Professor's Pine Case: Is Breastfeeding in Public Wrong
Breastfeeding is natural, and naturally beautiful. I hate when I see how something so natural and beautiful could be portrayed as something so terrible and disgusting. It’s a healthy process for the mom and the baby. And for some women breastfeeding does not come easy, sometimes it is difficult to do, but they go an extra mile every day to do it.
However, I have to express how much I am torn between the woman’s right to breastfeed whenever and wherever, and people’s right to feel a bit uncomfortable, and express themselves. I can see the other side as well, not with it, but understand it. I’m all for the right to breastfeed whenever required. Now, there is a case of professor Emilie Pine trying to feed and care for her sick baby, and at the same time not miss her first day of classes. I am trying to be totally neutral and unbiased here. Women have every right for breastfeeding in public. But from my point of view, her mistake was insisting that she could do her job at the same moment that she was nursing her daughter.
Also, professors Pine has every right to breastfeed wherever and whenever she wants, people as well have the right to speak their minds and express their discomfort if they felt so because there is a place and time for everything. She could’ve raised the question or discussed it with her students. Professor Pine apparently was offended by and objected to the student journalist, also a young woman, asking questions about it, and so she, as I said, decided that she wanted to get the story out on her own terms. She should not be trying to impede other people’s First Amendment rights. If we were to look from the other’s perspective, it is not usual for a student who is going to school and paying tuition to get a proper class and a professor’s undivided attention to get distracted by the professor herself. Theoretically speaking, it will be distracting for some students, and although the professor will be able to multitask she might not give the students her full attention. And the reality is that Pine couldn’t give her full attention to her child and her work at the same time. Instead, she gave both her divided attention.
I am not defending the students or attacking the professor, I am trying to look objectively from both perspectives. This takes me to the next issue, professor Pine didn’t want to cancel the class and sit with her baby so that her students ‘won’t evaluate her badly’, she said in the article that her baby doesn’t define. But in fact, she does! She is her mother! She defines her. It is not a bad thing that her daughter defines her, it is beautiful it is part of her and it is natural as well, just as breastfeeding. And her insistence that she could parent and teach at the same time devalues the hard work required for both tasks. I understand how motherhood can be a very hard role. I come from a big family with more than 10 nephews and nieces and I witness how sometimes it can be so difficult. And sometimes people don’t always have ideal options to choose from. Truly, I sympathize with the professor’s struggle to maintain her career while serving as a single mother.
Although Professor Pine’s story has caught the attention on a national level in the United States, I tried to imagine how it would’ve been if this had happened in Egypt. I really believe the professor could’ve got arrested. Given the culture, we live in, and the position of importance that is put on religion in our society, it is considered totally inappropriate for a woman to breastfeed in public. Unfortunately, I can say that a lot of people in our country consider breasts as a sexual organ and so breastfeeding in public can be perceived as inappropriate or considered a sexual act. I think she would’ve been harassed and shamed. My issue with the article of professor Pine is even beyond the controversy of breastfeeding in class. She has the right to breastfeed and take care of her baby. And the students have the right to have a regular class and have the right to have a say whether or not they want to witness breastfeeding.
In conclusion, I feel that I can’t blame the professor, she was just trying to be a good present teacher and a good present mother. On the other hand, I can’t blame the students because at least they have the right to get their professor’s attention and express themselves as well. The only entity that I put the blame on is the university that doesn’t provide working mothers like professor Pine with the time and the place to express milk and feed their baby, or provide them with a paid (enough) maternity leave, or provide them with on-site childcare or provide them with flexible working hours. And instead of supporting mothers like the professor and fulfilling her needs as part o the university community, they make it almost impossible for a mother to work and raise her child. At last, I also strongly refuse how it has been made a huge deal, and how people have been labeling it as an incident.
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