Calls for The Diary of Anne Frank to be banned

anne frankMy idiot klaxon has been sounding loudly this morning at some book news from the US. Apparently there is a call in Michigan to have Anne Frank’s Diary (or to give it its real title The Diary of a Young Girl:) banned from schools because of inappropriate content.

Yes, according to The Guardian a group of parents in America want to ban Anne Frank’s Diary. Apparently there are passages of offensive content. These concerned parents aren’t worried about the depictions of fear, the terror of the Holocaust and the fact that the police are to be feared rather than trusted. The offending passage is instead one where the young Anne discusses her body and her discovery of the clitoris. According to one parent this is “Pretty graphic, and it’s pretty pornographic”… a passage which is nothing more than a factual description of the young female body has been described as “pornographic”.

When I first read this book as a 8/9 year old I really didn’t like it. I didn’t like Anne, she seemed selfish and mean to her mother and her mooning over Peter was irritating. Re-reading it as an adult I realised that this was actually what made the book so heart-breaking. Anne wasn’t a paragon of virtue, she wasn’t a saint, she was a normal teenage girl. Like each of the 1.5 million Jewish children who died during the Holocaust she had the potential to be great or the potential to do nothing with the rest of her life. The tragedy is that she (and they) never had the opportunity to discover where their potential would lead.

Of course the diary contains very personal and graphic content. This was the only outlet for a teenager to discuss all aspects of her life. If anything this passage further normalises Anne, makes her more relatable to teenagers today who are making the same discoveries about their own bodies. It’s a sad day when a dispassionate description of a vagina is more upsetting than the Holocaust.

Image from USHMM, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.

Image from USHMM


I just hope we don’t see book-burnings…

Find out more about Anne at The Anne Frank Trust

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