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Deconstructing Breastfeeding on Campus

by CHARLES R. LARSON

American University Professor Adrienne Pine has caused an uproar by breast-feeding her baby during her “Sex, Gender and Culture” class, after taking the child, who was ill, to the first meeting of the semester.  Pine, who is an untenured, single mother, brought her daughter to class when she was unable to find a baby-sitter on short notice, and—according to student reports—breast-fed the child in front of her class to quiet her.  In a commentary about what happened, Pine concluded, “I doubt if 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.”

Though the event happened August 28 and was initially ignored, the conservative response during the past few days has become a political football, threatening to derail current campaign for the Presidency.  In leading the attack on Pine, Rush Limbaugh described the young woman as a “Feminazi who went into the class with a child, who was not sick, with the clear intent of exposing her breasts to the male students to improve her evaluations at the end of the semester.”  Limbaugh added, “Clearly those male students saw her provocative act as a preview of what they later hoped to observe in Ms. Pine’s sick course.”

Republican Senatorial hopeful Todd Akin of Missouri seconded Limbaugh’s observations by stating, “Women have a biological blocker that makes them stop lactating if they stand in front of a group of people.  It’s a female trigger that assures that no woman will try to breast-feed her child in public.  Professor Pine was obviously exposing her nipples in the same way other exhibitionists get their kicks by doing dirty things in public.  There’s a difference between legitimate and simulated breast-feeding.”

When asked about Pine exposing her breast, Republican Candidate Mitt Romney opined that “Some people will do anything for a little attention,” but when pressed further about Professor Pine’s own comment about her nipples, Romney added, “Women don’t have nipples.  They have udders.  I’ve seen them and they’re definitely not nipples.  That’s what men have.”

His running-mate, Paul Ryan, added, “What’s going to happen next?  Women will be expecting free breast pumps.  That’s why we’re going to end Obamacare.”

Charles R. Larson, Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C., has never met Adrienne Pine or seen her breasts.

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Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

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