To the extent that you remember reading the diary of Anne Frank, you probably don’t remember reading the part where Frank ponders the physiology of her genitalia.
That’s because the section did not appear in the original publication (the one most of us read in school). Frank’s father, Otto Frank, removed it from the manuscript that subsequently appeared as the first book. But an unabridged “Definitive Edition” was published in 2007 and it is this version that has got a mother from Northville, Mich., all riled up.
Last week, FOX News in Detroit reported that Gail Horalek found a certain section too pornographic to be taught to her daughter, who is in the seventh grade.
Here is one excerpt that the mother singled out:
“Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris…”
Frank goes on to question how the opening to the vagina is large enough for a man to enter and also for a baby to exit.
In short, universal stuff – and stuff that no girl should feel ashamed for wondering.
Mostly, it offers insight from a peer rather than a textbook, as well as proof that someone who went through puberty 60 years ago grappled with identical issues of sexuality.
Horalek has said that the passage made her daughter uncomfortable. Which begs the question: And the part about Anne’s family being deported and sent to a concentration camp did not?
Indeed, the root of all the hand wringing may just be that Horalek (who filed a complaint with the district school board) is confused about the meaning of pornography.
While voices all over the Internet have been widely in agreement that the passage is not pornographic, the Guardian’s Emer O’Toole offered up some of the best takeaway in her column yesterday.
“Dealing with this discomfort only involves censoring Anne Frank’s diary if you’re quite, quite odd,” she writes. “This media event should do more than teach us that there are laughably prudish parents out there. It should encourage us to reflect on why, when confronted with the reality of the female body and female sexuality, girls can be made to feel uncomfortable.”
If Horalek’s daughter was uncomfortable before, she’s likely even more so now. At this point, she’s probably come to terms with reading about Frank’s labia (or had friends get her up to speed). One has to believe that her mom is the one making her squirm.