Adrienne Pine, the assistant anthropology professor at American University who recently became a national name when she nursed her child during a lecture, joined me on HuffPost Live Monday to discuss her experience.
"I owe 'lactivists' a BIG apology," she said, speaking of women who actively fight for lactating women to have the right to nurse their babies in public places.
Pine, who teaches a course called "Sex, Gender & Culture," chose to bring her sick baby to work (feverish children aren't allowed in some child care centers) rather than miss the first day of classes. To soothe and feed her child, Pine nursed her for a brief minute during her lecture, unaware that it would become a media sensation. When a student complained, and the media latched on to the story, Pine inadvertently became the latest public face in the war against women's breastfeeding rights.
Pine said she has never encountered negativity around breastfeeding before, and didn't have a personal connection to the intensity behind lactivists like Rachel Papantonakis, who staged a successful nurse-in at the White House.
"I was somewhat mocking [of lactivists]," Pine said. "I didn't think it was the most important struggle for me to be involved in."
Legally, women in most states have the right to nurse anywhere, but socially, it tends to be difficult.
"Having moments that show how far we have to go...are valuable," said Jennifer Baumgardner, a feminist activist also involved in the conversation. "Sad, but very valuable."
Pine said that while the majority of her students supported her decision, the experience was instructive in helping her understand the extent of pushback around women breastfeeding in the workplace.
"What this has made me realize is that the struggle to breastfeed in the workplace is intimately related to...women's equality," she said. "We need to fight together."
Watch the full segment below:
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