Saturday, April 27, 2013

A U.S. Parent Complains about The "Pornographic" Nature of Anne Frank's Diary

Pornographic material is material that is sexual in nature and that does not have any deeper meaning than a sexual meaning.

When I was teaching a 7th grade reading class in the Bronx, I once put together a summer reading list of books for my students.  These were books from which they could choose 4 books which they would read and write about before the next school year.  One of the books I chose was "The Color Purple."

One very religious parent, however, came to school to question my choice of this book.  She pointed out that there were a few passages in the book that were sexually explicit, and she seemed especially upset that there were descriptions of lesbian sex acts in the book.

I told her, of course, that her son did not have to read anything she objected to and I sent a letter home to parents telling them that there were sexual actions described in the book.  Many students had, however, already read the book and had seen the movie.  Many wrote reports about the book.  It was really no big deal to most parents.  Meaningful literature often contains references to human sexuality.

In the following article, we see that a parent in America is very upset that her child is reading The Diary of Anne Frank.  Interestingly, when Anne Frank's father had the book published after the war, he took out passages dealing with the sexual feelings Anne felt as an adolescent.  When the father died, however, new editions of the book came out with the previously removed parts included.

As you can see from the following article, and comments after the article, the sexual scenes in Frank's Diary do not seem to be a big deal either.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

inappropriate for school - it is not 'right' or 'good' material to be used in a school.

to file a complaint - first you have to write out your complaint - 'filing' a complaint merely means you have submitted the complaint to the proper authority.  The assumption is that your complaint will be read, acted on and filed in their system for future reference.

the definitive edition - the best edition of a book. The most complete edition.  Actually, it's the edition that has everything Anne Frank wrote in it (it includes material the father didn't want people to read).

labia - this is a scientific term for a part of the female reproductive system.  Basically 'labia" comes from the Latin language and labia means 'lips." Anne is referring to the outer portion of the female vagina here.

urine - pee.  Liquid waste material that you flush down the toilet.

the clitoris - this is the little spot in the vagina that really gives a woman pleasure if it is touched or stimulated.

cushiony - like a pillow

fleshy - thick with flesh

a fold of skin - to fold a piece of paper you bend it over and run your hand across it to make it flat.

a blister is a little bump or lump that forms on, for instance, your finger if you burn it.  Usually a blister is filled with water. It's strange she would say a clitoris looks like a blister, but that's how she described it.

the curriculum - a curriculum is the set of instructional materials used to teach a group of students.

to be sheltered - to be protected too much. 

to live in a bubble - this means to live inside of a place where you cannot be affected by the outside world.  If a person hasn't had many experiences in his/her life, you might say, "You have lived your life in a bubble!  Break out of your bubble and experience life."

to ban books - to prohibit people from reading books.  Actually, I think she lives in a bubble and wants to ban books.

a permission slip - a piece of paper the parent signs to give the teacher permission to show some type of movie or material.  "I give my child permission to watch _________."

a swear word - a curse word, a dirty word

when concerns surface - when someone complains. So basically the high-ranking administrator is saying, "Please talk to the teacher about this issue.  If you are still not satisfied, we have a process in which a group of people will look at the book you don't like and they will decide whether it should be used in your child's class."

stiff criticism - strong criticism

too explicit about sex - too detailed

1) What do you think about this issue?  If you have/had a child, would you want your child to read this book?

2)  Do you think the passage shown in the article is 'pornographic'?

3)  How old should a child be before he/she is exposed to sexual material?

4)  What's interesting to me is that the murder and torture the Nazis committed in Europe seems to be the worst form of 'pornography.'  Yet the mother doesn't object to her child being exposed to the "holocaust;" she doesn't want her child exposed to details about a sexual organ of the human body.   Do you also see something strange here?


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