Author: has written 5275 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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745 Responses

  1. jemima101
    jemima101 September 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm |

    Would be answer not to be to campaign for decent maternity/paternity leave in the States? From a European perspective it just seems medieval/

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

      It doesn’t sound like a maternity leave issue; the baby was on the order of 1 year old, from what I gather from the article.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 September 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm |

        like I said decent maternity leave.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm |

          So… until the child is old enough to be left home alone? :p

      2. jemima101
        jemima101 September 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm |

        like I said decent maternity leave.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm |

          Maternity leave? Are you sure you don’t mean sick days? Because I wouldn’t leave my 11/12yo at home all day, but I don’t think my stepkid’s a baby, either….

    2. Maria
      Maria September 18, 2012 at 1:41 am |

      I can not believe there are people like you who are writing articles – you are a hater and not very smart if you believe what you write – do you even have kids? Or maybe this is the problem?!
      Good thing people like you are rare to meet on the street, cause you spend all your time here – writing this Sh*t.

  2. DAS
    DAS September 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    Why is this sort of thing still an issue?

    I remember when I was at school, the Hillel Rabbi was (at the time) a new mother. When it was time to breast-feed, even if during religious services (note — the Rabbi does not generally lead services, so it wasn’t as if she stopped in the middle of leading a prayer), she just went to a seat kind of out of the way and breast fed. No big deal — a tallis (prayer-shawl) makes an excellent nursing cover-up!

    Actually, one of the advantages of professorin’ (from my POV) is that the workplace is relatively family friendly (I can bring my daughter to work and not have to worry about her antics getting me in trouble). Of course, there are many un-family friendly aspects about my position (some of which are just related to the length of my commute and that we don’t have room in our apartment for a home office — so I end up being away from home for long hours and thus unavailable to help much with the day-to-day raising of my daughter, since she usually goes to school or camp and not to work with me): the amount of work expected, etc. But at least I know that if I have to bring my daughter to work, it won’t be an issue (unlike in my wife’s job for a local quasi-governmental authority — that is the job she had until she was laid off).

    I am thus again surprised this was an issue in an academic setting.

  3. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    I agree that the breastfeeding in public bit shouldn’t be a problem… but breastfeeding while lecturing? That’s really rude to the students. I’d have the same problem if a professor brought her 5-year-old and started making him a sandwich for lunch during the middle of class. Your students aren’t there to watch you parent.

    And bringing a sick baby to a school seems stupid both for the sake of the students — who don’t want to catch anything — but also for the sake of the baby, who clearly wasn’t being properly cared for (paperclip!) and was also being exposed to a lot of other germs.

    1. Suzanne
      Suzanne September 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm |

      … but breastfeeding while lecturing? That’s really rude to the students.

      I don’t agree with this part of your comment a priori. I would only agree it’s rude if it’s actually disruptive. For many women, breastfeeding is just popping their baby under their shirt and then the baby quietly feeds. Some women are good at it and can give lectures while holding their babies in a sling.

      It’s not the same as stopping in the middle of lecture to make a sandwich, but say if she had an older child and had brought a sandwich, would you consider it rude for her to hand her kid a sandwich in the middle of lecture?

    2. Lauren
      Lauren September 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

      who clearly wasn’t being properly cared for (paperclip!)

      Bah. Happens all the time.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

        Well sure, it happens; hence letting a baby wander a classroom is a bad idea.

        1. Lauren
          Lauren September 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

          No, babies put things in their mouths. Babies are also little geniuses about sneaking things into their mouths once they’ve been told no. And putting their fingers in things they’re not supposed to. That’s totally normal developmental behavior. It doesn’t mean they aren’t being adequately supervised.

          There’s nothing more inherently dangerous about a college classroom for a baby than any other public or private space, but it is interesting how many people picked up on this small detail as evidence that the mother is somehow negligent.

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 12:05 am |

          Okay, but you go explain that to the obviously-concerned undergrads who felt like they had to keep monitoring the baby’s actions.

  4. American University professor breast-feeds sick baby in class, sparking debate – Washington Post (blog) | Ez Baby Blog

    [...] Culture.” But her baby daughter woke up with a fever, and the single mother worried that …Breastfeeding Sick Babies in Class Feministe (blog)Professor breastfeeds baby in class UPI.comNew Breastfeeding Policy Debate Follows [...]

  5. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

    Also, this is so much bullshit:

    Following class I was accosted by budding reporter Heather, who clearly had not understood what I meant in my email by “End of story.” She had emailed me during class to ask if she could come after class (I guess there are faculty out there who think it’s appropriate to check their BlackBerries while lecturing).

    Maybe Heather thought that a professor who fed a child during class also checked her email during class? You can’t be like my dear miss, I am a consummate professional!!! while also lunching during lecture. :p

  6. annajcook
    annajcook September 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm |

    I just want to weigh in on the sick child issue. While I’m not a parent and have only ever been a graduate student, not a faculty member, I have close friends who are juggling the parenting-while-teaching gig and here’s a couple of important aspects of academic culture that I think you’re missing here.

    1) Regardless of official policy, there is tremendous pressure on professors NEVER to cancel a class. Furthermore, if they are out sick (for themselves or a family member) on a day when they are supposed to teach, the responsibility of arranging a substitute activity for their students falls to them (the sick person, presumably not on campus!).

    2) And given the number of sick days most workplaces offer, between your own yearly illnesses and your child’s there are never enough to go around. (This is an issue not confined to academic institutions, but it definitely is present there as well as other workplaces.) So you — and, if you’re lucky to be co-parenting the other parent(s) — are constantly trying to decide whether you can afford to use a precious sick day to remain home with your child, and/or who has the most pressing teaching responsibilities that day and cannot afford to be absent.

    It’s just not as simple as “if you’re child’s sick, take a sick day! that’s what they’re for!”

    1. Jadey
      Jadey September 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

      Yeah, this is where I’m at. Professors get just a few hours a week to do a lecture, it’s not something that can be rescheduled easily, and in some cases there is pressure, internally or externally imposed, not to cancel even one. (Incidentally, there can also be a lot of pressure on students to never ever miss a class even if deathly ill, at least by jerk/obtuse profs. Because everything in university/college is so scheduled, no one likes to have to catch up.)

      FWIW, I would not as a student have been bothered to have a professor breast-feed. At most institutions I’ve attended as a student, there’s been an irritating habit for profs to not bother teaching the first day, to the point where some students actually resent profs who *do* make the most of their time. I would rather have a half-distracted and slightly distracting prof than a prof who doesn’t come at all or sends us home away after five minutes of throwing a syllabus at us. Not that I would be annoyed by a class being cancelled for a legit reason like a sick baby – just that even *some* class is more than no class and having to cram even more lecture into another week, so I don’t agree that bringing the baby was disrespectful on that score. Her only other option would have been no class at all, if there was no one else to look after the baby.

    2. speedbudget
      speedbudget September 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm |

      Also I imagine the same students who complained about the baby being in class would be complaining even louder about the first day of class being canceled, since they are paying to be taught.

    3. bleh
      bleh September 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm |

      I am tenured and still never cancel class for illness unless I literally cannot do it. Especially with long once a week classes, it throws off the syllabus too much, and colleagues and admin definitely judge. In my department canceling for a sick child would not be judged as much as for a sick [child free] me, but that is unusual I suppose.

      The students get a few free absences, but we get none.

      1. chava
        chava September 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm |

        can I just say that I hate the American obsession with always coming to work, even when shedding virus like an overactive Sharpei? This isn’t just a problem in the academy, any “career” job attaches stigma to sick days.

        Ugh. We have to play the game, because everyone else does, but ugh.

    4. human
      human September 12, 2012 at 12:54 am |

      This is very true. The professor was in a difficult situation, not JUST because she is a woman, but because of the peculiarities of the academic workplace and the incredible pressure on academic workers to conform to increasingly narrow standards or lose their jobs/careers.

      If the professor had explained this to the reporter, there could have been an excellent, productive story in the newspaper about it.

      Instead, she chose to pull rank and try to bully the reporter out of publishing the story.

      In my opinion this is unacceptable behavior. It’s also extremely counterproductive to respond to being on the wrong side of a power imbalance by shitting on people who have less power than you.

      I am seriously unimpressed with this professor.

  7. Lauren
    Lauren September 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    I agree this is ultimately about professional conduct and the intersection of work responsibilities vs. parenting responsibilities. If this was the first day of class and they were just discussing the rules and expectations for the semester, I can see why the professor decided just to bring the baby instead of cancelling class.

    It’s interesting that this uproar was caused in a feminist anthropology class, of all places. If anything, this seems like a great opportunity for the class to discuss single parenting, the politics of work and daycare (particularly the expectation that you still pay for your spot at daycare for the day even though your child is sick, and possibly whatever additional charge to secure someone who will take a sick kid so you can go to work), and the politics of breastfeeding.

    1. Lauren
      Lauren September 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

      Still thinking about this: it also seems like an appropriate humanizing introduction to the source material (feminist anthropology) and professor for a first day of class. I’m fine with reminding students that mother and professor aren’t necessarily separate or distinct roles.

      On a personal level, I always liked meeting my professor’s families — educator’s kids are usually pretty fun/smart and I like kids anyway.

      In the end, I guess I side with the professor in wondering why this was a news story in the first place. It feels like one of her students was texting OMB BEWBS to someone else under a desk and it went viral because college students are always super mature about ladies’ secondary sex characteristics.

    2. librarygoose
      librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm |

      Wait, wait, wait…this was a feminist anthropology class? And these people got the vapors from a woman breast feeding? Fucking hell, I can’t wait till they do their reading or watch a fucking film. It’s like the time some dumbass in my class complained about the nudity in a film and it was a kid trying to figure out pants. It’s anthroplogy
      you’re gonna see people in various amounts of clothing. You just are. In feminist anthropology you’re gonna see a woman breast feed you just are.

  8. Suzanne
    Suzanne September 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm |

    Interesting take. When I read the post at Mamafesto, it seemed like there was a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that she breast-fed in class, which I didn’t think was a big deal. The baby-being-sick part is different though – if the baby was fussy due to being sick and/or contagious, then I agree with you.

    In any case I do think the story highlights the damned-if-you-do and damend-if-you-don’t situation working women are often in. If she had canceled class on the first day or had a TA or another prof go over the syllabus and give the intro lecture for her, I’m sure there would be students upset about that and talking about how she wasn’t committed to her job, etc. There did not seem to be other options for the prof. here.

    1. Sarah
      Sarah September 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm |

      Really, it said that the baby had a fever and a cold…which, as a mom of two, I gotta say is not really that “sick,” although you can’t send them to daycare. Kids sometimes seem to have perpetually runny noses. And a fever and runny nose might even just indicate teething (it didn’t in this case, but it could). I wouldn’t be worried that the students would catch a cold from my baby unless they were holding the baby and breastfeeding it themselves. Now if the child was vomiting, or running a high fever, or could not be consoled during class…that would be a problem. That was not the situation. It did seem like the ‘real issue’ here was the breastfeeding and that the university and a few others were using the sickness as an excuse to reprimand Professor Pine. As if, as a parent, she had not thought of what was best for her child in that situation. If her child was really and truly SICK, she would have HAD to stay home. As if seeing a baby with a cold would expose these students (half of which probably share cups with ten other kids at every party…not to mention the other things they do with each other that might not be best for avoiding illness) to more germs than they can handle. But, it was a mild sort of problem and she thought that everyone would be better off if she just carried on with her teaching. And, considering the class she was teaching, she probably expected the students to be mature enough to handle it. I agree with her and I probably would have done the exact same thing.

      1. LMM
        LMM September 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm |

        As if seeing a baby with a cold would expose these students (half of which probably share cups with ten other kids at every party…not to mention the other things they do with each other that might not be best for avoiding illness) to more germs than they can handle.

        Could we stop trivializing actual concerns by making (frequently unwarrented) assumptions about other peoples’ lives?

        This wasn’t just “seeing” a baby with a cold — this was being in a room with an individual with a cold for at least an hour. And this was a room that people *had* to be in if they wanted to attend the first day of lecture, and this was an individual who could not be politely informed to leave.

        I have no immunodeficiencies whatsoever; I’m usually quite healthy. That being said, whenever I’m under a lot of stress, my immune system suffers. In particular, if I pull an all-nighter and I’m in the same room as a person with a cold, I will catch it. And I try to avoid it — I try to wash my hands, etc. — but that’s just how my body functions.

        Being stuck in that room with a sick individual, baby or not? Would have given me that cold if I were under stress at the time. Which, on a college campus, means that most of my friends would have gotten sick, too. Most other (non-school) avenues of exposure can be reduced, if not eliminated — but one *has* to attend class (unless you want to assume that students are going to skip that, too).

        Trivializing actual concerns by making massive assumptions about others’ lives seems to be very common on threads about children. I realize that some objections to bringing children into places are just knee-jerk reactions, but this kind of response is just insulting.

        1. Katya
          Katya September 13, 2012 at 10:13 am |

          Sure, but frankly, in college, you are going to be in class with someone who is sick. Students come together from different places with all their various germs, and spend a ton of time in close proximity, and people come to class with colds all the time. You share dorm rooms, bathrooms, classrooms, dining halls, gyms, libraries, etc. Avoiding germs in college is pretty much impossible.

        2. LMM
          LMM September 13, 2012 at 10:27 am |

          That *may* be true, but there are better ways to put it than to trivialize and insult the behavior of every single student in the room.

          It’s just a trend I keep seeing in these sorts of discussions, and I’m really uncomfortable with it. I get that you want to take your kid somewhere; you may be fully justified in doing so — but don’t defend your decision by making insulting assumptions about every other person who might be in your situation.

        3. Sarah
          Sarah September 13, 2012 at 11:12 am |

          I’m sorry, did I miss where I trivialized and insulted the behavior of “every single student in the room”? I said “half” of the kids…and I was being generous, actually. Are we living in a world where we are going to deny the obvious: that college students regularly interact with each other and attend parties? That’s not insulting them–that’s what MOST of them (including me, when I was in college) do. Where is the judgment there, by me? Sounds like you might be projecting your own judgment onto me, but I was not calling their behavior negative, just stating a pretty well known fact. Also, I’m sorry that taking a child with a cold in public is so upsetting to you. But, yes, I am going to trivialize it. You live in a society filled with other people; you are going to be exposed to illness. As someone said below, who ever said you have a RIGHT not to be exposed to illness out in public? If you don’t like it, perhaps you should stay home. If you can’t, then guess what: you are just like the rest of us. I can’t stay home to prevent being exposed to cold and I can’t stay home every time I get a cold. No one can. No one was asking the students to kiss the baby or hold its tissues. It was in the room. I’m sure it wasn’t the only person there with a cold. And as for politely asking someone to leave? Really? Is there EVER a case in which it would be ‘polite’ to ask another individual to leave a public place that is not a hospital, nursing home, or other place where people have generally fragile health, just because they have a cold? I don’t think so. I would never in my life dream of asking a person to leave just because they were coughing and sneezing. I don’t agree that there is a polite way to do that.

        4. LMM
          LMM September 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

          I’m sorry, but saying something flippant like “as if half of them weren’t (whatever)” *is* insulting and, basically, attempting to trivialize everyone else.

          I get that you think that she should have been allowed to bring her child into work. I don’t, but I’m not insisting that there wouldn’t have been real negative consequences by finding some sort of babysitting for the baby on the fly. I don’t see you acknowledging the reverse — that bringing a sick baby to class has real consequences for others and isn’t just some sort of blow against the patriarchy.

          As it turns out, yes, the TA did have to hold the baby throughout most of the class. The writer glosses over the circumstances (and suggests that the TA did it against her explicit instructions), but the weird wording of the paragraph and her mention of several interruptions due to potentially hazardous situations strongly suggests to me that the TA did so because the alternative — letting the baby roam a room that was clearly poorly designed for it — was bad.

          As for telling people to leave … for what it’s worth, it happens all the time in my workspace. We’re a lab; work hours are sort of flexible, and exposing others to germs is looked down upon. Maybe it’s a bit unusual (the hours are flexible, like I said), but a similar case could be made for other such academic environments.

          No one has the right to not be exposed to germs in public, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t have the responsibility, when they are sick, to minimize their contact with others. We just had an entire thread in which most participants argued that others shouldn’t be wearing scented products or using scented cleaners in public spaces because it could trigger a migraine for a few people. If you buy that argument, then you can’t turn around and argue that knowingly — and voluntarily — bringing someone who is sick into a public space is okay just because “no one has a right” not to be exposed to germs.

        5. Sarah
          Sarah September 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm |

          Sure, I can agree that we should all minimize other people’s exposure to our illnesses in a perfect world. When I have the flu, I stay home, definitely. For the record, I keep my babies home when they have a fever and, if they have cold symptoms, I warn others before I see them and tell them that they are 100% free to reschedule our meetup because I can understand that they wouldn’t want to get sick. Sometimes people don’t care, sometimes they do. I leave it up to them. So, yes, I can agree to this. I don’t really agree that people should avoid wearing strong scents in public places because they trigger migraines (mine included, definitely). They should avoid wearing strong scents in places where people are in close quarters, sure. I can agree with that.

          HOWEVER, I don’t agree that the TA can complain (nor do I think the TA has complained…but maybe I haven’t seen her take yet and it is out there) about being exposed to the cold because she willingly picked the child up, despite being expressly told it wasn’t needed. Truly, as a parent, when I say that you don’t need to pick up my baby: don’t pick up my baby. I’ll pick them up if its necessary. It *might* have been a situation in which the TA thought that the baby needed to be picked up and in which the professor thought it wasn’t really necessary. I find this happens a lot when babies are involved. If the question is: is it fair to the class to expose them to a cold? My answer would be yes. That answer would change if it were a flu or if the child was coughing constantly or the child was being passed around the room. That’s just my own feelings about the matter.

          Also, if there was a possibility that she could have found a babysitter on the fly, I think she should have done it. My impression was that she could not. I don’t think that’s unusual. I have been trying to find a flippin babysitter around here for the better part of a year and I can’t find a single person!! Its infuriating, honestly. I’ve found a few people that seemed promising only to call them and find them busy every time. And last minute? Psssh! You can forget about that! So I guess I kind of feel like she felt didn’t have any other option OTHER than canceling class, and I agree that doing that for a baby’s cold seems like something I wouldn’t do.

        6. LMM
          LMM September 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |

          It *might* have been a situation in which the TA thought that the baby needed to be picked up and in which the professor thought it wasn’t really necessary.

          I’m seriously thinking that we’re dealing with an unreliable narrorator here — Pine does not seem to be spelling out exactly what happened. She has the kid on her back, she nurses her briefly, she lets the kid down … and then the baby proceeds to start chewing on a paperclip and going towards the light socket. I suspect that, at this point, the TA felt (justly) that, given that the baby had disrupted the class twice now, she needed to hold her to prevent other interruptions.

          I get that there are times when a baby doesn’t need to be held. But in an academic setting, one that hasn’t been even remotely baby-proofed, I have a hard time believing that the TA’s behavior was unjustified. Pine is already very defensive (and probably already felt so during class) — I doubt she would have admitted to needing to hold the baby.

  9. SWNC
    SWNC September 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

    I think the professor should have cancelled class. There have been plenty of times when I’ve had to take a sick day because my daughter was ill. And yeah, it sucks and it inconveniences other people. But if my kid is sick, I’m not bringing her to work with me, for her sake, my sake, and the sake of my co-workers.

    To me, a family friendly workplace is one that allows sufficient family and sick leave for employees to take care of their sick family members (whether those family members are babies or not) and one that does not expect employees to be available when not scheduled to work.

    (I work on a college campus, and it actually makes me a little crazy when professors–and it’s always professors, never staff–bring their kids to meetings and other work events on a regular basis. You work at a college–plenty of students would be happy to babysit your [healthy] kid for a few bucks!)

  10. Esti
    Esti September 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    Like Jill, I find the breastfeeding way less of an issue than everything else the article describes going on during that class. I would absolutely find it hard to follow a lecture while an infant crawled around the floor, especially when the lecture had to be interrupted to rescue the baby from putting a paper clip in her mouth and getting too close to a socket.

    I can imagine a scenario in which it wouldn’t be a problem at all for a professor to have a baby in a Baby Bjorn-type carrier while lecturing, but it’s not an outcome you can guarantee — there’s no way to know whether the baby will start crying part-way through class, and if it does then it’s definitely going to interfere with the lecture (both because of the noise and because the professor will have to try to soothe the kid). Likewise, I can imagine a professor breastfeeding during a lecture without any disruption to the classroom, but there’s no way to predict whether any given class is going to be the time the baby won’t latch or gets fussy.

    So while I can understand and sympathize with this professor bringing her baby to class one time, in what were somewhat extreme circumstances, I can’t get on board with her defense of why that should be seen as a totally unremarkable thing to do that shouldn’t be open to criticism. And I’ve got to say, even in the circumstances she described, it really seemed like she didn’t set herself up for success — there is no way a baby should ever be left crawling around on the floor while its parent is lecturing. If she wasn’t able to carry the baby for the full class, and some other way of keeping her contained and safe (in a stroller, a car seat, or something else) wasn’t workable, then I really do think it would have been better to reschedule the class.

    1. Sarah
      Sarah September 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm |

      Just as a note…an almost one year old baby doesn’t generally (**cough** ever ** cough **) have a problem latching. If they ask to nurse, they know how to get to the boob. They are pretty much experts.That’s not the issue. And Professor Pine didn’t seem to think that it was a problem to have her child crawling around on a lecture floor–I gather to think she probably knows her child better than a stranger. As to whether it would be distracting during a lecture…I guess it depends on how interesting she is…I wouldn’t bat an eye if it was during an interesting class like Feminist Anthro., but Physics? No way I would have been able to take my eyes off the baby eating the paper clip. I might have even taken the paper clip and stuck it in the outlet on my own just to give myself something more interesting to do. But if you want to be distracted there is always something going on to distract you in a college classroom. Your computer, for one thing…

      1. Esti
        Esti September 12, 2012 at 12:14 am |

        I was talking more generally about professors bringing infants to class when I referenced the nursing issue. My point was just that while you could absolutely have a situation in which the baby slept while being carried/left in a stroller or car seat during the class, it’s not really a situation in which you can know in advance will not disrupt class. You can probably trust that your 10 year old can be left with a book in the back of the class without getting disruptive; babies, on the other hand, sometimes cry or fuss and the occasions on which they do so aren’t fully predictable or controllable.

        As for the specifics of this situation — if the professor doesn’t have a problem with her baby crawling around on the floor while she is distracted by something else, that’s totally up to her. But if it’s going on during class, then I don’t think it’s fair to paint it as a parenting decision that no one else gets a say in. Maybe you’re better at concentrating on lectures than most people, but this situation obviously was disruptive to the class: the professor notes she had to interrupt her lecture more than once to remove the baby from a dangerous situation, at least one student was distracted enough from the lecture to notice the baby was trying to eat a paperclip, and the TA eventually insisted on holding the baby (which, since the professor had specifically told her she didn’t need to do, I’ve got to think was a reaction to seeing that the baby crawling around was not a particularly good situation for anyone in the room). So yeah, if the professor is cool with letting her baby wander around, say, her office while she works, that’s her call. But during a lecture, having the baby crawl around without someone supervising is impacting more people than just the professor and her child.

  11. Deborah
    Deborah September 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

    I have turned up to teach my classes while shaking with a fever, when I have had no voice left, and when I was eight months pregnant with twins and getting contractions every time I stood up (I sat down to deliver those lectures). There is extraordinary pressure to never, ever cancel classes. I think you really underestimate this pressure.

    In my experience, students don’t forgive you if you cancel a class, no matter how good the reason. In the enormously difficult US tenure system, I think Prof Pine would have suffered badly if she cancelled the class.

    I have never had to take a baby to class, but I have had my six year old daughters there, suitably occupied with books and crayons and paper and so on. Just gotta be done sometimes.

    To me, this is yet more of the narrative that says that work and family must be kept rigidly separate. It turns workers into machines who are required to deliver specified outputs, instead of treating workers as people who have whole lives of which work is only a part.

    And yet again, it says that you had better not be a parent in public, or even worse, a mother in public. It’s yet more anti-women rhetoric.

    I think Prof. Pine did exactly the right thing in trying to manage all the competing responsibilities she has.

    1. DP
      DP September 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

      I definitely forgave professors who cancelled classes. By getting drunk. Is this not SOP for students? I mean, c’mon…

      1. EG
        EG September 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

        Depends where you teach. When you are at a public university whose students are working two jobs to pay for their tuition, then, no, every single class counts for them.

        1. DP
          DP September 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

          Having lived in close proximity to UMass Amherst – those kids party HARD when class is canceled.

          Just because you’re poor and struggling to pay for class doesn’t mean you’re excited about every one – especially requirements. Being poor doesn’t make you virtuous.

        2. DP
          DP September 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

          Having lived in close proximity to UMass Amherst – those kids party HARD when class is canceled.

          Just because you’re poor and struggling to pay for class doesn’t mean you’re excited about every one – especially requirements. Being poor doesn’t make you virtuous.

        3. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm |

          You live near UMass-Amherst? Congratulations. I teach at a public university and a significant percentage of my students are not kids. When my students find that class is cancelled, it means that they found childcare, drove to campus or paid for public transport, paid for parking for nothing. They’re not big fans.

    2. Azalea
      Azalea September 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm |

      I think the issue here is the pressure to not cancel class (and perhaps give your notes to the TA to deliver the lecture in your stead) as opposed to bringing a child who desperately needs and vocally demands your full attention at work..while lecturing no less.

  12. Amelia the lurker
    Amelia the lurker September 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

    Since there was a TA there who seemed willing to hold the baby at times, why couldn’t the TA babysit in a separate room? I feel like that was the most valuable service (s)he could have rendered.

    1. Esti
      Esti September 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |

      Presumably Professor Pine didn’t want to enlist her TA to provide babysitting services, which is definitely not the job the TA signed up for? And depending on how she structures her classes, it may well be necessary for the TA to be present during them.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

        She did enlist the TA, though, as it ended up.

        1. Esti
          Esti September 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

          To be fair to the professor, she said that she specifically told the TA that she didn’t want to make her babysit because that wasn’t the TA’s job, but the TA insisted on holding the child.

          That being said, while I appreciate that the professor didn’t want to impose babysitting duties on her TA, that ended up being the result — because really, how many people are going to sit there and watch their boss’ baby crawl around a classroom while their boss periodically interrupts her lecture to rescue the baby from something potentially dangerous? I think regardless whether the TA really wanted to hold a baby during class (and maybe she legitimately had no problem with doing so!), the circumstances kind of forced her to do so. Which is one more reason why letting a baby crawl around the classroom while you lecture is not okay.

        2. Jadey
          Jadey September 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm |

          TAs are also usually students, even if they are grad students not undergraduate students, and they sign contracts outlining their specific duties. TAing is meant to be of personal/academic benefit to them as well as a source of labour for the department, and a prof could get in serious trouble if they were perceived as using their status to pressure a TA into taking on an inappropriate task, which babysitting would likely be seen as.

          Universities have very complex and rigid organizational structures, defined by both the university’s interests and union interests. There is very little flexibility. I did not understand this as a student until I had the opportunity to sit in on some department meetings and see just how many flaming hoops were being navigated for the simplest of concessions. I think perhaps many people do not realize just how many constraints professors operate under – I know that I barely have an inkling.

        3. LMM
          LMM September 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

          she said that she specifically told the TA that she didn’t want to make her babysit because that wasn’t the TA’s job, but the TA insisted on holding the child.

          The way she constructed that sentence really suggests to me that we’re dealing with at least a partially unreliable narrator. She told the TA that it wasn’t her job, but the TA did it anyway? I suspect the TA did it once she realized the baby was headed for the light socket or something similar.

    2. chava
      chava September 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm |

      making the TA babysit=not okay.

      I don’t really have a problem with it if the TA or students offer to help, though. Plenty of people enjoy getting to hold a cuddly baby for a few minutes, as long as they don’t feel obligated.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

        Did the “volunteers” know the baby was sick? I’d pass on that, no matter how cuddly the germball baby.

        1. chava
          chava September 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

          Can I just say that as someone who is probably going on the market next year, AND just had a baby, this entire discussion is making me want to bury my head in the sand and just dissertate forever.

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie September 12, 2012 at 12:27 am |

        She didn’t “make” the TA babysit. She specifically asked the TA NOT to babysit. The TA helf the baby anyway.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 11:39 am |

          You’re joking right? The power imbalance probably made the TA feel obliged to babysit regardless of what Pine professes to have said.

    3. Amelia the lurker
      Amelia the lurker September 12, 2012 at 12:42 am |

      Just to be clear, I understand why it would have been inappropriate to ask the TA to babysit. My point, however, is that since the TA seemed to be doing some of that in spite of Pine’s desire not to impose such a duty on him/her, I feel like there should have been a more explicit delegation of babysitting duty to the TA at that point.

      1. Treebeard
        Treebeard September 12, 2012 at 7:57 am |

        I’ve done TAing. Its part of my education and work experience. If I volunteer to hold a professor’s baby (because I like babies, or whatever), that does not open me up to being banished from the room where the education and work experience is going on so that I can solely babysit in another room. If someone at a party wants to hold your baby, do you take that as an opportunity to ask them to babysit in the other room and not come back till the party is over?

  13. ellestar6
    ellestar6 September 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |

    I work as a part-time professor (not tenured), so I have some perspective on this.

    I see the student-teacher relationship as being two-sided in terms of respect. I listen attentively to students in class and I expect them to listen to me as well. Also, I don’t have a problem with students who need to bring their children to class as long as they aren’t a distraction to other students. I have seen some very well behaved children during my lectures (though I did feel as though I had to censor myself in terms of describing certain issues in prison society, which was one topic).

    I can’t imagine that I would have a problem with a student who breast fed during class, though, as I’m not a mother, I don’t know if I would feel comfortable breastfeeding in front of a class during a lecture. I don’t think it would be disrespectful. I work very hard on how the students perceive me, though, and I don’t think I could maintain that particular perception and breastfeed in front of class.

    However, and this may just be a part of the university systems I’ve been in and the fact I’m not tenure-tracked yet, but I’ve never felt any pressure from anyone about not cancelling lectures. As long as the students learn the material by the end of class, people in my department are happy. I even build in “catch up” days in case I’m sick that, in turn, become “mental health days” to take off from class if I don’t need them.

    Despite not feeling outside pressure, I do feel a lot of internal pressure to do everything I can for students. I missed a family member’s funeral last year (in part) because I didn’t want to miss the first day of lecture.

    So I can understand where the professor is coming from, but I can also see that there were a number of options for the professor that didn’t include breastfeeding in front of a class. I don’t necessarily think she picked the wrong option, but I can see that it was unusual and probably not something I would have chosen for myself.

    1. Treebeard
      Treebeard September 12, 2012 at 8:11 am |

      Interesting – did you censor yourself? That seems like potentially a big issue in certain courses.

      1. ellestar6
        ellestar6 September 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm |

        I used academic vocabulary as euphemisms. So I did censor myself, but still talked about the topic fully.

        The kid (around 5 years old) wasn’t even close to listening, anyway.

  14. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

    Like Jill, I find the breastfeeding way less of an issue than everything else the article describes going on during that class. I would absolutely find it hard to follow a lecture while an infant crawled around the floor, especially when the lecture had to be interrupted to rescue the baby from putting a paper clip in her mouth and getting too close to a socket.

    Actually, I see the issue here as her dismissive treatment of the young female journalist who Pine is immediately dismissive of. She expects her to be satisfied with ‘end of story.’ A student who wants to be investigative journalist is just going to accept when an authority figure tells her to kill a story. She could very easily have explained herself, and in doing so, done something positive for her position. Instead she subjected this young woman to the most horrendous ‘how dare YOU ask these questions of ME?’ attitude.

    I’m fine with her breastfeeding, I’m fine with her bringing her kid to class. I’m not fine with her superior attitude toward the young journalist, because if she bothered trying to understand where the young woman was coming from rather than being offended at her mere presence, quite possibly she could have taught her something. And isn’t that what teachers are for?

    1. Lauren
      Lauren September 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |

      She made repeated attempts to get the the bottom of what the “story” was and what the newspaper’s angle was, and they were not forthcoming. I don’t blame her for her irritation.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm |

        She made repeated attempts to get the the bottom of what the “story” was and what the newspaper’s angle was, and they were not forthcoming. I don’t blame her for her irritation.

        Whether the story is ‘Hedonistic Professor Bares Her Boob’ or ‘Prudish Overly Sensitive Students Take Offense at Feeding Baby’ is entirely a matter for the journalist and Professor Pine should not have tried to kill the story because of what she assumed the angle would be.

        Professor breastfeeding in class- not newsworthy. Professor suppressing news of her breast-feeding in class- newsworthy.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm |

          The reality that the questioner was a student journalist does make a difference here. She’s still learning about journalism and how to do the job correctly (and what doing it incorrectly entails as well.) A professor pointing out that her trying to turn a non-controversy into some sort of breastfeeders gone wild expose was ignorant and sexist, as well as having the potential to damage this professor’s reputation and professional standing was perfectly valid.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm |

          The reality that the questioner was a student journalist does make a difference here. She’s still learning about journalism and how to do the job correctly (and what doing it incorrectly entails as well.) A professor pointing out that her trying to turn a non-controversy into some sort of breastfeeders gone wild expose was ignorant and sexist, as well as having the potential to damage this professor’s reputation and professional standing was perfectly valid.

          It’s not perfectly valid that breastfeeding should damage a professor’s reputation and professional standing. Where do you see these ‘breastfeeders gone wild’ articles? You are making even more assumptions than Prof. Pine.

        3. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

          Pine herself seemed to think that the intention of the student journalist was to turn the article into a negative article about her. Putting a negative spin on her bringing her child to class (then having the temerity to breastfeed her) and then running with it in the school paper article could certainly impact Pine’s career and reputation.

          I’m going to pull the male privilege card on you at this point, Steve. If you don’t think that a woman can still have shit rained down on her for breastfeeding in public you are either delusional or seriously kidding yourself.

        4. Lauren
          Lauren September 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

          Where do you see these ‘breastfeeders gone wild’ articles?

          Uh, they’re all over the place. Look, I’m the last thing from a lactivist, and I will concede they are actually pretty common. If you pay any attention to baby feeding politics, you see them at least weekly.

        5. robotile
          robotile September 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm |

          Having a reluctant source is the best training for a student journalist. Was Dr. Pine being a jerk? Yeah, especially given that the email was framed as an opportunity for the professor to tell her side of the story. But that’s the point of journalism–you are not always telling happy sunshiny stories. A lot of the time, your sources are reluctant to speak with you and/or try to alter the framing of your story.

  15. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |

    There are some jobs where one just can’t bring a baby; unless future me will be allowed to breastfeed a sick child in the middle of prepping a patient for surgery? “Could you just hold her for a sec while I intubate you? Thanks awfully!” :p

    I don’t know if teaching a class falls into the not-baby-appropriate job category for everyone, but it does for me. You’re busy with stuff that doesn’t pick-up/put-down easily, unless you’re cool with a constantly interrupted class that may have to cancel on account of unstoppable screaming.

    1. chava
      chava September 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

      it really depends on the baby. if you have one of the infants that sleeps all the time, or sleeps when carried, it really isn’t a big deal. if you’ve got a colicky screamer—yeah, not going to go so well.

      1. Sarah
        Sarah September 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

        Totally agree. Depends on job, obviously, and depends on the baby. I could NEVER have brought my first child to work with me. He is loud and fast as hell. My second baby? Sure. Even when she crawled around she was kind of lackadaisical about it and she was not much of a crier. I think this was a judgment call and Prof. Pine thought her baby was the sort that could handle a first class/syllabus run through. Lots of jobs where you couldn’t do the same thing. I think even teaching a younger group of students would fall into that “cannot do” group. I would just think that undergraduate students in a fem anthro class would be able to handle it for the first class, but I guess some of them disagree.

    2. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

      There are a ton of jobs that wouldn’t accommodate a child, actually, unless a separate daycare area were set up. Can’t sit a kid on a free gurney in the ER, can’t just pop a booster seat in the back of your patrol car, can’t constantly bat a baby away from the deepfryer, can’t strap a toddler to your mailbag or tuck them into the wheeled laundry bin while you clean rooms…

      I agree that work/life balance is a mess in the USA, but I think that there are genuinely insurmountable obstacles to bringing children to many types of jobs; even if the culture were all about baby-integration, babies don’t practically integrate well into many environments. Daycare/separate childcare is kind of the only option for many workers.

      1. chava
        chava September 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm |

        actually, I spent large chunks of my childhood sleeping on gurneys outside the ICU/in the surgeon’s lounge and in restaurant booths at nightclubs. Single parents end up having to do that sort of shit more often than you’d think.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 12:02 am |

          Sorry, I’m unclear; your parent was both a surgeon and worked at a nightclub?

        2. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 12:06 am |

          I’m going to go ahead and guess that she has two parents and spent time with each of them.

        3. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 12, 2012 at 12:30 am |

          I’m going with the surgeon-parent desperately needing to tie one on now and then.

        4. chava
          chava September 12, 2012 at 7:14 am |

          Haha. One parent was a full-time musician. The other parent was no, not a surgeon, but a cardiac scrub nurse. They lived on opposite coasts, and neither of them lived near family.

        5. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 11:40 am |

          Okay, that makes more sense. :p

  16. Aunti Disestablishmentarian
    Aunti Disestablishmentarian September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

    Canceling the first lecture may mean that students shop for other classes and drop yours. Ultimately, this could impact a professor’s standing.

  17. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    When you really get into the meat of this story, it is ultimately the breastfeeding of Pine’s baby about which this student journalist was trying to make a controversy. All of the other dissecting of her possible lack of professionalism for bringing the baby to class is pretty much besides the point. The student’s repeated use of the term “the incident” belies any intention of hers to make a fair and balanced article about Prof. Pine, her work, or her class.

    Furthermore, all of this couching of why one wouldn’t otherwise take issue with breastfeeding in public, except this shiny little exception because it would make me uncomfortable personally just doesn’t hold water. Why is it an exception, and why does it make you uncomfortable? If even a tiny little bit of the reasoning, even on a knee jerk level, has to do with the reality that a baby has a nipple in her mouth? Then no, that’s still sexism in action.

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

      When you really get into the meat of this story, it is ultimately the breastfeeding of Pine’s baby about which this student journalist was trying to make a controversy. All of the other dissecting of her possible lack of professionalism for bringing the baby to class is pretty much besides the point. The student’s repeated use of the term “the incident” belies any intention of hers to make a fair and balanced article about Prof. Pine, her work, or her class.

      Prof. Pine’s friend advised her before the class:
      “Just take her to class. You’re a working parent. Your students won’t care. It’ll be a teachable moment.”

      All of a sudden something which was described as a potential ‘teachable moment’ is now different when it’s described as an ‘incident’? So maybe an 18 year old journalism student isn’t as sophisticated as some of us and deserves a ‘teachable moment,’ one which doesn’t teach her that if you write an article an authority doesn’t like, they will spike it,

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

        You bet your bottom dollar it’s different when a teachable moment is instead turned into some sort of scandalous incident (with full on scare quotes.)

        Teachable moment? Seeing Anthropological Feminism in action with a woman teacher who is also a working mother, breastfeeding her baby in public without a mass pulling out of the fainting couches.

        Incident? Students going all, eewww bewbies! and getting disturbed and calling their parents and friends and thinking it’s suitable to turn it all into the biggest drama of the semester.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

          Incident? Students going all, eewww bewbies! and getting disturbed and calling their parents and friends and thinking it’s suitable to turn it all into the biggest drama of the semester.

          I agree. Which is why trying to kill the story was wrong, because it silences the entire argument. Let’s acknowledge that Prof Pine had done nothing to be ashamed of, and the true story is the overreaction of certain students, that still does not excuse her trying to kill the story. I would understand if she asked to read it first and had the opportunity to respond, but if this prejudice exists, why not expose it?

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

          We seem to be having a bifurcated debate at this point, but I disagree with you that it’s so simple as assuming that it would all shake out just fine in the end for Pine.

          The problem is that in much of our USian society breastfeeding is still seen as a gross, perverted act. Feminism should be dragging it out into the light of day and we as a society should all just get over ourselves about it already. But lots of people haven’t, and in the meanwhile Pine was perfectly reasonable in freaking out that students, their parents, faculty and even the local community wouldn’t have turned against her and really jammed her up for a long time because of something that should have been seen as innocuous and reasonable.

  18. pedestrian
    pedestrian September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    Professor here. I really don’t get the freakout over this. I also wonder about the fact that I haven’t read anything suggesting that her students themselves were unhappy about what happened. Other thoughts:
    1. Cancelling class is a Really. Big. Deal. I have my course carefully structured to cover all the concepts that I need to cover, in the depth that they need to be covered, in a logical sequence so that they build on each other. It fits together over the allotted time during the semester in a fairly precise way. Cancelling a class means, simply, that students don’t get some of the content they should. Do people really want a slightly distracted prof delivering content, or to just not learn that content at all?
    2. My class is entirely designed, built, and delivered by me. There is no one who can substitute adequately. No one else knows the lecture I planned to deliver (they are mostly unscripted), the activities and their sequence, and the ideas from last class that we need to reinforce again because people are struggling with them, and the way that I planned to teach that class so it fits into the larger conceptual arc of the semester.There is no sub to take my place.
    3. Cancelling class will make my students, my colleagues, and my boss annoyed. Mostly my students. They’re paying for that learning, and in most cases taking time off of work and leaving their own kids in childcare.
    4. Asking my TA to provide childcare would be inappropriate and exploitative.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

      Asking my TA to provide childcare would be inappropriate and exploitative.

      Yes, it would, but on the other hand, the TA was providing childcare ANYWAY in this case, by holding the baby (and presumably cuddling/petting/rocking and whatever else the baby needed to be calm) while the prof lectured. So, you know, that argument works in theory and falls utterly down in practice. As a student, I’d infinitely prefer the TA was in another room with the baby. As a (step)parent I’d be happier knowing the baby, already in fragile health, wasn’t in a room with 100 possibly sick adults. From a teacher’s perspective, my attitude would be: look, I’m going to wind up enlisting the TA anyway, might as well ask him/her if they’re okay with taking care of it for the entirety of the class, OR taking the class while I take care of the baby, should the health situation become an emergency. Which is a thing that the term “teaching assistant” implies, you know, assistance with the teaching thing. It’s not rocket surgery. So while I agree with your actual comment, I don’t think that she was behaving half as ethically as you describe your own thought process, and so shouldn’t be given the consideration I’d give you personally.

      1. chava
        chava September 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

        Eh. I don’t know–I think the politics of asking a female TA to babysit are…difficult.

        I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it, but I think it should come with some sort of commensurate academic privilege–you get to do a special lecture, you get some extra cash, etc. TA’s get paid less than nothing and you’re supposed to treat them like apprentices, not dogsbodies.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm |

          Oh, my point was that asking the TA to do it at all (which the professor either did, or passive-aggressived the TA into having to do, by leaving the baby free to move) is already prohibitively unethical, so at that point making a BFD about how having her formally, with pay, babysit would be wrong would be incredibly disingenuous on Pine’s part.

        2. Jadey
          Jadey September 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

          Actually, it would be a fairly egregious breach of contract to ask a TA to do such a thing, so any butt-covering whatsoever might be the difference between a reprimand and getting fired. In those moments, you want to hang on to any toehold you have.

    2. Matt
      Matt September 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm |

      You guys must work at some really hardcore elite universities.

      At community college my English professor cancelled constantly. Funerals, sick days, weddings.

      My math teacher was the head of the department and he also cancelled frequently.

      When I was at Mizzou many of my professors also cancelled quite a bit. TAs frequently gave the lecture as well.

      1. EG
        EG September 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm |

        Quite the contrary, actually. It’s in my union contract. I believe I can cancel one class per course per semester in the event of illness (I’ve used this once, when I lost my voice).

      2. nilbogboh
        nilbogboh September 12, 2012 at 10:52 am |

        I’ve taught at 4 different universities and it was only a big deal to cancel class at one of them (mostly because of the union rules). I just started my first tenure-track job though, so things might be very different from here on out. I’m not denying that it is a big deal at some schools however.

        I never cancel class without a good reason and I’ve only ever taught at universities with large first-generation working-class populations. I would love it if most of my students were upset when professors cancel class because they are missing out on the learning experience that they are paying for, but in my experience most of them celebrate the occasional unexpected free class period.

        Also, just of out curiosity at institutions where cancelling class is a huge deal, is that true for planned absences (for a conference or something) or only for unexpected occurrences?

        1. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 11:52 am |

          I’m not supposed to cancel class for conference attendance come hell or high water. My chair was…shocked when I asked.

        2. chava
          chava September 12, 2012 at 11:54 am |

          I’ve taught several times for professors out at a conference. SOP at the big northeastern universities, I think. It’s nice, you get the bullet on your teaching cv and the professor gets a sub for his or her lecture.

        3. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

          I paid the grad student last year–the department won’t. Another reason I’m always in the red.

        4. nilbogboh
          nilbogboh September 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

          I’m baffled that you’re not allowed to cancel class for a conference. I understand encouraging you to find a substitute but that’s not always easy to do (especially at schools without a grad program in your field). One school where I worked would pay for the sub if you were going to a conference. Another expected me to pay for subs, but then again they also encouraged us to put a paragraph in our syllabi explaining how we would notify students if we had to cancel class!

  19. chava
    chava September 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

    Meh. The alternative was no lecture at all, or having the TA give the lecture (not a bad solution). Students should be able to understand that life sometimes happens, and sometimes it impinges on work. Also, sick students come to my classes *all the time.* Blame the American workaholic culture for that one.

    Anyway, my husband carts the baby to almost all of his meetings with advisors, undergrads, etc. He gets a shocking amount of leeway and offers to babysit that I, frankly, don’t. It’s cute and sweet when he does it, and “unprofessional” when I do. So I’m calling BS on this not being a Gendered Thing–particularly as the whole news story was about the breastfeeding, not the bringing-infant-to-class thing.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

      I would hate it if your husband* showed up with an unexpected baby to meet with me, honestly. If we were meeting specifically to coo at the baby, sure, but if we were meeting professionally? I like kids but there is a time and a place, and a work meeting isn’t it.

      *not your husband in a personal way. I’m sure he’s lovely. ;p

      1. chava
        chava September 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm |

        Oh, it’s not unexpected baby, they know he’s bring the kid. I’m sure there are people who mind (most people seem to genuinely not care), but honestly, they can either pay us a fair wage so we can afford a sitter or stfu.

        Someone else upthread mentioned the professor-ly habit of bringing one’s puppy to meetings. I see that alllll the time, and it gives me zero patience for “time and a place!” arguments.

        1. Andie
          Andie September 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

          People at my workplace used to bring their dogs in all the time.. So I usually felt justified on the rare occasion my school-aged kids had to hang out there for a bit after school.

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 12:01 am |

          Okay, I call bullshit on “most” people not caring at all. Unless the baby is non-stop passed out then those undergrads and grad students are having to put up with a one-on-one that is focused at least partly on a third party. I wouldn’t say it to his face (he is basically their boss) but it would annoy the crap out of me.

        3. chava
          chava September 12, 2012 at 7:20 am |

          He IS a grad student, so the power dynamics are a bit different. And you can call bullshit all you like, but people will actually *ask* him to bring the baby to meetings quite a bit. The professors explicitly said they don’t care. It’s a fairly family friendly department.

        4. Ruchama
          Ruchama September 12, 2012 at 10:34 am |

          I’ve seen this work well, and not so well. One of my colleagues sometimes had to bring her preschool-age daughter into her office during office hours. When she had to do this, she’d bring some coloring books and other quiet toys, and if the daughter tried to get her attention while she was working with a student, she’d look up long enough to make sure it wasn’t an emergency, and then say, “I’ll talk to you when I’m done working with this student.” If the daughter was really in a mood that day and just wouldn’t cooperate with this, the mother would look around the department to see if there was anyone who had a few minutes free to play with her.

          My advisor, on the other hand, had a daughter about the same age who he’d bring in sometimes. There were quite a few meetings when I was working on my dissertation, when his daughter (who had no toys with her, and thus was drawing on the six inches or so of whiteboard that she could reach), would say, “Daddy, look what I drew!” and he would turn and look and ask her what it was and compliment her on it, and by the time he got back to me, he had completely lost his train of thought. That was irritating.

    2. SWNC
      SWNC September 12, 2012 at 8:43 am |

      Anyway, my husband carts the baby to almost all of his meetings with advisors, undergrads, etc.

      That strikes me as quite unprofessional, honestly. An emergency is one thing, but when you don’t arrange childcare for regularly-scheduled work events, that’s not cool. When students come to my office for advising, they deserve my undivided attention.

      (And, no, I also don’t like it when professors bring their dogs to meetings.)

      1. chava
        chava September 12, 2012 at 8:53 am |

        *shrug* See what I wrote above about the situation. In any case, my original point was that there’s a gender thing going on–people enjoy/request him to bring the baby, comment on how nice it is, etc. And, miracle of miracles, work still gets done. I have the distinct feeling that I wouldn’t be cut the same slack.

      2. ARB
        ARB September 12, 2012 at 10:43 am |

        I’m a grad student and my husband is a grad student. The combination of our stipends puts us in the low-income bracket. My university does not provide any childcare – my husband’s has childcare but it is expensive (for what we get paid) and there is a wait-list. The grad students at my university are not considered “workers” only students, and so we work without a contract. I have no maternity leave, nor any guaranteed vacation/sick/personal days – it is all up to the compassion of my adviser. I work in a lab where it would be unsafe for me to bring a child (I also have no office). My husband has an office, and works in safe spaces.

        We had intended on him bringing the baby with him to work. However since is so unprofessional, what do you think we should do instead?

        1. SWNC
          SWNC September 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

          If it was me, here are some options I’d look at: work out a baby-sitting co-op with other grad students. Hire an undergrad to babysit when your husband knows he’ll be meeting with students. Try to stagger your hours so that you can take care of the baby when your husband is regularly scheduled to meet with students. Deal with the fact that a certain number of students and co-workers are are going to find a baby at meetings on a regular basis unprofessional, especially when they’ve gone to the trouble and expense to make their own childcare arrangements. I’m not unsympathetic, but other working parents deal with this stuff all the time.

  20. Esti
    Esti September 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

    I didn’t realize the extent to which canceling class was frowned upon (I graduated not that long ago, and remember a fair number of my classes being canceled by different professors — though I don’t know how many of those already had tenure), but since that’s the case wouldn’t the more family-friendly and better accommodation be that the school provides some kind of emergency babysitting service on demand? If a professor had the option of calling up on an hour’s notice and having an on-call babysitter watch the child on campus during class, I think that would be win-win — the professor is able to get to class even when they have a sick child, the students get a lecture free from distractions, and the school doesn’t have to worry about classes being canceled or disrupted when a professor doesn’t feel comfortable bringing their sick child to class.

    I’m sure there would be issues setting up that kind of system, but at a big enough school I think it would be doable. There are probably a lot of students who have worked as babysitters before and would be happy to make some cash (a lot of my friends baby-sat for professors during grad school), and the school could create some kind of on-call system so that someone was guaranteed to be available if the need arose. And if parents were nervous about the school’s vetting of babysitters, they could meet in advance with the people signed up for the time slots during which they have classes, so that they would feel comfortable if they needed to use them in the future.

    1. alynn
      alynn September 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm |

      I didn’t realize the extent to which canceling class was frowned upon (I graduated not that long ago, and remember a fair number of my classes being canceled by different professors — though I don’t know how many of those already had tenure)

      I’ve been confused by this point too. The two institutions that I attended certainly didn’t have problems letting professors cancel, and we (students) were all enraptured when they did. In fact, one of my former professors who canceled about 1/4 of our classes was granted tenure while I was a student. (It was deserved, she was a great teacher.) Given this experience, I was under the assumption that university faculty had more ability to take time off than other professions.

      Prof Pine is right that her breastfeeding shouldn’t be news, and in that way, I get that this was a shitty experience for her. But I’m not convinced that her judgement was correct in bringing her daughter in the first place.

      1. EG
        EG September 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm |

        The two institutions that I attended certainly didn’t have problems letting professors cancel, and we (students) were all enraptured when they did.

        How do you know, honestly? You don’t know what the chair is saying to the professors around the copy machine, and it’s good that your professor got tenure…but perhaps it’s the paradigm-shifting book she wrote and the fact that nobody disliked her. Because cancelling that many classes could and would have been used by anybody who had it in for her.

  21. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm |

    Seriously, this woman thought bringing a baby with a compromised n immune system to a roomful of people, most of whom are at an age where superman complexes impede finding early healthcare (we’ve all been to college, don’t even bother disagreeing), who are likely to turn up to the first day of class even if they’re sick. And then she gets sniffy about her parenting choices being questioned? She’s got some guts.

    The breastfeeding was like the only part of this entire scenario that I didn’t find objectionable (hungry baby? feed baby. ffs). For the rest, there are professions – cubicle worker, IT specialist, bank teller, legal clerk – where having a baby behind the counter wouldn’t do any damage. Teaching – or medicine, or skyscraper window-washing – is not a profession where you can give your job your full attention, and keep your baby adequately cared for at the same time. Fuck, my mother’s taught or run an elementary school since before I was born, and when I was sick, she either stayed home or had my dad do it (yes, Virginia, there ARE male parents who can handle sickness!), even though she worked literally across the street from her house.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm |

      Pine is very clear that she is a single parent, and that her daycare provider wouldn’t take the baby because she was sick. She had not other childcare options available to her, and it sounds like cancelling class would have the potential to bring some negative consequences down on her. It was also the first day of class, so all she was really doing was going over the syllabus and doing an intro.

      Although it sounds like she got the lose/lose of the equation down anyway: cancel class bad, bring kid to class bad.

      Sucks for her either way.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

        It was also the first day of class, so all she was really doing was going over the syllabus and doing an intro.

        Yeah, also a point. It’s not like she’d have missed the final exam or the day with all the student presentations. If your TA’s too incompetent to outline your syllabus, wtf are they there for?

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

        it sounds like cancelling class would have the potential to bring some negative consequences down on her

        Also, to address that: yes, having a TA teach the first day of class might result in a couple of students dropping it. You know the only thing that’ll make MORE students drop a class? Wondering if they can anticipate this sort of shenanigans (the surprise baby, the TA childcare enlistment, having to watch said surprise baby while it crawls all over the class and sticks stationery in its mouth, because the mother isn’t paying attention) for the entirety of the semester. I don’t give a shit about breastfeeding, it’s totally inoffensive to me. The rest of it puts my hackles up six feet high.

        1. Jadey
          Jadey September 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm |

          Okay, so this has been mentioned a few times, the idea of having the TA teach, and I just want to make some points:

          -not all profs do “just the syllabus” on the first day; not all institutions would let them get away with this and not all courses have the time allowance for it, so it may very well have been a full lecture

          -not all TAs are actually competent enough to deliver a lecture on a class in short notice. In my department, TAs are used primarily to mark papers and exams and half the time are 1st year MA students with no background in the specific course they have been assigned to. They are certainly smart enough to develop a lecture if given the time to do it, but not necessarily experienced enough to take the notes and run with it and asking them to do something like that might also constitute a breach of professional ethics.

          Obviously, this varies from school to school, department to department, course to course, TA to TA. Which is exactly why it isn’t reasonable to assume that this would be a solution in this particular case.

        2. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

          not all TAs are actually competent enough to deliver a lecture on a class in short notice.

          Word. Further, my notes are aides de memoire with page numbers attached–there’s no way somebody who’s not me could do a lecture from them, competent or not. And as a former TA, if a professor had called me a few hours before class and said hey, here are my notes, deliver the very first lecture of the semester, I would have freaked right the fuck out. Give me a germy baby any day.

        3. number9
          number9 September 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

          THAT. First day of class cancelled due to sickness? Eh, not like it’s the final. But those shenanigans? Baby crawling around on the floor while spreading germs everywhere and the TA babysitting instead of doing the job she was hired to do? Fuck that, I’d be out of there in a second.

      3. robotile
        robotile September 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

        I think the key is that as a responsible parent, you set up back-up sick care in advance. I have a four-month old. We have a primary care plan, a backup care plan, and a backup-backup care plan. What that means, realistically, is that if the kid is sick and we can’t be home, we have at least two people to call who are okay with looking after her. Sure, it’s expensive, but unless your kid is sick frequently, you also budget for it.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm |

          Yeah; Pine seemed like she was surprised that her baby got sick inconveniently (oh no, what can she do??) But isn’t that kinda what babies do best? A professor should have been able to muster the forethought that maybe her kid would be sick someday when she had to teach, and planned for it.

    2. EG
      EG September 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm |

      Seriously, this woman thought bringing a baby with a compromised n immune system

      Oh, come on. The baby had a cold, not HIV. A one-year-old with a cold is not in danger from being in a classroom.

      And I can’t get too worked up about exposing the students to the cold either. They come in sick all the time and cough all over papers before handing them to me. People sneeze in the subway. That’s just what happens when you reach a certain population density: you end up in a room with a sick person.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

        Oh, come on. The baby had a cold, not HIV. A one-year-old with a cold is not in danger from being in a classroom.

        Either the disease is too serious to leave the child alone (so cancel class) or it’s a trivial issue (find alternative childcare). Pick one.

        It’s not like someone on a professor’s salary can’t afford a babysitter. And who the fuck doesn’t have backup childcare? *I* have three options available most days, and mine’s almost a teenager, for fuck’s sake, and well capable of taking care of herself with minor illnesses.

        1. Jadey
          Jadey September 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm |

          Wow, mac, I usually am with you on most topics, but we’re completely off on this one (except for breastfeeding being NBD).

          Professors usually take jobs where they can get them and may not have any existing social support network in whatever new city they end up in. It’s also hard to build that network on a professor’s timetable *especially* as a single parent of an infant. “Find alternative childcare” is just not that simple. Daycares won’t take a baby with even a “trivial” illness. Family may not be around. Friends may be limited to other busy faculty members.

          I mean, good for you that you have back-up options that you can access on short notice. I’m glad you do. But there are real reasons why this is not so easy for everyone.

        2. IrishUp
          IrishUp September 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm |

          Also, I’m not sure if you are aware of how un-seriously-ill the criteria for barred from childcare can be.

          Of the private and institution-provided childcare I’ve worked with, it would be typical for the policy to involve the kid being free from ALL cold and/or flu symptoms for 24, and even 48hrs. If the kid yakked 12hrs ago, but is eating like a champ now? Still can’t go. Fever of 100.2 down from 103? Still can’t go. And agencies won’t send someone. So even having emergency daycare provided may not help.

          I have been in the situation of having to take a sick day for a kid who is well, just not able, to go to zir childcare. I’m just lucky enough to have the ability to take a sick day, and enough seniority in my position and career that it doesn’t get *me* in trouble. One of the administrative assistants or housekeeping here, OTOH, could find hirself with a pink-slip in hir personnel file as a result.

        3. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm |

          Either the disease is too serious to leave the child alone (so cancel class) or it’s a trivial issue (find alternative childcare).

          You can’t leave a baby alone no matter what it’s health status is, and I believe the point was that there wasn’t any alternative childcare.

          And yeah, you’re way off base on the ease of a professor’s lifestyle. We’re expected to drop everything and everybody and move out to whatever institution offers us a job (with a placement rate of 50% for newly-minted PhDs), whether or not we know anybody there. In my experience, if you have any student loans and/or any chronic meds, that salary gets eaten up pretty quickly.

        4. Jadey
          Jadey September 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm |

          I mean, good for you that you have back-up options that you can access on short notice. I’m glad you do. But there are real reasons why this is not so easy for everyone.

          Ugh, I re-read this, and I’m ashamed with myself. It was a shitty thing to say and to imply that you have it “easy” in any way. I apologize.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm |

          Also, I’m not sure if you are aware of how un-seriously-ill the criteria for barred from childcare can be.

          I’m exquisitely aware, believe me. Half the reason I can’t work is I’d be paying babysitting, and how arbitrary they are.

          And yeah, you’re way off base on the ease of a professor’s lifestyle.

          EG, I’m betting it’s easier than the lifestyle of an immigrant student and a retail worker, one of whom has those student loans and both of whom have those chronic medical conditions you mentioned. I’m going into massive debt to get an education, I’m not terribly impressed with the idea of spending the kind of money I am on being taught by a distracted parent with a fussy, sick child in the room. And I don’t even have the massive interest rates US students have to worry about. Backup childcare isn’t this massive Herculean task, it’s the kind of thing some of us have to have organised just to survive.

          Granted, I’m probably much quicker to look at this as a bad case of Cry Moar simply because I’m having to navigate the opposite side of this situation under difficult circumstances, as Jadey’s pointed out below, and I’ll step back the annoyance.

          It was a shitty thing to say and to imply that you have it “easy” in any way. I apologize.

          Jadey, that is seriously not a big deal. I got what you were saying once I tucked the knee-jerk away, and I put off replying until I could do that. No worries at all!

        6. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

          EG, I’m betting it’s easier than the lifestyle of an immigrant student and a retail worker, one of whom has those student loans and both of whom have those chronic medical conditions you mentioned. I’m going into massive debt to get an education, I’m not terribly impressed with the idea of spending the kind of money I am on being taught by a distracted parent with a fussy, sick child in the room. And I don’t even have the massive interest rates US students have to worry about. Backup childcare isn’t this massive Herculean task, it’s the kind of thing some of us have to have organised just to survive.

          Yes, I get all that. And if she were regularly bringing the kid into the classroom, I’d agree–find back-up child-care. But the fact that she couldn’t for one day does not strike me as some kind of massive falling-down on the job of parenting. Sometimes things fall through, and you wind up with a distracted professor, because she’s sick, or her kid’s sick, or his rent check bounced, or whatever, and half the time you never even know it. This is not like some endemic thing where professors are agitating for the right to bring babies to the classroom and depriving you of their focus. This is something that happened once.

          I understand that professors make more money than retail workers. But too many people think professors are pulling down six figures, and it’s just not so. Most of us are living paycheck to paycheck, and not because we’re frittering it all away on perfume or something, but because, oh, we’re expected to go to international conferences as part of our jobs but we don’t have dependable travel funding, or we need books and don’t have a research budget and suchlike.

      2. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm |

        Oh, come on. The baby had a cold, not HIV. A one-year-old with a cold is not in danger from being in a classroom.

        I know you didn’t mean anything by this, but I should point out that the common cold is a lot more contagious than HIV.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm |

          I believe that the HIV reference was to “immune compromised” not to “contagious.”

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

          True, I linked the two paragraphs in my head and probably read something that wasn’t there.

    3. z
      z September 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

      we’ve all been to college

      No…

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm |

        Fair enough, and a rookie mistake considering I’m about eight years “late”, so to speak, to college myself. I meant to say that anyone going to college has seen students ignoring their health, particularly in the first/last week of classes, because they can’t afford to skip, and because they think they can “handle it”, whatever it is.

        1. z
          z September 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm |

          *nod* That I completely agree with. I think your point was solid, it’s just that your rhetoric accidentally made a false assumption.

    4. Marissa123
      Marissa123 September 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm |

      “-not all TAs are actually competent enough to deliver a lecture on a class in short notice.”

      Woa! Insulting much? I hate to break this to you but, as a TA, and as someone who has prepared and given many lectures, you NO ONE can just pick it up from another scholar’s notes on short notice. This isn’t a matter of competence, but a matter of days, if not weeks in some cases, of work put into each and every lecture upon years of study and individualized specialization. WTF?

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm |

        Doesn’t a lot of this vary depending on the size of the educational institution anyway? I understand that at large universities, especially the public ones with tens of thousands of students TAs do a whole lot more than grading tests and helping out students. But AU has somewhere around 6 thousand undergrads. What is the likelihood that Pine’s TA would have been able to run with teaching her class for her that day?

        I personally attended a small liberal arts college with fifteen hundred or so students. TAs were kind of rare in the classrooms and were pretty much used sort of as glorified support staff for profs. This whole discussion of TAs taking over and teaching a class is totally foreign to me.

        1. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

          Even if there is a TA available, since not all universities rely on them (I do a heavy amount of teaching as a TA personally), it would be impossible for the TA to just take the lecture last minute. Most people write their notes in chicken scratch of sorts or incomplete points, and the material is, or should be, FAR too complex and specialized for anyone at all to just pick up and teach.

      2. Jadey
        Jadey September 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm |

        I am also a TA (well, not this term, but I do TA). By “competent” I did not mean “smart” or “generally capable”, I meant having enough knowledge in that particular subject area to be able to wing a lecture. And basically almost no one can do that unless they’ve taught it many times before. It wasn’t a slam against TAs – we are just using the word “competent” differently. I am talking domain-specific competency.

        1. human
          human September 12, 2012 at 2:40 am |

          A better way to put it, I think, is that it would be a completely unreasonable expectation for the TA to take over the class.

      3. Treebeard
        Treebeard September 12, 2012 at 8:02 am |

        Depends on the subject. A class like feminist anthropology is probably based a lot around the professor’s own research and probably no one else is prepared to give the lecture the way she would. On the other hand, a class like Calculus or Intro Physics is a fairly standard subject taught out of a textbook the same way each semester by different professors, and at least some TAs would have TA’d that exact same class before and be capable of giving the lecture. They still wouldn’t appreciate the short notice, though.

  22. Mothers and the Media | Us, Women
    Mothers and the Media | Us, Women September 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm |

    [...] blog posted a great story today, so I changed my mind! I chose an article called Breastfeeding Sick Babies in Class from my blog, Feministe. The article is in response to a story in the Washington Post about an [...]

  23. DP
    DP September 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm |

    I’ll never fully understand the sentiment that, because canceling class and bringing the baby to class both have negative consequences, something is deeply wrong and must be fixed. Sometimes in life you are stuck choosing between two shitty choices. Especially when you volunteer to introduce a new and helpless lifeform into the world.

    I think it’s a peculiarly American obsession that you should never have to choose something that is detrimental to you. You have a small child, no partner and an (understandably concerned) childcare provider. You are going to have to choose between depriving your students of a focused lecture, any lecture at all, or your baby’s comfort/health.

    That’s just life! There isn’t always a good choice. Personally, I would have gone with ‘hire a babysitter.’ But professors are broke, so…I dunno.

    Having a baby in class would probably not completely distract me, but I doubt I’d remember much else. Nothing useful ever gets done on Day One, though, even with the most well-intentioned teacher.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

      Personally, I would have gone with ‘hire a babysitter.’ But professors are broke, so…I dunno.

      Honestly, you know what annoys me? I’m a full-time student, my wife works retail. And yet I couldn’t use “I’m broke” as an excuse to bring my (healthy, quiet) 11yo child to class, let alone a sick, fussy baby. And I’m fairly certain we’re earning less than college professors, though, just saying.

      1. Deborah
        Deborah September 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

        In my first class each semester, I make it clear to my students that if they have caregiving responsibilities, then they are welcome to bring their children to class if necessary, provided that the children are able to sit quietly and won’t disturb the class.

        I also ask noisy students to be quiet so they don’t interrupt other people’s learning. There’s a standard of behaviour expected in a classroom, and all the people there are expected to meet it. Provided children can meet that standard, then just like anyone else, they are welcome to be in the classroom.

      2. Tracey
        Tracey September 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

        I think it is unfortunate such a school policy exists. At ones I’ve been too, including in grad class, there has been no problem with parents bringing their toddlers or older to class. The kid sat and colored and if they grew fussy the parent took them out.
        And I see no problem with bringing in a baby either. The only thing that concerns me is deliberately introducing a sick person to the environment. However, if the school gives sick days such that this situation exists that is a problem and if the school frowns that much on canceling classes that is a problem. Again, at schools I have gone too the professor would have called the department and a TA would have reviewed the syllabus or been sent in to tell us class was cancelled.

      3. Angel H.
        Angel H. September 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

        That’s another thing: The college I went to explicitly states in the manual and in every syllabus for every class I’ve ever attended, that students are not allowed to bring their children to class. I wonder how this would’ve went down if the roles were reversed.

      4. Jadey
        Jadey September 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm |

        Okay, with this comment I think I can see better where you are coming from.

        Personally, I think students who are facing the same conflict as Pine did have as much right if not more (given that they are paying rather than being paid) to make the same decision she did. I think any statement to the contrary would be incredibly hypocritical.

        But I still disagree with where you are directing your ire. You seem to be more angry with Pine herself than the circumstances that screw you both over (you more than her, again – paying versus paid), unless I missed something and Pine has come out against students bringing kids to class.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm |

          I’m not angry with Pine herself as much as the fact that the situation’s becoming about “you’re persecuting her because she breastfed!” when a) there’s about sixty things wrong with the situation that have nothing to do with BOOBIES and b) I don’t even give a shit about the boobies. I think that having a completely distracted professor – and I don’t care what anyone says, a halfway decent parent with a young, sick child is going to be hopelessly distracted – is not what I’m paying through the nose for. I’d rather have an honest cancellation than a professor with a fussy baby mucking with my concentration; at least then I could study at home, rather than waste my time in class. And the “circumstances” are bullshit. Unless she arrived in town two days before the start of term, that’s long enough to scope out a daycare and emergency care. And if it isn’t, well, I’m sorry, but she didn’t exactly find that baby in a hamper two days ago. She can damn well have been prepared. Or taken a day off, for fuck’s sake, she’s a professor. If I (or the scores of single mother students I know) can manage it, then yeah.

          Also, what would she have done if she was, say, a doctor instead of a professor? “Oops, sorry my baby yanked out that IV line, isn’t he cute though? haha lol! Look at his adorbz drool!”

          (And frankly I think anyone making a fuss about boobs in a classroom in a feeding context is full of shit. Statistically, half the class likes boobies and can stfu, probably more than half the class HAS boobies (since the class is in the humanities and all) and should understand that they’re not necessarily sexual and the rest are still old enough to stop being immature little shits about perfectly normal biological functions. I wouldn’t care if, say, the student next to me were quietly feeding her baby, or even if it was chuckling/fussing a bit, as long as she was willing to leave if it got noisy.)

        2. Deborah
          Deborah September 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm |

          University / college courses are usually highly individualised, and unique to the person teaching them, in a way that medical care is not. So if a medical doctor is sick, there’s usually a colleague who can do an extra shift, and patients won’t even notice the difference. (Except of course in cases where one doctor in particular has been managing a case, but even then, another doctor can replace the IV tube, or whatever.) But when it comes to a university class, just simply slotting in another teacher doesn’t work, because the material that has been pprepared for that class will be unique. Yes, with a bit of prep time, someone else can step in and take a class, but it will almost certainly take a few hours to prepare. It is almost certainly the case that there literally was no one else who could take Prof. Pine’s class for her.

          The most stressful days in my life have been those times when a child has woken up ill, and I suddenly have to arrange extra childcare. Contrary to what some posters have said, it is not easy to arrange, and often not readily available, especially at just a few hours notice.

        3. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 9:17 pm |

          Also, what would she have done if she was, say, a doctor instead of a professor?

          Made a shitload more money, most likely.

      5. EG
        EG September 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

        And yet I couldn’t use “I’m broke” as an excuse to bring my (healthy, quiet) 11yo child to class, let alone a sick, fussy baby.

        You sure could in my class. I’ve had students bring their kids to class. Not a problem.

        Further, my college has a daycare program for the children of students. The children of faculty and staff are, however, not permitted to make use of it. So…I’m a little irritated as well.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm |

          I’m given to understand that some colleges/universities do that. In my case, not so much, alas. My kid was exactly 1 year over the cutoff age for the child care program in my first term. All the rage. (Because it’s not like parents of older kids ever go to university, right? Argh again.)

          Also, that majorly sucks that staff/faculty can’t use your daycare. My college allows that, afaik. D:

        2. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 9:19 pm |

          It’s weird, right?

          I’m very much in favor of daycare for students; it’s just a shame that the institutions that are most likely to have student-parents are the institutions with the least money to throw around. A shame, but not a coincidence. Damn you, systemic oppression.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm |

          Actually, I think it wanders over from “weird” to “objectionably sexist and oppressive” in the case of a college that actually HAS child care facilities, just not for someone who happens to work there. Particularly in the case of staff and faculty, who don’t have a goddamn choice about missing lectures. I mean, I can skip a lecture without the class derailing entirely; YOU can’t. The fuck is that policy about????

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm |

          Uh, I just realised that comment didn’t come out right. I meant that students can skip a day wtihout general problems while teachers can’t, so denying teachers facilities students can use (particularly paid ones) seems doubly enraging to me.

        5. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 12:04 am |

          No worries–I got what you meant! And I agree. I don’t want my students to miss class, of course–it’s not that I grudge them childcare. It’s that, well, I’d like it to be available to me in the future when, I hope, I will need it.

      6. debbie
        debbie September 11, 2012 at 7:42 pm |

        That’s really too bad (genuinely – I’m not being snarky here!). Children have been explicitly welcome in my classes (I’m a law student). It happened twice last year, and in each case, professors and students went out of there way to be welcoming and accommodating. It gave me warm fuzzies.

    2. Natalia Antonova
      Natalia Antonova September 12, 2012 at 1:02 am | *

      I think it’s a peculiarly American obsession that you should never have to choose something that is detrimental to you. You have a small child, no partner and an (understandably concerned) childcare provider. You are going to have to choose between depriving your students of a focused lecture, any lecture at all, or your baby’s comfort/health.

      That’s just life!

      Hell to the yes.

    3. SWNC
      SWNC September 12, 2012 at 8:33 am |

      Sometimes in life you are stuck choosing between two shitty choices.

      Well said.

      Personally, I would have gone with ‘hire a babysitter.’ But professors are broke, so…I dunno.

      Like I mentioned upthread, I’m a staff member at a college. I get paid much less than professors, but because my job requires me to be in the office from 8:00 until 5:00, I pay for full-time childcare. (And when my kid is sick, I or my spouse take a sick day, we don’t bring her to work.) I am not overwhelmed with sympathy for professors who might have to shell out $20 extra bucks for a couple hours of babysitting. That falls under the “shitty situation” category, not the “horrible tragedy” category.

      1. EG
        EG September 12, 2012 at 11:49 am |

        I am not overwhelmed with sympathy for professors who might have to shell out $20 extra bucks for a couple hours of babysitting.

        This is going to depend strongly on where you live. When I was sitting, $20 would get you an hour or a bit more. Add in a commute, and you’ve got four hours, which comes to around $60. Maybe you toss that around like there’s no tomorrow. But it’s a chunk of cash to me.

        1. SWNC
          SWNC September 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm |

          That’s a fair point. I work at small liberal arts college in the South. Around here, it would be easy to find an undergrad who would be happy to watch your kid on campus for 8-10 bucks an hour.

          I get really frustrated with full time professors on my campus who poor-mouth it when I know damn well they make $20,000 a year more than I do (we don’t use lecturers or TAs), and that’s influencing my response to this story. I’m going to step back from this one for a bit.

  24. Azalea
    Azalea September 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    Who brings a sick fussy baby to work? Not just any workplace a SCHOOL where students are paying money they haven’t even earned yet with INTEREST to be there and you’re spending a significant portion of it tending to your child?! Seriously?!

    1) The professor was way out of line.
    2) The school should have a policy that prohibits a professor from brining a child. A student can leave the class to tend to their fussy child, a professor IS the class. EVERYONE stops learning while the professor makes attempts to quiet or care for a sick/fussy/crying child.
    3) WTF.

    1. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie September 12, 2012 at 12:38 am |

      Geez, it was a cold, not the zimbie virus. A cold.

  25. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

    The school should have a policy that prohibits a professor from brining a child

    Well, I’ll agree with that…we don’t want salty children.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 6:09 pm |

      Salty children are fine, I just don’t like them too greasy.

      1. Ledasmom
        Ledasmom September 12, 2012 at 11:28 am |

        Well, if I can’t have them salty and greasy, I’m just not going to eat babies any more.

        1. Laura (dusty_rose)
          Laura (dusty_rose) September 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

          I prefer my babies in donut form anyway.

    2. Azalea
      Azalea September 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm |

      Obviously I meant bringing a child, not brining.

  26. jemima101
    jemima101 September 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

    After reading the comments, unions defending the rights to mandatory sick days might also be a good idea to consider in the States. IN Britain to be sacked because of the number of sick days you have taken id illegal as it discriminates against the less able bodied.

    1. debbie
      debbie September 12, 2012 at 9:50 am |

      The penalties I would be concerned with in this case aren’t so much getting fired, but not getting tenure or funding.

  27. Chataya
    Chataya September 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

    Ugh, I hate it so much when people show up to work sick or bring their sick kids. Not just sniffles-and-cough sick, but running-a-100-degree-fever-and-wearing-a-mask* sick. My work place is a medical clinic, we have a generous benefits system so it’s not like they can’t afford to stay home or hire a babysitter. But no, they just bring their sick kids and let the nurses watch them even though they know there will be immuno-compromised patients around.

    *true story, she was admitted to the hospital the next day

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

      That is ridiculous; that’s why hospitals often have signs up saying things like “if you have a cold or flu, DON’T visit!” Those assholes could damn well kill someone because a babysitter or a day off is such a hassle for someone pulling 6 figures.

      1. Chataya
        Chataya September 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

        It’s doubly enraging because at least two of the doctors that pull this shit have stay-at-home spouses. They share space with a rheumatologist, with roughly half of his daily patient base immuno-compromised (mostly RA and SLE related). And of course Precious can’t stay in the office away from the patients; the nurses have to babysit.

        I’ve come to the conclusion that they traded their common sense for medical degrees.

      2. Tony
        Tony September 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm |

        Are people seriously saying that hospitals aren’t an appropriate place for sick people?

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm |

          Not all parts of hospitals are appropriate for all sick people. Which should be pretty fucking obvious, unless you’ve never seen someone scrubbed up on TV or something. Babies aren’t super great at maintaining sterile technique.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 12, 2012 at 12:41 am |

          Hard to believe, Tony, but one of the biggest problems in hospitals is infection control. Many patients sail through a hospital procedure only to contract a fatal infection afterward.

        3. Tony
          Tony September 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

          Not all *parts* of hospitals, the key is *parts*. Hospitals themselves aren’t sterilized. They’re generally among the dirtiest public buildings you could go into, precisely because of all the sick people that come through. That’s why health care workers have to scrub and screen the objects that patients come into contact with. So it all depends on who is going where and what procedures are being followed. Relying on a general “only let clean/healthy people into the hospital” is unrealistic.

        4. number9
          number9 September 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm |

          The state I used to live in had an H1N1 outbreak. I had a pap smear/check-up appointment at a major teaching hospital and they had signs about not coming into work with symptoms posted everywhere. They didn’t deliver babies on that floor, but they did provide cancer treatments. Every area of a major hospital is likely to have immunocompromised patients. Hell, someone could just wonder into a wrong area by mistake, it’s a huge building. And it’s not like germs would just stay contained in the “safe” area of a hospital. So no, hospitals aren’t really a great place for sick people who don’t need hospital care.

    2. Angel H.
      Angel H. September 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm |

      I can’t speak for your coworker, but as for me, I also have very good benefits, including paid sick leave. But because of budget cuts, most of us are doing the jobs of at least 3 people and everyone’s too busy with their own stuff to cover for anyone else. If I’m gone for even a few hours, it takes me a few days just to catch up. (You should my desk when I come back from the weekend!) To complicate things further, I’m homeless, and the shelter isn’t really conducive to healing.

      Sorry about the rant. It’s just that sometimes things are more complicated than “just stay at home”.

      1. Marissa123
        Marissa123 September 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm |

        Very true, but as someone who is immune-compromised, even though I appear “healthy,” this is a big problem. I’m really sorry to hear about your situation with the shelter. I have no intention of saying anything argumentative about that and please don’t take this that way. But as someone with a compromised immune system, it’s also downright dangerous when I get sick and takes much much more time for me than the “normal” person to recover…. I understand your situation is horrible, but I ask of you and others in similar situations to please take immune compromised people, who often look normal and healthy, into consideration when weighing your options.

        1. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm |

          And I should add that I don’t get sick days…

        2. Chataya
          Chataya September 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm |

          I’d also like to point out that there is a huuuuge difference between a job like most people have where you don’t come into contact with immuno-compromised people all that often and a job like mine where you are guaranteed to. For my situation, I am very much on the side of stay the fuck home and don’t kill/severely sicken people.

  28. Eleanor
    Eleanor September 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

    It’s pretty disgusting if it was only the breastfeeding part of this story that caused a national uproar but I do have issues with the professor noting that her baby was distracting and disruptive to the class and not even considering that that may have been part of why this even became an issue.

    I’ll be paying off student loans for the next few decades, and I found myself frustrated when a professor’s personal business would interrupt/distract from the coursework and from the instructors attention, which clearly it did here. I know professors are human but so are students who are paying a lot of money to be in the room with that professor. And some of those students may have had to shell out their own money to pay for child care and to coordinate daycare and back-up sitters to be in that room that day.

    She notes in her response that she works at a family-friendly school which makes me wonder what options were available. I think if the baby had been a year older and able to sit quietly watching a movie or something equally unobtrusive, it may have been a different story entirely, even had breastfeeding been involved. Although I would like to know if students who are parents are able to bring sick kids with them to class?

    I say all of this as someone who grew up in a family of single-mothers who all had to work multiple jobs waiting tables, cleaning offices, working in daycares and working late nights in order to raise children and juggle childcare. I helped my sisters raise 5 kids and at times had to miss work and put my life on hold to do it. And when you are living day-to-day as many working-class single mothers are, missing work is nearly impossible but sometimes must be done. I resent a college professor who makes a hell of a lot more than a waitress or cleaning woman or many other jobs, thinking that the money her students are paying for tuition does not warrant them wanting a professor who is fully focused on their education for the few hours a week they have a class over the semester. I had my share of unfocused educators and if I was in that class, I would have been thinking about how many times someone I know had to miss work because of a sick child and lose that job because they did not have the luxury of working in a “family-friendly” place. I also would have thought about the amount of money I was paying to be distracted by the someone else’s child.

    All that said, I don’t really think this story needed to be national news.

    1. EG
      EG September 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

      a professor who is fully focused on their education for the few hours a week they have a class over the semester.

      As a side note, I loathe this rhetoric. Believe me, I’m working on your class even when you can’t see me doing it. I spend far more than just a “few” hours a week doing so.

      1. Marissa123
        Marissa123 September 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm |

        For serious. I can’t believe people actually think we only work when we are performing our lectures in front of them. Or that we could just pick up someone’s lecture out of the blue. Seriously?! No wonder our education system is so greatly demeaned. Many people just don’t understand that university education means that the professors and TAs work every single day, evening, and weekends. I’ll just sit here and be floored for a good minute…

      2. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen September 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

        Seconded. The people who think professors only work when in class and so don’t have a massive workload really, really get to me. Classtime is only the tip of the iceberg.

        1. bleh
          bleh September 12, 2012 at 8:44 am |

          No-one every assumes an MD is not working when they are not in surgery or that a lawyer is not working when not in front of a judge. But us professors only work a few hours a week. So friggin lazy…

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 9:20 pm |

        Believe me, I’m working on your class even when you can’t see me doing it. I spend far more than just a “few” hours a week doing so.

        EG, FWIW, I think what she was going for is that you could have fifteen babies toddling around you while you grade my papers and it wouldn’t matter to me, because those babies wouldn’t be disrupting my education. It’s only the relatively few hours (relative to the total amount of work a professor does) you’re actually IN class, lecturing, in a group situation with your students, that a child’s presence has even the potential to mess with any of your students’ learning process.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm |

          Argh, that was supposed to be a reply to EG.

        2. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 9:36 pm |

          I hear that, but it just doesn’t jibe with my experience. I find it impossible to grade papers while taking care of my godson, unless he’s napping, and grading the paper is an integral part of the education, because part of what the student is learning is how to write a paper, and the typewritten paragraph of comments I give along with the marginalia is a major part of that…if I’m doing my job right, which I do try to do.

          Honestly, that takes far more concentration than running a class does. In some ways, running the class is the easiest part of teaching. Studying the text, prepping the lesson, grading the papers–all far more draining.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm |

          Oh, I totally hear you there, EG, I have like sixteen thousand teachers in my extended (and two in my immediate) family and I’ve done a lot of volunteer teaching, and all experiences and reports totally back you up there. Being in class is the only activity there that actually provides any kind of emotional/mental boost to the psyche; the rest is all nose-to-grindstone.

        4. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 13, 2012 at 3:01 am |

          Grading papers is also the tip of the iceberg, much like the actual in-class time. In my field, every lecture requires large degrees of primary and secondary research, not to mention writing it up in a cohesive way. We _don’t_ lecture from the textbook. My lectures have taken weeks of preparation work per lecture. This is an extraordinarily time-consuming and intellectually challenging process. The idea that we could somehow do it with kids running around is… laughable at best.

    2. Marissa123
      Marissa123 September 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

      “I resent a college professor who makes a hell of a lot more than a waitress or cleaning woman or many other jobs”

      This is only true some of the time. Lecturers for example, making up a HUGE proportion of many universities’ academic staffs, are often not giving benefits and paid well below poverty level. This is certainly true for my position as a TA and many undergrad students generally and wrongly assume TAs are paid a living wage at least.

      1. nilbogboh
        nilbogboh September 12, 2012 at 11:00 am |

        Yep, and not to mention that most faculty are adjuncts getting paid sometimes as little as $1200 a class. (I certainly don’t intend this to sound like a professor pity-party. We are absolutely a privileged bunch in many ways)

        1. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm |

          Just to clarify your point, $1200 for the whole semester.

          For sure adjust faculty are privileged in quite a lot of ways, but if they can’t pay for basic needs like food and shelter and don’t have healthcare, this still counts as a severe injustice. It’s not like my advanced degrees will themselves somehow take care of my basic needs…

        2. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm |

          Just to clarify your point, $1200 for the whole semester.

          For sure adjust faculty are privileged in quite a lot of ways, but if they can’t pay for basic needs like food and shelter and don’t have healthcare, this still counts as a severe injustice. It’s not like my advanced degrees will themselves somehow take care of my basic needs…

        3. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm |

          Just to clarify your point, $1200 for the whole semester.

          For sure adjust faculty are privileged in quite a lot of ways, but if they can’t pay for basic needs like food and shelter and don’t have healthcare, this still counts as a severe injustice. It’s not like my advanced degrees will themselves somehow take care of my basic needs…

        4. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm |

          Just to clarify your point, $1200 for the whole semester.

          For sure adjust faculty are privileged in quite a lot of ways, but if they can’t pay for basic needs like food and shelter and don’t have healthcare, this still counts as a severe injustice. It’s not like my advanced degrees will themselves somehow take care of my basic needs…

        5. Marissa123
          Marissa123 September 13, 2012 at 2:52 am |

          Oops. Technical difficulties. Didn’t mean to post multiples. Argh.

  29. Megan
    Megan September 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm |

    I’m a working mom and have a lot of sympathy for this professor. A lot of the commenters here don’t have kids, so let me clue you in on what the reality of parenthood is.

    My total number of paid days off each year is 16. I use them for days when my kids don’t have school, have spring break, or if (god forbid) they get sick and can’t go to school. This is why we can never take more than a long weekend as vacation. And those 16 days are used up way before the end of the year.

    When your child is a baby, they are a LOT of work. If you think you can work from home or take a baby to work without someone else looking after him, you are delusional. Babies need attention and lots of it. They cry, they fuss, they want to be held, they need to be changed, fed, etc. Forget talking on the phone, concentrating on your work, or using the computer. Maybe you can do this for the 1 hour the baby naps, but don’t most of us work 8+ hour days?

    It’s even worse if you baby is sick. Now you can’t take him to day care because they don’t want your germy kid spreading his illness. You will find a babysitter if you are lucky, but since you were probably up all night with the baby, you will be a wreck. Then your exhaustion will affect your immune system and you’ll catch whatever the baby had. Hope you have some sick days left!

    Ever wonder why something like 1 in 4 women in this country are on anti-depressants?

    This is a feminist issue because it is affecting women, and the reason why it continues to be a problem is because it is affecting women. Let’s not forget that we live in a patriarchy. A culture that devalues women (I would argue a misogynistic culture) will ignore problems like these because they serve the very purpose of the patriarchy, which is to continue to oppress women.

    In a country with so many advances in medicine, science, the arts…why do we give up so easily when it comes to finding ways to better accomodate working women? Why do we reduce it to “we don’t have the money to pay for your daycare” or “we can’t afford to give you more time off”? We can think outside the box for everything else…why not this?

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm |

      When your child is a baby, they are a LOT of work. If you think you can work from home or take a baby to work without someone else looking after him, you are delusional. Babies need attention and lots of it. They cry, they fuss, they want to be held, they need to be changed, fed, etc. Forget talking on the phone, concentrating on your work, or using the computer.

      So… are you saying she should not have brought the baby, because she would not have been able to work effectively with it there? Because many of us hooorrible childfree people agree with you. :p

  30. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. September 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

    I wonder how many of her students would have complained if she had skyped the lecture from her office or otherwise lectured via video conference.

    1. robotile
      robotile September 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

      This! An actual solution! Seriously, I’ve had Skype-ins with students for a lecture before, and it worked pretty well. And we routinely have conference call-ins. Maybe it wouldn’t be ideal, but it would have been better than germ exposure and distraction from crawling baby.

      1. khw
        khw September 12, 2012 at 10:00 am |

        cosign

  31. Titfortat
    Titfortat September 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm |

    “But this story is interesting to me particularly because it illustrates how feminist ideals — supportive workplaces! balancing career and family! — butt up against the reality of many of our actual jobs.”

    Ah reality, sometimes at odds with ideals.

  32. EG
    EG September 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm |

    Here’s what I think: shit happens sometimes, and you’re left with crappy options, and you pick one. Distracted teacher, no class, make a judgment call. Nobody’s going to be scarred for life by one session with a distracted teacher, and dropping a lesson sucks, but if her tenure isn’t at stake, it’ll be OK and the semester will roll on and be over soon enough. I say, who cares.

    1. Kristen J.
      Kristen J. September 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm |

      I sort of agree, but I think you’re dismissing as unimportant the institutional problem we have where people with communicable illness go to work and may cause real harm to people with compromised immune systems. We need a solution to both problems that isn’t conflicting. I’m not saying the prof is the worst person ever, or even that she chose wrongly, but her actions are part of a larger problem that has a disproportionate effect on already marginalized population. That institutional problem, rather than her specific actions, deserves some critique.

      1. EG
        EG September 12, 2012 at 12:02 am |

        Sure, I’m on board. That would be a great conversation. I’m not immuno-compromised, but within the realm of non-immuno-compromised people, I get sick at the drop of a hat, and I’d love it if more people could stay home more often. Those institutional problems are significant ones. I just mean that I think that her choice, one way or the other, isn’t a big deal.

        1. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 12, 2012 at 10:02 am |

          I guess…I’m objecting to the idea that its “no big deal”. For a person who might spend a few months coughing up blood, its a very, very big deal.

        2. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 11:45 am |

          I understand that, but as has been mentioned elsewhere, sick people leave the house all the time, every day. I don’t see why Professor Pine is supposed to be so much more responsible for the welfare of immuno-compromised people than anybody on the subway if AU is a commuter school, or, if AU is a residential school, the girl down the hall using the same bathroom as you, or the cafeteria worker who can’t afford to take a sick day.

        3. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

          She’s not more responsible, she’s just as responsible. Doing all of those things puts other peoples health at risk. Blowing off that risk and the related harm is a problem.

        4. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

          I’m not sure that it is. It’s the kind of judgment call that we all make, every day, all the time–prioritizing the surety of a major pain in the ass to ourselves over the off-chance of a major pain in the ass to a hypothetical other. When it’s institutionalized so that it always shakes out one way, then I agree with you that it’s a problem. But when it’s about one given choice one individual makes within that institutionalized system, I think that it’s an example of a lose-lose situation, and not something to blow up into a big news story.

        5. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm |

          I mean, I have a cold, and I’m about to get on the subway right now, because I can’t stay home all day every day for a week while I get over it, in large part because I’d go stir crazy, it’s not the worst cold I’ve ever had, and I need to get shit done. And there could be an immuno-compromised person on the subway, and that would be awful for them. But I can’t afford my own car, and that’s the least practical way of getting around the city anyway. So that sucks for the immuno-compromised person who may or may not hold onto the pole after me. But does that make my decision to leave the house a big deal? Or just a normal part of life?

        6. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

          I agree to an extent…as I said, I don’t think she necessarily made the wrong choice, but blowing off the consequences of her choice as “part of life” further entrenches the point of view that people like me should just suck it up and stop bitching about getting so sick.

        7. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

          Kristen, is there other language I could be using that would make the point but also not make you feel dismissed or told to shut up and stop bitching? Because if it’s about language, I’d be happy to switch it for better language.

        8. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

          It isn’t just about language any more than calling an adult woman a girl is about language.

        9. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

          Than we’re just at an impasse. Any decision I make could potentially have catastrophic consequences for somebody. That doesn’t make every decision I make in the course of my day a big deal; making such decisions is part of life.

      2. Ruchama
        Ruchama September 12, 2012 at 10:50 am |

        A baby with a cold is far from the sickest person in most college classrooms. Students come in from all over, with different germs that they’ve been exposed to, and for the first few weeks of the semester, everybody is catching everything that everyone else has.

    2. Sarah
      Sarah September 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

      I completely agree with you here, EG. People with colds (even babies) HAVE to leave the house while they are still symptomatic, otherwise most parents would be housebound for 75% of the year because kids have cold symptoms what seems like constantly (at least kids that go to preschool, camp, daycare, playgrounds, playdates, etc.). If every parent (especially single parents, who don’t have anyone to take turns with them) had to take off work every time their child had a cold and then stay indoors for the length of the cold–parents would not be able to hold a job. Even countries with adequate sick days wouldn’t have enough sick days for that. Also, I don’t know many adults who stay home for a cold. Its as you say: major pain in the ass for me versus hypothetical pain in the ass for hypothetical person.

      Also, as someone who has worked with immuno-compromised babies, toddlers, and children (including children with HIV) it has not been my experience that a cold is the end of the world. These children lived in a group home and the sick ones did not have the luxury of staying in bed or being alone to recuperate. And unfortunately, the children with compromised immune systems were exposed to all the germs that come with volunteers, other children, and going to hospital. For the most part (barring a break out of the measles, which they also withstood like champs), they did great. Did they get the cold that the other kids had? Yes. Did they also get a fever with it? Yes, sometimes. But, a cold was never a big deal in the house. It was just a normal, irritating part of life. This is NOT to say, however, that this would be the experience of every person with a compromised immune system. But, it is to say that colds are often unavoidable, even for the people who should, in an ideal world, be able to avoid them entirely.

  33. Marissa123
    Marissa123 September 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm |

    I agree fully with Jill on this. I’d flip my shit if a professor brought a sick infant to class. I’d for sure get sick because my immune system has serious issues and I don’t get sick days. As a grad student, I would be SCREWED. Those things are seriously contagious and that’s just NOT okay. Breast feed publicly whatever, but no sick infants in places I don’t get a choice about attending.

  34. Ashley
    Ashley September 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm |

    The judgment here is pretty anti-feminist, if you ask me. If you are going to say the professor did the wrong thing, you had better have a right alternative option for her. If you don’t (and I can’t see an option that doesn’t harm her career or the child), the problem is systemic, not with the individual. Personal is political, 101. This is the most basic feminist concept in the history of ever.

    1. Tony
      Tony September 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

      I think people are overreacting to this. I had a few times in college where the professor just didn’t show up. It never became a national news story. Now what’s worse– an admittedly distracting baby being fed in class, or never showing up? Or sending a TA in your place to go over the cirriculum and let you out 45 minutes early?

      I’m interested to see what measurable loss there was to students of this. In a one hour class, for instance, what percentage of loss of teaching time was there, actually? 15%? 20%? It’s not good, but nor does it deserve the reaction it’s gotten.

      I agree with Lolagirl– what’s really making people uncomfortable– what’s really generated 1000+ comments on WashingtonPost.com and 100+ comments here so quickly, is the breastfeeding angle. It’s not really about classroom distraction, or even professional conduct (again, I had professors -rare but real- who simply didn’t show up, effectively cancelling the entire class for that day, and no one wrote a column in the school newspaper about it). There’s still a deep discomfort with breastfeeding in our society.

      As far as bringing a sick baby to class, I definitely see why people would find that inappropritate. However I don’t find that attitude fits in my personal life– for the past two weeks, for instance, there was a woman at my workplace who was sick and came in almost every day, and I never got sick or thought she was being rude. Granted, I wasn’t sitting next to her and didn’t have to talk to her. But I was in the same room as she was for eight hours a day for the better part of two weeks. If I had gotten sick, I would have just passed it off as bad luck. What about the phrase “going around the office”? I’d always thought it was perfectly normal to get sick in public places– after all, isn’t that how all germs are picked up? Not that I would go on a crowded subway and start hacking and wheezing all over the place, but having a cold and being in a public place has never seemed to be beyond the pale to me. After all, how else am I supposed to get to the doctor?

      And no, students don’t get sick days, but nor is it a particularly serious offense for students to miss a day of class. That was one of the joys of undergrad– no one really cared if you showed up (This coming from someone who got into a top 10 PhD program in my field right out of undergrad). The material could always be studied outside of class or made up if need be. Nor, frankly, did I ever give a thought in undergrad of staying away from class due to being sick myself. If I was sick, I’d usually just sit in the back and no one would bother me.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm |

        You say yourself that bringing a sick child is inappropriate; why can’t that be the reason this is a story, on Feministe at least? It’s not like we’re a really boob-shy bunch. It doesn’t always have to be about OMGNIPPLE. -_-

        1. Tony
          Tony September 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm |

          Because not everything that is inappropriate in the world becomes a feminist topic.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 12:02 am |

        Dude, are you missing the fact that literally no thread on this post is focused around breastfeeding, except to agree that it isn’t what was annoying about this incident?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 12:03 am |

          I mean, seriously. Did that top PhD program include “reading comprehension on blogs 101″?

        2. Tony
          Tony September 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

          macavitykitsune, I was making a point through indirect illustration. The people who are saying that the only thing significant here is the loss of whatever full attention the professor otherwise would have had to the class may be technically correct, but it doesn’t explain why so many people are interested in this story. I’ll expand my point and say (especially here on Feministe) it’s not just breastfeeding that makes this story interesting, but also the whole work/life balance debate. To what extent should work life be able to adjust to allow for child rearing? Do we place these things in a privileged position with respect to other personal activities interfering with work? But outside Feministe, the fact that it was breastfeeding and not leaving early to pick up her kid from daycare or school is the reason why the story was published in the school newspaper, and later, in national newspapers and on broadcast news.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm |

          Except, Tony, the entire thesis of your comment was

          what’s really making people uncomfortable– what’s really generated 1000+ comments on WashingtonPost.com and 100+ comments here so quickly, is the breastfeeding angle.

          So yeah, no, I’m really not seeing the breastfeeding hate here. (There’s been a couple of comments, posted after last evening, that tsked at the breastfeeding, but they’ve largely been shouted down or massively disagreed with.) I think that the ire, if anything, has mostly been from people arguing that Pine’s being either an irresponsible parent by not having a backup plan, or that she’s being an irresponsible teacher by pretty much guaranteeing her distraction.

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 8:39 pm |

          It’s true that most of the commentary here at Feministe has not been critical of Pine breastfeeding her kid. But Tony is correct that the WaPo article and the circumstances that led Pine to write her Counterpunch article were all about and only about her breastfeeding. The Dean at AU has since spun the controversy as being about her bringing her kid to class, but the reality is that it was all started by some smartass kid tweeting and Facebooking about the horrors of his Prof breastfeeding in class.

        5. Tony
          Tony September 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm |

          Aren’t you being defensive? You aren’t disputing my conclusion that there is a deep discomfort with breastfeeding in society. At most you’re minimizing the discomfort with it here on Feministe, which was tangential to my point anyway. My point wasn’t to try to insult or cast aspersions on anyone here.

          It was simply that the explanations of this story as a moral fable of poor professionalism (which you just repeated) are trivial and miss the point. That there’s a feminist angle to the story, a work-life balance, a mothering-public-life clash angle that makes it a story. Partly because even people who don’t object to breastfeeding and don’t post comments denouncing it have a visceral reaction to it; it’s a graphic and dramatic illustration of the clash between mothering and professional work. I mean come on– when the title of the story is “Breastfeeding Sick Babies in Class”, it’s kind of silly to argue that breastfeeding has nothing to do with it.

      3. shfree
        shfree September 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

        Actually in one Spanish class I was dinged if I missed a session, no matter what the reason. So I brought my sick eleven year old, or took her on the days when she didn’t have school. Because technically, to leave an eleven year old home alone is neglect and can get them yanked from your house via CPS. Her dad would have stayed with her, but sometimes there are meetings you just can’t reschedule, and he travels for his work a lot. And the only people I know in Portland have lives of their own and can’t drop everything to stay with our kid, as I can count the people I know well enough to do so on two, MAYBE three fingers. Fortunately, she’s fourteen now so that isn’t an issue.

        I think my mom had the same experience, because I do remember having to go to some dull as dirt classes of hers as a kid. I would imagine she would have loved to been able to leave me with someone else, if nothing else to spare her the hassle of taking me out of the house. But, if you pay for these classes out of your own pocket, they are like gold, and like hell are you going to squander what you pay for, IMHO.

        1. Tony
          Tony September 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

          The idea that a 12 year old child should or could be taken away by the government because their parents left them alone is monstrous, in my opinion. Society should be nowhere near accepting of that.

    2. LMM
      LMM September 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm |

      If you are going to say the professor did the wrong thing, you had better have a right alternative option for her. If you don’t (and I can’t see an option that doesn’t harm her career or the child), the problem is systemic, not with the individual. Personal is political, 101.

      The alternative options she had available: cancel class and take the hit to her career. Call a babysitter. Call a friend. Contact a student and ask them to watch the baby while she taught.

      And, ultimately, being handed a choice that sucks all around doesn’t make you personally any less responsible for any harm that you may cause from your choice. (Stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family is a choice. That doesn’t mean you may not have harmed the shopkeeper.) The problem may be systematic, but the choice is not. None of us are free to make perfect decisions, all of us work from the system we are given, but, ultimately, that’s life.

    3. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 9:00 pm |

      If you are going to say the professor did the wrong thing, you had better have a right alternative option for her.

      OK, I can think of a decent alternative. She brings her child to the class, has the TA do all the speaking and description of materials, providing backup and support where and when necessary, but mostly concentrating on the child. It is made clear by Prof. Pine that her students had to warn her about the child’s potentially dangerous behavior on two separate occasions. This means that these students were distracted by her seeming lack of attention (in their view) to the child and were focusing on the child to make sure it didn’t harm itself, which they obviously did so for at least a short time before the potential danger occurred. As such they were clearly not paying attention to the lesson.

      Had Prof Pine not made herself and her child the center of attention, the twitter jerk might still have complained about her breast feeding in his vicinity, but every single complaint on here would be a non-issue. I also think if she had been openly breastfeeding while seated with the students it would have been a non-story in terms of even the school paper and the one or two idiots who were offended would look like just that.

  35. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm |

    Just wondering why she couldn’t leave sick baby with husband/boyfriend/partner for the day?

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable September 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

      Does she have one?

      1. Jadey
        Jadey September 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm |

        No, she’s a single parent.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

        See above, it’s already been pointed out that Pine is a single mother without the father or a SO to carry any weight wrt to child care or anything else.

    2. SubjectVerb
      SubjectVerb September 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm |

      That was my first thought. Brace yourselves, everyone: Ideally, children should be brought into the world with two parents (of either gender), especially for these kinds of things. Before you decide to have children, you should take into consideration the difficulty of childcare and working full-time and you should take care to choose a partner who is reliable and of strong character. It takes two to parent. (I will make an exception if she is widowed.)

      I am waiting to have children with my husband until we are financially solvent enough to pay for childcare. Just because this professor did not wait like we are doesn’t mean she should get special treatment. Two parents mean twice as many sick days available to care for sick children and such, and twice as much maternity/paternity leave (we both have good, family friendly jobs). Two parents, of course, also means twice as much everything (love, support, attention, etc).

      1. robotile
        robotile September 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm |

        how about this? I believe everyone should have 17 parents! That way we have 17 times as many sick days, 17 times as much maternity/paternity leave, and 17 times as much of everything else. Anyone who would deign to have children with just one co-parent is falling down on the job and deserves all the hardship he/she gets.

        Seriously, how incredibly presumptuous and judgmental.

        Also, just FYI, the nuclear, two-parent household is a super new thing. Joint households used to be the rule in many places, and these kinds of issues wouldn’t come up if you are a single parent as much. Our society makes it artificially hard to be a single parent.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm |

          Hee, I didn’t even read your reply before posting! Brain twins!

      2. librarygoose
        librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 10:58 pm |

        (I will make an exception if she is widowed.)

        Well aren’t you the kindest person to condescend to the rest of us. I’m sure the knowledge that you totally won’t judge people whose spouses and partners are dead is deeply satisfying.

        1. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm |

          Well, you know, if she is deserving, then she can get a pass. But what if she’s one of those harridans whose abrasive ways have driven away her partner? Or worse, a worthless slut who never had a partner? THEN THE WRATH OF SUBJECTVERB FALLETH UPON HER.

      3. EG
        EG September 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm |

        I am waiting to have children with my husband until we are financially solvent enough to pay for childcare. Just because this professor did not wait like we are doesn’t mean she should get special treatment. Two parents mean twice as many sick days available to care for sick children and such, and twice as much maternity/paternity leave (we both have good, family friendly jobs). Two parents, of course, also means twice as much everything (love, support, attention, etc).

        Well aren’t you special, then? And what about those of us who are never going to achieve the hallowed heights of which you speak? We can just go fuck ourselves? We don’t have to live in a society that presumes a two-parent family. We can structure our society any damn way we like.

        I like your fantasy that two parents means twice as much love. Tell me, are you measuring your love by weight, volume, or unit?

        By the way, how do you know that Professor Pine didn’t have a partner when she became pregnant? Are you so smugly, self-righteously certain that you have control over your fate that you assume that everybody else does as well?

        1. SubjectVerb
          SubjectVerb September 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm |

          Well, first of all, it’s called an IUD. Second of all, yes, we can control our fates (this is called “not being a victim”). Sometimes, we have to wait for the things we want, like children, and that is a symbol of maturity.

        2. librarygoose
          librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm |

          Your use of “playing a victim” is really…disturbing? Yes. That’s it. You keep saying that like if everyone can just write down everything nothing bad will happen. Bad things happen all the time. With out warning.

        3. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm |

          Sometimes, we have to wait for the things we want, like children, and that is a symbol of maturity.

          I note you haven’t answered the question regarding what to do when the stars don’t align. I guess poor people and/or people without partners just don’t ever get to have children, because our society is the bestest ever and shouldn’t ever have to change just to increase human happiness or something like that, right?

          You seem to have a real fear of being a “victim.” Acknowledging that one is not omnipotent is not “playing the victim.” You might say that it’s a sign of maturity.

        4. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm |

          You really do seem to have a problem understanding that not all people are you. An IUD is right for you. Waiting with your partner is right for you. But other people are, try to grasp this concept, because it’s going to be difficult for you, other people are different from you. Not better. Not worse. Just different. Different strengths. Different vulnerabilities. Different values. Different desires. Different temperaments. And your decisions aren’t going to be right for all of them.

          You seem to really believe that you have found the One True Way. It is certainly fortunate for you that your happiness fits so neatly into our current social system. But that doesn’t actually make it better or more virtuous or anything. It just makes you lucky.

          Don’t feel bad, though. Like Yogi Berra said, it’s better to be lucky than good.

        5. SubjectVerb
          SubjectVerb September 12, 2012 at 12:17 am |

          I didn’t realize the phrase “playing the victim” was so fraught with controversy. Please substitute “not taking responsibility for your own choices.”

          I don’t believe that people should get passes for not making the right choices. I don’t think that just because this woman is a single mother she should be able to infringe on other people’s ability to go to a class that they paid for and not get sick from a child that should not be there.

          I am not “lucky;” luck implies I had nothing to do with my choice of partner. I saw the good qualities in him, and he saw them in me. I was wise to marry him, and I am wise to wait to have children until I can care for them. For others, they may not be so “lucky,” but that is not my problem. I am not responsible for other people’s choices; I may donate to charities to help them during hard times, but I don’t think they should get any more lenient treatment from employers than people that are more “lucky.”

          I am not apologetic that I believe people should, as has been said, “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” I did, and I didn’t complain one bit when I was doing it.

        6. librarygoose
          librarygoose September 12, 2012 at 12:36 am |

          And I bet those stupid poor lazy people are fucking lucky to get your scraps but not your empathy, huh? Of all the fucked up shit I have ever read, your tirade is near the top. You are so self congratulating it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yes you are lucky. You’re lucky you get to choose your partner, you’re lucky to have the ability and freedom to control your reproductive choices. Hell, you’re lucky that your egg cell managed to cling to your mother. All of these things don’t happen for a lot of people all the goddamn time.

          You can only pull your self up by your bootstraps if you are lucky enough to have shoes.

        7. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 7:23 am |

          I don’t believe that people should get passes for not making the right choices

          How do you know what the right choices are for everybody? You seem not to be able to grasp that the “right choices” in life are not one-size-fits-all propositions. So far, the only choices you’ve suggested for Professor Pine are a) don’t be in the career you love and b) don’t have kids. What makes you so sure that those are the right ones for her? Because then she wouldn’t have caused some minor inconvenience for a class? That’s something she’s supposed to place above her own contentment when making life choices?

          I am not “lucky;” luck implies I had nothing to do with my choice of partner. I saw the good qualities in him, and he saw them in me. I was wise to marry him, and I am wise to wait to have children until I can care for them.

          You are lucky. You are lucky you met your partner. You are lucky you were attracted to him and he to you. You have been lucky, so far, that your relationship has worked. You are lucky that you can foresee a time when having children will be easier than it is for you now. You are lucky that you can make a happy life for yourself in some unnamed profession that you have implied is much more family-friendly than academia, though you haven’t specified what it is.

          You realize that pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is a physical impossibility, right? I’ve never understood why people like you are so fond of using a metaphor that doesn’t actually work.

          I’ve also never understood why not complaining about institutional problems is supposed to be some kind of virtue.

        8. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen September 12, 2012 at 8:56 am |

          @librarygoose:

          You can only pull your self up by your bootstraps if you are lucky enough to have shoes.

          THIS SO MUCH.

      4. EG
        EG September 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm |

        you should take care to choose a partner who is reliable and of strong character.

        Wow, really? Because most divorced parents I know hadn’t realized that; when they married, they figured, well, I know this dude is a unreliable cad, but what the hell, I’m sure everything will be fine.

        And then sometimes, years later, twenty years in my parents’ case, the man’s true lack of moral fiber shows through, and those fools get what they deserve, of course. It’s a shame that we can’t all be eagle-eyed like you, with such insight into human character that will allow us to see decades into the future. Truly, you are a paragon of virtue among us lowly grubs.

        And if those single mothers can’t then get by with their minuscule sick days, then we should just fire them! Because you know what makes a good healthy society? Poverty-stricken families.

        1. DouglasG
          DouglasG September 12, 2012 at 7:46 am |

          In other words (far better than mine):

          “If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterward to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.”

        2. shfree
          shfree September 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm |

          Yeah, my ex is of reliable and strong character, and so far I can tell he is going to do the right thing by me and our daughter. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t grow apart over the years and it wasn’t in our best interest to split up. Because things happen.

          Oh, and it was totally an unexpected pregnancy, the only one I’ve ever had that I’ve been aware of. (I could have had an early miscarriage, who knows) I had a crappy job at the time, so maybe you would have thought it was an inappropriate decision, but my daughter is wicked awesome. Life’s little messes can work out for you, so you can go to hell with your judgmental attitude about when, and who should be reproducing.

      5. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 11:10 pm |

        Ideally, it takes at least four people to parent one child in this world of full-time employment. I strongly suggest waiting to reproduce until you’ve acquired a boyfriend and the three of you can support at least one girlfriend (because it’s women’s work to care for a child) while she nurses and nannies and parents your sprog. Your two-parent lifestyle doesn’t seem geared towards providing childcare.

        Jeez, the things I have to explain to people.

        1. shfree
          shfree September 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm |

          Four? I scoff at that. I think you need to live communally with six, and everyone needs to reach consensus as to who will birth the child and when. Also, a minimum income level must be established and maintained for at least five years, and full physical examinations of every single possible pregnancy carrier must be given within six months of possible conception, to make certain that fetus carrier is of optimal health. This should include genetic information, too. You want to make sure the baby has the best DNA possible.

          Also, a network of no less than thirty possible back up caregivers who are available around the clock are needed. Only when these restrictions are met, should anyone be allowed to have a child.

        2. Li
          Li September 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm |

          And in no circumstance should you be in a romantic relationship with any of your co-parents. A truly responsible parental hive would ensure that the primary emotional attachment each adult had was with their child. Insisting that you have to have children with a person you ‘love’ yourself is the height of immaturity IMHO.

      6. Natalia Antonova
        Natalia Antonova September 12, 2012 at 1:06 am | *

        (I will make an exception if she is widowed.)

        Well aren’t you generous! Cookies for you!

      7. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 12:30 am |

        Ha ha ha haaa – if,you ever do have kids, please be sure to write and tell us how all this “choosing the right choices” and “doing things the right way” and planning things out works out for ya.

      8. speedbudget
        speedbudget September 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

        So what is the proscriptive advice is the partner in your perfect life can’t or won’t take off to care for the child? What then?

    3. Ashley
      Ashley September 12, 2012 at 7:32 am |

      The fact that she is a single mother is key here. If the child had not been sick, you could argue that better, cheaper childcare options would solve the problem (and they would solve many problems). If the child wasn’t sick, you could argue that people need to learn to accept children and mothers in the public sphere, and get over it about the breastfeeding already (and that would also solve a lot of problems). But if a child is sick and can’t be in public for that reason, you need other people invested in the child as much as a parent is.

      The problem here is the nuclear family as the basis of our society. The nuclear family model, and the attendant practice of expecting parents to be the only primary caretakers, is isolating and damaging to everyone, but particularly to women and children.

      Shifting to a different family model and more collective care for children and more sick days, parental leave days, and vacation days would make it unnecessary to bring a sick child into work.

      (Not to mention, this would have been a non-issue in many industrialized nations because paid parental leave would still be in effect for a one-year-old.)

  36. In The Classroom « words pursued
    In The Classroom « words pursued September 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm |

    [...] am reading this piece and these comments and being so, so glad that I am at my university, in my [...]

  37. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm |

    Well, okay then, how about her mom/friend/sister/aunt etc? I doubt that this woman is completely alone in the world. I agree with the above comments about not bringing sick anybody to work.

    1. EG
      EG September 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm |

      Did you read the above comments about academics being expected to drop everything and move to whatever random place offers them a job?

      1. chava
        chava September 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm |

        FWIW, this is one of the major reasons I’m fairly sure I won’t get tenure. I am not willing to live on another coast away from my partner and possibly child, and I’m not willing to move completely away from our painstakingly built-up support networks when there’s only a tiny chance of actually getting tenure.

        I’m slowly making my peace with that, but it breaks my heart.

        1. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm |

          Well, take heart. You never know. I lucked out. It can happen.

        2. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm |

          Yeah…well, this is the reason Mr. Kristen had to leave more than one tenure tracked position and eventually left teaching altogether. Being a prof when you’re the “trailing spouse” academia is very, very difficult.

        3. chava
          chava September 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm |

          what does mr. kristin do now, btw? (I’m collecting interesting-sounding backup career options with an eye towards padding the resume in the next few years)

        4. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm |

          He did a little corporate consulting and worked at a thinktank, but at present he’s an ethicist working for the feds. Who knew the feds hired ethicists?

        5. bleh
          bleh September 12, 2012 at 8:59 am |

          Sorry you are dealing with this reality of academe.

          Partner and I moved to the land of nowhere (to us) together. Luckiest of lucky – two tenure-track jobs in same University, but it still is far far away from anyone in our families.

          Stranger thing than two jobs together have happened. Good luck figuring it out!!!

    2. EG
      EG September 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm |

      Checking in, she’s been in DC for 3 years. Prior to that, she was in Cairo for two years, and she did her PhD before that in Berkeley. Yeah, I can believe that she doesn’t know anybody who doesn’t have to go to work herself to take the kid.

    3. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm |

      Stop with the doubting.

      Really.

      Getting childcare is not so easy as just snapping one’s fingers and having Mary Poppins materialize to take care of the kiddies. Even I have had a hell of a time finding child care for my kids, despite working all sorts of angles and even having my inlaws living nearby. Not everyone has someone who can just drop everything at a moment’s notice to babysit.

    4. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm |

      Dude, a lot of people have little to no social support for reasons they really can’t help. I’m more annoyed personally that she didn’t have a backup plan at all (really? who’s surprised that daycare won’t take a sick baby?), not because she couldn’t rely on family/friends. I transplanted across continents a year and change ago; building up new networks is not easy, trust me.

      1. Tracey
        Tracey September 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

        Not to mention the people in those networks might not have compatible schedules for looking after a baby on short notice and may not be comfortable caring for one. This seems like a short notice situation where the daycare administrator said “sorry, we don’t allow children with temperatures over X or with X symptoms” and the professor was left to find a sitter within a day or a few hours. Even if there are people who would watch a toddler or who would watch a baby and could at that time, that is extremely short notice. The only problem I have is with the child being sick, but even though it is often encouraged that sick people stay home I know of no mandates in offices/schools for them to do so. Sometimes things happen and she felt this was the best idea.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 13, 2012 at 8:08 am |

          Yes, exactly. Make no mistake, I think Pine should have cancelled rather than engage in this clusterfuck, I think Pine should have done any number of other things, and I think she behaved like an asshole about it, but she doesn’t deserve to be shamed for not having a large ENOUGH support group either. I mean, one of my backups, I can leave my kid with her if it’s snowing, or whatever – I could even ask her to pick the kid up in an emergency – but I wouldn’t leave her with her if she was sick with anything infectious, simply because that backup has a toddler and now an infant. Etc.

    5. Natalia Antonova
      Natalia Antonova September 12, 2012 at 1:30 am | *

      Whoah, you just don’t get it, do you? Look, not all people have reliable support networks. That’s just the way it is sometimes – regardless of whether babies are involved.

    6. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 12:32 am |

      Believe it or don’t. But it’s true for many of us. You just have no idea.

  38. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm |

    What I am suggesting here is that this woman chose her profession, chose to have a child, and chose to live where she does. She is not an indentured servant, sold into employment. I am saying that she needs to take some responsibility to develop a network of friends and other parents wherever she lives, so that when the baby inevitable gets sick, she might have some options other than daycare or bringing the sick child to work.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm |

      In other words, she needs to pull up harder on those bootstraps. Because girlfriend just isn’t trying hard enough.

      Give it a rest already.

    2. EG
      EG September 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

      I am saying that she needs to take some responsibility to develop a network of friends and other parents wherever she lives

      Yeah, yeah. “Develop a network of friends.” She’ll take care of that in her copious spare time.

      1. mxe354
        mxe354 September 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm |

        Are you saying that it’s hard? Come on. It’s just a matter of walking up to some random person on the street and asking them to take care of your child. What could go wrong?

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 11:49 am |

          The street? You so silly. Try Craigslist!

    3. er
      er September 12, 2012 at 9:06 am |

      I have a better idea – rather than pretending like it’s the *woman’s* fault for not being able to find mythical back up care for her child, how about pressuring her university to institute a BACK UP CHILD CARE benefit? You know such things exist, right? A screened and qualified care provider comes to your house for a co-pay; you get a certain number of back up days per year that can be used for sick children (or watching well children on holiday) or elderly/ill partners or parents. Every employer should have this as a benefit option and then VIOLA these problems will disappear. It is NOT individual parents’ fault for not having “enough backup”. It took me six weeks of continual effort to find someone who could pick up my kids from school. It’s *very* hard in fact to find someone who can randomly watch a child – do you know why? Because people have JOBS. Yes, there is a sahm in my neighborhood who has watched my baby in a pinch, for about an hour, but this obviously wouldn’t work in every situation, or any day (she’s not going to plan her day around maybe being available to watch my kid).

      I would also like to say to Jill and everyone else out there on the supposed public health issue. Yes, a seriously ill person should stay at home. But c’mon, seriously, you’ve never left the house with a cold? A slight flu? What about 12 hours after your flu is over? I’m guessing you’ve gone to the grocery store, or a cafe, or the library in those conditions. Daycares have very specific and strict regulations regarding when “sick” children can and cannot come to school (some even encourage kids with runny noses to stay home, which if I had done that would have meant that my kids were at home roughly from November to March), usually based on a fever level (100 or 101, which is a relatively slight fever for a baby), and then they must stay out of daycare for 24 hours following the last recorded fever, which means if your baby had a fever the night before, even if she is perfectly well the next day (and baby fevers can be like lightening) you still cannot bring her to daycare the next day, because it hasn’t been 24 hours. Does that mean you can’t take your baby to the grocery store? Moreover, babies and toddlers get a sick a LOT, esp those in daycare, like amounts that you would not believe as an adult who probably gets sick every other year. They can have fevers as often as 5-10 times a year, at a minimum, and many of those fevers, like those associated with ear infections, are not contagious.

      I go to work sick. I bet almost everyone reading this post has been to work sick, whether it was a slight cold or a sinus infection or something much nastier. We’ve all felt that pressure to show up, and the pressure increases if what is on at work can’t be rescheduled. A class cannot be rescheduled. Missing a class can mean the entire semester needs to be restructured.

      I also find people’s general hostility to blurring the lines between caregiving, work, and public space to be discouraging (although typical even of feminist and social justice sites – it always boils down to some kind of woman-blaming [bad mother who didn't have a back up plan! bad mother endangering the health of those students without giving it any thought! bad mother who let a baby put a paper clip in her mouth, obviously that terrible mother cannot take adequate care of her own child!] People bring babies to work sometimes – in genuinely family-friendly gender-neutral, woman-positive environments there is a lot more tolerance for the presence of babies and small children.

      And you know what? Students can be parents too. I would be more than happy to have a student with a babe in arms in my class, to nurse in my class; I would support her, her desire to continue her education and care for her child; I would sympathize deeply with the conflicting demands of that situation and support her in every way possible. To me, that’s what a feminist is.

      1. chava
        chava September 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |

        I have a better idea – rather than pretending like it’s the *woman’s* fault for not being able to find mythical back up care for her child, how about pressuring her university to institute a BACK UP CHILD CARE benefit? You know such things exist, right? A screened and qualified care provider comes to your house for a co-pay; you get a certain number of back up days per year that can be used for sick children (or watching well children on holiday) or elderly/ill partners or parents. Every employer should have this as a benefit option and then VIOLA these problems will disappear.

        we have this at mr chava’s university; its lovely.

      2. EG
        EG September 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

        Holy shit, I had no idea such a thing existed. That is awesome.

    4. speedbudget
      speedbudget September 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm |

      Oh, that’s just what I want. Some random person to befriend me just so they can rope me into caring for their sick child.

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm |

        SPEEDBUDGET YOU ARE ON TO ME!

      2. Sarah
        Sarah September 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

        Hahahaha! I can’t wait to start finding a list of people to care for my sick children…whoops, I mean ‘friends’ [said while tenting my fingers ala Mr. Burns].

  39. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm |

    In other words, she is just a victim.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl September 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

      Right, because that’s not what anybody has said here.

      And now you’ve made it pretty clear that you’re just trolling, what with you’re putting words into people’s mouths and just asking questions that are all about showing how you know better and everyone else is a moron.

  40. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm |

    Funny, when I mention responsibility, people get irritable. Nowhere did I “put words in” anybody’s mouth, nor call anyone a name like moron or troll.

    Chill out.

    1. librarygoose
      librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm |

      You never used the word “responsibility”. You posted one asshole sentence. You want people to respond to a certain idea, describe that idea.

      1. librarygoose
        librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm |

        Damn, this is what I get for replying without scrolling. Bad goose.

    2. mxe354
      mxe354 September 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm |

      You dumbass. No one’s annoyed by the fact that you brought up responsibility. What’s annoying people is your silly bootstraps rhetoric that helps no one and reflects a lack of willingness to understand others’ circumstances.

      I wonder if you’re one of those folks who is just itching to find “proof” that feminists think all women are victims. I don’t think it’s a far-fetched suspicion, given your attitude.

    3. SubjectVerb
      SubjectVerb September 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm |

      What I am suggesting here is that this woman chose her profession, chose to have a child, and chose to live where she does. She is not an indentured servant, sold into employment.

      I agree with onetinythought, and I am not “trolling.” I thought about going into academia, but then I realized I wanted a family and a career with a market that was not saturated so that I was not subject to relocation if I wanted a job. Responsibility is key here, and she apparently chose to have a child by herself (I have already addressed this in my post above.) There is a bit of playing the victim here, and it doesn’t do the rest of us women any good.

      Also, I do not care for the name-calling just because someone disagrees with your point of view, so I don’t want to hear it. Argue your point like an adult.

      1. EG
        EG September 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm |

        I realized I wanted a family and a career with a market that was not saturated so that I was not subject to relocation if I wanted a job.

        Tell me, what profession is friendly to single mothers? What, in your infinite wisdom, should she have turned her talents to?

        It’s a real shame that we don’t all map our lives out at age 15, like you have. I tell you what, though. I’d pay a chunk of cash for front-row seats to see the first time life smacks you upside the head with something you didn’t expect.

        1. SubjectVerb
          SubjectVerb September 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm |

          I actually have a partner who is reliable and of strong character, so I have dealt which such things just fine. I don’t understand why you don’t think people can control their lives. It sounds like you are bitter and projecting, especially with your tone.

          And, yes, I am special, and yes, I am responsible. And, no, I haven’t had my life mapped out since I was fifteen. My life has only come together in the last 4 years, which actually coincides with my meeting, what do you know, a partner who is reliable, of strong character, and who is support of me and my life. It sounds like you need someone like that, because I think that is the only why you will understand what it is to look out on the world confident in the knowledge that you are in control of your life.

        2. mxe354
          mxe354 September 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm |

          I actually have a partner

          Good for you. Guess who doesn’t have a partner? The mom mentioned in this post.

        3. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 11:29 pm |

          Four years? Heh, yeah, right. Talk to me again in 15 years and let me know how things are going. Maybe then I’ll think you have special insight into choosing the right partner. More likely, I’ll just think you’re lucky.

          Why do I think people can’t control their lives? I guess it’s because I’ve spent many, many years living in the world, and have noticed that it’s not a fair or just one. I realize that it’s frightening to accept that, but it is ultimately an accurate understanding of the way the world looks. You lose the comfort of being able to assure yourself that you could never wind up in an unpleasant situation, but on the other hand, you gain an immense amount of empathy and compassion. It’s a pretty good trade.

          I may well be bitter–I’ve never understood why this is supposed to be such a bad thing to be–but I’m not delusional about the way the world works.

        4. EG
          EG September 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm |

          It sounds like you need someone like that, because I think that is the only why you will understand what it is to look out on the world confident in the knowledge that you are in control of your life.

          Hee. If only I could find the right partner so that I could know that I am in control of my life! If only I could find A Man who would solve all my problems. That would totes put me in control.

          You crack me up.

      2. librarygoose
        librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm |

        Have empathy like a goddamn adult. Your previous post you allude to? It’s dripping in so much self righteousness it borders on the inappropriate. What doesn’t do anyone any good is pretending that we can plan every portion of our lives. What doesn’t do women any good is throwing around rhetoric like “playing the victim”. She brought her kid to class once. Dear completely fabricated god, she might as well be teaching these young minds about Marxism!

      3. SubjectVerb
        SubjectVerb September 12, 2012 at 12:22 am |

        Fine, don’t believe in the fact that health, equal, relationships exist and can bring happiness and strength to the people in them. I am going to go crawl into a warm bed. Enjoy yours.

        1. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 7:15 am |

          Oh, sure, because I do not automatically accept the inherent superiority of your life, I deny the existence of healthy, equal relationships and shiver alone in a cold bed, cursing my miserable existence. You do get better and better.

        2. Odin
          Odin September 12, 2012 at 7:55 am |

          I’m going to assume you mean “healthy, egalitarian relationships” rather than a string of three nouns (health, Equal brand artificial sweetener, and relationships).

          Just because healthy, egalitarian relationships exist doesn’t mean everyone will be able to be in one all the time. We don’t know the fully circumstances of Prof. Pine’s becoming a single mother, and frankly, it’s not our business unless she chooses to share. It doesn’t mean she’s irresponsible. (Hell, for all we know she had an unplanned pregnancy and did what pro-lifers insist is the only Responsible option.)

          BTW, I’m being “responsible” according to your definition — I’m in academia with a healthy, stable relationship, but I’m not tenured yet, so we’re not even considering kids yet. But if we do decide to reproduce after tenure, we’re going to get accused of irresponsibility, since we’ll both be 36+, which is TOOOLDS for reproducing, don’cha know, because it will give your baby the autism and the Downs Syndrome. Both of which are a fate worse than death apparently. (And if we adopt, then we have to wade into the whole mess of making sure it’s an ethical, uncoerced adoption.)

        3. Tracey
          Tracey September 12, 2012 at 6:53 pm |

          I also think societal relationships should be strong, healthy and egalitarian. To me that would include understanding sometimes you need to bring your child, sick or otherwise, to work, and if you do when you’d rather not, that is likely a societal and institutional failing rather than a personal one.

          For instance, why aren’t these back-up/short-notice caregivers standard? After all, grade schools keep a bevy of substitute teachers on hand and some facilities keep on-call employees. If so many institutions recognize the need for back-up workers to fill their needs, why don’t more recognize the need for short-notice caregivers to fill the needs of their employees?

      4. Natalia Antonova
        Natalia Antonova September 12, 2012 at 1:33 am | *

        And, yes, I am special, and yes, I am responsible. And, no, I haven’t had my life mapped out since I was fifteen. My life has only come together in the last 4 years, which actually coincides with my meeting, what do you know, a partner who is reliable, of strong character, and who is support of me and my life.

        Sorry, but 4 years ain’t nothing.

        Pride goes before destruction, pumpkin.

        1. DouglasG
          DouglasG September 12, 2012 at 8:00 am |

          …and before Prejudice.

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 11:52 am |

          …Shortly followed by Zombies.

      5. TheFormerAstronomer
        TheFormerAstronomer September 13, 2012 at 4:44 am |

        You seem to be focussed on the idea that Professor Pine’s situation occurred because she wasn’t in a relationship with a strong partner of good character, and that this renders her reproductive choices ‘irresponsible’.

        OK, so let’s change the situation slightly, just as a hypothetical*. A university professor is in a relationship (strong, healthy and egalitarian) with another person, but that person works for an NGO and spends a significant part of their time working away, possibly in somewhere like Kabul*. These two have discussed their situation like mature adults, come to the decision that their long-term goals are compatible and have decided to have a child.

        What happens when the the university professor needs emergency child care while her partner is abroad? Do you consider her situation to be ‘irresponsible’ as well? Or should people only have children in the event that both parents live in the same location with jobs that allow sufficient sick days or flexible working arrangements such that one of them could always provide this? Because if that’s the case then – well I’ll be charitable here – I don’t think you’ve thought your position out fully.

        If you *don’t* think that’s the case, then how does my hypothetical professor’s situation differ in its essentials from the professor in this story? Or are you just judgemental about single parents?

        *Not entirely hypothetical, since this reflects the situation of a friend of mine.

  41. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm |

    I used the word “responsibility” in my comment at 947 pm, sorry I don’t know how to link them together. “Asshole sentence”? Yikes.

    1. librarygoose
      librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm |

      Hit the “reply” button. And yeah, you sound like an asshole.

      1. onetinythought
        onetinythought September 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm |

        Harsh, very harsh. Did you read all of my comments, or just fixate on that one? Thanks for the “reply” tutorial, BTW.

        1. librarygoose
          librarygoose September 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm |

          I read them all. You seem super sure that this woman’s life is simple and she’s a lazy “victim”. I have no sympathy for students who take an anthropology course centered around sex and gender who can’t handle the very real presentation of it.

          You’re welcome for the help.

  42. karak
    karak September 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm |

    I think this is an interesting illustration at how child-unfriendly our entire working world is. We don’t take our kids to work. We’ve created environments with strong delineations separating adults from children, and this is actually unique in human history, where children usually accompanied their parents to work, doing whatever they did or staying out of the way with their own small chores.

    I don’t think our culture can really even mentally grasp the idea of children being a constant, unavoidable accessory to the parent. And since the role of “parent” is often given to “mother” our work world and our mothering words are fundamentally incompatible, and always will be.

    1. EG
      EG September 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm |

      Nicely put.

    2. Matt
      Matt September 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

      Comparing the modern world to most of history is a poor decision. Circumstances are wildly different than in all the but the last 100 or so years. If you really want to push it we could extend back to 200 years to add the early industrial revolution.

      And really the tech/information age is separate even from the industrial period. So its more like the last 40 years.

      High end jobs ARE terrible places for children. One normal fussy episode could be worth millions of dollars as something like a lawyer or stock broker.

      Sure, children weren’t such a big deal during the pre industrial area. But that’s mostly because there was no work world then.

      People worked on farms or as artisans in their homes or attached workshops.

      That’s not remotely comparable to a world where the vast majority of jobs require some sort of commute and in which our decisions and actions and time are more significant and affect many, many other people.

      1. Kristen J.
        Kristen J. September 12, 2012 at 12:12 am |

        Actually, I would say the exact opposite wrt to lawyers. My coworkers have brought their infants to work without us feeling much of the impact. A very high profile colleague of mine negotiated a $$$ deal via video conference with opposing counsel in five countries and eight cities from her house while visibly breastfeeding her newborn. Nobody batted an eye. Granted, she’s a genius and noone should be required to meet that standard of kickassedness, but it made no difference to us that there was a baby in the room.

        1. Matt
          Matt September 12, 2012 at 8:35 am |

          And there’s never been a problem with fuzzy babies or tantrums? And what about toddlers vs babies, since I was commenting wrt children in general?

          I know that I had a pretty good day care and I still put those poor people through hell. Granted I only remember from about 3 on but they tell me that me and my twin brother often broke out of baby containment and once let lose our whole class of 20 toddlers into the hallways. We are legendary there and even new teachers used to tell us they were glad we had been before their time.

          The reason we went back is cause our grandma knew all the peeps there so she took us to visit one time.

          Note that we were terrors from the crawling stage onward.

          I guess my personal experience is more with children who cause incidents, as opposed to nicer kids. There is no way my mom could have handled us in her 2nd grade class or math lab class and we gave out minder in daycare a panic attack by hiding under a basket as well as the afore mentioned breaking out of the gates and such.

          I made it to the road by the daycare one of those times. I was a bad ass that way. Luckily I saw a butterfly and got too distracted to cross the street. Benefit of ADD I guess. Those poor care workers shit bricks. They had to call my mom and devise new methods of baby imprisonment and from then on they had to check on us literally every other minute.

          Hell when we were four we raided the janitor’s box and tried to build a bomb. We cracked the lock and stole oodles of stuff with my 2 friends and like screwed and hammer metal stuff, I think mostly metal parts of hoses and those corner chair support things onto the playground.

          And if we were kept strapped to a back or front or in a stroller we pitched fits.

          This is my experience of kids from age 1 to age 5. I cannot imagine trying to keep a problem child such as myself under control during a lecture, or a video conference, or basically anything that involves serious focus. It takes one minute and mini-me would be scaling the copier or climbing into an open duct grate or something. I also loved to crawl down stairs. I could get down, but not up, the 34 step stairway at my house before I could even walk. I took a lot of scary falls learning the trick, too.

          And this is relevant since the prof’s kid could clearly crawl.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 6:41 am |

        Oh, please. Most of a lawyer’s time is spent sitting at a desk pushing paper. I know, I did it for nearly 10 years. Yes, I also had to go to court and attend depositions and meetings, but still 60% plus of the work I did was sitting in my office by myself. That stuff totally could have been done from home, especially with all the computer technology we have these days. My outside the office time was actually much higher than most others attorneys I know, by the way, especially if they are not in a litigation related field.

        But the reality of face time office culture is what stands in the way of greater work place flexibility, regardless of whether or not one is a parent. And that is the sort of thing that must be changed in order to allow better work life balance for employees.

        1. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 12, 2012 at 10:13 am |

          I think this depends significantly on the parent and child involved. I concentrate best with my door closed and bad sci fi on the TV. A former colleague of mine said it was much easier to concentrate when herinfant was in the room because she didn’t have to worry or plan on pumping at certain times. Others seemed very frazzled when their kids were in the office. In either event, the problem is that women don’t have enough options and if its more convenient for them (and not dangerous for others) they should be permitted to bring their children to work.

        2. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. September 12, 2012 at 11:03 am |

          I would argue that the focus on productivity as the measure of the quality of an employee is a problem rather than a rationale. The reason we’re in this fix is because the push for increased productivity has created a race to the bottom where people are forced to exchange large chunks of their lives to the exclusion of their health, their wellbeing, their families, etc to maintain job security. That is a large part of what is still driving thesecond shift phenomenon.

        3. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 11:17 am |

          I was referring to working from home, which is a much more flexible set up with a small child. That work can definitely be done while the child(ren) is sleeping and when say the coparent/partner/spouse or other caregiver is around to take over with the child.

          Having been a practicing attorney and being a parent? I can say that this sort of set up would have worked for me just fine, if my employer hadn’t been so dead set against anything less than 70 work weeks in the office. Let’s not pretend that face time isn’t a huge deal in law firm culture, and it’s a bunch of nonsense.

          Between the reality that my Small-Law job paid pretty much crap (and childcare was going to cost most of that pay,) had pretty much no benefits to speak of, and was completely unwilling to work with me to create a more flexible work arrangement I left and haven’t looked back.

        4. chava
          chava September 12, 2012 at 11:36 am |

          I am finding this whole discussion deeply ironic in light of the “PLZ, childcare is just something parents do in the course of their everyday lives, it isn’t like, a JOB or anything” thread from a few weeks back.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 11:45 am |

          Seriously?

          Face time is a long standing characteristic of the patriarchal culture that still pervades the practice of law. It’s about proving who is the most dedicated, hard working attorney in the firm by equating it to how much time is spent sitting behind a desk and how much time is not spent having a life outside of the firm. When the actual measure of an attorney’s bona fides is their billables, their number of wins, and number of satisfied clients. Face time culture doesn’t foster efficiency or good end product, but it does foster the sort of macho atmosphere that makes it very difficult for women to get in and be successful.

          I’ve worked with and known plenty of attorneys (not surprisingly, all men) who made much noise about how awesome they were because they were in the office 90 hours a week. Despite the fact that they were spending plenty of that time dicking around on their computers doing stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with getting client work done, or lingering over their coffee and the Sports Pages, or even socializing with fellow co-workers.

          Guess what? It’s these same guys who give women attorneys shit when they get married, and then have the nerve to reproduce because they are supposedly no longer sufficiently dedicated to their work.

        6. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

          Lola,

          My wife is a partner in a small litigation support firm. They have 5 partners and 10 employees, they ALL work from home and they are all extremely well compensated.

          I have no idea if you’d be suited to the work, but they are always looking for someone with law firm experience. If you like, feel free to shoot me an email at fatsteverecords@gmail.com and I’ll send you a link to her company’s website. If it matches your particular skill set and looks like the kind of place you’d like to work for, I’ll pass your CV along.

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 13, 2012 at 10:08 am |

          Thanks, Steve, I might just take you up on that.

      3. TheFormerAstronomer
        TheFormerAstronomer September 12, 2012 at 8:01 am |

        I think that this is true for some jobs – I’m just not sure that teaching/lecturing/academia is one of them. I mean, I have no idea how I’d go about teaching Maxwell’s equations whilst corralling a crawling baby or toddler, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done, and done well.

        University life is only considered ‘adults only’ because it sprang from a time when it was only accessible to men, and the wives of those men were pretty much constrained to stay home and take care of the kids (or supervise the nannies doing the same, if they could afford it). I think that this can be changed, without any deleterious effects on either the quality or quantity of teaching. Yes it would mean some significant changes, and the inertia to overcome is huge. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing though.

      4. Tracey
        Tracey September 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

        I seriously think any job that can call itself high end and deals in transactions of the millions needs to have onsite daycare with provisions in place to care for children who are sick, or have it so that employees can easily tele-commute when their children are sick and on short notice (being able to call-in the morning of and say “hey, telecommuting today”).

      5. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 12:51 am |

        Comparing the modern world to most of history is a poor decision.

        Thank you for the Manly Proclamation, O Wise One. Next up: Which jobs will be RUINED by babies?

      6. karak
        karak September 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

        But why did we organize our work-world in such a way that children are insufferable annoyances?

        That’s kind of like making an office without bathrooms, because people pissing and shitting is annoying. Well, yes, but people must piss and shit, just as they must be children, and, for the business to have a future, have children.

        When your business runs on the assumption that humans are below it’s consideration, it is something to stop and marvel at.

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

          Jill, children’s being “insufferable annoyances” does not mean we should shunt them aside, automatically privilege the needs of adults over theirs, and punish MOTHERS (We take the brunt of this crap, you know? We really do. The dads, not so much.)

          Several bosses I’ve had? Insufferably annoying. The guy who clipped his toenails at this desk? Ditto. The woman who talked loudly on her telephone? See above.

          You often act as though children are some sort of special case of annoyance, bother, and hassle. Trust me, they’re no more annoying than asshole adults. And I actually have children, as well as compassion for small human beings who have no say in anything and yet are expected to act as though they’re mature, well-behaved adults.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

          You often act as though children are some sort of special case of annoyance, bother, and hassle. Trust me, they’re no more annoying than asshole adults. And I actually have children, as well as compassion for small human beings who have no say in anything and yet are expected to act as though they’re mature, well-behaved adults.

          You don’t think it’s at all possible those asshole adults were asshole children?

          When exactly do you feel it’s right start vilifying kids for being slightly annoying? Is it just at the point that they decide to work for the school newspaper?

        3. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |

          When exactly do you feel it’s right start vilifying kids for being slightly annoying? Is it just at the point that they decide to work for the school newspaper?

          Never, Fat Steve. It’s never okay to vilify children, who are an oppressed class by definition.

          The rest of your comment is ridiculous. If you are referring to the AU student reporter, she is an adult. But way to infantilize her. Furthermore, I haven’t villified her at all.

          Finally, my comment was addressed to Jill, not to you, so I’m not clear why you felt the knee-jerk need to play some stupid, irrelevant game of “gotcha.” if you had something of sibstance to offer, great. But that wasn’t it.

    3. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm |

      As I mentioned above, a lot of jobs are “fundamentally incompatible” with having small children present. All the goodwill in the world wouldn’t make a baby wandering the ER (or the kitchen of a McDonald’s) a great idea.

      Children have to be somewhat separate from the adult sphere because they cannot always safely be in the adult sphere. You can’t train a baby to take work-related safety precautions or stick a baby in a teeny hardhat.

      1. chava
        chava September 12, 2012 at 7:11 am |

        Sure….but what’s your point? Just because some things won’t work, doesn’t mean many more than currently do, COULD. And for jobs where you can’t have the child with you, on-site or nearby daycare, and a provision for sick you, child, or close relative.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 11:58 am |

          And for jobs where you can’t have the child with you, on-site or nearby daycare, and a provision for sick you, child, or close relative.

          That *is* my point; there needs to be a separate “baby sphere” for children, and full adult/child work integration is not a feasible solution.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 12:56 am |

          I am finding this whole discussion deeply ironic in light of the “PLZ, childcare is just something parents do in the course of their everyday lives, it isn’t like, a JOB or anything” thread from a few weeks back.

          Word.

    4. Chataya
      Chataya September 12, 2012 at 8:28 am |

      children usually accompanied their parents to work, doing whatever they did or staying out of the way with their own small chores.

      Ah yes, the good old days before child labor laws and workplace safety regulations. Truly a glorious era of human history.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 11:59 am |

        Those tiny hands fit great into the machinery!

        1. Chataya
          Chataya September 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm |

          And it taught them hand-eye coordination! Valuable life skills all around.

          Damn commie unionists ruining it all.

  43. pedestrian
    pedestrian September 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm |

    One more thing: I teach a class schedule geared toward working people, in which class meets once a week for 2.5 hours. So cancelling class means one week of instruction is missed. Is that really preferable to having a baby in class?

  44. Henry
    Henry September 12, 2012 at 12:27 am |

    Sicks kids were the norm at our workplace, as the company only provided a few days a year of emergency day care and no one none of the secretarial staff could afford to otherwise care for a sick child barred from regular day care. Thankfully we had a few empty offices and some office supplies for them to play with.

    We need proper functional affordable day care solutions. Children get sick, some people have jobs where they and only they can do the job, so there’s no possibility of covering. I do question whether a teaching assistant could have covered that day’s material adequately, or was the prof trying to make a point, given this is an anthropology class.

  45. Natalia Antonova
    Natalia Antonova September 12, 2012 at 1:43 am | *

    I think anyone who refers to a sick, breastfeeding baby in class as an “incident” is a fucking idiot. The actual word is “inconvenience.”

    Inconveniences happen. Shit, I was once lectured by a professor who was recovering from a pretty serious accident – and at one point, it became really hard for him to go on. Was it awkward and uncomfortable for us all, including the prof? Sure. But that’s life – the life of an academic who is under pressure to not cancel class. If any one of my classmates had decided to write an expose about the “incident” later on, I think the rest of us would have called them out for being little shits.

    And as I recall, I had a prof who regularly had to combine office hours with breastfeeding time. Amazingly enough, no one freaked out – not even the overgrown man-children with the popped collars and the frat membership. Why, even *they* could be adults about the whole thing! Amazing, I know.

    Interestingly enough, my husband has had to do his share of work with the baby by his side. He’s a director and actor, so his working day is less structured, but stuff happens. Naturally, most people think of him as being an Awesome Dad when he’s going about his business with the kidlet tucked under his arm. If he were a woman, he would have been an Inconsiderate Bitch who Should Have Thought About It Before Procreating, of course.

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 2:18 am |

      I think anyone who refers to a sick, breastfeeding baby in class as an “incident” is a fucking idiot.

      She did not call the baby an ‘incident’. She called the incident (def: an occurrence of an action) an ‘incident.’ It’s all fine and good for you to call a journalist who refers to the occurrence of an action as an ‘incident’ as a fucking idiot, but I hope you do so to everyone who uses the proper dictionary definition of words. Besides, who are you to tell a young inexperienced woman aspiring to be a journalist that she is a ‘fucking idiot’ because she doesn’t use verbiage (one word, which she uses properly,) you approve of? Certainly not a sympathetic understanding role model, which is what I would hope you would be, as a professional journalist yourself.

      1. Natalia Antonova
        Natalia Antonova September 12, 2012 at 9:40 am | *

        Oh no. I used bad words. Angry words, even. How unladylike of me.

        Though seriously, my bad. “Sexist idiot” is much more descriptive than a mere “fucking idiot.”

        Because, guess what? Covering this story from a ZOMG PROFESSOR FEEDS HER BABY WITH *BOOBIES* DURING CLASS angle is sexist. The idea that this is a “delicate” subject matter that ought to have both the professor and the students reaching for their smelling salts is sexist. Treating the prof as some sort of cross between a damsel in distress and a sultry vixen who has corrupted young and impressionable minds is sexist.

        I’ve got no interest in being a role model to a person like that – though I’m sure that Rush Limbaugh will take the poor dear under his wing.

        Most student journalists are full of themselves. I know this, because I was one. What I needed most was a good dose of reality – as opposed to “sympathy” or “understanding,” I’m afraid. I got it when I was living in the Middle East, but perhaps our intrepid student reporter won’t have to go that far.

        So here’s her dose of reality: if you want to get good quote from people, level with them. There, I’ve dispensed this earth-shattering wisdom for free. I shall henceforth be known as a role model – the snarky, non-condescending kind.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 10:24 am |

          Oh no. I used bad words. Angry words, even. How unladylike of me..

          No, not all, you saying: “anyone who refers to a sick, breastfeeding baby in class as an “incident” is a fucking idiot,” is a completely irrelevant hallucination, as no one referred to the baby as an incident. SO basically you are making up a lie in order to insult a yound woman who you’ve never met.

          I’ve got no interest in being a role model to a person like that – though I’m sure that Rush Limbaugh will take the poor dear under his wing.

          Yeah, sure, write her off with knowing nothing about her. However, I don’t think Limbaugh would have her either, because his criticisms of women he doesn’t know are just as knee-jerk, misappropriated and hateful as yours.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 10:47 am |

          Steve, stop being disingenuous. And while we are at it, why are so insistent on spinning this as poor student journalist squashed by big, bad meany Professor? It’s clear from Pine’s telling of the story that this student was referring to her breastfeeding her (sick) baby as an incident, and Natalia’s comment is clear on this point as well.

          Being a journalist does not insulate one from having his or her ass handed to them in pursuit of a sensationalist story with a sexist spin to it. Hopefully, Heather the aspiring journalist learned an important lesson about how sexism still persists even in the 21st century and why that’s a very bad, no good thing.

        3. Revolver
          Revolver September 12, 2012 at 11:38 am |

          Lolagirl, you can’t deny the power differences. It probably isn’t a case of one is right and one is wrong, but there are sure as hell power-differential issues here.

      2. Natalia Antonova
        Natalia Antonova September 12, 2012 at 9:41 am | *

        Also, the full phrase I used does not imply that the baby herself was treated as some kind of “incident.” I mean, geez.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm |

          Well, your context was difficult to understand. You said:

          “I think anyone who refers to a sick, breastfeeding baby in class as an “incident” is a fucking idiot. The actual word is “inconvenience.””

          So you weren’t saying anyone who refers to the sick, breastfeeding baby as an “incident” is a “fucking idiot”?

          You were saying a person who refers to the incidence of a sick, breastfeeding baby in class as an “incident” is a “fucking idiot”?

          The correct term, you seem to go on to say, should be ‘inconvenience.’

          So you would have been perfectly happy, had the journalist said ‘What were you doing the time the inconvenience occurred”? And you think Prof Pine would?

      3. Natalia
        Natalia September 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm |

        But that’s not what I said, Steve.

      4. Natalia Antonova
        Natalia Antonova September 13, 2012 at 12:06 am | *

        So you would have been perfectly happy, had the journalist said ‘What were you doing the time the inconvenience occurred”? And you think Prof Pine would?

        Steve, you’re being deliberately obtuse. It’s kinda funny actually. But fine, I’ll answer you seriously:

        Like I said, you have to level with your subject, as a journalist. And as human beings and and alleged adults, the students themselves should have recognized the situation for what it was. It’s not hard. Frat boys can do it.

        It’s sad and pathetic that what was a hassle became, once again, an incident. Oh, and fucking idiotic too. Idiotic in a sexist way.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 11:39 am |

          No. As you are fully aware, the “incident” was that a woman breastfed her infant in front of other people.

          I’m not fully aware of that. I assumed you were a feminist. It been insisted upon by commenters such as Lola and Natalia that describing the breastfeeding as an ‘incident’ is extremely anti-feminist. I’m surprised at you using such anti-feminist language, tinfoil.

      5. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 12:58 am |

        What was “the incident,” Fat Steve. Pray tell.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 1:59 am |

          What was “the incident,” Fat Steve. Pray tell.

          Some Neanderthal got all offended when a professor fed her baby, then immediately publicly badmouthed her via Twitter.

          Sorry, haven’t you been following?

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 9:12 am |

          No. As you are fully aware, the “incident” was that a woman breastfed her infant in front of other people. When the student-reporter asked Prof. Pine about it, Pine had no idea anyone had tweeted anything. Furthermore, the dude who tweeted said nothing about the baby being sick.

          Yeah. “Disingenuous” – at best.

        3. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 11:41 am |

          No. As you are fully aware, the “incident” was that a woman breastfed her infant in front of other people.

          I’m not fully aware of that. I assumed you were a feminist. It been insisted upon by commenters such as Lola and Natalia that describing the breastfeeding as an ‘incident’ is extremely anti-feminist. I’m surprised at you using such anti-feminist language, tinfoil.

        4. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

          Any particular reason you insist on acting like a jackass around this subject, Steve? You and your male privilege, ha-ha isn’t it FUNNY that people would consider breastfeeding an “incident” worth reporting on?

          Of course, according to you, the “incident” was (wide-eyed innocent look) RILLY RILLY all because a professor brought her sick baby to class!

          At least I am a feminist, unlike you.

        5. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

          No. As you are fully aware, the “incident” was that a woman breastfed her infant in front of other people. When the student-reporter asked Prof. Pine about it, Pine had no idea anyone had tweeted anything. Furthermore, the dude who tweeted said nothing about the baby being sick.

          Yeah. “Disingenuous” – at best.

          You ask me what the incident was…then when I tell you what I think it was, you tell me I’m wrong and you know exactly what it was.

          You ask a question you don’t want the answer to, solely for the purpose of winding me up, and I’m being disingenuous?

        6. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

          Hattie, this is ridiculous. Fat Steve is a feminist, he’s just a feminist who agrees with other feminists instead of with you. That’s not a crime.

        7. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm |

          To be fair, I’m not sure if as I man I feel I have the right to call myself a feminist and don’t feel it’s worth the energy to figure out whether I have that right. I simply say I support the goals of feminism, and that I try my best not to be sexist.

        8. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm |

          bagelsan, feminists don’t make sexist comments. They certainly don’t have to AGREE with me. I wonder why you have to create this whole projected persona onto me?

          Wait – no, I don’t wonder. I don’t CARE.

        9. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |

          @Fat Steve, you keep insisting that the “incident” was: this professor brought her sick kid to class. Oh, and she fed it. Isn’t that HORRIBLE?

          If you are honest, and if you set aside your male privilege, you will listen to what real mothers who have breastfed are telling you: the “incident,” according to THE DUDE WHO TWEETED IT and brought the school paper running, was grossed out by his professor breastfeeding.

          This happens all the time in the real world. All. the. time. To pretend this would never have been tweeteed, and made into a “story,” if the baby hadn’t had a cold, is to be willfully ignorant of the real discrimination and sexism and outright hatred breastfeeding mothers face.

        10. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm |

          @Fat Steve, you keep insisting that the “incident” was: this professor brought her sick kid to class. Oh, and she fed it. Isn’t that HORRIBLE?

          If you are honest, and if you set aside your male privilege, you will listen to what real mothers who have breastfed are telling you: the “incident,” according to THE DUDE WHO TWEETED IT and brought the school paper running, was grossed out by his professor breastfeeding.

          What an absolute bald faced lie!

          I said

          Some Neanderthal got all offended when a professor fed her baby, then immediately publicly badmouthed her via Twitter.

          then you said

          No. As you are fully aware, the “incident” was that a woman breastfed her infant in front of other people.

          You’re seriously going to say I said the exact opposite of what is up there for everyone to see? And deny that you said what you’re claiming I said?

          Tinfoil, I’m happy to have a conversation with you, but this is just utterly ridiculous and outright dishonesty.

        11. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm |

          @Fat Steve, you keep insisting that the “incident” was: this professor brought her sick kid to class. Oh, and she fed it. Isn’t that HORRIBLE?

          Oh, and please tell me where I said this ONCE, much less insisted. I have always ‘insisted’ that NOTHING wrong happened in the classroom, and that Prof Pine’s treatment of the young journalist and the Counterpunch article is what I took issue. Which I might remind you, is almost the identical position you’re taking. But if you want to put words in my mouth that I never said, you could still keep this adversarial…

  46. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca September 12, 2012 at 3:20 am |

    It doesn’t seem too healthy to me that a segregation between the world of work and world of family even exists. I think having tons of kids running around all sorts of workplaces would be great because it would undermine the sterile professionalism and the bottom-line mentality that’s to be found at most jobs. It would encourage an ethos of viewing workers as whole people, not just means to an end to be exploited by bosses or used up by customers (or in this case students). So some people get distracted? So what? Maybe these people shouldn’t have been so hyperfocused in the first place on the bullshit job they were doing or service they were receiving that probably didn’t even matter very much to begin with. I find it hard to name many things that’d be more important than caring for vulnerable individuals (children, sick people, etc.) who rely on others to live. So maybe the diners at Applebee’s should be prepared to wait an extra fifteen minutes on their appetizer sampler platter if it means we get live in a society that’s not a atomistic, anti-human, capitalistic dystopian nightmare.

    1. er
      er September 12, 2012 at 9:08 am |

      AMEN!

    2. mxe354
      mxe354 September 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm |

      Well said.

    3. LMM
      LMM September 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm |

      Maybe these people shouldn’t have been so hyperfocused in the first place on the bullshit job they were doing or service they were receiving that probably didn’t even matter very much to begin with.

      Yeah, who cares about the woman with ADD who is working on her dissertation in a corner? So what if she keeps getting distracted? It was bullshit research, and it didn’t matter at all anyway!

      I get that some people have criticized Woolf’s statement that women need a “room of one’s own” to write in, but I think it’s generally true that such tasks are much easier to accomplish when separate space *is* available. And saying that we should abolish that for everyone is just … well, rather callous for those of us who can’t manage to multitask.

  47. A4
    A4 September 12, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    I don’t know about y’all, but I just emailed Professor Pine a letter of support and I think her essay on this incident is hilarious, insightful, incredibly even-handed, and far more worth reading than the awful post article.

    Professor Pine’s language is amazing. The way she sets the issues firmly within a feminist paradigm using language and descriptions of personal experience is to be admired.

    I don’t understand why we have cast this discussion as “But what could this mother have done better, to serve the tender needs of privileged college students to which she is capitalistically bound”

    Professor Pine’s point about this being a non-story is extremely appropriate because of one simple fact: It’s more newsworthy that there is a national article about a professor breastfeeding in a feminist anthropology class than that there was a professor breastfeeding in a feminist anthropology class.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm |

      serve the tender needs of privileged college students to which she is capitalistically bound

      This working class student (also a caregiver, by the fucking way) would like to kindly invite her to capitalistically bind herself to some other profession where she can have her sick child crawling around her workspace without interference.This working class student (also a caregiver, by the fucking way) would also like, even more kindly, to invite you to fuck yourself sideways for assuming that all college students are rolling around in boatloads of money. Some of us (actually, almost all of us) are going into massive debt to study and actually give a shit whether the person teaching us is remotely interested in our welfare or not.

      1. EG
        EG September 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm |

        I agree with most of this statement, Mac, but I also think you’re making a leap from “brought the kid in” to “remotely interested in her students’ welfare.” Believe me, most of us are rather more than remotely interested in our students’ welfare, and I can’t help but feel it personally when a professor making a judgment call or being somewhat distracted is taken as evidence that we’re not. I mean, who among us has never been distracted during work? Even work we care about? I know you can’t have meant to imply that, given the conversation we had above about teaching, but that’s how this comment comes off to me.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

          Sorry, that was a statement of “interested or not” that came off rather wrong, as in, I’ll base my college experience on wehther my professor’s interested in my welfare or not. It came off horribly wrong and I apologise.

          Wargh, I am having massive brainfail the last couple of days! Feministe, plz to be adding edit feature, love you for it.. I’ve had to correct, what, three comments in the last 12 hours alone?

  48. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll September 12, 2012 at 10:37 am |

    Wouldn’t have cared about the breast feeding, but the baby crawling on the floor would have distracted the hell out of me. And I’d be right pissed if I got sick because of it.

  49. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 10:44 am |

    For all the people who are so willing to believe that this piece would be a hatchet job, solely based on the word ‘incident’ or due to the fact that 3 years ago the paper ran an editorial by some libertarian who dismissed the idea of date rape, how about looking at the young journalists’ previous work on The Eagle? I just did. Nothing, literally nothing there, gives the impression of a person with a right wing agenda, not one story is in any way an ‘expose’ or a hatchet job AT ALL. Take a look for yourself:

    http://www.theeagleonline.com/staff/profile/heather-mongilio/

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 10:59 am |

      This humorless feminist is unmoved. A past track record of inoffensive journalism doesn’t really mean a whole lot of anything. And nobody is saying that she is some right wing plant with an agenda to ruin it for all the women, that’s really besides the point.

      Do you really need schooling on how sexist notions can be so deeply socialized and ingrained into the collective pysche such that even plenty of women don’t realize they are there until they have a knee jerk reaction to something? Heather the aspiring journalist very likely did not grow up with breastfeeding as anything even vaguely approaching normal, and I don’t find it all surprising that she had the knee jerk reaction of ZOMG! breastfeeding where other people can see IT!

      Because here’s the thing that any breastfeeding parent who has ever been hassled will tell you if you actually bother to ask and listen to what they have to say: there is no hard and fast rule on the age or sex of those who are freaking out over the breastfeeding.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 11:31 am |

        Heather the aspiring journalist very likely did not grow up with breastfeeding as anything even vaguely approaching normal, and I don’t find it all surprising that she had the knee jerk reaction of ZOMG! breastfeeding where other people can see IT!

        We don’t know any of this, in fact, had she reacted like that Prof Pine would have mentioned it. It was much more likely the ‘ZOMG’ came from a student who called the paper. Regardless of all that let’s accept your premise for the sake of argument:

        So, we’ll say “Heather the aspiring journalist very likely did not grow up with breastfeeding as anything even vaguely approaching normal.”

        Does that mean that she should be written off immediately? Was your feminism fully formed before you reached your 20’s? Do you want to be judged on the way you were raised? Do you want to be judged on a sexist article your paper has published written by a guy who has probably already graduated or your own work which is in no way sexist? Do you want to be treated as an annoyance by a professor when you’re doing an extra-curricular activity in a job which clearly is one that you view as your future and your passion? Do you want to be badmouthed by a professor at your university publicly based on an article you haven’t written?

        Lola, your blanket defense of Professor Pine doesn’t seem to indicate that you are willing to concedethat she may have done anything wrong. I’ve already mentioned the numerous ways in which she wasn’t wrong, yet you find it impossible to acknowledge Pine handled this anything other than perfectly, so I’m having trouble seeing how you are arguing in good faith.

    2. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 11:16 am |

      and also…to all those complaining that this has become a ‘national news story,’ How many people have read the ‘national news story, that Jill linked to in her OP in the sentence below?

      At one point, the baby gets fussy, and so the professor breastfeeds the baby. Normal “this is life” stuff, or a national news story?

      It links to an article from the Washington post.

      1) The hyperlink is

      washingtonpost.com/local/education/american-university-professor-breast-feeds-sick-baby-in-class-sparking-debate/2012/09/11/54a06856-fc12-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_story.html

      So, it’s a local story, not a national story. Hence the word local. But it happens to be a local paper with a wide readership. The reason why this story ‘went national’ in the sense that Jill read it, is due to the internet age. This story would not have been picked up by the national news if it was on the local pages of the Washington Post pre-WWW.

      2) According to the article, university officials issued a statement that seemed to indicate some disapproval of Pine’s actions, generally citing them as a health issue because the baby was sick.” Any comments made towards breastfeeding by the school were positive or neutral. The only comment about an objection to breastfeeding was “Some students interviewed Tuesday said breast-feeding doesn’t belong in the classroom.” which again was neutral and not treated with any moral weight or something which was defended.

      3) Over half of this ‘national’ news story was solely based on Pine’s response, which was of course, based on an imaginary article that hadn’t been written yet. As below:

      “Pine wrote that she was “shocked and annoyed that this would be considered newsworthy.” She lamented that her workplace had suddenly become “a hostile environment.” She also upbraided journalists at the Eagle student newspaper — which, as of Tuesday afternoon, had not published any article on the matter — and wrote that the tone of a reporter’s questions implied an “anti-woman” view.

      She was shocked, she was annoyed, she equates answering a female students’ questions with a hostile work environment, she ‘knows’ what this young journalist will write based on her tone.

      In summary, this woman used the fact that a few ignorant and backward students may have been ‘grossed-out’ her breast feeding, but she is using this tiny group of sexists to deflect from the legitimate criticism of the majority of students who very well may have found the contagious child, (and contagious professor the next day,) and the paper clip/socket incident problematic. She clearly knows that she did all those things wrong which is why she is focusing on the breastfeeding, the only defensible aspect of this.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 11:27 am |

        She clearly knows that she did all those things wrong which is why she is focusing on the breastfeeding, the only defensible aspect of this.

        Or, maybe, just maybe, the Administration is playing cover our asses by trying to turn the emphasis away from the breastfeeding and towards irresponsible Professor and her terrible exposure of students to the common cold virus.

        this woman used the fact that a few ignorant and backward students may have been ‘grossed-out’ her breast feeding, but she is using this tiny group of sexists to deflect from the legitimate criticism of the majority of students

        Steve, you’re veering into mansplaining territory. Proceed with caution.

        Pine has every right to be be offended and infuriated that students at her school are treating breastfeeding in public as a big scandalous scandal. We should be offended and infuriated by such a thing, because it’s asinine. You aassuming she is using that as cover for the story of bringing her sick child to class with her once, in an isolated incident just smacks of apologism to me. It’s not as though Pine has made a habit of bringing her child to classes with her, or of even abusing her Teaching Assistants time and free labor as babysitters.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 11:39 am |

          Steve, you’re veering into mansplaining territory. Proceed with caution.

          Huh? Mansplaining? I really thought I was sticking to the exact facts of what the article says- and what most of the criticism on this page has been. No one has publicly criticized the breastfeeding. Bringing the sick child to school has been publicly criticized. She is defending the breastfeeding. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word deflect, if that’s what you mean, but how can you deny that the school’s statement only mentioned the ill child, and her statement dealt with everything else.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 11:40 am |

          It’s not as though Pine has made a habit of bringing her child to classes with her,

          So far, in these student’s eyes, she has done it 100% of the time.

        3. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 11:44 am |

          I would also like to add, that in my personal educational experience male professors were far more arrogant and self-important and would easily treat a student reporter with far more contempt.

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm |

          Steve, you specifically opined that the Professor was “using” the breastfeeding aspect of the story to deflect attention from the issue of her bringing her kid to class with her. That isn’t just the fact, Ma’am, that’s you putting your own spin on it, and the spin is that Pine is being dishonest while the Administration at AU is being 100% upfront and honest.

          When you tell women how it is, because you know better than them, you need to be very cautious about how you got to that end conclusion. Why are you so inclined to believe the Administration over the Professor? Why are so quick to dismiss her conclusion that this is really about her breastfeeding her child in class, especially in light of the quote from the WaPo that some students were unhappy with her doing exactly that?

          Also, the Washington Post is a national paper. If I can buy it at most newstands in Paris or London or Rome or whatever? It’s a national.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

          So far, in these student’s eyes, she has done it 100% of the time.

          Gotcha! Oh, wait, no.

          The fact is that Professor Pine had never before brought her child to class with her. Are we now so concerned for the fragile sensibilities and narrow experiences of her students that the potential for their minds being blown by a one time incident becomes paramount? Especially and even if the controversy is limited to the one time bringing of the kid to school, it still doesn’t merit all of this hand wringing.

        6. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm |

          So far, in these student’s eyes, she has done it 100% of the time.

          So what? No, seriously, so what? If they’re that delicate, they can drop the class, and if they’re not, they have a semester’s worth of classes in which they can reassure themselves and soothe their jangled nerves.

        7. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm |

          Steve, you specifically opined that the Professor was “using” the breastfeeding aspect of the story to deflect attention from the issue of her bringing her kid to class with her. That isn’t just the fact, Ma’am, that’s you putting your own spin on it, and the spin is that Pine is being dishonest while the Administration at AU is being 100% upfront and honest.

          The Professor doesn’t deny anything that the University said. You have a weird habit of seizing on one word and deciding it explains every thing in a person’s tone so I guess I shouldn’t have said ‘using’, but how else would you describe the use of something?

          When you tell women how it is, because you know better than them, you need to be very cautious about how you got to that end conclusion.

          I was not ‘telling women how it is,’ I was expressing an opinion, in fact, I specifically said I was basing my opinion on many of the comments made by women on here.

          Why are you so inclined to believe the Administration over the Professor?

          I’m not. As I said before, the Professor does not dispute the Administration’s account.

          Why are so quick to dismiss her conclusion that this is really about her breastfeeding her child in class, especially in light of the quote from the WaPo that some students were unhappy with her doing exactly that?

          ‘This’ is really about her breastfeeding in class? What is ‘this’? The article she wrote is certainly about breastfeeding in class. So far the article SHE wrote is the only one that focuses on breastfeeding.

          Also, the Washington Post is a national paper. If I can buy it at most newstands in Paris or London or Rome or whatever? It’s a national.

          It was in the local news section. My grandfather’s obituary was in The New York Times, does that mean his death made national news.

        8. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm |

          As I said before, the Professor does not dispute the Administration’s account.

          This isn’t 100% correct, though. Pine’s piece in Counterpunch attributes the controversy in no small part to her breastfeeding her child in class. In the WaPo piece, the Administration tried to downplay the breastfeeding angle, but felt it necessary to point out that they have space for breastfeeding mothers to pump milk if necessary. The subtle implication there could also be taken that she should have used the pumping area to feed her baby instead of the classroom.

          What is ‘this’?

          The controversy and hand wringing going on about Professor Pine bringing her child to class and breastfeeding her. “This” is the point I have made repeatedly.

          My grandfather’s obituary was in The New York Times, does that mean his death made national news.

          Good for you , so was my grandfather’s obituary when he died. You know what? When the obit ran, all I had to do was walk down to the newstand in the lobby of my office in Chicago to buy that issue of the NYT. So much for that gotcha.

        9. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm |

          Good for you , so was my grandfather’s obituary when he died. You know what? When the obit ran, all I had to do was walk down to the newstand in the lobby of my office in Chicago to buy that issue of the NYT. So much for that gotcha.

          And you told people that your grandfather’s death made national news?

          I certainly didn’t go around saying that- not even once- in my opinion it would seem like overstating things incredibly.

        10. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

          Reading comprehension is your friend, Steve.

          This whole sidetrack about it being national news is nonsensical. The article was in a national newspaper, once that paper gets disseminated throughout the U.S. and beyond, it’s silly to stomp one’s foot and continue to insist that it’s only a little local story of little to no import.

          The point about the obits is that it doesn’t have to be a national story to be accessible to millions of people outside of the geographical area in which the story originated. That’s why we get all fired up about stories that take place far, far away from where we live, even if they involve people who are complete strangers to us.

        11. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |

          That’s why we get all fired up about stories that take place far, far away from where we live, even if they involve people who are complete strangers to us.

          So, you, like me think it’s ridiculous that people are asking ‘why is this national news’?

        12. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

          Two separate issues are at play here. Should it be national news? No, it shouldn’t be. Is it national news? Yes.

          The WaPo article? Sure makes it sounds like this controversy is ultimately about breastfeeding in public.

        13. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

          Lola,

          Let me just ask you. Do you really think Professor Pine treated Ms. Mongolio with respect, understanding and courtesy in every way? Because I don’t think she did, and that’s really all I’m arguing here- an authority figure treating a student like shit.

        14. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

          all I’m arguing here- an authority figure treating a student like shit.

          Fair enough.

          Maybe Pine was ott with the way that she responsed to Mongolio. On the other hand, her Counterpunch article details how she attempted to respond to Mongolio’s initial overtures for her response and that Mongolio refused to leave it at that.

          The reason that I won’t cede too much ground on this whole kerfuffle is precisely because it is about breastfeeding in public. Publicly confronting someone about breastfeeding their child is shitty and sexist, no matter who is doing it or why they are so misinformed as to not understand why it is shitty and sexist. Pine was put on the spot about something that should not be a controversial thing in this day and age. That it remains so controversial speaks a great deal to how much progress we still need to make to eradicate sexism in our society.

        15. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm |

          Publicly confronting someone about breastfeeding their child is shitty and sexist, no matter who is doing it or why they are so misinformed as to not understand why it is shitty and sexist. Pine was put on the spot about something that should not be a controversial thing in this day and age.

          Pine was neither “publicly confronted” nor “put on the spot”: she was privately interviewed. After class. By a student. That’s not exactly the Spanish Inquisition. She didn’t like it, but she wasn’t mistreated; if anything she was being treated very fairly by giving her a voice in the matter.

        16. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 13, 2012 at 9:35 am |

          Pine was neither “publicly confronted” nor “put on the spot”: she was privately interviewed.

          Are we really going to split these hairs?

          According to Pine’s telling of the story, Heather the student journalist was waiting for her outside her classroom in the hallway. That certainly has the potential for public confrontation.

          And the student who tweeted and Facebooked about the breastfeeding incident? That was a pretty intensely public way to confront Pine, and but for that confrontation there wouldn’t be a national controversy.

    3. Lauren
      Lauren September 13, 2012 at 7:54 am |

      Steve, instead of toothlessly defending this student journalist again and again, please let us know what your bottom line is here. No “suppression” of “news” ever? Journalists are always doing their best and should never be criticized? Just say what you mean.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

        Steve, instead of toothlessly defending this student journalist again and again, please let us know what your bottom line is here. No “suppression” of “news” ever? Journalists are always doing their best and should never be criticized? Just say what you mean.

        I am in no way making blanket statements like “No “suppression” of “news” ever?” or “Journalists are always doing their best and should never be criticized.”

        and I was kind over this.

        But since you asked my bottom line:

        I think that Prof Pine’s reaction towards the paper was inappropriate reaction to an article that hadn’t been written, but her worries were understandable. I keep saying I have no problem with anything related to bringing the child into class.

        I have huge problems with her Counterpunch article as I feel she was arrogant and dismissive towards the journalist and did not treat her as a fellow human being worthy of a conversation. Maybe I do have a bias against teachers who I percieve arrogant and dismissive of students. I had quite a few of them throughout my scholling. All the ones I can think of were men, FWIW. But as I was saying I though her article was arrogant and dismissive towards the journalist and specifically blaming her for the entire issue (and I can’t even begin to comment on the phone number thing…anyone here defending that?)

        I just went back to check the CounterPunch article against my memory and easily 75% of it is devoted to the exchanges between her and the journalist. The name ‘Heather’ occurs 13 times in the piece, while the term ‘breastfeeding’ appears 7 times including the header. Nowhere are any of the students who actually complained named, shamed or blamed.

        That is my bottom line issue. Which, is more or less the only thing Prof. Pine apologized for. I understand she was ill and this may have caused her to react more angrily than she would have. She isn’t defending herself against any of the actions I had issues with and has apologized, which is why you will see down below, why I said I felt I had nothing more to argue.

  50. Miss S
    Miss S September 12, 2012 at 10:57 am |

    With regards to the baby being sick- you all do realize that sick people leave the house all the time, right? In my part time waitressing job, I’ve witnessed servers coming in and working with colds, fevers, sinus infections, and one girl that hardly had a voice. I see sick people come to class, too. If you have a compromised immune system, how do you avoid all of the sick people in public?

    It sounds like this woman didn’t really have any good choices- cancel a lecture, leave the baby alone (which isn’t actually an option) or bring the baby to class. Oh right- she could have waited several years before having a child, chosen a different career, chosen a different man (seriously? Is there a woman alive who hasn’t been involved with a less than ideal partner before?), used her bootstraps for something…..

    She had limited options. I didn’t realize professors caught so much flack for canceling classes, but I can’t recall any students being upset when it happened. This was in undergrad, most of the students had no children, everyone had a parking pass anyway, etc. When one of my professors canceled due to a death in the family, she remarked when she returned that she was surprised at the kind words and condolences emailed to her from her classes. I would hope that no one would be like “fuck your grandma, I paid for this.”
    Another professor left for a week and half when his wife had a baby. He left us the lectures on video, but it was statistics, and since he couldn’t clarify or answer our questions (it was a recorded video, not Skype), the material was a little harder to learn. When he got back and realized that we didn’t really grasp the material, he changed the rest of the curriculum around for us. So it worked out just fine.

    If workplaces realized that we’re humans, not robots, our workplace policies would look very different.

    1. shfree
      shfree September 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

      With regards to the baby being sick- you all do realize that sick people leave the house all the time, right? In my part time waitressing job, I’ve witnessed servers coming in and working with colds, fevers, sinus infections, and one girl that hardly had a voice. I see sick people come to class, too. If you have a compromised immune system, how do you avoid all of the sick people in public?

      Hell, I had legitimately been exposed to hepatitis A when I worked food service (my boyfriend at the time contracted it when he had been visiting me) and I got pushback from my boss about my decision to not come to work until I got my test results back. And hepatitis A is one of the contractible diseases that a restaurant has to report to the health department, should an employee contract it. You would think that it would be a situation of whether or not I was sick, I should bloody well stay home until I know for sure.

      1. Miss S
        Miss S September 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm |

        Food service places are notoriously bad about this. No paid sick days and management that demands no one ever call out means alot of the people handling your food probably shouldn’t be. It should be considered a health hazard.

        1. Matt
          Matt September 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm |

          Considering the number of food service works who intentionally desecrate your food with their bodily substances and those of the floor, I would hazard that the addition of illness hardly has an affect on the integrity of our food.

        2. cherrybomb
          cherrybomb September 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |

          Considering the number of food service works who intentionally desecrate your food
          Yes, because the vast majority of minimum wage food service workers are intentionally contaminating your food. Conspiracy amongst those dirty poor people, don’tcha know.

          As someone who worked in fast food for my first few jobs I can’t count the number of times I witnessed a coworker intentionally contaminating food. I can’t count it because I never saw it– not once.
          I realize there are some fucked up individuals who have done this and made national news, and likely some who have done it and gotten away with it, but they are not the norm. I had a few of cowrkers who stole, some who needed to have the concept of cross contamination explained to them (from an allergen/vegetarian stand point, concerning the contamination of one food with another), but no one who intentionally put their bodily fluids or non-food items in food.
          There are a lot of shady practices in the fast food industry, including harassing workers for taking sick days, making workers work off-the clock, and not providing gloves for workers who have to clean the bathrooms, but the industry is not overrun with cranky workers trying to put dirt, spit, or whatever else in your food.

          (sorry this is rather off-topic, but the amount of bs food service workers put up with both from their employers and the public is ridiculous, and the perpetuation of the “dirty, stupid/evil food worker” stereotype gets my ire up. If I’m too vengeful or dirty or poor to be trusted with your food you can make your own damn sammich.)

    2. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 1:19 am |

      I would hope that no one would be like “fuck your grandma, I paid for this.”

      LOL! One never knows.

  51. A4
    A4 September 12, 2012 at 10:59 am |

    Oh Also, obviously there are some students in that class who are not very interested in the anthropology of sex, gender, and culture.

  52. Revolver
    Revolver September 12, 2012 at 11:06 am |

    The power differentials are what really make me uncomfortable with this situation. I have no dog in the fight of whether someone should/can bring a baby to class. (Not a big fan of bringing sick children, but that is a systemic issue that has been mentioned above.)

    What really bothers me, however, is that this professor put the students’ full names out on mainstream internet (at least, much more mainstream than a college paper), while demanding and accepting anonymity for herself.

    Sure, she may face risk of negative consequences to her career. But it looks like she’s got some wicked awesome credentials and experiences to her name, and she has the support of her department and colleagues.

    The student journalist, on the other hand, is a fucking student. She’s learning, she’s beginning to build the foundation for her career. This kind of national attention with Professor Pine’s scathing degradation of her and her journalistic style seems like it would have much more of an impact on the student’s career. Prof. Pine seems pretty well established in her field; maybe not at her university, but she is still in a position of authority.

    That’s career-wise…emotionally-wise I would have been devastated if I were the student journalist. I know it’s just my experience, but I was in a really formative stage in college and looked up to my (and mostly all) professors as authoritative figures. If any professor had posted something like this about me, maybe regarding the (real) fuck-up I had doing and presenting a research project, it would have figuratively killed me.

    It just seems like the consequences of posting the situation on the internet has much more risk to the student than to the professor. It feels icky to me that Prof. Pine so thoroughly and publicly degraded the student and her editors.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

      Yeah, Pine is really responding in nearly the most assholish way possible, as I see it. She didn’t need to dump on some college kid just because our culture has stupid priorities.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm |

        Yeah, Pine is really responding in nearly the most assholish way possible, as I see it. She didn’t need to dump on some college kid just because our culture has stupid priorities.

        No, don’t you get it? She’s perfect and could never be assholish, because- breastfeeding.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

          Ah, I forgot; breastfeeding sucks all the asshole right out of a person! :p

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

          Ah, I forgot; breastfeeding sucks all the asshole right out of a person! :p

          I think it’s that uterine upsuck thing or something. I guess there’s a profound brain-breast connection too!

        3. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 1:21 am |

          Go to hell. Your misogyny is showing.

      2. Revolver
        Revolver September 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

        And that’s the kicker…sensationalist news sells, unfortunately. I think the student could do better, that that’s what she’s in college for, to learn to do better. So to publically denounce and degrade her? Super assholish. Prof Pine could have asked to speak with the chair of the journalism program, or to set up a meeting with the editors to fully explain her objections. But nope.

    2. Ashley
      Ashley September 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm |

      I think you’re underestimating how vulnerable a non-tenured professor (who is a single parent) is, and how this might negatively impact her life. The professor was legitimately scared of what would happen to her, and rightfully so. Plenty of places will now be unwilling to hire her, and it’s unclear how her tenure process will be affected. And the student? If she writes for the school paper, all her articles are already on the internet, with her name attached. Particularly because mainstream society considers the professor awful for breastfeeding in public, I don’t forsee the student having any problems as a result of this story. This was a “legitimate story” for major news outlets. If anything, it will help the student’s journalistic career.

      The professor had every right to respond forcefully to what amounts to a potentially career-destroying attack, and to what she has rightfully called a hostile work environment (sexual harassment). She doesn’t have any obligation to be ladylike, and I don’t think a man would be judged as “assholish” for a response like this to someone attacking him.

      1. Revolver
        Revolver September 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm |

        But her school paper doesn’t have the national attention…and this wouldn’t have been in the national news if Prof. Pine hadn’t posted it on the web for all to see.

        I think Prof. Pine is absolutely within her right to protest the subject and manner in which the story was going to be told. HOWEVER, I find it ridiculously hypocritical of her to ask for anonymity while using a very public platform to completely shame someone who holds a much lesser place of power.

        1. Revolver
          Revolver September 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

          And hell yes, I would judge a man for doing the same thing as being an asshole. It’s one thing to express your displeasure (even in unladylike terms!) at how something is handled…it’s another to publically humiliate someone in a lower place of power.

        2. EG
          EG September 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm |

          Except this situation wouldn’t happen to a man. That’s part of the issue. Men who bring their babies to work on rare occasions are almost always met by murmurs about what good daddies they are.

        3. Revolver
          Revolver September 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm |

          I am not denying that the whole thing reeks of sexism and “mommy wars”. What’s stuck in my craw is that a person in a professorial, authoritative position publically called out a student operating within an academic sphere. Someone can (and has) argued that a school newspaper is published on the web, but the audience of such a paper is so much smaller than where Prof. Pine posted her side.

        4. Tony
          Tony September 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

          The national press picked it up from counterpunch? I was wondering what the lineage of this was.

    3. Natalia Antonova
      Natalia Antonova September 13, 2012 at 12:22 am | *

      Former student journalist, current desperately-trying-to-stay-afloat-in-a-changing-media-market journalist here, and I personally disagree.

      It’s on the other students for initially making this into some kind of “ZOMG incident,” not on the journalist in question, of course. But we also choose how we approach a story. I would have quashed the news story/refused to do it – but would have suggested inviting editorials and letters on the subject, but hey, whatever. That’s me. Let’s say I was stuck with doing it anyway – I would struggled to recognize the different power differentials – in what ways is a non-tenured single parent prof is vulnerable here, in what ways she is not. The fact that journalist was criticized for how she approached her subject (and sometimes, there is no right way to approach your subject, mind you) – not only will she survive that, she may also learn a lot. If she chooses to.

      Learning doesn’t just happen when someone kindly takes our hand and explains how to do it right. It also happens when someone screams, “YOU DONE FUCKED UP.” Especially in this profession, or that’s what I believe.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 11:43 am |

        But we also choose how we approach a story. I would have quashed the news story/refused to do it – but would have suggested inviting editorials and letters on the subject

        Prof Pine specifically said that your idea of presenting ‘both sides of the story,’ was a horrible idea and the last thing she wanted.

        1. Lauren
          Lauren September 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |

          Prof Pine specifically said that your idea of presenting ‘both sides of the story,’ was a horrible idea and the last thing she wanted.

          Well, yeah. When one side of the story is illegitimate, it’s a stupid idea. That’s like when the news reports on pro-lifers opposing birth control pills because it’s equivalent to abortion, vs. pro-choicers arguing that birth control is standard medication for women. One side is right. The other side is bloviating.

  53. Athenia
    Athenia September 12, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    In regards to cancelling class, I know students have sued universities for cancelling class due to weather, so technically class can’t get cancelled. Students are paying a crap ton of $$$ per class–not to mention missing one lecture may mean missing a lot of material.

    This article makes me think about the current Chicago Teacher Strike. The media is very much “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!” right now.

    Considering the teaching profession consists of a lot of ladies, I can’t help but feel that people expect the ladies to live up to the definition–as in the ladies must be accommodating, the ladies must put the greater good before their own.

    Anyway, I think this situation really illustrates that sometimes they are really no good solutions because caregivers work outside the home now.

  54. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    But when Pine started to breast-feed mid-class, Carias said, it crossed a line.

    “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.

    This is a direct quote from the WaPo article. Here is a second quote:

    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.

    All of this back and forth about how the initial controversy is really over bringing a baby to work, as opposed to being about breastfeeding in public seems to ignore the reality of what really happened here. Apparently, Mr. Carias’ tweet was was set off this whole chain of events in the first place. Nowhere in the tweet does he take issue with (a.) a baby being brought to class, (b.) a sick baby being brought to class, or (c.) his professor being unable to teach in a competent manner because of the circumstances at hand.

    Carias does express his distaste at Pine’s appalling behavior by breastfeeding her child in class. Apparently he is such a shrinking violet that he had to drop the class as a result.

    So tell me how this isn’t about sexism and societal dissaproval of breastfeeding?

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm |

      All of this back and forth about how the initial controversy is really over bringing a baby to work, as opposed to being about breastfeeding in public seems to ignore the reality of what really happened here. Apparently, Mr. Carias’ tweet was was set off this whole chain of events in the first place. Nowhere in the tweet does he take issue with (a.) a baby being brought to class, (b.) a sick baby being brought to class, or (c.) his professor being unable to teach in a competent manner because of the circumstances at hand.

      Carias does express his distaste at Pine’s appalling behavior by breastfeeding her child in class. Apparently he is such a shrinking violet that he had to drop the class as a result.

      So tell me how this isn’t about sexism and societal dissaproval of breastfeeding?

      In the same way the Watergate Scandal wasn’t about a break in. It was about the cover-up.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

        In the same way the Watergate Scandal wasn’t about a break in. It was about the cover-up.

        Haha! Stop, Steve, you’re killing me over here.

        You can not be serious that this is really about some horrible attempt to cover up an important journalistic mission. Please, tell me you aren’t serious.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm |

          Of course not, it was just an analogy about how covering something up makes things worse. My parents used to use it all the time in the context of minor misdemeanours, I wasn’t implying the two incidents were themselves analagous in every way.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm |

          I wasn’t implying the two incidents were themselves analagous in every any way.

          Fixed that for you.

        3. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

          Fixed that for you.

          Aw, c’mon…meanie! You don’t ever want to give me a break do you? You’re giving me excellent mental excercise, I’ll give you that…gotta watch every word!

    2. Aydan
      Aydan September 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

      While I’m sure (non-snarkily) there were lots of other students in the class who were giving, or trying to give, the professor their full attention, and that having a baby in the room could have been legitimately distracting… I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the potential distraction of the student who was tweeting in class.

      1. khw
        khw September 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

        cosign, he can’t have been traumatized then

    3. Aydan
      Aydan September 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

      Which is kind of a derail from this comment thread, for which I apologize. It was in the excerpt that Lolagirl posted that I first really noticed the bit about the tweeting.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm |

        No, Aydan, I agree with you that someone complaining on the one hand about how their delicate emotional constitution just couldn’t countenance breastfeeding in public is being hypocritical when he was already distracted by tweeting in class.

        That he also took to Facebook with his outrage? I feel no compunction in concluding that Carias is a creep, and a sexist one at that.

        Who else suspects that Carias thought this was going to be his one blow off class for the semester?

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm |

          It wasn’t until she PULLED OUT HER TIT AND STUCK IT IN A BABY’S MOUTH EWWW EWWW EWWW that Dude was so traumatized he HAAAAAD to share his pain! Oh, the humanity!

  55. gwyllion
    gwyllion September 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

    no prob with breast feeding
    BIG problem with coming in with sick child – if you are sick STAY HOME! Prof, student, child, whomever! i DO NOT WANT YOUR DISEASE!

    1. A4
      A4 September 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

      Why do we have a right to disease free public spaces? People get sick. They also might have to go out in public. Why don’t YOU stay home if you’re so worried about it? Oh right, because like everybody, sick or not, you do not have the luxury of staying in bed whenever going out is inconvenient.

      1. Sarah
        Sarah September 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

        Yes. Thank you.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm |

        Why do we have a right to disease free public spaces?

        I don’t know, someone go back to the Middle Ages and find out what their quarantine measures were.

        For fuck’s sake. “Stay home if you have the flu” is not some horrible life sentence. “Stay home if anyone, ever, has the flu, otherwise you’re just hysterical” is, however, ridiculous. Kind of like “put a condom on if you’re having sex” is a base minimum, but “don’t ever have sex because the last person your partner slept with might not have used a condom!” is edging into paranoia.

        Also, some of us have poorly functioning immune systems. What would you recommend I do? Never go out again? Stop my education because someone else can’t be arsed to take a seven-day course of amoxy or a motherfucking Advil for a fever?

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

          Whaaaat? The Middle Ages were so hygienic! *picks at her fleas, eats a rat, throws some feces out the window, goes to work with open wounds*

        2. henribemis
          henribemis September 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm |

          I’m not an MD, but since when did Advil stop someone from being contagious?

          It’s disingenuous to compare disease in the middle ages to modern times. I would love it if everyone who had the flu was able to stay home and fully recover without having to jeopardize their job and financial stability, but that’s not the world we live in. What would you have everyone else do? Get fired because they caught a cold? Give up their education because their professor doesn’t give a shit why they missed classes?

          You’re right that staying home for a few days isn’t a horrible life sentence, but in a society that demands bootstraps, taking even a single day off can have terrible consequences, no matter how badly you need it or how important it is to the overall health of a community.

          If there was a reasonable way to make public spaces disease free, I’d be all for it. And those who CAN stay home while sick should. But not everyone can afford that.

          As for the story that sparked all of this, I sincerely doubt “Professor brings germs to class!” would ever be a lede worth printing. This became an issue because she breastfed in class.

    2. Athenia
      Athenia September 12, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

      I’m guessing bringing a sick kid to work isn’t exactly the top priority of the department of health.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L September 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

      I don’t have the greatest immune system myself — to an extent that I always can get a flu shot no matter how much of a shortage there is. But I have yet to see an explanation of exactly how a baby with a cold, crawling around on the floor in the front of the classroom, probably 5-10 feet away from the closest students (at the very least, depending upon the classroom configuration) is a danger to any student’s health, unless said baby climbs up on a student’s lap and sneezes or coughs or spits up in that student’s face. I think some people are seriously overestimating the ability of a mildly (or even not so mildly) sick baby to project her floating miasma of contagion to Olympic distances beyond her immediate proximity. You’re far more likely, sitting in a classroom, to get sick from the guy in the row behind you coughing or sneezing without covering his mouth. Or from somebody coughing at you in the hallway on the way to class. Or in the street. And I haven’t heard a single person here suggest, with a degree of outrage remotely similar to that expressed with respect to little Typhoid Mary, that students should be prohibited from attending class if they have a cold.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

        Fair enough, Donna. I left a ragey comment above (that went into mod) at the idea that people who don’t want to get sick should never go out in public – because what teh fuck, seriously – but a baby with a cold isn’t exactly going to do more damage than a student with a cold. Which, in the first week of classes, isn’t exactly a rarity. (Hi there! I get flu-like things on the go when I’m stressed!)

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 1:26 am |

        I think some people are seriously overestimating the ability of a mildly (or even not so mildly) sick baby to project her floating miasma of contagion to Olympic distances beyond her immediate proximity.

        This is just full of so much awesomeness.

        1. Sarah
          Sarah September 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm |

          Yup. Agreed.

  56. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane September 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

    I’ve brought an infant to a class I was teaching. I did not want to do it, but I had no alternatives. I went to drop my daughter off at daycare and there was a sign on the door saying they were closed for air conditioning repairs. I received no advanced notice, and I had to teach in a matter of hours. My husband was already at work (an hour commute away) and due in court. I have no family in town.

    Canceling class would have meant that my students received no feedback on the work they were doing as I also did not have time to arrange a substitute. I decided that the most beneficial thing for the students would be bringing my daughter in with me (who, incidentally, spent almost the entire class period asleep in a car seat).

    I certainly wouldn’t make a habit of doing that, but I still think that the students got more out of that class period than they would have if I had not come at all.

    I–like some of the above commenters–question whether bringing a “sick” child is really as horrible as you suggest it is in this post. I taught my class today with almost no voice because I have a cold. I certainly cannot cancel class every time I have a cold, so am I being irresponsible and disrespectful by continuing to do my job when I am sick? Most daycares have very strict policies about when they’ll allow a child to attend. A child with a runny nose and a fever might be turned away from daycare but really may just be teething or suffering from a mild cold. While bringing in a child who you know has the flu or something more contagious is certainly a bad decision, I don’t think that bringing in a baby with a cold is any more of a risk to students than a teacher attending when under the weather. (And I seriously question that teaching is the only profession where people work sick. If so, those other careers must have MUCH more advantageous sick leaves.)

    Also, as previous commenters have mentioned, canceling a class is not always the same as calling in sick. I worked a 9-5 job before becoming a teacher, and I was much more able to use sick days and reschedule meetings than I am able to use a sick day to cancel a class. It’s nearly impossible to reschedule and there’s a lot of pressure to make the class happen, both from administration and from the students.

  57. Sarah
    Sarah September 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    As much as I want to sympathize with the professor for being stuck between a rock and a hard place on childcare, which really sucks and is part of a really unfair system we’ve got in this country, I think I have to side with the students on this one.

    Students are there (and pay ever-increasingly ridiculous amounts of money and incur impossible-to-recover-from debt) to get a degree, not to babysit their teacher’s sick kids. I don’t know about this professor in particular, but when I was in college, “Because my kid was (x)” was never an acceptable excuse for missing a class or an assignment, and bringing babies and small children got students turned away at the door. I rather wonder what this professor would have done if her students turned up with fussy, unhealthy infants.

    Yes, there is pressure not to cancel classes, but sometimes, it is necessary for the safety and well-being of everyone concerned; it was probably not reasonable for her to think that she could watch a small, sick child and give a lecture, and ended up doing both of those things poorly and to the detriment of both the kid (who almost ate a paper clip) and the class (who had to keep an eye on the baby because the professor’s attention was split). And then tried to bully a student to keep her from reporting on it, which is pretty much where my sympathy kinda tapers off.

    The breastfeeding thing… yes, I know it’s total feminist heresy to think that maybe, just maybe, there are some places where breastfeeding is not appropriate, but I’m going to go ahead and say ‘in the middle of giving a lecture’ is one of those places.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm |

      Eh, I agree with most of the rest of the comment, but I don’t know about the breastfeeding, Sarah; from the POV of someone who’s never breastfed but who’s been around lots of people who are/do, it never seemed to me to really hamper their ability to do whatever job mentally/emotionally, as opposed to physically – as in, I can’t imagine someone deep-frying potatoes while breastfeeding, at least not while in their senses. (Also, what was she supposed to do, let the baby scream its head off? That would just have pissed me off more, were I a student in her class.) Letting it run around, the students having to keep an eye on it, the TA having to hold it – all of that seems much more egregious to me in terms of distraction.

      1. Lyanna
        Lyanna September 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

        Letting it run around is worse, but yes, it’s a bad idea for a professor–who has a captive (to some extent) audience of students there–to do something involving intimate body parts in front of the class. Teaching is a performance. Students have to watch a teacher. It’s not like the ordinary breastfeeding-in-public scenario, where people can just look away.

        And I’m far from convinced that it’s a horrible burden to put on a professor to have a back-up childcare plan in case the kid gets sick. Sorry. Having actual professional standards isn’t oppression. This woman dropped the ball. It’s a pretty minor thing, and doesn’t deserve this level of attention, but she’s at fault here.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

          but yes, it’s a bad idea for a professor–who has a captive (to some extent) audience of students there–to do something involving intimate body parts in front of the class. Teaching is a performance. Students have to watch a teacher. It’s not like the ordinary breastfeeding-in-public scenario, where people can just look away.

          No.

          She was feeding her baby. That her breasts were involved is besides the point. And the need to avert one’s gaze so as to not offend the delicate sensibilities? Good griend, talk about ridiculous. You are choosing to be offended when someone is breastfeeding, and if you choose that choice, that’s your problem and not that of the person doing the breastfeeding.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm |

          Sorry for the typos, I’m typing whilst breastfeeding (avert your gaze, internets!)

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

          Whu? My cousin-in-law was breastfeeding her baby the other day while I was sitting right next to her, making conversation with her and only her. I wasn’t directing my attention anywhere but her, but I wasn’t gaping at her boobies either. There’s a whole neck and face above them to which it’s perfectly socially acceptable to address your attention and remarks. And that’s even assuming Pine wasn’t feeding the baby under a sheet or feeding towel thing like most women do when in public.

          Also, for fuck’s sake. Boobies happen. Get used to it. There, I traumatised six people over the internet. Boobies. Boobies. Booooooooooobs. Now it’s nine! I’m on a regular roll, y’all.

        4. onetinythought
          onetinythought September 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm |

          “And I’m far from convinced that it’s a horrible burden to put on a professor to have a back-up childcare plan in case the kid gets sick. Sorry. Having actual professional standards isn’t oppression. This woman dropped the ball. It’s a pretty minor thing, and doesn’t deserve this level of attention, but she’s at fault here.”

          I agree.

          This is what I was attempting to say last night, albeit a little clumsily. For those efforts, I was called a troll, an asshole, and a dumbass.

        5. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

          And I’m far from convinced that it’s a horrible burden to put on a professor to have a back-up childcare plan in case the kid gets sick. Sorry. Having actual professional standards isn’t oppression. This woman dropped the ball. It’s a pretty minor thing, and doesn’t deserve this level of attention, but she’s at fault here.

          OK, now I’m sticking up for Prof. Pine. Just because on one occasion you are stuck does not mean you don’t have a back up plan. You may have 2 or 3 but on occasion the universe converges to leave you in a tight spot.

          Also, while it’s true some professors are paid handsomely, not all professors make great money from their actual university job, books, consulting, and such making them rich through ancillary income. My aunt was an Eng. Lit professor at Sarah Lawrence for 30 years when my sister got her first job as a freshly graduated PhD teaching in the MBA program of a big private university, my sister earned over $20K more per year than my aunt did. And my aunt was a woman you’d have heard of, (if you’re in academia,) with a huge rep, whereas my sister is just a very good accounting professor.

        6. henribemis
          henribemis September 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm |

          “And I’m far from convinced that it’s a horrible burden to put on a professor to have a back-up childcare plan in case the kid gets sick. Sorry. Having actual professional standards isn’t oppression. This woman dropped the ball. It’s a pretty minor thing, and doesn’t deserve this level of attention, but she’s at fault here.”

          Whose professional standards are we talking about? It hasn’t been all that long since women started entering traditionally male-dominated professions, and there are some things, like breastfeeding, that still need to be navigated and that we don’t yet have professional etiquette for. But we’re still so caught up on “ew, I mean oooooh, I mean ewww boobies!” I don’t have children, and I don’t plan to, but I do think our idea of what is and is not professional needs some scrutiny.

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |

          It hasn’t been all that long since women started entering traditionally male-dominated professions…but I do think our idea of what is and is not professional needs some scrutiny.

          This is a crucially important point, and I think it doesn’t get nearly enough attention from and subsequent deconstruction by Feminism today. Much of what is considered to be professional even is based on some very outmoded standards that were put in place by men. The notion of productivity at all costs, complete and utter dedication to work, and no exceptions ever for real life circumstances is still borne unfairly by women. Because, like it or not, women are the ones who bear and birth the kids, and too often are the one’s providing the lion’s share of daily care for their children (either because of single parenthood, partners that also have demanding jobs, or even because their partners hold onto outmoded and sexist attitudes themselves about parental responsibilities.) It’s still pretty inevitable that women are going to be on the losing end of the “is she sufficiently professional” calculus.

        8. Lyanna
          Lyanna September 13, 2012 at 11:38 am |

          Boobies aren’t besides the point, sorry. Like it or not (and I don’t), they’re a sexualized and private body part in American culture. Having an authority figure who the students have to look at, whose presence they can’t avoid, and who can give them grades displaying that part in front of them, even if it’s to serve a functional purpose, is unfair to the students. This is not a cousin-in-law or random people over the internet. This is a teacher.

          This “you choose to be offended” line is nonsense. If a woman felt uncomfortable seeing a man’s penis, even if he had some thoroughly practical reason for pulling it out and didn’t intend to harass her, would you tell her she “chose to be offended”? I wouldn’t.

          You’re right that she might have had a sheet or whatever, though. And, as I said, the whole thing is minor. Going on sarcastically about being “scarred for life” misses the point.

          And yes, professional standards are often male-dominated, but you know what? Female students and co-workers are just as inconvenienced by having a sick baby crawling around the place. This particular standard isn’t sexist, though the failure to have daycare is.

        9. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm |

          Naaah, Lyanna, this is your issue. Breastfeeding mothers didn’t sexualize breasts. They’re for feeding, too. You and everybody else will just have to get over your shame and embarrassment.

          The penis analogy doesn’t work, BTW. Nobody feeds another human being through a penis.

        10. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm |

          . If a woman felt uncomfortable seeing a man’s penis, even if he had some thoroughly practical reason for pulling it out and didn’t intend to harass her, would you tell her she “chose to be offended”? I wouldn’t.

          I’m back on Lola’s side with this one.

          She said “You are choosing to be offended when someone is breastfeeding, and if you choose that choice, that’s your problem and not that of the person doing the breastfeeding.”

          First thing, she didn’t say there’s something wrong with feeling uncomfortable, as you can see, she didn’t mention the word ‘uncomfortable’ at all. Someone may be made uncomfortable at seeing a professor with a bad facial injury or because they look like someone who they had a bad experience. That’s not the same as being offended.

          So to re-word you question based what Lola actually wrote: If a woman felt offended seeing a man’s penis, even if he had some thoroughly practical reason for pulling it out and didn’t intend to harass her, would you tell her she “chose to be offended”?

          If it’s thoroughly practical and not intended to harass, there would be no point of her taking offence, so of course it’s her choice to be offended. There aren’t many occasions where both those requirements would be met, but if, for example a masked gunman had come into the classroom and forced the professor to hand over valuables and his clothes (I know, I know, I’m stretching to find an example of this ludicrousness,) then absconded, and after the police arrive a woman in the class says ‘I was offended when I saw the professor’s penis’, she is definitely ‘choosing to get offended’.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm |

          If a woman felt uncomfortable seeing a man’s penis, even if he had some thoroughly practical reason for pulling it out and didn’t intend to harass her, would you tell her she “chose to be offended”? I wouldn’t.

          Seriously? Breastfeeding is like flashing people?

          Uncomfortable and offended, as Steve pointed out, are two different things. I wouldn’t want to see most guys’ penises, being homoflexible and all (though fuck knows I’ve seen my share anyway, to my infinite displeasure), but I wouldn’t be offended by some guy doing penis things for valid reasons, though I’d definitely turn away. And, you know, like I pointed out in other comments, MOST of a human being’s body isn’t breasts. And if you can’t look at anything BUT breasts, I’m thinking that most of the uncomfortable is in your pants.

        12. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm |

          eriously? Breastfeeding is like flashing people?

          Uncomfortable and offended, as Steve pointed out, are two different things. I wouldn’t want to see most guys’ penises, being homoflexible and all (though fuck knows I’ve seen my share anyway, to my infinite displeasure), but I wouldn’t be offended by some guy doing penis things for valid reasons, though I’d definitely turn away. And, you know, like I pointed out in other comments, MOST of a human being’s body isn’t breasts. And if you can’t look at anything BUT breasts, I’m thinking that most of the uncomfortable is in your pants.

          Exactly, and there are I would imagine many classes where you are required to see penii. I’m thinking Anatomy, Biology, all sorts of medical classes, nude figure drawing, rennaisance art, etc.

          It’s all about the context.

        13. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm |

          This “you choose to be offended” line is nonsense. If a woman felt uncomfortable seeing a man’s penis, even if he had some thoroughly practical reason for pulling it out and didn’t intend to harass her, would you tell her she “chose to be offended”? I wouldn’t.

          This? Is just so much bullshit. False equivalencies like that are where the argument against breastfeeding in public fall apart.

          Breastfeeding is NOT THE SAME THING AS RANDOMLY FLASHED PEEN. Yes, I realize I’m shouting here, that’s for extra emphasis because you are being so egregiously offensive, Lyanna. The baring of any breast while breastfeeding is solely for the purpose of feeding a child. It’s not done for giggles or to offend or anything else of the sort. That you feel free to take such personal umbrage at it is all on you.

          If there was some necessary reason for someone to expose their penis? I would put on my big girl undies and get over myself.

        14. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm |

          Upon further reflection, I am even further into camp random peen flashing is not a big deal either. Having boy children running around naked at random from time to time means that it happens. I totally don’t even sweat it, and tell them to go do that in private if they insist (except the baby, he doesn’t understand the differences between public and private nudity.)

          Who knew a random benefit of parenting could be desensitization of and deprogramming from my prudish, Catholic upbringing?

      2. Sarah
        Sarah September 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm |

        Just FWIW, this is the Sarah that posted up thread. I may start having to refer to myself as BFing Sarah from now on, to distinguish myself from the Sarah that thinks there are places where it is not okay to bf. Fine, there are things I would not do while breastfeeding…like cook over a gas stove or grill. I wouldn’t go to the porty-potty while breastfeeding. I wouldn’t have surgery while breastfeeding. I probably wouldn’t teach a class in a public elementary school while breastfeeding (although, I don’t really see the problem with it outside of the fact that the school board would explode with righteous indignation and fury). But I would definitely breastfeed while teaching a class on feminist anthropology IF I brought my baby to said class.

        1. Sarah
          Sarah September 14, 2012 at 6:08 am |

          Yes, we all know I’m a feminist heretic for thinking it is not appropriate to breastfeed while trying to give a lecture, thank you for disagreeing.

          Seriously. My mother taught me that a baby eating is still a *person eating*, and used what she called the Pudding Cup Rule. If it wouldn’t be rude to eat a pudding cup, it’s not rude to breastfeed.

          Sitting on a park bench minding your own business? Pudding cup is cool. Reading a book? Having a conversation with a friend or family member? Riding a bus? Totally cool.

          While speaking to a large number of people, who paid money to listen to you and are expected to give you their full attention? Not okay to eat a pudding cup: not because it’s bad to eat pudding or because watching ladies eat pudding is sexualized, but because it is rude.

          Seriously, we do not have to treat the idea that sometimes it is not cool for ladies to do something as some kind of anti-woman attack just because it is something that only ladies do. It’s not about sex, or prudishness, or trying to control ladies’ bodies, or whatever buzzwords we’re looking to apply here. And I fully acknowledge that I am a COMPLETE heretic for thinking that I am a feminist and expecting mothers– even breastfeeding mothers– to observe basic social etiquette.

        2. EG
          EG September 14, 2012 at 8:56 am |

          Really? I’m not allowed to eat a pudding cup while lecturing? Because…it’s rude? This is a classroom, not the Nobel Prize ceremony.

          Fuck that. If my students want my full attention, then they sure as hell don’t want me to be hungry. I have lectured while eating a spinach role. I regularly lecture while drinking tea. I have no problem with my students eating during class. They can deal with me eating a pudding cup or a baby nursing.

          Seriously. It’s rude to eat a pudding cup while lecturing. I’ll worry about that when my students stop whispering and pay sufficient attention that nobody asks a question I answered in the past 10 minutes.

          And one more thing: do you think the students would have gotten more of the professor’s attention if her baby had been screaming and fussing? And does your mother apply this bizarre rule to bottle-feeding as well, or just the boobies?

        3. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah September 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

          I’m not sure why you are calling yourself a feminist heretic. I think that gives you too much credit for being a ‘rebel’ or something, when really you are just kind of clueless. A baby eating anything is not the same thing as an adult eating, IMO, because a baby doesn’t understand what ‘rude’ means and because a baby has to eat about 12 times a day. So they are supposed to limit themselves to 3 meals because the people (adults) around them only eat 3? That’s just ridiculous. Babies eat around the clock: milk/formula, snacks, baby food. If they are hungry, they need to be fed. They don’t understand the concept of waiting patiently and its not developmentally appropriate for them to be made to wait. Plus, what’s the point of that? So that the baby will be crying and upset and further distract the class? I don’t think a baby eating is the same thing as an adult having a pudding cup snack. An adult can plan ahead and eat earlier if they really wanted to avoid eating in front of their class (not that I’m saying they should want to avoid eating in front of their class, but if they WANT to avoid it). A baby can’t do that. Plus, I don’t really think its rude for a teacher to eat or drink in front of students unless the students are also not allowed to eat or drink. There were a few classrooms in grad school in which beverages and snacks were not allowed for anyone. But, for the most part, myself and my fellow students ate sandwiches, chips, and I actually think I did bring a pudding cup one day (truth) and we drank coffee, soda, water, etc. If students can (and did) eat, why shouldn’t a professor? What if the professor is thirsty from talking all day? What if a nice pudding cup would soothe their aching throat?? I don’t think that’s rude at all. Its not like she is ordering a pizza and then eating it in front of the class–that might be crossing the line.

    2. Deborah
      Deborah September 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

      But the choice for the students is not either (a) class with professor in full teaching mode vs (b) class with professor who is managing her small child as well as teaching. The choice was either (b) class with professor who is managing her small child as well as teaching vs (c) no class at all.

      The professor is probably fully cognizant of the cost of tuition, and the sacrifices her students have made to be there. After all, she has been through that process herself. So knowing how much her students have paid, she as opted for (b), because it’s a better option than (c), and option (a) simply wasn’t available.

    3. Sarah
      Sarah September 13, 2012 at 10:48 pm |

      WHOA. This is NOT the same Sarah as the Sarahs above. I don’t agree with pretty much anything said here. I have breastfed two babies (and toddlers) in about a million public places…and not because I am a lactivist. Mostly because I am a parent and babies get hungry and then you have to feed them. You have to feed them on planes, trains, malls, and, yes, even sometimes classrooms. Because a screaming baby is a baby that is MUCH more distracting than a nursing baby. I swear to you that I’m not a boob flasher, I’m pretty good at keeping all of my ‘naughty-bits’ covered up while feeding a child, don’t you worry!

  58. Emily Guy Birken
    Emily Guy Birken September 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

    I have not read all of the comments, but I feel like the story has become about breastfeeding, when the appropriateness of bringing a baby to class vs. the terrible choices available to working single mothers is the real issue. If Prof. Pine had given her baby a bottle during class, I could still see there being a story in the school newspaper about the fact that she’d brought her kid to class, but it would not have become a national story.

    1. Katya
      Katya September 13, 2012 at 10:24 am |

      Nah. If she hadn’t breastfed the baby, there would have been no story. Students might have mentioned it to each other in conversation, but no boobs, no story.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm |

        What if she had just taken one of her breasts out just to give it some fresh air? There’s nothing wrong with seeing a breast.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 14, 2012 at 11:52 am |

          That would be awesome.

  59. Jill
    Jill September 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

    I’m also a professor, and I’ve certainly taught when sick. Hell, at one school where we absolutely weren’t allowed to cancel for any bloody reason short of being in the hospital and when no one was available to cover me I tutored a whole BUNCH of students as a walking biohazard one afternoon. I TOLD them I was sick and warned them away and they still came. It was horrible. If anything, that is MORE of a health hazard than a baby whose illness most of the class has probably already had, and I certainly wasn’t a national news story!

    That said, even when you are the soul care taker of an animal (I have so cancelled class for sick dogs before, now that I work somewhere else!) you have to get creative when you have to miss class.

    The teacher could have come in before class, left the syllabi on the table, and left instructions for the students: introduce yourselves to one another, discuss the following topic, post your answers to the discussion board that nearly every class has online now. Or go out on campus in groups with your syllabi and try to find examples of some of the things we are going to discuss in class (since this was a women’s issues class) and post them as your groups to the discussion board. We’ll talk about the syllabus the next time class meets.

    But Universities need to be more understanding of women with children too. Christ, my school has 15 spots at its daycare. That’s not enough for the faculty, let alone students with kids. An institution I used to work at only gave TWO WEEKS maternity leave, after which a professor or graduate student was expected to be back (or, in the case of a graduate student, fail the term). Creative re-planning can only get us so far.

    1. Katya
      Katya September 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |

      Not just universities. I work for a very large government agency (thousands of employees in DC alone) and there are less than 45 daycare spots in the agency’s daycare (they take about 12 new babies a year). For the whole department. Also, no maternity leave–you get FMLA and your own accrued sick leave/vacation, but no paid maternity leave.

  60. Treebeard
    Treebeard September 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

    I hadn’t thought of it on first reading, but I have to agree that the professor has hurt the reputation of this student journalist for no good reason. Prof could have posted her entire piece exactly as is without including the student journalist’s full name – especially since they had already offered to print their story without her full name. Sure, the people involved at their college would still be able to identify both of them, but that’s different than having the story show up on google results for your name forever. Its not clear whether the journalist was being terrible or not – its pretty subjective – but given that she’s a student and the professor is a professor at her school, I think it would have been more appropriate to not print her full name while complaining about her publicly.

  61. number9
    number9 September 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

    Tuition at AU is over $18K; that’s before the fees. I know a few AU graduates and they carry massive debts. So I think given what that degree costs, the students do have some cause to be upset. As a first generation, immigrant, working class student who went to a private school, I would’ve had a coronary if those kinds of shenanigans happened in one of my classrooms. And its not the breastfeeding, it’s the half-assed, distracted lecture coupled with the TA being involved in something she should’ve never been put in a position to have to do as a professional looking to gain teaching experience. I can sympathize with prof Pine, because she was in a really shitty position, but I don’t think the solution was fair to the students.

    I also went to three schools (one for my BA and two grad programs at very large public schools) and our profs cancelled classes all the time. One of my profs once cancelled the first class of the semester because it snowed like 2″ and she was from the south and couldn’t handle driving in the snow. This was in a state where it would take feet of snow before any public school or university would officially shut down for the weather. She actually had the fact that she did not “do snow” right in her syllabus and covered it in great detail in the first lecture. And yet the program was very specific that the students would be penalized for missing more than one lecture (this was in every syllabus). But I know things have changed in academia since my grad school days due to all the hideous budget cuts at public universities. So I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m going to keep my sympathy for the students who are being severely underserved by postsecondary institutions in every way right now.

  62. Jenny
    Jenny September 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm |

    It is incredibly presumptuous and exploitative that she had her teaching assistant care of her child during class. This prof is focusing on her own working conditions, her own right to breastfeed, etc. even as she exploits someone who makes a fraction of her salary to do work that has nothing to do with her/his job description. Using a TA as a babysitter = feminist fail.

    1. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 1:33 am |

      Jenny, Prof. Pine specifically said she did NOT feel it was an option to ask the TA to care for her child. She told the TA this. The TA picked up the baby anyhow.

      1. Treebeard
        Treebeard September 13, 2012 at 8:13 am |

        It sort of seems like the professor created a situation where the TA would feel social pressure to hold the baby (I hope she knew the baby was sick before she picked it up), but it also seems like the professor has enough plausible deniability on that one to avoid getting in trouble for having the TA babysit, since she DID tell the TA she didn’t have to do it.

        Personally, I like babies. I’d probably offer to hold someone’s baby in a lot of situations (maybe not if it was sick). But I’d be afraid of offering at work for a superior because it might turn into people thinking they could ask me to babysit at work. I don’t know what I would have done in this situation.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 13, 2012 at 8:22 am |

          It sort of seems like the professor created a situation where the TA would feel social pressure to hold the baby (I hope she knew the baby was sick before she picked it up), but it also seems like the professor has enough plausible deniability on that one to avoid getting in trouble for having the TA babysit, since she DID tell the TA she didn’t have to do it.

          THis. I fucking HATE and am borderline phobic of babies (only slightly less than babies hate and are scared of me – seriously, they react like the zoo scene in The Omen) but if a parent were letting their baby run around and put stationery in its mouth, and that parent had authority over me, I’d feel obliged to pick the baby up anyway, just to keep it safe and to prevent my boss/prof/wev from getting angry with me for letting something happen.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 9:19 am |

          Now, you’re just projecting. Seriously, were you there? Are you, perhaps, the TA in questuon? Or are you just channeling her?

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 13, 2012 at 11:57 am |

          We get it, tinfoil hattie; Pine can do no wrong. :p

        4. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie September 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm |

          Thank god bagelsan is here to interpret what I am saying, and change it around to what she wishes I meant, so she could continue to say nasty things about women, babies, and breastfeeding.

        5. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

          Lol, now who’s projecting?

        6. amblingalong
          amblingalong September 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |

          Thank god bagelsan is here to interpret what I am saying, and change it around to what she wishes I meant, so she could continue to say nasty things about women, babies, and breastfeeding.

          Holy shit, I never realized Bagelsan was such a… monster!

          FFS tinfoil, you’ve never been such an asshole before, but I can practically feel your knee jerking from (what I assume is) the other side of the Atlantic.

        7. chava
          chava September 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm |

          Really, you “HATE” babies? I get not being comfortable with humans at different points in their life cycle, but I have to tell you, saying “I HATE and am borderline phobic of [babies, old people, teenagers, children]” seems….well, hateful.

          I mean, I’m not crazy about pre-teens. But I recognize that it’s my own damn crazy talking, there…

  63. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm |

    I am curious how many people have witnessed a professor breastfeeding in the middle of a lecture.

    1. librarygoose
      librarygoose September 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm |

      Not first hand, although I would not have been surprised, but photos of more than one prof. breast feeding? Yup. What could only have been hours of footage of women breastfeeding? Yup. Untold amounts of reading devoted to breastfeeding? Yup. Also, the demonstration of different holds for breastfeeding done with the doll I got to shove through a plastic pelvis. Why? Because I took anthropology and I took a few classes devoted to gender and culture, like these poor scarred students.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm |

        I wasn’t talking in terms of it being offensive, just wanted to know if anyone had actual experience that they could share a story, because my opinion of this particular one is admittedly tainted because of a negative impression I got from Professor Pine’s article where I felt she put all the blame (by name) on the female journalist who followed up on a lead, rather than the jerky male student who started the whole thing.

        1. librarygoose
          librarygoose September 13, 2012 at 12:04 am |

          I agree that her reaction to the student journalist was harsh ( although I don’t think I’d respond any better to something like that, someone even tangentially fucking with my career would suck). Prof. Pine demanding anonymity while blasting a student by name is horrible

          However, the fact that this was an issue at all is very much due to the fact that she was breastfeeding, and the entire thing makes me want to flip off the internet.

    2. Natalia Antonova
      Natalia Antonova September 13, 2012 at 12:42 am | *

      Saw it during office hours, as well as during an exam. Naturally, I am scarred for life.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 13, 2012 at 2:11 am |

        Saw it during office hours, as well as during an exam. Naturally, I am scarred for life.

        Wow, neither of us have ever seen a professor breastfeed in the middle of a lecture. I bet that has scarred both of us for life.

    3. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah September 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm |

      I went on an interview once where the interviewer began to breastfeed while interviewing me. I think I was about 19 or 20 and I will be honest that I did react to it internally. I kind of gave myself an internal pep talk along the lines of “Grow the fuck up. She is feeding her baby. She is entitled to feed her baby and have you not react to it.” I guess I registered no real reaction because she did offer me the job and she specifically commended me for not reacting to her breastfeeding. Unfortunately, I never had a lecture where a professor breastfed their infant, but there were a few times where the professor brought a child to class and it was no big deal.

    4. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl September 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

      I have witnessed myself breastfeeding at least six to eight times a day, on and off for coming up on eight years now.

      I have yet to be either offended or upset by it.

    5. Momentary
      Momentary September 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

      I have participated in a high end scientific workshop (computer science) where the professor hosting and leading the workshop had her infant with her and breastfed him while chairing workshop sessions. It was not a problem in any way.

  64. Lauren
    Lauren September 13, 2012 at 8:07 am |

    Re: “back up childcare” and personal parental responsibility

    I’ve been a parent since forever and I have yet to figure out this “back up childcare” people keep talking about. Typically, childcare is paid for on a weekly or biweekly basis, and you pay for every day regardless of whether your child is there or not. If your kid is out for the week, you pay anyway to “keep the spot.” Folks frequently pay $150-300 a week or more for standard childcare, depending on whether this is an in-home or corporate facility. Because the per-child wages are so low (they are otherwise prohibitive to the middle and working classes), childcare providers take on multiple children. There are laws pertaining to how many kids a licensed and unlicensed provider can keep at any given time, meaning they often carry that many children and do not float extra spots for other irregularly attending kids. No childcare provider will ethically take sick kids if they can avoid it.

    In other words, the out of pocket cost for childcare is prohibitive, and there aren’t places where you can just “drop in” a child, especially not a sick child. If you don’t have the money to hire an in-home care provider on a regular basis, and if you don’t have the good (or bad, ha) fortune to live with family nearby who are responsible enough to watch your children for you, good luck to you getting back up childcare during the work day on short notice.

    1. Treebeard
      Treebeard September 13, 2012 at 8:18 am |