In doing research for the ‘Comparative Anatomy’ post, I acquired these transcriptions to help frame the content and bring out the most important points. I planned on including the dialog (play) as well, but it was confusing following who was saying what, so you will have to satisfied with the summary I gave. Even so, I don’t want to give the impression that those subjects were comprehensive. There is quite a bit more material in the “explanatory text” that follow the opening paragraphs.
Introduction by Helga Fleischhauer-Hardt adapted for English by Hilary Davies
We have made this book for children and parents. In their hands, it can be an aid to sexual enlightenment. But above all, we hope it will show parents that natural sexuality develops only when children are surrounded from birth onwards by a loving family and environment which does not repress sexuality. We don’t believe a child will have “found the answer” to sex simply by looking at the pictures in this book. A good understanding requires rather a continuing exchange between parent and child, a dialog which helps the child express his questions and problems concerning sex and resolve them. The photographic part of this book is meant as a taking-off point for parents. Internal bodily processes such as conception and pregnancy as well as anatomical facts should be presented to the child in simple words by the parents themselves. The text at the end of the book makes suggestions for this purpose. It gives parents basic information on the development of sexuality and sex education. We are of the opinion that only an explicit and realistic presentation of sex can spare children fear and guilt feelings related to sexuality. For this reason, we chose photography as a medium. With much care and under great difficulty, we succeeded in photographing the children in such a way that their natural behavior came through. We thank the children and their parents for their help in putting together the photographs. The captions to the pictures are gathered from their spontaneous comments. We hope this book will serve parents and children as a source of information and guide them toward a happy sexuality marked by love, tenderness, and responsibility.
Explanatory text (introductory paragraphs)
How to Look at Show Me! with Your Children
Children who have grown up in a free and unconstrained atmosphere react positively to the photographs. They show interest and ask questions. Even children of preschool age react in this way. A child only accepts what he or she can comprehend, in any case, and this depends on the stage of development. In no way can looking at the pictures damage a child, even if he or she does not yet understand them. Children see many other things in their surroundings which they cannot understand.
The readiness of a child to look through Show Me! can best be judged by his parents. If a child has a good relationship to his body and to the bodies of his fellow human beings, he will not feel that the pictures are too stark or too strong for him. If the child has inhibitions, however, and isn’t used to the naked body, then it is possible he or she will at first look at the pictures with hostility. In this case much depends on the reaction of the mother, father, or other adult who is looking at the book together with the child. To avoid introducing repressions and new inhibitions regarding sexual matters, the adult should explain the photographs and encourage the child to talk about the feelings they bring about in him.
Parents who feel that the book is good, but hesitate to show it to their seven or eight-year-old, do so almost certainly because they fear they might impart to their children anxieties about their own sexual feelings or behavior patterns. Parents can easily overcome their fear if they go through the book section by section, looking at the photographs slowly and carefully and not showing them all at once to the children. In this way, parents will give themselves and their children the opportunity to gain confidence in the material, little by little. the most important parts of this process remain conversation, explanation, on the part of adults, and their readiness to answer all of the children’s questions.
Sex education, like all education, should begin in infancy, within the family.
Although the modern sex instruction given today in many schools in extremely valuable, its effectiveness should not be overestimated. Many children, by the time they reach school age, are already encumbered with prejudices and misconceptions as a result of a repressive attitude to sex in their home and environment. If a six-year-old boy talks about girls contemptuously as “broads”, he must have picked up the expression from adults. A child who has never been allowed to see his parents and brothers and sisters naked sees nudity as something shocking. Children will only have a sense of their bodies as something “good” if they receive much tenderness and devotion from their parents from birth. In order to enjoy sex fully, it is necessary to enjoy one’s own body naturally.
A child’s sexual development can be impaired, for instance, if his family treats everything connected with bodily excretions as dirty and repulsive. A child will learn clean and hygienic habits anyway without having her or his excretory function made taboo.
Children should be encouraged to acquire a positive attitude to their own bodies and to sex from a very early age. So it is very important that all parents be well-informed about the sexual development of their children and about sex education…[the text then goes into the details of specific areas.]
This book is aimed at open-minded people who are prepared to rethink and perhaps even question their own attitude to human sexuality. The book came about as a result of my experience that many parents are not sufficiently informed about sexual matters to understand the sexual development of their children correctly. In many cases, they are not even thoroughly informed or aware of their own sexuality, because everything to do with sex was suppressed in their own upbringing.
The primary aim of this book is to finally do justice to the sexual needs of children and adolescents. This goal can only be reached by instructing adults thoroughly and realistically. Will McBride’s photos portray sexual behavior in relation to physical maturity from birth to adulthood. The photos show most of the usual forms of sexual activity. For those children and adolescents who have as yet had little experience, the pictures offer at least a graphic introduction to sights and activities they will see and practice later in life.
We are relying on the wisdom, insight and tolerance of parents and teachers in the hope that Show Me! may contribute to the sexual liberation of children and adolescents.
-Helga Fleischhauer-Hardt, Basel, August 1973