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Apr 25 2013

Frankly Speaking About Anne Frank

America occupies a strange little world of its own. To the outsider it’s a land that’s filled with amazing things but whose inhabitants take it for granted.

It’s a strange culture too.

People often say “Avi! How can you comment on American culture when you aren’t even from there?” to which I respond with “I grew up knowing that “Cheerleader Girlfriends are Desirable”. American culture is less alien to me than mine is to the average American. Our airwaves, books and TV is innundated with it. I also have visited the USA on more than one occasion. I may not be perfectly in tune with it but I can tell when something’s up.

Anne Frank’s been in the news recently. Justin Beiber’s mind bendingly inane statement actually holds true. From what I have seen, Mr. Beiber is inordinately popular with young girls in the same way that the Backstreet Boys were when I was a young man. Anne Frank, as a teenager would have, in all likelihood been a fan more so than she would have been a fan of Fall Out Boy or Radiohead. Then again she would have probably been a fan of Nicki Minaj too. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Beiber didn’t walk away from the story of Anne Frank with the appropriate attitude of remembrance of a real tragedy with far reaching consequences.

That’s not what we are here to discuss.

Anne Frank’s diaries are a candid slice into the life of a young girl hitting puberty in Holland while hiding from Nazi Germany. While we concentrate on the “Hiding From Nazis” we forget that she was also “hitting puberty”.

A 7th grade class in Northville is reading a newer, unedited version of the famous Anne Frank Diary and at least one parent has had enough. Why? 

In the book Frank talks about the discovery of her own genitalia in what some would consider graphic terms.

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…When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you’re standing, so you can’t see what’s inside. They separate when you sit down and they’re very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there’s a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That’s the clitoris.”

Weird right?

The thing we must remember is that Anne Frank was a human being just as much as she is the “poster child for the effect of the holocaust”. And we must remember that she was now a teenager with the same kind of burgeoning sexuality all of us have to deal with in some point of our lives.

Teenagers ARE interested in sexuality. If that wasn’t the case girls/boys would still be icky and full of cooties and I wouldn’t have thrown up on my date’s shoes because I was so nervous.

And a lot of it involves their own. It’s natural that Anne Frank would have been interested in her genitalia. And that has EVERYTHING to do with being a Belieber (or indeed suffering from Beiberfever). It’s called growing up. It’s called fancying someone and it’s called puberty. When the Puberty dragon visits everything gets awkward.

And we must accept that. We must not hide our children from that. We cannot tell them that all those hormone driven feelings are bad and sinful. We cannot hide our children from their own anatomy and not explain what their feelings are and instead hide them under shame and lies.

Gail Horek is the parent who says the book is too graphic and she wants to school district to go back to the edited version of the book.

I think it is bizarre that people are more terrified that children will learn about their own bodies than learn to not rely on guns. What horrified Gail is not the testimony of young girl who died for no reason apart from the twisted ethos of religious hatred mixed with greed and what occurred to her but the fact that the young girl had a sexuality.

And that really is rather sad.

Priorities are important.

17 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    Teenage girls screamed when Elvis Presley performed. They screamed when the Beatles performed. Thus, there is nothing surprising about them screaming when Bieber performs. The difference is that Presley and the Beatles became icons; it is unlikely that Bieber will also become an icon.

    It should be pointed out that before Bieber wrote what he wrote, he was informed by the management personnel that was escorting him around that, in fact, Frank was a fan of popular entertainment of the time so, as Avicenna points out, she might well have been a fan of his, which is what he was reacting to. IMHO, the lamestream media and various entertainment web sites like TMZ are blowing this all out of proportion. From what I can gather, they seem to have it in for the guy with the talkbacks being absolutely vicious. It seems to me that he spent more then an hour touring the place, which indicates a level of interest not indicated in his comment.

  2. 2
    Reginald Selkirk

    Anne Frank, as a teenager would have, in all likelihood been a fan more so than she would have been a fan of Fall Out Boy or Radiohead.

    That’s one level, interpreting the “belieber” comment as being just about pop music idols. But Bieber has made attempts at Christian proselytization in the past, so that his making such a comment about a person who was persecuted for her Jewish identity has another, disturbing, layer.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    slc1

    I haven’t followed his career in any detail but I am unaware of such attempts. I know that his mother is a born again Christian who is a vociferous anti-abortionist but his comment on the practice that I read was rather tepid. Based on his behavior in the recent past, it doesn’t appear that his mother has much influence at the present time.

    But Bieber has made attempts at Christian proselytization in the past

  5. 5
    TGAP Dad

    Only tangentially topical here, but…

    Having grown up in the USA, and never been anywhere else (except for Canada – which I don’t count since it’s next door – and Jamaica once as a preteen on family vacation) I am surprised at how much you seem to know about the US. A previous post mentioned David Duke, a virtual nobody, back-bench state politician from the deep south with a very short career 20 years ago.

    I have long felt that foreigners who’s only exposure to America is movies and television are under the impression that there is a vast, nearly-empty continent, with New York at one end and Los Angeles at the other, and everyone is 20-something years old with a professional job which allows ample time for wiling away endless hours in the coffee shop or club. Lately, thanks to Netflix, I have taken to watching British television (maybe I should start saying “tele” instead?), and I can unequivically say that the Brits definitely do television better.

  6. 6
    SallyStrange

    (maybe I should start saying “tele” instead?)

    Sure, but you better spell it “telly,” I think.

  7. 7
    TGAP Dad

    Sally: thanks for the correction. Now if I could just get down a decent British accent…

  8. 8
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    I think the problem is that it was Justin Bieber saying it. There’s a kind of, I guess, egoism in his comment.

    Yeah, maybe she would have listened to him. That’s certainly possible; even probable. It’s just that the comment makes it seem as if throughout that whole tour he was just thinking about himself and his own ego.

    Either way, I have to admit that I just don’t care. To be honest, I’d be happy to never hear or read the name “Justin Bieber” again.

    As to Anne Frank’s Diary being edited…

    Seriously?

    I had no idea they had edited versions out there! The one I read was a direct copy of the original (so yes, it included that passage and many others like it… I distinctly remember the snickering around the class when we read these parts). I always assumed they were all otherwise unedited to… you know… preserve the memory of Anne Frank. I find the idea that it’s been edited to be rather insulting, to be honest.

    Although, to be fair, Anne would probably be horrified to find that her likely private diary has become famous world-wide. Wonder what she’d do if she had known that before she really got started on it…

  9. 9
    kraut

    I have absolutely not the foggiest why you call the phenom: Beiber. FFS the poor child’s family name is Bieber, which (more or less approbriate to the topic) mean Beaver and is the german name for genus Castor.

    BTW – that tempest in a coke bottle reminds me of the statement by John Lemon (why not call him names?) regarding the beatles (or correctly Beetles) being more famous than Jesus – likely as true a statement at the time when Jesus was sort of on the sidelines in most of Europe, the USSR, Japan etc, but the Beatles were very much known in those countries.

  10. 10
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Justin Beiber himself calls it “Belieber”. That’s what his fans are called.

    The “phenomenon” is called “Beiber Fever”.

  11. 11
    Nepenthe

    Note to the confused re: kraut: In German Beiber is pronounced (roughly) bEYE-ber. Bieber is pronounced bEE-ber. Consistently.

    Whereas in English we just plow straight through those digraphs without a second glance, everything mushing down to eeeee. Stupid English.

  12. 12
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I am, rather depressingly, completely unsuprised that some moronic parent is terrified of their daughter learning about her own body. I genuinely hate the prudish demonisation of sex that has infested Western culture, and I lay the blame directly at the door of the Abrahamic religions.

    I’m not too familiar with the US school system; how old are 7th graders?

  13. 13
    Rich Woods

    @TGAP Dad #7:

    Now if I could just get down a decent British accent…

    By all means give it a go, but if you end up sounding anything like Dick Van Dyke you’ll know you’re doing it utterly and completely wrong…

    @Thumper1990 #12:

    I’m not too familiar with the US school system; how old are 7th graders?

    Eleven to twelve, I think. Much like our current Year system (which still sounds all wrong to me).

  14. 14
    John Horstman

    @12, 13: Well, I had a detailed explanation of how our schools are split up and identified here in USA, but I wasn’t logged in and the comment system ate it (I’m sure Wikipedia has info if you’re curious). So, briefly, to find the usual upper age limit for a grade, simply add 6 (you can re-figure this if you know that12th grade is the last grade of primary school, and most students are 18 when they graduate). 7th grade consists of 12- to 13-year-olds.

  15. 15
    Kimpatsu

    America occupies a strange little world of it’s own.
    “America occupies a strange little world of IT IS own.”
    Really?!

  16. 16
    Phyllis Johnson

    I think Anne would have liked Justin too. The fact that she plastered her wall with pictures of celebrities shows her penchant for following the rich and talented. Buddy Elias would probably agree too. (her cousin and CEO of the Fonds in Switzerland) Buddy reviewed my book about Anne. See the website-
    http://www.beingfrankwithanne.com

  17. 17
    Latonia Ugaz

    Entering a new school, Milam, for sixth grade in September 1946, Presley was regarded as a loner. The following year, he began bringing his guitar in on a daily basis. He played and sang during lunchtime, and was often teased as a “trashy” kid who played hillbilly music. The family was by then living in a largely African-American neighborhood..,

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