I wanted to write the AU community about the now-infamous “Breastgate” (sorry Professor Pine, you have your very own ‘-gate’ now) article that The Eagle has published.
There is a case to be made that the event just wasn’t newsworthy: a professor performed an act that is biologically required of a mother: she fed her child. Many would argue on either side of the debate about whether her students’ discomfort should have warranted more serious consideration. Some have argued that it was merely unprofessional conduct (but perhaps no more so than bringing the baby to class in the first place). Still others might argue that the act itself is less concerning than the fact that we’re even asking whether it is a newsworthy offense. I am coming to sympathize with those making the latter argument.
The plain reality is this: an exposed breast is distracting. But that is my problem. Yes, I pay good money to go to AU’s classes, and it particularly bothers me when the professor is the source of a distraction. Maybe I’m just the sick kind of soul who likes to play Devil’s Advocate, but that same complaint might be equally applied to professors who smell bad, or who have an annoying speech pattern, or who are, and play along with me here, physically attractive to me (it happens). Yet, I have never seen the outcry we’ve seen here when these forms of distraction enter a classroom.
This is why I can’t sympathize with the question of this story’s newsworthiness. I want to tell our community to grow up. That phrase, insult and all, is shorthand for a worthwhile life lesson: Life is full of distractions. The challenge of life is not accomplishing a cloistered existence free of disruption or offense any more than the challenge of a society is making every man an island. The whole point, for both individuals and for societies, is to get to a place where the distractions don’t matter.
Grow up. Don’t even ask the questions of feminism or biology—if you get to that point, you’ve already been distracted.
AU Alumnus, SPA Class of 2010