought this was unprofessional conduct:

“I found it unprofessional,” he said. “I was kind of appalled.”

Carias fired off a tweet: “midway through class breast feeding time.” He also posted a message on his Facebook page. He said he later dropped the class.

Now, the Northwest Washington campus is abuzz.

At the Tavern, a dining room just off the central quad, Jenna Wasserman, 18, a freshman from New Jersey, said she has heard two opinions from students: that breast-feeding “is very much natural,” and that doing so in class is “kind of unprofessional.” Wasserman said she leans toward the latter view. “There were alternatives,” she said.

In a response published in Counterpunch, Dr. Pine wrote:

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.

Link -via Slate | Photo: American University 

Was it unprofessional for Dr. Pine to breastfeed her child during class?

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I like the "covering-up should be optional" part. No, I don't think it would be professional for a man or woman to uncover in that environment. Males and females are expected to wear clothes in certain situations, and to uncover part of your anatomy while in front of a large group of students is unprofessional.
As for the use, it shouldn't matter if her breasts were being used for their "primary purpose" or in a lewd or provocative way. Why are you imposing your puritanical beliefs to limit her lewd and provocative use of her breasts in a public setting? If the college boys can't control their raging hormones, that's not her fault, is it?
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voter thingy is broken.

Inappropriate and unprofessional and clearly done only for the shock value. Saying "excuse me" and stepping into somewhere private would have only taken a few minutes. But instead, she chose to detract from learning, create controversy, and make her students feel uncomfortable just to make a point.
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It is more unprofessional for a student to tweet in class then it is for a woman to breast-feed anywhere. And to top it off this was Feminist Anthropology at a Private Liberal Arts college! Were all the students dressed professionally? Did adult men wear shorts? Where there people in sweats? Professionalism is a subjective term, and chances are there might be a lecture,film or what-have-you that was going to deal with motherhood so the class got a very realistic look into the pressures of child-rearing and being a professional women.
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I'm with most of you here. The question should not be about breastfeeding. Most people don't and shouldn't be put off by it, especially when covered. The woman should not be bringing a baby into class at all. You can't tell a baby to "behave". They aren't capable of it. What if the baby just cried for half the class? AND, if she can, than the students can. That'd just be chaos.

Any working mother should have a contingency plan for just such a situation. Most jobs would just say "no way" and that would be the end of it. What sitter wouldn't take a baby for one hour for a 20? Thus, we are left with the obvious conclusion: The professor was making a statement. I guess in her particular class, that might have been appropriate. It would have made a great subject of discussion during the following class. "How many of you were offended by my actions last class and why?"...
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