September 11, 2020

"Hite did not create the clitoris or discover the female orgasm, but she pointed a lot of women — and men — in the right direction."

"The Hite Report, published in 1976, examined surveys completed by 3,000 women and concluded that, for most women, conventional sexual intercourse was an ineffective means of achieving orgasm and that they did not need men and penetrative sex to find sexual satisfaction. For many women, her findings were a comfort and a potential liberation; for many men, they were shocking and outrageous. Inevitably her report was compared with other landmark sex studies, such as those by Kinsey or Masters and Johnson, although some saw little new in her findings.... Hite was inevitably criticised by male, moral-majority America, which always had a problem with her message. Some declared that her work did not survive serious scrutiny.... She then turned her attention to men, with The Hite Report on Male Sexuality (1981), featuring an analysis of responses from 7,239 men to questions about rape, pornography, homosexuality, adultery and male-female relations. The answers led her to conclude that repressed anger and infidelity were common characteristics of American marriage. 'There is a gut feeling that something is wrong — that although there are beautiful elements to sex as we know it, somehow there are unnecessary problems, too,' she wrote, blaming 'patriarchal culture” as the root of the problem.... She was born Shirley Diana Gregory in St Louis, Missouri, in 1942... She died from complications of dementia on September 9, 2020, aged 77."

From "Shere Hite obituary/Groundbreaking if controversial sexologist and feminist who shed new light on the female orgasm and once posed for Playboy" (London Times).

I was one of the women who completed the original Hite Report survey! I don't know why the survey got to me, but it did. I was living and working in NYC in the early 70s. I thought I wrote a lot of interesting things, and I read "The Hite Report" very carefully hoping to find something of mine, but no, I'm not in the book, other than as part of the statistics. I didn't feel much connection to the findings in the report, and the failure to use any of what I thought were my excellent quotes made me suspect that the quotes that were used were picked to fit a preexisting framework. The book certainly made a big splash back in the 70s.

Here's Hite exploring male sexuality with Mike Douglas and David Hasselhoff in 1982:



Wait. This is better, with Geraldo Rivera in 1977:




And here she is with Oprah:

70 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

conventional sexual intercourse was an ineffective means of achieving orgasm

"Conventional sexual intercourse" sounds like you're having sex at a trade show in Vegas or at a Shriners convention.

I know, I know, the author is referring to what one priest in a Canon Law class on marriage referred to, in a fake Irish brogue, as "get it up, get it in, get it off", but, still.

or discover the female orgasm

Like it's something you find tucked away in the back of a closet somewhere. "I dunno what this is, but it makes me all tingly."

Shere Hite was part of the 60s & 70s illusion that the groovy people (said in an Austin Powers accent) of the 60s was the first generation to have discovered sex.

"Mr. Spatula, Mr. Laslo Spatula, please pick up the white courtesy phone."

WK said...

Also on Merv Griffin.... quite a line-up:
From Hollywood. Merv's guests are actors George Hamilton and Steve Guttenberg, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, singer Razzy Bailey and Shere Hite author of "The Hite Report on Male Sexuality".

Wince said...

I could see Mike Douglas leaving a woman unsatisfied.

David Hasselhoff, on the other hand...

rhhardin said...

Men were working it before 1976. Just a historical note.

Dave Begley said...

Give us some of your *excellent* quotes.

AA is saying the report was rigged.

Francisco D said...

I didn't feel much connection to the findings in the report, and the failure to use any of what I thought were my excellent quotes made me suspect that the quotes that were used were picked to fit a preexisting framework.

Imagine that!

Next we will be hearing that hundreds of "ground breaking" psychological studies cannot be replicated although they are frequently cited as undeniable evidence for a certain point of view.

It is as if the "intellectual class" and the Media have been gas lighting us for a few generations.

Nah! That cannot possibly be true.

Fernandinande said...

I was one of the women who completed the original Hite Report survey!

That made me wonder if the "report" over-sampled women with weird ideas about sex and men.

"One discussion of sampling bias is by Philip Zimbardo,[14] who explained that women in Hite's study were given a survey about marriage satisfaction, where 98% reported dissatisfaction, and 75% reported having had extra-marital affairs, but where only 4% of women given the survey responded. Zimbardo argued that the women who had dissatisfaction may have been more motivated to respond than women who were satisfied and that her research may just have been "science-coded journalism.""

Bingo, so to speak.

bleh said...

Never heard of her. Don't care. No way I'm going to watch hours of her TV interviews from four decades ago. RIP, I guess.

From your post, she sounds like nothing more than a warmed-over Kinsey. So basically she trafficked in faux academic bullshit, and was utterly boring.

Bay Area Guy said...

"The answers led her to conclude that repressed anger and infidelity were common characteristics of American marriage."

I grew up in the 70s, and generally recall this as a meme! The concept of "sleeping around" was very prevalent. The concept of having a mistress seemed prevalent too. Only prudes didn't (in my feeble teenage mind).

But divorce was also prevalent -- which had bitter, lasting and hugely negative consequences for the kids (and wives).

My informal survey of childhood friends in Northern California would be as follows: (a) 90% did not attend any form of church and (b) 75% of parents were divorced.

My Dad split when I was 3 -- and my Mom got lucky and married a rich dude who became my Stepfather.

Because I had a relatively stable home with the Stepfather, the neighborhood kids (most of whom were raised by single mothers) kinda sorta viewed me as somewhat privileged. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.

Back then, prices were way more affordable. A lotta my friends with single Moms who could afford to rent a small, nice house for $200-300/month. But those houses now start at $1 Million if you want to buy. I bet rent is 10X that now.

These days, I have no idea how a single Mom can raise kids in the Bay Area. It's way too expensive. Would have to move to Richmond or the bowels of Oakland.

Oh yeah, Sex! Ever see Animal House?

That's what college was for -- it expunged the repressed anger:)

Sebastian said...

"and the failure to use any of what I thought were my excellent quotes made me suspect"

Ah, AA hasn't changed a bit, has she.

JZ said...

Was her name pronounced Sheer or Sherry?

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Little man in the canoe you say?

I am shocked and outraged!

Tom T. said...

As far as the male reaction goes, my recollection of the report is that it focused not on women who were frustrated with and wanted to improve their sexual relationships with men, but on women who were embittered by their sexual relationships and wanted to be done with men altogether. It fit with the "like a fish needs a bicycle" way of thinking.

Earnest Prole said...

If the image served up by Google when you type Shere Hite Playboy is for real, it’s the platonic ideal of carpet matching drapes.

You’re welcome.

Birkel said...

Who are these men who don't want repeat customers?
That's a bad business model.

James K said...

I didn't feel much connection to the findings in the report, and the failure to use any of what I thought were my excellent quotes made me suspect that the quotes that were used were picked to fit a preexisting framework.

No surprise there. On top of that, of course, is the entirely unrepresentative sample of women who opted to participate in the survey. I didn't read the linked article (subscription required) but I suspect the novelty of the report was more in the bringing out of what was already known and understood but not talked about much in public.

William said...

I tuned out quick. I wonder if Geraldo hit on her....There used to be a time when people thought sexual repression was the leading cause of unhappiness. Well, it was part of the equation. The shame and ignorance, such as was common during my youth, didn't lead to sexual fulfillment. On the other hand, there's only a chance correlation between sexual fulfillment and enduring happiness. Taken on the whole as opposed to the hole, I think I've had a better life than John Holmes or Ron Jeremy-- except for those times when they were actually screwing. No question. They had better sex lives, but I'm more comfortable with my inhibitions than they were with their exhibitions.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Should I be worried about random authors creating new body parts?

bagoh20 said...

What are you people talking about? I've never heard of these things of which you speak, and of course Cloris Leachman is an organism. We all are.

RMc said...

Sheer hate.

MadisonMan said...

The Hite Report came out back when I was a library clerk, and it was on reserve a lot, I recall. (Not as much as The Thornbirds -- reserves for that went on forever!)

PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krumhorn said...

The only reasonable (not to mention entertaining) comment on this topic can only come from Laslo.

- Krumhorn

Leland said...

I'm having trouble believing male sexuality is better by including Geraldo Rivera, even back in 1977.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"Hite did not create the clitoris...."

We should reserve our praise for whoever DID invent the clitoris.

CJinPA said...

The cultural elite's long obsession with what makes women happy doesn't appear to have made women one bit happier. If anything, a half-century's worth of effort seems to have only produced angrier feminists.

Jeff Brokaw said...

The Geraldo clip is interesting and he’s a pretty good interviewer. Oprah of course jumps right into gender war bullshit in the first 2 minutes.

tim maguire said...

I didn't feel much connection to the findings in the report, and the failure to use any of what I thought were my excellent quotes made me suspect that the quotes that were used were picked to fit a preexisting framework.

I've written things for compilations too that I thought were much better than what was actually used. It's frustrating because I felt like I wasted my time trying to help them out and hard not to assign some nefarious motive for their overlooking of my brilliance.

Bilwick said...

"Hite did not create the clitoris. I did."--Al Gore

MartyB said...

"Hite was inevitably criticised by male, moral-majority America, which always had a problem with her message."

I suspect this is almost complete supposition, as Christian evangelical author Tim LaHaye (and later author of the "Left Behind" series - does anything give "Moral Majority" cred like that?) made a big splash in evangelical circles with the book "The Act of Marriage" in the late 70's that explicitly noted how to provide sexual satisfaction to women.

I'm sure there were some "moral majority" types that criticized Hite, but givene hte success of LaHaye's book, they would seem to be in the minority.

Beth B said...

As played by Carol Kane...

mikee said...

In 1977, as 9th graders in a North Carolina public school populated by the whitest of middle class suburbanites, my fellow students and I were given a survey to fill out - a national survey on drug and alcohol use by American youth. We were assured the surveys were, first, extremely important to national leadership's understanding of US drug abuse, and second, completely and absolutely anonymous. The completed surveys would be packed up and shipped off to DC for compilation, and nobody at our school would ever, ever, ever see any of our answers to the survey questions.

The 30 students in my home room, 30 extremely whitebread & mayo kids, turned in 30 surveys describing a school & home drug culture that Haight-Ashbury in 1967 could not have topped. Every one of us drank at least a fifth of Jack Daniels per day, often starting at breakfast. We all smoked pot on the school buses. We all shot heroin in the school bathrooms. We all bought and sold each other uppers and downers stolen from our parents' bathroom medicine cabinets. We took LSD with our teachers, who often taught us while tripping. Cocaine was snorted from a pile the size of a science fair volcano at weekend parties. Or so we all wrote.

Remember the alarm at childhood drug abuse in the late 1970s? Well, my 9th grade class helped start that panic by smartass answers to a survey.

My conclusion: Surveys are meaningless without objective measurement of the truth of the answers. Something to keep in mind when reading anything from a political poll result to a summary of how women achieve climax. I am not saying all surveys are full of lies. I am only saying they might be, so don't believe them without proof.

As to Hite - I asked what women liked me to do with them, and started with that.

Kai Akker said...

If we look at the quote Althouse called out to top this post -- who would write that? Who would find it rhetorically necessary, or desirable, to set up such large straw men as in "creating the clitoris" or "discovering the female orgasm"?

The only person who would write such silliness is someone who is working on the familiar journalistic formula of "revolutionary" thought. Hite did not discover the female orgasm but she ALMOST DID! She told women they could have orgasms without a penis involved!

Except sex books had been out there with similar news already. The huge seller Joy of Sex was published in 1972 and had been on the best-seller list for 70 weeks a couple years before the "Hite Report" was published in 1976. "Our Bodies, Our Selves" was published in 1970. Plenty of feminist literature was in the sexual liberation mode, especially liberation from men. Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying" was a best-seller in 1973.

Hite was a bit of a me-too on this bandwagon and I agree with Althouse that the material she quoted more probably reflected Hite's own personal views than it did any significant consensus of the opinions of those very few women (quantitatively) who did fill out a questionnaire. Only 3,000 of them, entirely self-selecting.

So whoever wrote that article build-up (cannot see it behind an annoying consent form) is doing a little rewriting of history, IMO, using the writer's own conception of a time he or she may not have known firsthand at all. That is how the excerpts read to me. It sounds suspiciously close to: The people of 1976 knew almost nothing about sex until Shere Hite came along!!! There was repression.... anger.... And of course she was criticized by moral-majority America!

Except somehow her book got on the best-seller list for a while, too. It must have been bought exclusively by the immoral minority, if there were enough of those.

Perhaps the excerpts are not entirely reflective of an otherwise thoughtful, well-considered obituary. But based on the above, it is hard not to see a familiar pattern.
This kind of hype is written to cultivate a stereotyped image of its time; it is promotional at heart. Hite was a part of the zeitgeist, definitely; she picked up on the trend of sexual frankness that many others had been exploiting for some time by then, and contributed her bit. But, to me, that is the end of the story on her.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I didn't feel much connection to the findings in the report, and the failure to use any of what I thought were my excellent quotes made me suspect that the quotes that were used were picked to fit a preexisting framework.

Do you remember any of your excellent quotes? You now have your own platform on which to publish them.

walter said...

Dr. Althouse didn't keep a record of her..submission?

iowan2 said...

Wince said...
I could see Mike Douglas leaving a woman unsatisfied.


Not sure about that. Douglas had throat cancer caused by HPV. Something he contracted due to his proclivity for performing oral sex on his partners.

Jeff Brokaw said...

And now we have Cardi B singing about her WAP. Most popular song in the first week ever on Spotify (or some such).

You’ve come a long way, baby!

mockturtle said...

Just say 'no' to surveys.

Rosalyn C. said...

True story: Back in 1974 while in graduate school and doing an internship at a museum I had a boyfriend who was doing graduate work in international law and who was from France, the country noted for "great lovers." He was spending the weekend at my place. He didn't have a car so I had picked him up and driven him back so we could attend a big museum opening together. And later that night while engaged in intercourse I asked if he would touch my clitoris. He completely freaked out and accused me of asking him to "masturbate me" -- used those exact words. He jumped up out of bed, grabbed his clothing and ran out into the living room. Then he insisted I drive him back to Ann Arbor in the middle of the night, during the gas shortage. Remember those days? LOL good times.

Let's just say I was very experimental back then. Probably 95% of the guys were horrible in bed. But the thing was, and I agree with Hite on this, that the man was expected to be in charge. (Even though they had no idea what they were doing. And of course would never ask for directions.) Remember how scandalous it was when movies first showed women on top?

Anyway I hope men have changed since then. Have they?

Charlotte Allen said...

I watched the Hite/Hasselhoff segment with the sound off. Hite talked and talked--but at the end Hasselhoff sucked all the air out of the room. He completely dominated the scene.

Wouldn't it have been fascinating if Hite had actually invented the clitoris?

mockturtle said...

Though never in a convent, I usually found convent-ional sex satisfying.

tcrosse said...

"Hite did not create the clitoris...."

An old chief in the Navy told me that if God invented anything better than pussy, He kept it for Himself.

Wince said...

iowan2 said...
Not sure about that. Douglas had throat cancer caused by HPV. Something he contracted due to his proclivity for performing oral sex on his partners.

LOL. Wrong Mike Douglas.

rehajm said...

I miss Merv. OOOOOOHHHHHH!....

Sprezzatura said...

“the failure to use any of what I thought were my excellent quotes made me suspect that the quotes that were used were picked to fit a preexisting framework.”

This kinda Althouse thinking is exactly what makes this blog so awesome. She’s hilarious. The best eva! IMHO.

mockturtle said...

PS: But it took some practice. ;-D

MayBee said...

I have to say I get really annoyed by this kind of revisionist idea that for all of humanity, women had bad sex. Up until the 1970s. It's pretty ridiculous.

YoungHegelian said...

@Rosalyn,

Anyway I hope men have changed since then. Have they?

On behalf of Frenchmen everywhere, I apologize for your unpleasant experience. Sadly, you've filed your complaint after the money-back guarantee period has expired, so there's little we can do.

Since then we've instituted mandatory on-line training for our associates (e.g. The Love-Button: Your Ticket To Ride -- in French: Le Bonbon: Vas-y et tu la vancras). Since this is a family forum, we will pass on any embedded links. You know you will understand, considering the circumstances.

We assure you that should you faire l'amour in the future with one (or maybe more, we're not judgemental) of the new line of Gallic manhood, that you will find the experience will meet your highest expectations.

And, once again, our deepest apologies.

Joe Smith said...

Easy come easy go...

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Just recalling what the late Lamar Fike, a member of the "Memphis Mafia," said about Elvis, based on reports from the women who passed through Elvis's bedroom doors: "He was the King of Foreplay."

No wonder women liked him.

Jeff Brokaw said...

We know that sometimes women have trouble getting out of their own heads — they often poke fun at themselves for this. The relentless firehose of thoughts, fears, what-ifs, did so-and-so ever do such-and-such, etc. It’s well known and seems to occur much more in women than men.

And we know that could definitely present difficulties in “achieving” orgasm (who talks like that?). If your brain is not present in the activities, and focused on them, nothing good is gonna happen for you.

Maybe Althouse remembers (although that was a long time ago) whether Hite asked anything about that? Seems important - anyone who has trouble getting out of their own head during sex is surely having trouble at other times too and those conditions are ripe for anxiety and depression. Which is obviously a pretty big challenge to overcome, in your life, orgasms or no.

stonethrower said...

iowan2 confused his Mike Douglas'.

RMc said...

I could see Mike Douglas leaving a woman unsatisfied.

Not sure about that. Douglas had throat cancer caused by HPV. Something he contracted due to his proclivity for performing oral sex on his partners.


Er, you're confusing Mike Douglas, the talk-show host with Michael Douglas, the actor.

Now, I've got an image in my head that I'll never be able to get out. Thanks a lot, pal!

Roughcoat said...

Probably 95% of the guys were horrible in bed.

Interesting you say that. I found the same was true of women. I ghosted out of a goodly number of relationships for just that reason.

Have women changed since then?

cubanbob said...

Not to toot my horn but back in the day it wasn't rocket science to ask the woman what she liked and observe her and keep doing what she liked. Then she would reciprocate.

Phil 314 said...

"Hite exploring male sexuality with Mike Douglas and David Hasselhoff in 1982"

That line alone created many strange and disturbing images

Krumhorn said...

I see that it's not going to happen. Even the Girl with the Pony Tail on the Treadmill and The Girl At Starbucks Who Hates You are waiting to see what Laslo would contribute to this thread. He is probably busy documenting the antifa thugs in Seattle. So here it is from 5 years ago.

He would probably title this "Things Shere Hite never considered"

"I just want to lick it."

"Go ahead -- do it!"

"I just want to lick it so bad."

"Do it! I dare you."

"Do you want to see the pretty girl lick the donut?"

"Yes, I want to see the pretty girl lick the donut!"

"Do you want to see the naughty pretty girl's tongue swirling lightly against the donut's creamy pink frosting?"

"Please!"

"Do you want to see the naughty pretty girl get creamy pink frosting on her lips and watch her sensuously lick it off?"

"You're killing me! Lick the donut!"

"Oh, Little Boy wants to see naughty Little Girl lick the donut. Little Boy
might just explode if he doesn't see it..."

"Little Boy wants you to lick the damned donut!"

"Does Little Boy wish he had a donut in his pants? Does Little Boy wants me to lick HIS donut?"

"Little Boy wants it Bad!"

Does Little Boy want to see Naughty Little Girl stick her naughty pink tongue in the donut hole?"

"Yes! Yes! Do the hole! Do the hole!"

"There. See? I licked the lucky donut. Do you want me to stick out my tongue so you can see the frosting on the tip?"

"Show me -- please God, show me the frosting on your tongue!"

"Was that good for you, Little Boy?"

"You know, I thought it might've turned out to be anti-climactic and all by this point, but yes: that was worth it."

"Good for you, Little Boy. Now does Little Boy want to go with Naughty Little Girl to look at cucumbers?"


I am Laslo.

- Krumhorn

bagoh20 said...

I didn't invent the clitoris, but I did discover it.

What a funny place to hide something so useful. I keep stuff like that right on my belt - like my ever-ready multi-tool. When a job pops up that needs done right now, you don't want be fumbling around looking for your tool. I can whip mine out in under two seconds and get to work. I often get loads of kudos for that.

Nichevo said...


Earnest Prole said...
If the image served up by Google when you type Shere Hite Playboy is for real, it’s the platonic ideal of carpet matching drapes.

You’re welcome.


I don't think so but thanks just the same. One word: butterface.

Birches said...

What mockturtle said. It's not terribly hard to get things right. Sometimes there can be fancy, crowd pleasing moves, but more often than not conventional works just fine.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Does Cloris Leachman have clematis bushes?

Paul said...

Girls girls girls...

It's not the size of the WAND that matters. It's the MAGIC in the wand that matters!

Steve Pitment said...

>> "I was one of the women who completed the original Hite Report survey"

Ann, you ignorant slut.

Unknown said...

In 1492

Shere Hite

Set sail for the Clitoris True

Kansas City said...

I just listened to the first ten minutes, but was surprised as how good Rivera was.

tim in vermont said...

In sex, it seems like everybody seems to believe that their experience is somehow universal. It’s like “I played a hand of poker once, and this is what poker is like."

mockturtle said...

Girls girls girls...

It's not the size of the WAND that matters. It's the MAGIC in the wand that matters!


Paul, only a guy would say that.

Paul said...

mockturtle said...

"Paul, only a guy would say that."

Well let 'em use vibrators if that bugs them so much.

mockturtle said...

What I meant was that neither has much to do with satisfaction. Rather it is unhurried, sensual lovemaking skills that are most important to women.

Bill R said...

The funniest scene in HBO's "Rome". The legionary Titus Pullo explains the mystery of the clitoris to his Centurion Lucius Vorenus.

So they had this figured out 2,000 years ago. Granted, it's fictional but there is a graffito in Pompeii that explains "Marcus, when licking pussy, lick the outside not the inside". Sound advice. if maddeningly unspecific.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ8SDBxuTOs