The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sexualizing the Past


One of the women featured in our Heroines Quilt Exhibition is Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager who hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Even though she eventually died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she has become known throughout the world because her father published the diary she kept while in hiding.

You would think Anne Frank would be the least likely person to become the subject of a sensational historical fiction novel–but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Sharon Dogar, an author of several young-adult books, is coming out with Annexed:  The Incredible Story of the Boy who Loved Anne Frank. The novel is told from the perspective of Peter van Pels, a teenager who hid in the same attic as the Frank family. In her diary, Anne recalls the crush she and Peter had on each other, which resulted in a kiss. In Annexed, Anne and Peter have sex, because Dogar feels that this really happened but was edited out by Anne’s father.

Plenty of historical women have had their stories sexed up in books and movies–just watch Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth or read Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl–but speculating about the intimate details of Anne Frank's life feels wrong. People read her diary because it is inspirational, because it gives them a very personal window into the suffering people endured and the rays of hope that one girl conjured up in spite of her circumstances. Reading sex in between the lines of Anne's writing, when she chose not to share anything beyond her kiss, is decidedly not why Otto Frank published his daughter's memories.

Sure, Sharon Dogar can write whatever she wants about Anne Frank–but is it necessary? Does anything else really need to be said about Anne Frank? Why can't we just let her speak for herself?

-Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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