|Born||Shirley Diana Gregory
November 2, 1942
Saint Joseph, Missouri
|Nationality||German (formerly American)|
|Alma mater||University of Florida|
|Known for||research pertaining to feminism|
Shere Hite (born November 2, 1942) is an American-born German sex educator and feminist. Her sexological work has focused primarily on female sexuality. Hite builds upon biological studies of sex by Masters and Johnson and by Alfred Kinsey. She also references theoretical, political and psychological works associated with the feminist movement of the 1970s, such as Anne Koedt's The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm. She renounced her United States citizenship in 1995 to become German.
Early life, education, and career
Hite was born Shirley Diana Gregory in Saint Joseph, Missouri to Paul and Shirley Hurt Gregory. She later took the surname of her stepfather, Raymond Hite. She graduated from Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Florida. She received a masters degree in history from the University of Florida in 1967. She then moved to New York City and enrolled at Columbia University to work toward her Ph.D. in social history. Hite says that the reason for her not completing this degree was the conservative nature of Columbia at that time. In the 1970s, she did part of her research while at the National Organization for Women. She appeared nude in Playboy while studying at Columbia University and also posed provocatively in a typewriter ad to earn money for her college fees, but when she read the ad’s strapline, “The typewriter is so smart she doesn’t have to be”, she joined a feminist protest against the ad she had appeared in.
Hite has focused on understanding how individuals regard sexual experience and the meaning it holds for them. Hite's work concluded that 70% of women do not have orgasms through in-out, thrusting intercourse but are able to achieve orgasm easily by masturbation or other direct clitoral stimulation. She, as well as Elisabeth Lloyd, have criticized Masters and Johnson for uncritically incorporating cultural attitudes on sexual behavior into their research; for example, the argument that enough clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm should be provided by thrusting during intercourse, and the inference that the failure of this is a sign of female "sexual dysfunction." While not denying that both Kinsey and Masters and Johnson have played a crucial role in sex research, Hite believes that society must understand the cultural and personal construction of sexual experience to make the research relevant to sexual behavior outside the laboratory. She offered that limiting test subjects to "normal" women who report orgasming during coitus was basing research on the faulty assumption that having an orgasm during coitus was typical, something that her own research strongly refuted.
Hite used an individualistic research method. Thousands of responses from anonymous questionnaires were used as a framework to develop a discourse on human responses to gender and sexuality. Her conclusions were met with methodological criticism. The fact that her data are not probability samples raises concerns about whether the sample data can be generalized to relevant populations. As is common with surveys concerning sensitive subjects, such as sexual behavior, the proportion of nonresponse is typically large. Thus the conclusions derived from the data may not represent the views of the population under study because of sampling bias due to nonresponse. Hite supporters defend her methodology by saying that it is more likely to get to the truth of women's sexuality than studying women engaged in prostitution as if they were exemplary of women in general, or to study in laboratory conditions women who claim to orgasm during coitus.
Hite has been praised for her theoretical fruitfulness in sociological research. The suggestion of bias in some of Hite's studies is frequently used as a talking point in university courses where sampling methods are discussed, along with The Literary Digest poll of 1936. One discussion of sampling bias is by Philip Zimbardo, 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." Some or all of her published surveys depended on wide multi-channel questionnaire distribution, opportunity for many long answers on a respondent's own schedule, enforced respondent anonymity, and response by mail rather than polling by telephone. Lohr argues that the distribution of questionnaires to women's organizations and the length of the questions and the allowance for long responses introduces a bias towards people who are not typical. She also argues that several of the questions are leading the respondent to reply in a particular way.
- Sexual Honesty, by Women, For Women (1974)
- The Hite Report on Female Sexuality (1976, 1981, republished in 2004)
- The Hite Report on Men and Male Sexuality (1981)
- Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress (The Hite Report on Love, Passion, and Emotional Violence) (1987)
- Fliegen mit Jupiter (English: Flying with Jupiter) (1993)
- The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up Under Patriarchy (1994)
- The Hite Report on Shere Hite: Voice of a Daughter in Exile (2000) (autobiography)
- The Shere Hite Reader: New and Selected Writings on Sex, Globalization and Private Life (2006)
- "Decades later, Hite reports back", USA Today, May 15, 2006
- Why I became a German: so vicious were the attacks on the feminist Shere Hite that she decided to give up her American citizenship, The New Statesman, November 17, 2003
- Biography, Hite Research Foundation, The Official Website of Shere Hite, retrieved March 8, 2012
- Hite, Shere (2004). The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press. pp. 512 pages. ISBN 1-58322-569-2. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- Shere Hite: "I was making the point that clitoral stimulation wasn't happening during coitus. That's why women 'have difficulty having orgasms' - they don't have difficulty when they stimulate themselves.
Tracey Cox: "It's disappointing that one of Hite's main messages - that 70 per cent of women don't have orgasms through penetration - is not completely accepted today. Plenty of women don't feel comfortable admitting it, even to themselves, for fear their partners will love them less. But women are far more experimental now." "Shere Hite: On female sexuality in the 21st century". The Independent. April 30, 2006. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
- Elisabeth Anne Lloyd (2005). The case of the female orgasm: bias in the science of evolution. Harvard University Press. pp. 21–53. ISBN 0-674-01706-4. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
- Jones, Janet. Understanding Psychological Research.
- Discovering Psychology with Philip Zimbardo (Episode 2: Understanding Research)
- E.g., The Hite Report on Female Sexuality (1976)
- E.g., The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up Under Patriarchy (1994)
- Sampling: Design and Analysis. Sharon L. Lohr.Cengage Learning.
- Why are older mothers still taboo?
- Hewitson, Michele (May 27, 2000). "The real Shere Hite report". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved November 9, 2011.
- "Friedrich Horicke (Piano) - Short Biography". Bach-cantatas.com. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
- Official website – Hite Research Foundation
- Why I became a German
- Video and motion picture collection of Shere Hite, ca. 1978-2006: A Finding Aid.Schlesinger Library,[Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.]
- Audiotape collection of Shere Hite, 1977-2004: A Finding Aid.Schlesinger Library,[Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.]