The Hite Report is bad-ass, but not much has changes - AKA I love you Shere Hite

Shere Hite, ya'll. This is a tribute, kind of, because someone sent me an old article of hers that came out about the time were shooting Science Sex and the Ladies  

Her book, The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, her research, her conclusions are golden. They are also largely forgotten, ignored, misunderstood, or downplayed in lady-gasm research and advice, but that's not her fault. That's because we are a world obsessed with the idea that P-in-V intercourse is/should be equally as orgasmic for women as it is for men. It's not. It never has been and never will be. Everyone kind of knows that, but whenever that is really specifically called out as bullshit, the world kinda hardens to the idea and bounces it out of site until we all forget about it. That to me is where Hite's work (and all like it, really) exists at that moment. 

Everyone should read her book. Years ago I used to write posts about how you could get it for 1 cent on Amazon. It looks like it's closer to about $5 now, but still worth every penny. That's also why I post the text from 1 random page out of this book (and her different, but incredibly intriguing Hite Report on Male Sexuality book) every now and again. I call it Random Hite Report, and I was hoping it might interest people enough that they get the book and read it. 

I mean she said it straight out in that book...in 1976 - that women NEED external clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. She had gotten written surveys from over 3000 women about the specific details of their partnered and solo sex life; the details of how they stimulate themselves, when and how they orgasm, how their legs are positioned when they masturbate. It's bad ass, and it tells a story of women with clits that are completely functional. Clits that can be stimulated to orgasm as quickly, easily and reliably as the penis, but unlike the penis, they are under-used, unused, ignored, misunderstood, and certainly not discussed. They are the organ of female orgasm, but they are almost never the focus and often not even part of partnered sex.

Hite wrote this groundbreaking book just after Masters and Johnson did their groundbreaking research that gave the physiological, scientific backing for the clit (not the vagina) being the cause of female orgasm. Hite gave Master and Johnson's research the feminist perspective it deserved. She (and a few other feminists of the time) filled in the reality of what M&J's physiological scientific revelations meant to everyday sexual encounters. Basically, it was clear that we're doing it wrong (for women of course, certainly not men). Our understanding of women and sex needed to change. The way women's bodies were engaged in partnered sexual encounters needed to change. The way we depicted and talked about  and taught sex and orgasm needed to change. 

None of it changed, though. Not really. 

I feel there may have been a small window of time in a small sliver of the population that got to live in the golden era between Hite's book and the point when the book introducing the public to the G-spot was dropped in 1982 telling everyone something like, 'Just joking! Women can still orgasm vaginally...it's just that it's the G-spot not the vagina that makes it happen!' (It's not true at all, but whatever). That's the time during which the movie 20th Century Women took place. I SSL Reviewed that movie quite highly

But for real. It's 2020 now. Everything Hite was saying should change still needs to change. The G-spot has recently gone out of vogue to talk about in the progressive, even feminist, world of sexperting, but the idea that something about banging penises into vaginas can cause lady-gasms hasn't. It's just now, people point to the inner legs of the clitoris as causing orgasm-from-fucking....because supposedly the penis pushes on the vaginal walls which kinda press against the clitoral legs (not the clitoral glans, mind you, which is on the outside of the body and has all the 8,000 nerve endings people know the clit for) or against the vestibular bulbs (that people call part of the clit, but it's not), and I guess that's what's supposed to cause an orgasm. It doesn't. Or at least if it does no one has ever seen that happen in all of scientific research, just like they've never seen a 'g-spot' cause an orgasm, but whatever. People say it, so the world believes it. 

The world wants to believe it. It's easier to just pretend women can orgasm from intercourse rather than acknowledge the incredibly sad truth that women are having SO MUCH sex with no orgasm and then do the hard work to change how we teach, depict, and do sex so that everyone gets what they need to orgasm. 

So...nothing too much has changed. Hite acknowledged it herself in an article from 2008

"As noted, The Hite Report on Female Sexuality showed that most women could orgasm easily and regularly via separate stimulation of the exterior vulva or pubis, and that the definition of sex should change to include such stimulation to orgasm as a normal part of sex. This would make sex more egalitarian. While this research showed that sex should no longer be so exaggeratedly focused on coitus as the sole high point or climax of sex, images of sex in pornography, popular culture and media did not change."

I get frustrated thinking about how little has changed since I started researching this stuff in the early 2000 and certainly since I released the movie in 2014. I can't imagine how frustrated Shere Hite was while writing that article over 30 years after sexual norms should have crumbled under the weight of her book's truth-telling. 

I'd love to talk to her about it, but honestly, she just dropped off the face of public life after about the time she wrote the article. I've tried many a time to get ahold of her in lots of different way, but nothing so far (anyone know her??? - I'd love you forever if I could talk with her). 

But, she did important work, and just because the world didn't take to it right away doesn't mean her work wasn't monumental. It just means that the change her work suggests is so monumental that it needs generations of work. She was not the first, but she grew the fire, and it's still smoldering, giving other people the fuel to light more fires. 

For me, her book changed everything. After a year or so of reading shit about lady-gasms, I started thinking...'it doesn't seem like a vaginal orgasm is real.' I can't find evidence that it actually exists, but even if it was hinted at, no one would say it, and most people just acted like vaginal orgasms were a given. Hite said it. She gave me the confidence to continue forward. It made me feel finally like I wasn't crazy.

That's how we do this. One fire lighting another fire, lighting another fire, lighting another...until we burn down the fucking P-in-V obsessed, clit-ignoring norms of sex. 

We'll get there.  

1 comment:

  1. This is your best post ever -- and that's really saying something! I, too, wish I could find Shere Hite and put her in all the talk shows and magazines!

    We have to resurrect Hite as the real authority on this issue, instead of accepting the confused "new science" peddled by female sexperts, such as Elisabeth Lloyd, Debbie Herbenick, Beverly Whipple, and Emily Nagoski, who have become the modern female groupies of the vaginal orgasm band.

    I want to point out the most important way that "The Hite Report" is misrepresented. Shere Hite is always cited as finding that 30% of women report having orgasms during intercourse without concurrent MANUAL clitoral stimulation, the "no hands" orgasm of our cultural dreams. But no one includes her qualifying statements, which reveal that this number also includes concurrent clitoral stimulation -- albeit not with hands: "Often, the ways in which women do orgasm during intercourse have nothing much to do with intercourse itself. In fact, these methods could probably be adopted by other women who wished to orgasm during intercourse -- if this was felt to be a desirable goal....Orgasms during intercourse in this study usually seemed to result from a conscious attempt by the woman to center some kind of clitoral area contact for herself during intercourse, usually involving contact with the man's pubic area. This clitoral stimulation during intercourse could be thought of then, as basically stimulating yourself while intercourse is in progress. Of course, the other person must cooperate.... This is essentially the way men get stimulation during intercourse: they rub their penises against our vaginal walls so that the same area they stimulate during masturbation is being stimulated during intercourse. In other words, you have to get the stimulation centered where it feels good. Answers seemed to define about six basic ways of having orgasm during intercourse, descriptions of which follow.
    1. The position of woman on top...the freedom of movement it gives the woman to seek her own satisfaction...
    2. Grinding pubic/mons areas together....involves complete penetration, with little or no thrusting...
    3. Touching of public bones together during intercourse...
    4. Partial holding of the penis in the vagina without moving in and out...partial penetration with the penis pulled up toward the clitoris, draped around the vulva...
    5. Frequent re-entry of the penis into the vagina...basically moving the penis around the outer lips...so the lips are constantly being pulled or stimulated...
    6. Orgasm on entry of penis...the orgasm is actually in progress as entry occurs... orgasm during intercourse is more of a victory by virtue of a technicality than by anything having purely to do with the presence of the penis in the vagina...
    7. Extended "be-fore play": Clitoral stimulation to pre-orgasm, then entry...."
    8. Orgasm during intercourse after having the first orgasm, or several orgasms, by more direct simulation...some women found they could have orgasms during intercourse ....'finally my outer vaginal area can be stimulated to orgasm.'"

    So Hite did NOT find that 30% of women have "vaginal orgasms" caused by the penis moving in the vagina, as this number is commonly mis-used to imply -- only that they get their clitoral stimulation "during" intercourse from other kinds of vulvar contact. The orgasms are still triggered by the clitoris. And for good reason: there's no other site in the body with orgasm-triggering nerve endings. The vagina -- alas, there's no "there" there, not on the inside, and not on the outside. Hard to believe, counterintuitive, inconvenient, but true...because....anatomy!