The assistant anthropology professor at American University was about to begin teaching “Sex, Gender & Culture,” but her baby daughter woke up in the morning with a fever. The single mother worried that she had no good child-care options.
So Pine brought her sick baby to class. The baby, in a blue onesie, crawled on the floor of the lecture hall during part of the 75-minute class two weeks ago, according to the professor’s account. The mother extracted a paper clip from the girl’s mouth at one point and shooed her away from an electrical outlet. A teaching assistant held the baby and rocked her at times, volunteering to help even though Pine stressed that she didn’t have to. When the baby grew restless, Pine breast-fed her while continuing her lecture in front of 40 students.There might have been some legitimate concerns about allowing her sick baby to crawl around a classroom (and trust me, there are no antiseptic classrooms, and it sounds like there are serious safety concerns), it appears that the major upset was that she was breast-feeding her baby while lecturing.
Look, if this was a regular practice, I might see some upset about it being "unprofessional" as some students called it. But it was the first day of class; she didn't have anywhere to dump the kid; and the class title alone should make you wonder if this could have been a demonstration of the enduring problems of sex, gender, and culture. I can see how this might have been a problem in an uptight, sexually repressive society--but is there any society anywhere more loose and casual about sex than a college campus?