The Disappearance of Shere Hite (2023) Movie Script

I must be in the mirror.
That's for Nicole.
Okay. Hm.
SHERE: Well, honestly,
and I would love
if I had a chance to go
and buy some clothes.
Just one second, Dave.
Cole, you have to lean
back on the couch.
Lean straight back, Cole.
Um, I really want you
to take the lead in this.
I mean, I'm going to just ask
this and that question,
but you take over
as much as you like.
- Okay.
- You say that your book,
in a sense, redefined sex.
The stereotype in our culture
has been that women should
orgasm from intercourse itself.
That is from thrusting.
- [ Laughter ]
- Billy, free to stop sniggering.
Cut, please.
At the start of your book,
you write,
"Masturbation is,
in a very real sense,
one of the most important
subjects discussed in this book
and a cause for celebration."
Would you talk about that?
Well, masturbation is really
a cause for celebration
because it represents
female sexuality underground.
The majority of women,
even since Kinsey's time,
know how to masturbate
to orgasm easily,
regularly, with great pleasure.
So, this shows that women know
how to have orgasms
when they want, contrary
to the popular stereotype
that women have a "problem,"
in quotes,
with sex.
That's pretty
radical stuff for 1976.
Yes, it was.
I looked sort of nervous.
- Yeah. [ Laughs ]
- Did you feel nervous?
I mean, you were talking about
things people didn't talk about.
I suppose I was nervous,
of course.
[ Fast violin music playing ]
GERALDO: During the course
of this program,
we'll be talking about
masturbation, orgasm,
and other topics covered by
an extraordinary nationwide
survey of female sexuality
called "The Hite Report."
ANCHOR: Shere, your book is
made up of this questionnaire.
I'd like to know why you did it.
I was in graduate school
and I was studying history
of the Enlightenment,
of all things.
And it occurred to me
that sex also is an institution,
especially the way
we practice intercourse,
foreplay, and all of that.
PRESENTER 1: Who is Shere Hite?
Her childhood interrupted
three times by divorce.
A sexologist,
a social researcher,
and even a cultural historian.
Her research has made her
a best-selling author.
MIKE: The Macmillan
Publishing Company
couldn't churn the books
out fast enough.
"The Hite Report" gave voice
to people who never had a voice,
to experiences people
never had an opportunity
to even discuss before.
The feelings and knowledge
and experience
of thousands of women
in our time.
Shere Hite has sold more than
20 million books
around the world.
MAN: 36 countries
and 19 languages.
Some of the best-selling books
of our time.
Shere, you've probably
done more research
in-depth on male sexuality
than anybody else
who ever lived.
MAN: There is some
dispute about your methodology.
You were criticized
by some of the reviewers.
What she says
is always controversial.
Do you think that out
of your work
will come another
sexual revolution?
This is going to lead
to real changes
in the definition of sex
between men and women.
WOMAN: Is there
any danger in that?
Equality doesn't seem dangerous
to me.
[ Soulful music playing ]
After all, if it's possible
once, it's possible again.
What I'm trying to work out
is how.
The most mysterious of organs,
the female vagina,
the vulva, the uterus,
and especially the clitoris.
Names and information
about these organs
were suppressed for long periods
in Western history.
For centuries, it was said
that women have difficulty
having orgasms.
Men's orgasms are
so much stronger,
their sexual organs bigger,
and none of this is true.
The most common means to orgasm
has no name at all.
The fact that there's been
no word for clitoral stimulation
for most of Western history
shows how clearly the culture
has tried to stamp out
knowledge of women's bodies
and to stamp out women's
enjoyment and pleasure.
[ Soulful music playing ]
CAMERAMAN: Speeding.
- WOMAN: Okay.
- Close in.
Slate coming in.
- Oh, my God, like the movies.
- Uh-huh.
[ Laughs ]
[ Soft piano music playing ]
REGINA: I live on
Central Park West,
and I had seen her
in the neighborhood
because she lived
right across the street.
This wonderful creature going
along with this gorgeous hair.
This pinky strawberry blonde.
She had a sort of Lucille Ball
thing going with curls up top.
Very graceful,
always dramatically dressed.
And very striking,
very beautiful.
She looked spectacular,
walking down the street.
So, I'd seen her, but I didn't
know who she was or anything.
I went to a feminist party.
Everybody there was talking
about what she was doing.
Night after night, grinding out
mimeograph questionnaires
on sex and sexuality.
I made contact with her,
and I invited her to lunch,
a place I went a lot, and mostly
men in this French restaurant.
And in she came, tall, willowy.
And after her entrance,
which stunned everyone,
her voice sang out with
"the clitoris" and "the vagina."
I was just like, "Oh, yes.
Oh, really?
How interesting."
And everybody was just
riveted by this.
So, of course, I got excited.
I took on the book.
Then I worked with her down
in her apartment,
which is right
across the street.
This is where I was living
in the basement of the building.
Those were the windows
and door outside my apartment.
But I made it real nice.
But inside, it was beautiful.
[ Car horns honking ]
My grandfather was
sending me to college.
I have been going
to state schools
but now at Columbia,
the tuition was huge.
And I borrowed it from
the government loan.
But I felt,
how could I ever pay this back?
I was, in fact,
one of the only women
in that graduate
history program.
[ Typewriter clacking ]
They thought I would
be a schoolteacher,
but I knew
I was studying history
because I couldn't
understand the present.
[ Crowd chanting
"We want equality!" ]
Why were there
so many inequalities?
Columbia has consistently
refused to alter these policies.
AS SHERE: Why were people
often so uncaring?
Why couldn't everybody
have an equal chance?
JACQUES: Changes that we keep
complaining about and groaning
about are surface changes.
They're merely irritants.
The day I met Jacques Barzun,
I told him
I had come to Columbia
because I admired his program,
History of Western Thought,
1789 to Present.
In a timid voice, I said,
"Did you have time to look
at my master's thesis?"
"Well, I did read it.
But honestly, I don't believe
you wrote it.
And besides, I'm absolutely sure
that you don't have
most of these books
at the University
of Florida library."
That was one of my first
experiences in class prejudice,
in addition to gender prejudice,
overtly expressed.
I had no money, none.
As a student,
I had to earn money on the side.
I was advised by people
around me in 1969
to use my looks
to make a living.
MIKE: I first met Shere when
I was a studio manager
at a photographer's studio
on Central Park West.
Going through Shere's portfolio,
she had a very unique style,
and I tried to show different
aspects of her personality.
And she liked what I was doing.
After my day at work and after
her pounding the pavement,
Shere would bring
over her unique outfits.
I would have Rolling Stones
on or the Beatles or Bob Dylan.
[ Tape rewinding ]
She would much prefer to have
her favorite
Rachmaninoff concerto.
And I didn't mind that.
I listened to it.
Barely. Yeah.
It was fine.
It was Shere.
Having to support myself,
what were my alternatives?
To become an out-and-out
To be a secretary?
To get married?
Of all forms of prostitution,
any job within the system is,
I preferred this.
Modeling allowed me
the most independence of all
with perhaps the least
personal involvement.
PRODUCER: Was she the model
for both women?
Yeah, that's Shere
and this is Shere.
I had the Rolleiflex,
the finest camera you can own,
black and white Rollei.
And it has an automatic shutter
release on it.
And you set the time.
She would move from one side
of me to the other,
and I'd just stand there
with a gun.
She made my career,
I think, virtually.
She did this work
with illustrators
because she couldn't get enough
work as a high fashion model.
Paperback book covers
and illustration
was not held
in any esteem at all.
They were frowned on.
It was low-grade art.
[ Laughs ]
And that's what I was doing.
The two of us worked together
on all those covers.
We were a team.
I could earn a living.
The work was self-defined,
and even sometimes artistic.
Every day I wondered
how long it would be
until I could be of some
real use in the world.
Even though you were
with an agency,
you could never tell
how much money
you would have coming
in next month or next week.
And every day I had
to search for jobs.
MIKE: Shere was always broke,
couldn't pay the rent,
didn't have food.
She had this tiny
little apartment.
ROBERT: And when we go in
and she'd turn the lights on,
the roaches were scattering.
AS SHERE: Exhibit A.
There were rats in the building.
The other tenants and I were
in a struggle with...
The owner of the building,
he would turn off the heat
in the winter.
ROBERT: She was on a survival
situation in that apartment.
It was really bad.
MIKE: It was very rough,
but she made the most of it.
The nice thing about it,
it had access to its own
little tiny backyard.
She had a little dog, Rusty,
and he would like
to be outdoors.
I was crazy about her,
and we dated a bit.
We were both young,
Midwesterners, new to New York,
and we sort of liked being
a little bit different.
We'd go to old films together,
downtown, films from the '30s
and the '40s.
[ Woman speaks French ]
MIKE: We'd set up
pictures like that.
Shere found
this Greta Garbo hat.
Silly pictures.
They weren't job related.
But her real interest was
more intellectually advanced.
AS SHERE: In graduate school,
I was a specialist
in the French Revolution,
classical music
and Balkan farming.
Despite this, I had
an inclination
to take the historical facts
as presented with
a grain of salt.
KARLA: It was really hard to be
in graduate school at that time.
It was perfectly
acceptable to write
dissertation number 3,483
on Shakespeare's Hamlet,
but if you wanted to write
about sex or sexology,
you would just
make them totally crazy.
They told me to transfer to
the Women's Studies Department.
There was no
Women's Studies Department.
They were trying
to get rid of us,
and Shere was facing
the same thing.
I remember Shere as being
a bit shy.
She told me
that she was bisexual.
To make a statement like that,
as she did,
was extremely unpopular
at that time.
I met Shere at
the Gay Academic Union.
We often met
on the Upper West Side,
a group of graduate students,
college professors,
and independent scholars
whose work was being
ridiculed, diminished.
People came with their research
about artists' colonies
for lesbians in Paris,
for example, gay men who had
encircled Virginia Woolf,
women who were painting women.
We couldn't believe it.
These things had been
firmly suppressed for decades.
And we talked to each other
about our common experience
in academia.
AS SHERE: Columbia was
a major dose of failure.
Females don't belong.
I took a leave of absence.
Also eating me up was the
passivity required of females,
which made me very hostile.
What do I do?
I spend my days one by one
as a fashion model.
Caught in such a horrible trap,
it's just incredible.
False eyelashes were necessary
for modeling.
Standing in front of the small
bathroom mirror every morning,
putting them on, thinking,
"You're wasting your life.
You're wasting your life."
ROBERT: She once told me,
"Trying to maintain beauty
the way I do..."
She says, "It's such a hard job,
just to work constantly."
And she just seemed to be
at that point of giving up.
AS SHERE: Modeling is bad
because it reinforces
all the stereotyped roles
already so damaging
in our society.
Wife, mother, sweetheart,
sexpot, loud-mouthed bitch.
Formula... take an organism
with psyche
and drain it of all
but those characteristics,
and you have left
a packaged chicken.
Dehaired, ready to be
bought after being felt
and squeezed to find
the juiciest specimen.
We'll have order and submission,
nothing alive to frighten us.
We only want a pleasure machine,
a piece of wet raw meat
to wrap around our cocks
and feel comforted by.
I can't stand it anymore.
I don't know what to do.
Now I'm crying again, and my
eyes will burn again tomorrow.
[ Somber music playing ]
Around that time, I did some
photos with my friend,
the photographer Michael Wilson.
And I consider this one
a sort of self-portrait,
confronting myself.
It's just as simple as know
yourself, not your role.
It's hellishly hard.
[ Typewriters clacking ]
MAN: Who is the Olivetti girl?
ANNOUNCER: The Olivetti girl
is the best secretary
in the office.
WOMAN: Would you believe
the men in this office
never noticed me
until I became an Olivetti girl?
What does the Olivetti girl
have that I don't have?
The right equipment.
[ Snickers ]
[ Grunts ]
I did a commercial
for a typewriter company.
[ Grunts ]
And they sat me down
in front of the typewriter,
and I started typing
and he says,
"No, look at the camera
and flirt with the camera."
Now that I type sharper,
I look sharper.
I said, "Well, yeah. But why?"
And they said, "Well, because
the caption is going to say...
ANNOUNCER: The typewriter
with a brain inside.
SHERE: "the typewriter
that's so smart
that she doesn't have to be."
I felt fairly odd about that.
Then I read in the newspaper
how there was some women's group
or something picketing in front
of the headquarters
of this corporation
on Park Avenue.
[ Women chanting ]
SHERE: And I thought,
"Oh, it sounds interesting.
Should I go? Or shouldn't I?
Finally, I went.
[ Women chanting ]
JOYCE: I was treasurer of
the National Organization
for Women in New York.
The group that I was
very active in was
the Image of Women Committee.
I was at a NOW meeting.
She just came in and sat
next to me.
AS SHERE: I didn't tell anyone
at first
that I was in one of the ads
they were picketing,
listening to the animated
discussion I gained confidence,
and finally whispered to Joyce,
whom I had just met.
She burst out,
"Listen, everybody,
you'll never guess who's here."
Everyone turned to stare.
They said, "You see,
even the women in the ads
don't like them."
And off they rushed into new
areas discussing this point.
I loved it.
SHERE: And I got very involved
in that women's group.
And I made friends
that I've still got today.
[ Women cheering ]
When I'm walking down
the street
And every guy I meet
Says, "Baby, ain't you sweet,"
I just could scream
Though I know
the guys are sick
And think only
of their prick
And I'm tired of fuckers
fucking over me
[ Women laughing ]
Okay. We're tired of fuckers
fucking over us.
ALL: Yeah.
Let's do it for the time.
Don't forget that you've
the time to fall, all right?
Hail! Hail!
The dykes are here!
What the hell
do we care now?
AS SHERE: It was new for me
to find a place
where I fit in so well.
The movement's
intellectual debates
made Columbia University's
look pale and anemic.
Brilliant ideas were
a daily occurrence.
KARLA: We wanted to
take on male institutions
and see whether we could
make a cultural change.
We chose
the Natural History Museum.
We called it
the Museum of Unnatural History.
In the displays,
there were men hunting,
fishing, building homes.
Every woman in every continent
of the world had a pot.
Every woman had a baby
strapped to the front,
to the back,
in a little basket like Moses.
Not just women, but how
indigenous people
around the world
were being portrayed.
[ Indistinct chanting ]
AS SHERE: I began to feel
a space in which I could be me,
an atmosphere
that would not harm me.
Like a light suddenly
switched on in a dark room.
KARLA: We formed consciousness
raising groups.
REGINA: The idea was to just
listen to women's voices.
Cannot make these
decisions about your own body.
This is one thing we obviously
wanted, that women should have,
should be able to have
abortions on demand.
They should be, if not free,
they should be very low cost,
so that there's no
on economic grounds.
JANET: I was at the confluence
of three movements.
One was the second stage
of the women's movement.
The second one was
the burgeoning
of the cognitive behavior
therapy movement,
and the sex revolution.
So, I was really in the right
place at the right time.
And very lucky to be there.
This is the dawning
of the age of asparagus
Age of asparagus
Good girl.
I'm a clinical psychologist,
and my specialty
is human sexuality
and working with couples.
I had a strong personal
interest in sex.
In the early '60s,
when I first moved to New York
and was making $75 a week
as a research assistant...
I discovered one evening when
I was walking around
Fifth Avenue that men would
keep approaching me.
Finally, it did occur to me when
one of them actually spoke up
that he wanted to have sex.
So, I thought, "What the hell?"
So I started supplementing
my income
by getting together with men
and having sex with them.
And some of them I actually
remained friendly with
for years.
It was an interesting
group of people.
I also finished my undergraduate
degree at Columbia.
So I had a personal and
professional interest in sex.
And then right around
that same time, I met Shere.
I think we were both very
committed to helping women,
especially after
my internship experience
where I was the only female
on the ward
and couldn't have cases
of my own.
And the chief psychiatrist
would often comment
on my skirt length.
And my first sexual relationship
with a man ended in disaster.
I got pregnant, and I didn't
have another relationship
with a man for a long time.
And I also became terrified
of sexuality.
You know, like, to know
or to try to know
where I am, you know,
and to be aware of how I feel,
not to just plunge.
I don't like anybody who just
likes to plunge in
and decide what is,
this a man, you know.
All right, here, here we go,
rap, rap,
and it's over,
because that's not it.
Sex is making love,
actually, not just fucking.
JANET: At that point, I started
doing assertiveness training
for women
and sex education workshops.
How long women have to go
along with their bodies
being this dark, mysterious,
kind of painful thing
that they know nothing about?
JANET: We gave women
the homework of going home
and looking in the mirror
and examining their genitals,
which many of them
had never done.
And even more of them
had never seen the clitoris.
SHERE: The women's group
I was involved
in got into a debate
about Masters and Johnson.
In their first book,
they had said
that women's orgasms needed
clitoral stimulation.
But in the second book
they said,
"Yes, but, even
though that's true,
you should get indirect
clitoral stimulation
through simple intercourse."
So, I thought, "Well, maybe
we'll have a conference,
we can debate this topic."
But then all my friends said,
"Yeah, well, who's gonna be the
first one to stand up and say,
'Yeah, how I orgasm is...'"
I mean, nobody was going
to do this, right?
MIKE: Shere would go to these
self-awareness meetings
and she started a conversation
about masturbation.
She would ask everybody
in the audience,
"Do you masturbate?"
You know, "Raise your hands."
And most people are very shy
and did not do that.
So she came up with this idea
of making an anonymous
I made up a questionnaire.
I wanted women to send them
back to me anonymously.
And since I had been
in graduate school,
I sort of had an idea,
you know, how to do that.
WOMAN: I started passing
it out around town.
I was one of the helpers.
I had the motorcycle.
Shere would have a big
cardboard box of surveys,
and we'd strap it on
with bungee cords
on the back of the motorcycle.
She'd put on her helmet
and hop on.
Zoom across town to some place
that was going to
distribute the surveys.
Not just uptown or downtown,
all over the place.
Up in the Bronx, Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, Chinatown.
SHERE: Then I began
distributing questionnaires
to women all over the country,
to women's groups,
to church groups,
to all kinds of groups.
I sent out questionnaires
in batches.
I advertised the questionnaires
in magazines.
MARTIN: I was the editor
of a magazine called Sexology.
It was a digest-size magazine
that was meant to bring
sex education
to the general population.
And I received a letter one day,
and it just sort of
attracted my attention.
Most letters that I would get
would be typewritten,
but this one came with
a kind of a red bold
handwriting, very, very fluid.
AS SHERE: "Dear Mr. Sage,
I've been distributing
the enclosed questionnaire
to women all over the country.
Would very much enjoy
contributing to your magazine.
Sincerely, Shere Hite."
The handwriting was alluring,
and so I was curious.
[ Telephone rings ]
We arranged to have lunch,
and this woman walks in
kind of mix matched clothing
and an electric hairdo.
We talked, and she explained
what she was doing.
There was a kind of warmth
that was beginning
to build up between us.
You know, I didn't really know
how to deal with it
since I was married at the time.
I had to call my office
and explain
that I'd be back
from lunch a little bit late.
And, all of a sudden, somebody
crawled into the phone booth
next to me, and it was her.
She was gonna make a call
after I did.
But normally people wait
until you exit the phone booth.
It was kind of an intense
meeting of bodies.
I went back to the office.
Shere had already called
three times.
I said, "This is going
to be a problem for you."
We struck up a relationship,
and it went from there.
She was always working,
and if she wasn't working,
she was sleeping, and if she
wasn't sleeping, she was eating.
One night, I went with her
to the printing press.
They printed anti-war leaflets
and all sorts of stuff
during the day,
and at night, they would allow
her to use the printing press.
AS SHERE: I learned to run
a printing press myself.
I had to pay for ink
and electricity and bring paper.
MIKE: They taught her how to
type up a mimeograph sheet
that she'd put on the roller
and get it all going.
Thousands of copies
by hand, herself.
MARTIN: She would choose
the inks and mix them,
the same color of her
nail polish at the time.
Her hands would be stained
with ink.
SHERE: I put designs,
I used colored ink.
I wanted people to feel this
was something very personal,
that they were
writing their diary,
or just talking to themselves
in their most private moment.
This is free.
You can say whatever you want.
[ Horn honks ]
It's not a multiple choice
questionnaire either,
because we felt that, who would
know the categories of answers?
So, we're asking
open ended questions.
Would you like me to read
some of them?
Okay, well,
it starts out mildly.
Is one orgasm
sexually satisfying?
If not, how many?
How do your thoughts
and emotions
affect your desire for orgasms?
If I read them all,
it will take all the time.
- Well, there's...
- And then it, just a minute,
and then it asks a lot
of questions about masturbation.
What do you think
is the importance?
Do you enjoy it?
And how do you do it?
And that's really important,
because that's when women
have most orgasms.
So, how that's done, you know,
should be something
that begins to be incorporated
into a lot of love making.
And it's fascinating.
We have 2,000 answers back now.
That's what all these things
are here.
It's really wonderful every day
to get the mail.
You know, you open it up,
you get these fantastic things.
[ Soulful music playing ]
WOMAN 1: I am 21 years old,
of Hawaiian
and Chinese ancestry.
I have been married
for two years.
We're lower-middle class.
My husband, a college student,
and I, an unemployed secretary.
WOMAN 2: I'm 23, Jewish,
raised mostly in New York.
WOMAN 3: 39 years old, Black,
physical education teacher.
WOMAN 4: Age 47,
brought up strict Methodist.
WOMAN 5: 32, college dropout.
WOMAN 6: I was 75
this September,
living alone,
and I don't miss anything.
WOMAN 7: I can always tell
if my partner
really wants me for me
or me for my body.
WOMAN 8: For years I never
told my real needs to a man.
To a woman, I can say
how I want to feel.
WOMAN 9: I never even
told my mother
when I started menstruating.
And I went on birth control
on my own
through Planned Parenthood.
I'd like to thank them
right here.
WOMAN 10: I don't fall in love.
I find it hard to trust,
to be open with men.
WOMAN 11: I would like
to act freely
and happily on
my impulses and desires.
WOMAN 12: For many years,
I thought I was different
to other women.
It has caused me
a great deal of worry.
WOMAN 13: I am now,
at this moment,
on a freighter in the North Sea
where I have been a cook
for 10 weeks.
It is a drizzly night.
We're stuck on a sandbar
in rough water and fog.
I have never written
about sex before.
And, as I enjoy writing
and I enjoy sex,
it could be
an intriguing exercise.
Previously, I thought little of
the women's lib and its issues.
But I have not yet in my life
experienced a heavier,
more concentrated dose
of male chauvinism
than provided by being
the only woman
on a freighter among young men
who I am unwilling to fuck.
I'm a little provoked
with men at sea.
I didn't know their names,
but I knew where they were from.
I knew their age.
I never had heard in detail
how women felt about
all kinds of things having to do
with our private lives.
And I thought
they were very important.
REGINA: I thought, "Every
woman's gonna want to read this,
you know, and men should, too."
Masters and Johnson had
just come out with a study,
and there was the Kinsey report.
My husband said, "Well, there's
only one title this could be.
"The Hite Report."
I have a geographical
distribution, at this point.
It turned out to cover
the whole country very well.
And I'm doing
the statistics now.
DYLAN: She would give me these
oversized sheets of graph paper
that had columns... orgasm,
masturbation, intercourse,
clitoral stimulation,
other, and notes.
I grew up in a family where sex
was treated very clinically.
It's like something you pick up
with a tweezers
and put over here.
It was just not something
that would ever be fun.
I was 18, and a sophomore
at Barnard College.
I went by myself to this
NOW conference
just out of sheer curiosity.
And I saw this stunning woman
behind a table
that was laden high
with these very interesting,
daring, kind of
forbidden questionnaires.
And I said, "Can I work for you?
I'll work for you for nothing."
And she said,
"I have to pay you.
I just can't pay you
very much."
And it was that fast.
You know, we just clicked.
I would sit out in the hallway
outside her apartment,
and smoke like a fiend,
with a stack of questionnaires.
SHERE: Do you have orgasms?
- Yes.
- Yes.
Several times a week.
WOMAN 14: No, because it
would take lots of encouragement
and not being uptight
about the whole thing.
WOMAN 15: Yes, but in my rather
long life, too few.
WOMAN 16: I'm not really sure
that what I think
may have been an orgasm
really was one.
I don't know what would
contribute to having them.
I don't think I feel free
to have them.
AS SHERE: Please describe what
an orgasm feels like to you.
How does your body feel?
Fluttery sort of feeling.
Almost as if my body
wasn't there.
WOMAN 18: Like you can't move
and, I mean, just like caught.
WOMAN 19: That's when
it's really getting good.
Some women will say one thing,
others say another.
WOMAN: Often, I touch
my face with my left hand.
Sometimes I kiss this hand.
When I'm close to coming,
I have to hold on
really tight to something.
WOMAN 20: Waves flushing
through my body,
beginning at my clitoris
and spreading forever outward.
Like any feeling, you can't say.
What does cold feel like,
you know?
What does anything feel like?
DYLAN: You have to translate
from prose
these little mini stories
that women were writing
into something like,
always, usually.
Do your orgasms usually occur
during cunnilingus,
manual clitoral stimulation,
or other activities?
Sometimes. Rarely. Never.
WOMAN 21: I've never reached
orgasm through intercourse.
WOMAN 22: I always have them
during masturbation.
WOMAN 23: I've only made love
once with a woman.
I was too nervous
to achieve orgasm.
WOMAN 24: I've also had orgasms
with no sexual stimulation.
Just running down a street,
in dreams,
and at other odd moments.
And then we would count them up.
Always numeral I-A,
followed by a T in a circle,
always apart.
WOMAN 25: My legs usually
collapse in a diamond shape.
And that is how I fall asleep.
Open, closed, apart,
apart, apart.
SHERE: We tried to put together
a composite picture
of what everybody said.
I love vaginal penetration
if accompanied
by clitoral foreplay.
DYLAN: Circle with X in it
means manual stimulation,
plus, intercourse equals orgasm.
Purple, prefer with penetration.
It was kind of like embroidery,
like little stitches,
then they all had
to come together
and mean something and form
a larger pattern.
SHERE: The statistics
that we're getting,
if you want to use that term,
and faking orgasm is like 95%.
Because even women who,
you know,
they know better
and they understand,
they've been in consciousness
raising and all of this,
they still do it sometimes
because the men haven't been
in consciousness raising.
And, you know, like, a lot
of women don't like intercourse
that much, and they've got
somebody on top of them,
they can't breathe,
they're lying there,
they can't move, right?
[ Both laughing ]
She's laughing. So...
[ Both laughing ]
Anyway, the phrase is,
"Anything to get them off,"
you know?
And that's really terrible
when it gets to that state,
you know?
We've been adapting our bodies
to male sexuality for centuries.
And so I think that now
what we have to do
is we have to take ourselves
out of that situation,
see ourselves
just for ourselves,
and then take that knowledge
and relate to other people
of whatever sex,
but to be doing things
that are right for us.
[ Classical music playing ]
This really became my life
for five years,
and it was more fulfilling than,
in many ways,
many of the relationships
that you could have
because so many women telling me
so many things really,
I felt that I had 3,000
very close friends, really.
REGINA: We went to celebrate
the book coming out,
and we had lunch
in the Tavern on the Green.
And it was so beautiful,
and there was rain coming down
on top of a skylight.
It was just a wonderful day.
We were so happy, both glowing.
"We did it."
[ Laughs ]
It was before
all the terrible criticism,
I think, had come her way.
[ Music continues ]
Some years later,
I learned that the sales manager
had ordered the sales force
not to get more than
4,000 advance orders,
which would determine
the printing,
which would determine
the book's fate.
They hated the book.
They really tried
to sabotage it,
keep it down, keep it down.
SHERE: They were only gonna
print 4,000 copies
and do no publicity.
And after five years' work,
I really didn't think it was
right to let it just go down
the drain like that.
MARTIN: We were talking about
how the book can be presented.
And she said,
"This is a news story."
I said, "Well, then why not have
a news conference?"
This was like
a lightning bolt splitting
and hitting two
heads simultaneous.
And within really just
a few short days,
we put this together.
SHERE: I'm Shere Hite,
the author of "The Hite Report,"
which is a study of 3,000 women.
Can you hear me?
Can everyone hear?
We thought it would be best
that she have a panel so that
not only could she
present the book
from her point of view,
but others could be in support.
SHERE: This is Kay Whitlock
from NOW,
the National NOW
Sexuality Taskforce
on Lesbianism and Sexuality.
KAY: I was thrilled that
Shere would actually reach out
to this lesbian NOW Taskforce.
There were several people
speaking, all esteemed
sexuality educators
and researchers,
and I was kind of
the young punk on the block.
As women, we will not be free
until we come to terms with our
own definitions of sexuality,
and take charge
of our own sexual lives.
When I got a copy
of Shere's book,
I just thought,
"Holy shit, this is amazing."
Lesbian, heterosexual,
bisexual, celibate,
"The Hite Report"
doesn't fall prey
into dividing people
as society does.
SHERE: Some people's reaction
was that it sounded
very radical.
[ Chuckles ] To me, it doesn't
sound radical at all.
The most important finding
in my study
is that a majority of women
don't orgasm from intercourse.
That's what we're here
to talk about today.
This is Janet Wolfe.
JANET: Suppose men were
programmed with the idea
that their sex organ
was their testicles,
women would diddle around
every once in a while,
on the penis.
But men were expected
to have orgasm
simply by stimulating
their balls.
What would that have been like?
I mean, it's inconceivable
for people to think,
but that's exactly
what happened to women.
SHERE: In short, our whole idea
of sex must be re-evaluated.
We need to make a new
kind of physical relations
to go with a new,
more humane society,
and that's my statement.
[ Applause ]
I'm Geraldo Rivera.
Good evening, and welcome
to a special edition
of "Good Night America."
AS SHERE: The words
"clitoris" and "orgasm"
were not permitted
in many newspapers,
as if that part of women's
anatomy was dirty
and had to be hidden.
GERALDO: Masturbation, orgasm,
don't get hung up,
don't get turned on,
and don't get turned off
by the use of those words.
They're just words.
AS SHERE: So even to use
the words was heroic
on the part of journalists.
Please join me in welcoming
our special guest
this evening, Miss Shere Hite.
[ Applause ]
- Hi.
- Hi.
Your book has really caused
a tremendous stir.
And I just wonder,
Masters and Johnson went to
great lengths to describe
exactly how women achieved
orgasm through intercourse.
Your study contradicts that.
I want you to talk a little bit
more about that, Shere.
Masters and Johnson made
a tremendous step forward
in that they studied and showed
clinically, for the first time,
that all orgasms are caused
by clitoral stimulation.
And we really have them
to thank for that.
However, when they described
how it's done,
the thrusting of the penis
causes the vaginal lips to move,
which causes the skin
that's connected
to the clitoris to move,
which causes the glans
to move over the clitoris,
which supposedly
gives you orgasm.
But that doesn't work
for most women,
and I called it, unkindly,
a Rube Goldberg model.
There's just too many
variables involved.
It's funny, when you describe it
that way, it kind of sounds
like the knee bone
connected to the shinbone.
That's right. [ Laughs ]
That's right.
[ Laughter ]
What percentage of...
KAY: Shere was breaking
a functional silence.
It was brave in a way
that took my breath away.
I wonder what the notoriety
that has attached
already to "The Hite Report,"
and certainly that will grow,
what effect has it had on you?
The main problem I've been
up against is to try
and make sure that things
that are written reflect
accurately what it is
that the book is saying,
and keep the emphasis
on the fact
that women are speaking out,
and that it's
a communal discussion
and not anything
having to do with me.
Have you been successful
in hearing...
I think pretty much most of
the things
that have been written have been
very good and very serious.
I'm very pleased.
National Public Radio...
MAN: Author Shere Hite.
WOMAN: The Hite Report,
phenomenal success.
WOMAN 2: News Weekly,
biggest sex study
since Masters and Johnson.
MARTIN: The book got such good
coverage and such good press
from the get-go,
primarily from women.
There's very short amount
of time between the release
of the book and kind of the book
becoming a phenomenon.
It was so short that
I think she was swept up in it,
and she could only
have been surprised
for a very short amount of time
before the reality hit her,
"This is a success."
MAN: But we have
new book on it today.
MAN 2: Is there
a new book on sex?
"The Hite Report."
Yeah, yeah, yeah,
a woman's point of view.
You know, only been 200 million
years we've been doing this.
All of a sudden, they got to
give you diagrams how to do it.
- That's right.
- You don't think that the women
should have any point of view?
[ Laughs ] No, no.
I say what they're doing
is making a book
out of a woman's point of view.
In the bookstores these days,
there's one section
that's getting almost as big
as the cooking book section,
and that's female sexuality.
Is there room for yet
another book?
There is, apparently,
"The Hite Report."
AS SHERE: Consequences
of publishing a successful book
were a real culture shock to me.
It seems odd to me
that penetration
wouldn't satisfy a woman,
and I wonder
if we're made wrong.
Or if there's
some terrific joke.
AS SHERE: I found the newspaper
and TV situation confusing.
NICOLE: What does
your study tell us
about how women
really do define sex?
Well, women see sex as something
that values very much
the intimacy,
the closeness, touching,
the expression of feelings.
WOMAN: That's not new.
That we know.
We've known that women...
Well, you see,
I can't do it by...
You see, I'm already finding
myself when I said that,
saying something that doesn't...
You see, I have to couch
the language
in a way that reflects
how my study went.
I can't... you said I was...
I'm undefining sex.
I can't tell you
what the new sex will be.
I didn't know how to react.
Articles often seemed not
to reflect the ideas
I meant to communicate.
MAN: Was it a political ploy
you were using to suggest
that women didn't need men?
But why would I want to do that?
Well, that came through to me...
Can I quote you from page 169,
I'll quote you directly...
GERALDO: If there has been
a backlash to your report
amongst men it is because of
a fear that masturbation
will then become
the ultimate sex act
and men will become
in some way irrelevant.
WOMAN: That's terrible.
All you need is one super stud
around to service each nation.
What about the men in your life?
Are they intimidated by the fact
that you are now
such an expert in this field?
No, I don't think so.
I think everybody that I know is
very involved in the spirit
of the whole thing and very...
Everybody is so excited
about the changes
that are possible and involved
in their own change
that I haven't found
that at all.
REGINA: She moved to
the Hotel Alden down the block,
quite different
from the basement apartment.
As the book became successful,
Shere threw a party to celebrate
all of the respondents
to the questionnaire.
And she'd gotten enough money
back to reimburse
all of the people
who had loaned her money
over the course
of the writing of the book.
DYLAN: I remember the cake,
and I remember all the names
going around the cake.
And that was very important
to her.
She's a very generous person
who shares the credit.
She did ask me to give her
money, and I gave her money.
MARTIN: Shere had gotten
a meager advance,
but the book
was years in creation.
She would borrow money
from anybody
who seemed to be coming along.
MIKE: A lot of people
fell in love with the project
and in love with Shere.
MARTIN: At one point,
she turned to me,
and she said, "You know,
I'm kind of short of money,
and you've never offered
to loan me any money," you know?
Sure, the answer is sure.
I had to go to a bank and get
a cash advance
on my credit card.
Men have all the money.
They also have a lot easier time
getting loans than women do.
WOMAN: Women couldn't get
a credit card.
You had to have
a man vouch for you.
I mean, the laws were horrific.
She actually borrowed money
from someone
who worked in my building.
The porter. He became
a good friend of hers.
He helped support her
while she was writing this.
MARTIN: Maybe that was
the happiest I've ever seen her.
She had a smile on her face
that just was endless.
SHERE: This is for you.
Yeah. I can't read that.
I can't read most of them.
Did you get any
interesting letters yet?
SHERE: I've been doing
a questionnaire for men
for two years, and in a couple
more years,
I'll be done with it.
WOMAN: TIME Magazine
suggests your next book
will be called
"Do Men Need Intercourse?"
SHERE: No, it's not going
to be called that.
It's going to be about
how men feel about sex.
AS SHERE: I had a few
boyfriends over those years.
One, I liked a lot.
A struggling young artist.
ED: I moved to New York
January of 1977.
I had a raw loft in Chelsea.
I was living out of a suitcase.
I didn't even have a dresser
to put my clothes in.
I got on to a painting crew
at the Alden Hotel,
painting all the corridors.
One day, a door opened
and a woman
with bright orange hair
came out.
She said, "Hello.
Would you be interested
in painting my windows?"
I didn't know who she was.
I noticed boxes and boxes
of books with the title
"The Hite Report."
And they were in all
different languages,
Hebrew even.
We hit it off right away.
She gave me a copy.
And I guess I had what you
would call a baptism of fire.
I learned a lot about her ideas,
being more aware of my feelings
and also how my behavior
affected her and other women.
She was so interesting
and so charming.
I was kind of mesmerized,
I guess.
AS SHERE: He was beautiful,
in both body and spirit.
I don't remember much about
how we made love.
Though I remember that together,
we concocted magnificent shades
of pale yellow, ivory, and rose
in different finishes
for the walls and moldings.
When the sunlight
hit these colors,
the walls appeared luminescent.
ED: She was just working
all the time.
It was a small one-bedroom,
and she used the front room
as the office, couple of doors
on file cabinets for desks,
and she had a lot of people
working for her.
MARTIN: While she was working
on the men's book,
she was also conceiving
a follow-up survey
for women
about their emotional lives.
Even though she had a completely
different background
from so many of the women
that were writing
and filling out
the questionnaires,
she was experiencing
what they were experiencing,
what does it mean
to be in a relationship.
So she was one of them.
AS SHERE: The purpose
of this questionnaire
is to hear women's
point of view on questions
that were left unanswered
in the original Hite Report.
How women feel about love,
relationships, marriage,
and monogamy were not covered
due to lack of funds.
I think these should be taped.
You need somebody to hire
and efficiently send...
Now, here's...
MARTIN: In some cases,
women would record cassettes
of their replies
to the questionnaire.
SHERE: Looks like I have to
switch to a tape recorder
because this is ridiculous.
It's taking me much too long
to type.
WOMAN: The women's movement,
I think, is interesting.
I'm a Black woman,
and I'm doing some research
now on the Black woman's
feminist movement.
I think we've always been torn.
We don't want to put
our men down.
And we're not exactly
what a white woman
is in terms
of what her goals are.
It's a very tricky situation.
SHERE: I'm embarrassed to admit
that I skimmed "The Hite Report"
for my own answers.
I answered that questionnaire
when I was 20 years old.
One time,
as a sneaky experiment,
I showed the book
to a boyfriend, a new boyfriend,
pretending to just
randomly open a page,
but actually opening it
to a quote by me about sex.
He read the page and then
he said, "This is gross.
Did you read this one?"
Pointing to what I had written.
WOMAN: What is your
own description of yourself?
I'm a female, very proud
of being a woman.
I like being a woman.
I think I'm very strong.
I can do anything that I set
my mind to doing.
And I like that.
I like the strength
of the female.
MARTIN: She would listen
to them and remark
upon how lovely
these people sounded,
and their tone of voice and how
gracious and caring they were,
and aspirational they were.
Wouldn't it be?
Couldn't it be?
That was who she was.
She was drawing strength
from them
in a way that helped propel
her further in her work.
My name is Mariko Tse.
I am a spokesperson
for the Asian/Pacific
American Women's Caucus.
National Indian Women's
and Alaskan Natives Caucus.
I'm Sandra Serrano Sewell,
president of
Comisin Femenil
Mexicana Nacional.
MAN: In Houston, there's a huge
National Women's Conference.
MAN 2: The largest gathering
of women in American history.
They will approve
a national plan
to improve the status of women.
There were strong differences
of opinion on how to do that.
And Texas Congresswoman
Barbara Jordan
appealed for reason
and compromise.
And when the debate
becomes heated,
I hope you will remember
Lyndon Johnson's invocation
of Isaiah's invocation,
"Come now, let us
reason together."
[ Cheers and applause ]
MAN 3: Across town there was
an even bigger gathering.
Many are
Fundamentalist Christian.
They're against
the Equal Rights Amendment.
They're against
abortion on demand.
They're against laws
favoring homosexuals.
Their numbers indicate
that a lot of people
in this country fear the changes
that the women's movement
is trying to make.
KAY: Shere knew sexuality
was one of the things
that could be most easily
weaponized by the right,
with the deadliest
possible consequences.
Yes, Jesus loves me
KAY: In 1977, Anita Bryant
surfaces in
Dade County, Florida.
MAN 4: With a religious fervor
that has made her America's
most controversial
woman overnight,
her group is crusading
to repeal a new Dade County Law
which protects homosexuals
in jobs and housing.
For the first time,
I know the Christian community
have never been involved in any
political controversial issue,
and they're not only involved,
but they're committed.
KAY: There starts to be
a solidification
of a right-wing movement
toward real political power.
Billy Graham, Pat Robertson,
Jim Dobson's
Focus on the Family,
Jerry Falwell
and his Moral Majority.
Almost always you're going
to find an argument
about the corruption
of innocent children
at the heart of
any kind of culture war.
I like all those badges
you got there.
Homosexuals cannot
reproduce biologically,
but they have to reproduce
by recruiting our children.
KAY: Shere paid for
Mary Calderone and me
to go to Dade County
and spend time
working in the campaign
to defeat Anita Bryant.
MAN 5: The campaign
has been vicious,
with television commercials,
the Save Our Children Group
is appealing
to parental anxieties.
MAN 6: When they take
to the streets,
it's a parade of homosexuals,
men hugging other men,
cavorting with little boys.
The country is really,
at this moment,
looking to Dade County
to save us
from a wave of reaction
and viciousness and bigotry.
MAN 7: One gay spokesman
had his car fire bombed
after doing
a television interview.
In Florida's Dade County
those advocating job and housing
rights for homosexuals
lost badly,
by more than two to one.
The campaign led by
Anita Bryant was the winner.
The war goes on
to save our children,
because the seed
of sexual sickness
that germinated in Dade County
has already been transplanted
by misguided liberals in
the U.S. Congress.
KAY: Shere was just right there.
There was no question
of her understanding
of the politics
of anti-gay movements
and how this was building
and what this constituted.
If we're going to undefine,
not redefine, but undefine,
how we relate to each other,
so that each individual can
decide how to share their body
with another person,
then I think we have
to imagine people
will love people
of the same sex, also.
KAY: She cared passionately
about a better world
for everyone, without labels,
without repression.
It's hard to express just
how revolutionary
I think that was at the time.
MAN 8: There are
consciousness-raising groups
all over the country exploring
how women feel about themselves,
their sexuality,
their role in society.
But so far we've heard
very little from men
on these subjects.
GRIFFIN: Here at last is the
long-awaited companion volume
to Shere Hite's blockbuster
bestseller on female sexuality.
Welcome, Shere Hite.
[ Applause ]
"The Hite Report on Male
Sexuality" continues to carry on
in the author's
controversial tradition.
Here is Shere Hite.
Why are people so fascinated
with all this?
Well, you know, there are
many books on sex
that don't sell at all.
So the idea that people
are fascinated with sex,
per se, may not be correct.
My area was a little different.
I'm really trying to draw
a picture,
a larger picture of the society
and how people are feeling
within that society.
The women's movement,
how has it affected
the male's sexual response?
Um, I think that the women's
movement can only help men,
because men complained
over and over in my study,
and that's certainly not
the first time they complained,
that they felt a lot
of pressures on them to perform.
They had to get an erection.
You have to have intercourse
long enough
for the woman to have an orgasm.
My study showed,
in the first book,
that most women can orgasm
easily from clitoral stimulation
and not from intercourse
so much.
I know a lot of women,
though, that, that...
Well, never mind, go ahead.
DOUGLAS: No, go ahead.
No, no, go ahead.
I don't mean to interrupt.
David, please finish
the statement.
You don't want to leave
the audience hanging.
"I know a lot of women that..."
We'll pick it up there.
That don't...
God, how do you
talk about this stuff?
- Don't have orgasms.
- That don't... that don't...
- The usual way.
- Yeah.
- Right.
- Yeah.
That have orga...
That if you're going to...
[ Laughs ]
They... They are embarrassed
by clitoral stimulation, also.
You know what I'm saying?
MARTIN: Shere didn't smoke
when we were together.
She was a bad girl when
she wanted to be a bad girl.
[ Laughs ]
I'm Bette Davis.
I'm Marlene Dietrich.
She, essentially, smoked
in Mike Douglas' face.
[ Douglas coughs, laughs ]
- Sorry.
- That's a bad habit.
- Yeah, I guess you're right.
- Yeah.
When you're laying
so close to me
BOB: The adjective I would
apply to Shere is "flamboyant."
That's what she wanted to be.
And that's what she came
across as being.
I love to love you, baby
Not scary, not even
nervous making,
but it kept you
with your wits about you.
MAN 9: Sex expert Shere Hite
on her new surprising report
on male sexuality.
BOB: I knew, of course,
that there would be a great deal
of interest in this book,
because the first Hite Report
was such a sensational success.
HELEN: Shere, in your report
on female sexuality,
men were staggered to learn
that clitoral stimulation
was much more important
than penetration.
The world was agog.
Now what did you find out
in male sexuality
that was equally astonishing?
What will women who read
this book find out about men
that they did not know before?
1,100 pages,
7,000 interviews altogether.
MARTIN: I think Shere decided
to do the male book
because we would understand
more about men's issues,
their inability to communicate.
Men's book, why so angry?
Too many demands, men don't
feel free to be themselves.
What are the values men
are taught?
Why do men want sex?
How do men feel about women,
us, and themselves?
For me, a crucial thing
in my experience
of working on that book
was when I asked to read
a whole lot of
the filled out questionnaires.
Somewhere between 60 and 100
questionnaires that I read full.
MAN 10: Age 50, occupation,
college professor.
MAN 11: Black,
born and upbrought,
until 11, in a small town.
MAN 12: I work in a mill
for a mining company.
MAN 13: Age 62. English.
Youngest of three children.
MAN 14: I'm 57.
I love my wife and children.
BOB: These guys, not about
their sex lives
or their fantasies
or their frustrations.
But when they started
answering the questions
about their emotional life,
I haven't had many
sadder experiences
as an editor in my life.
AS SHERE: What did your father
tell you about how to be a man?
MAN 15: 25.
I've always been emotional.
I cried very easy as a child,
not from being hurt physically,
but mentally.
My father would sometimes
tell me to shut up,
and I tried, but it was hard.
MAN 16: I never was close
to my father.
We just discussed matters
of minor importance to us
like soccer results
and acts of the government.
He was the hard parent.
And I respected him
and had fear of his anger.
MAN 17: No, I have never
cried myself to sleep.
But I've really felt
unloved and discarded.
MAN 18: I have
felt rejected at times,
but assuming
that I've been misjudged,
I try not to take
the rejection to heart.
After all, I can't be
more alone than I am now.
Over and over again,
they said the same thing.
We have no one to talk to.
We can't share things
with people, even our wives.
MAN 19: I have no warmth
nor closeness in my life.
The only feeling of warmth
that I get
is when I'm through with work
and am free to do what I want.
BOB: We're isolated.
MARTIN: We assumed that, yeah,
our lives were difficult,
we had to work, but we were men,
we had women in our beds,
they were happy.
And then, all of a sudden,
a book comes out and says to us,
we're not happy.
MICHAEL: Welcome to
"Leave It To the Women."
Today's panelists are
actor/male stripper John Gibson,
actor Gil Gerard,
actor/writer Ron Masak,
and myself, Michael Conrad.
Here's our host,
Stephanie Edwards.
Shere Hite has joined us,
and we welcome you, Shere.
The author or the compiler
of the information in
"The Hite Report
on Male Sexuality."
- Welcome.
- Thank you.
The book did well, but not,
I think,
as I thought it might do.
Did you recognize yourself
in this book at all?
I didn't, no,
as a matter of fact,
I would like to get to that.
I didn't recognize myself
into this book,
- or anybody that I know.
- No kidding?
No, but I don't know
the 7,239 men.
- [ Laughter ]
- Did you see yourself at all,
the fellows who say
they feel as though
they must perform?
No, I have to say the majority
of the material
that I went over in the book
that I'm not familiar with.
- STEPHANIE: Really?
- No, I don't agree with a lot
of what she has to say.
BOB: Men weren't ready.
You can see it.
Not only don't they
understand intimacy,
they don't want
to know about it.
We'd like to ask you
before the men pounce
on what they've already heard,
what you found it meant
to be a man in our society,
from those who answered
your questionnaire?
I think it's difficult
for men to criticize
the idea of masculinity
because if a man criticizes
the idea of masculinity, whether
it's a sexual connotation,
or just what kind of
a job you have,
then he runs the risk of having
other men look down on him
and think that, "Well,
he can't make it as a man."
So it's very hard for men
to speak out about that.
GIL: I don't agree
with that at all.
What don't you agree with?
I don't agree with that at all,
that a man
can't speak out about the role
of what makes a man masculine
without other men
coming down on him about it.
I don't agree with that at all.
No, I meant, I meant
he can't criticize...
- GIL: Sure, he can.
- what he's supposed to be.
That's never been my experience
with anyone I've ever known.
MICHAEL: I happen to agree
with Miss Hite in this respect.
When I was a boy, nobody cried.
I remember very clearly
running away from a man,
and I was caught,
I was the slowest.
And I was caught,
and he beat me up.
And I was crying.
And I walked up to the guys,
and they just looked at me
like I was dirt.
I didn't cry for 25 years
after that.
Now, what I'm concerned
with is what type of person
is going to stay home and answer
170 questions, essay format?
I mean, does that
give us a good...
- STEPHANIE: Representation.
- representation of what
the male sexuality is all about?
I don't believe it does.
JANET: People criticized
her methodology
because they didn't understand
what it was,
and so they could
discount her findings.
72% of the men who were married
said they had had
extramarital affairs within
the first two years of marriage.
Gil has been married,
how many years?
Two years now.
Two years on October 20th.
[ Audience laughing ]
And your wife is about to give
birth, even as we speak.
As we speak, yes.
Any second it can happen, yes.
STEPHANIE: Did you recognize
yourself in here, Gil?
No, I didn't.
I didn't recognize myself nor
most of the people that I know.
I think that there must be
people out there
with these kinds of thoughts.
MICHAEL: But have you read
the book?
I read some of it.
I skipped some. I didn't have
time to read, I guess.
ED: They really weren't
paying attention
to reading the material.
They didn't really understand
the sophistication
of her methodology.
It was referred to continuously
that the 72% of these men...
- GIL: Of married men.
- Well, of married men.
That's not right.
72% of the 7,239 men,
which is only 6% of the 190,000
things she sent out.
If I were doing a typical
sampling of muffins
in market research
on an essay-type distribution
the way I did it,
you would get about 2%
or 3% answering,
and that's considered
valid market research.
So out of maybe 400,000
questionnaires you sent out
to both female and male,
you're saying only 8%
of all of those people responded
from which you have two books
that are being considered
almost like
Kinsey's report
and Masters and Johnson,
an authority.
Masters and Johnson had
a total of 700 people.
Kinsey had a total of 11,000.
But all we can do is try
and match it
to the population demographics.
MARTIN: She received
a tremendous amount of criticism
because they said
this is not a scientific study.
In the press, it's often said
that my work is,
quote, "unscientific," unquote,
which drives me crazy
because what they mean is,
is it representative?
can mean many things.
There has never been a perfect
sample in sex research,
and there won't be for some time
because if you were going
to do a random sample,
most people wouldn't answer
because they wouldn't
be anonymous
and their names would be known.
So of course,
they wouldn't answer.
I don't know anything
about methodology.
She got what she could
get out of it.
And it was effective.
And I think useful.
SHERE: I just had to get back,
excuse me,
to this word "measure,"
because that's, pardon me,
a very male word.
And it's not a word
I would ever use.
And I don't wish to measure men.
What I'm trying to do
is provide a forum
in which men can see
how many other men feel.
"Measure" is a very male word?
SHERE: Perhaps not all men,
but it's a forum
in which men can talk.
And they can talk to each other,
and they can talk
to other women.
But I'm not trying to say
that you should be this way
or you should be that way,
and, if you're not, there's
something wrong with you.
That's the very antithesis
of what I'm doing.
MARTIN: They just were vehement,
and they wrote incredibly
nasty letters to Shere,
and she got phone calls.
She didn't understand why
this book
was the object of scorn
and hatred.
I felt naked, scrutinized.
So many inaccurate things
and strange things
were being said
about me in the press.
As a model, I had always made it
a point of honor
to use my own full name.
It was discovered that I had
been featured in the nude
in Playboy
several years earlier.
Photographed for Playboy
meant immediate disrespect
and disregard for my work.
I couldn't be a good researcher
because I was "just a bimbo
who had posed nude."
Did you have another comment?
I just had one other question.
I remember some years ago
there was a profile done on you.
And I think it was
Playboy magazine.
- And they had some...
- A profile?
[ Laughter ]
Hate to hear
about this whole thing.
[ Applause ]
It was some... there were
some semi-nude photographs.
- Ah.
- And I was just wondering...
MARTIN: It's not that
she didn't expect it.
I think she didn't expect it
to persist the way it did.
I think she thought eventually
this will just blow over
and they'll move on
to the next target.
But she stayed a target
for a long time.
REPORTER: I was just wondering
what were those frilly
green things
that you were wearing?
[ Men laughing ]
The frilly green things?
I guess you had to be there
just to know, you know?
- I guess so.
- I guess so.
Well, did you have
another question about that?
REPORTER: No, that's it.
AS SHERE: Plan for not being
a stereotyped creation
of your society.
Number one,
spend three days alone.
[ Choir music plays ]
Number two,
take yourself seriously.
[ Opera music playing ]
Number three,
whenever caught in a situation
where you are made to feel
girlish and helpless,
bitchy and aggressive,
or any other stereotype,
leave immediately
and do any action
which you enjoy and is yours.
[ Opera music continues ]
Number four, rely on your own
financial resources
at all times.
KAY: Shere had to sue Macmillan
to get her full earnings.
They had put a limit
on the amount of income
she could get per year.
AS SHERE: It's a tax-free,
interest-free, eternal loan.
Here I am, me, propping up
this stupid company.
MARTIN: There was a settlement,
and she was given a payout.
MIKE: All of a sudden,
she had $250,000,
so she wanted to buy a place.
And she was so excited.
[ Soulful music playing ]
AS SHERE: I bought an apartment.
GENE: I was the first tenant,
what used to be the Heart Fund
building on Fifth Avenue
and 64th Street.
As I was passing through
the lobby and her door was open,
I don't remember if I said,
"Shere Hite,"
or if she said, "Gene."
What do you do?
I stick my tongue out.
What do you do?
I'm writing a book.
She invited me in to say,
"Hey, come on in.
Let me show you where I live."
Shere wound up taking the first
unit on the first floor facing
Fifth Avenue.
It could have been
a small palazzo in Europe
with beautiful vases and
art pieces all over the place.
Very ornate.
JANET: Both of us had a love
of the decorative arts,
surrounding ourselves
with beautiful things.
It gave us relief
from the heavy workloads
that we both had.
I needed beauty around me
to forget painful images
seen in the press.
Number five,
enjoy yourself a lot.
I had lots of parties.
[ Upbeat music playing ]
So, you couldn't come
to my Valentine's party?
No, I would've loved to...
JANET: She just invited
a whole range of people.
I remember women from Coyote,
which was a prostitutes'
rights organization.
MARTIN: Flo Kennedy.
Swifty Lazar.
I was there,
with my new wife, Sybil.
ED: Julien, the night doorman.
JANET: There were people
of all different walks of life.
[ Woman singing in French ]
GENE: Sometimes I'd come in
late from the studio or on tour,
and the door would be open.
We palled around.
Donna Summer is downstairs.
"Oh, Donna, what are you
doing here?"
"I just moved in here."
"Oh, really? I'm up on top.
"Hey, come on over."
She was curious about
this rock star thing
and the sexuality there.
"What you do?
And why do you do it?"
Shere was inquisitive.
Most people when they ask
you questions,
don't follow it up with, why?
And it makes you sort of...
"Yeah, why?"
KAY: She chose that part
of New York,
the creative side
and the movement side.
[ Woman singing in French ]
Happy birthday to me,
happy birthday to me
MAN: And so on her birthday,
heavily attended by New York's
radical chic crowd...
Did you see what Shere gave me?
Isn't it fabulous?
I can't get over it.
It's so beautiful.
MAN: Flo trots out her
defense of prostitutes
with a little ditty.
Everybody needs a hooker
once in a while
GENE: Shere was
forward thinking.
It helps, I believe, to come
from a small town
and then see a difference.
New York, you've got room
to breathe
and you can weave and dodge,
and there's a lot
of other people in the way.
You have a better chance
of developing your own soul
and becoming whoever you want.
JAMES: I was working
at the Village Voice.
We met 'cause
I photographed her.
I loved her style.
I loved the way she dressed.
I could also tell
that she loved working.
And so, I think I was
kind of standing back.
I was showing the way
she worked more than
I was showing her personality.
It was as if I couldn't
quite get near her.
And then I saw a picture of her
as a child, and I said,
"Can I take a picture
of this picture?"
She looks like she's about
6 or 7,
but she looks extremely
And I thought, this child
looked very lonely.
And as I got to know her,
I found out
that the child was lonely.
I grew up in a very small town
and was very much
of a churchgoer.
I grew up with my grandparents,
so it was
an even older generation
than normally would have been.
There was no discussion of sex
or menstruation
or anything like that.
Just a discussion that you had
to get married
and men married nice girls,
and you should always do
what you should.
She was reluctant to talk
about it,
and I had to ask her about it,
and she was still reluctant
to talk about it.
AS SHERE: Mother and father.
I was a mistake.
He left after a year or so.
She was just out of high school.
I was a hindrance and made her
too old,
a nuisance and in the way.
A piece of garbage.
Then she left.
How would you define love?
Is it the thing you work at
for a long period of time?
Or is it the strong feeling
you feel for someone,
right from the beginning,
for no known reason?
Does the relationship fill
your deepest
needs for closeness
with another person?
Or do you prefer not to share
every part of yourself?
JAMES: She could come off
as being a bit cold.
One reason I liked
photographing her
was that I was sort of
breaking the image.
Obviously, image was
very important to her.
I was hoping to make her
feel comfortable in her skin.
But she carried the weight
of the criticism all the time.
I wanted her to be
happier than she was.
MIKE: Shere had clearly
invented Shere Hite.
BOB: A lot of people simply
couldn't take her seriously
because of the way
she presented herself,
but presenting herself
that way was who she was.
That was really important to her
to be the Playboy girl
while working for a PhD.
She needed to see herself
that way.
We all need to see ourselves
in certain ways.
But partly because of her
flamboyance, people noticed.
She wanted to be seen.
[ Mid-tempo piano music
playing ]
summer 1988,
Horicke and Hite in their
apartment on Fifth Avenue.
Three years ago,
the German-born concert pianist
and the best-selling writer
were married.
Shere Hite's books
have sold five million copies.
They've been translated
into 14 languages
and banned in eight countries.
PRESENTER 2: Hite's latest book,
"Women and Love,"
caused a flurry of news stories
weeks before the book
even hits the stores.
You may have read about it,
and perhaps
even argued about it.
And even though today is
its official publication date,
it has already been widely
endorsed and widely criticized.
NICHOLAS: The press conference
was on the day
that the book went on sale.
It was a packed house.
I thought, "Wow,
this is really terrific.
All these people want
to hear Shere."
And then I heard some of
the people say,
"Well, they want to see
what she's gonna do.
She's difficult,
and she's just weird."
[ Applause ]
Good morning.
Thank you for coming.
Doing this study, I realized
that when women talk about love,
it's much more
than talking about love.
You know, love has been
trivialized for so long
and how women feel about love
has been trivialized.
It isn't trivial.
WOMAN: Number 19.
How would you define love?
WOMAN 2: Oh, gracious, Shere.
[ Laughs ]
WOMAN 3: It was
an excellent feeling,
and then again, it was
a very anxious feeling,
a vulnerable feeling.
My heart could be broken
at any time.
WOMAN 4: I don't even know if
I'm capable of it at this point.
I've just had so many
bad relationships.
I don't think they've had
anything to do with love.
WOMAN 5: I'm in love
with my children.
I don't think I'm in love
with my husband.
WOMAN 6: I could never
really communicate with him.
I could never really share
with him.
WOMAN 7: My lover hit me
because I pulled the covers
off of him at night.
If I didn't fill up the ice
cube trays all the way up,
he would scream at me.
WOMAN 8: I have had
an extramarital affair.
I was looking for re-affirmation
of myself as a woman.
WOMAN 9: I had sex outside
of my marriage,
wanting to test my real capacity
for love.
SHERE: The great majority
of women are saying
that they're frustrated
and dissatisfied
with their relationships
with men emotionally.
They want things
to be different.
And they've been trying and
trying to get that to happen,
but aren't having a whole lot
of success with it.
WOMAN 10: The most
startling statistic,
Hite says 70% of women
married more than five years
say they are having
extramarital affairs.
When "Women and Love" came out,
I remember being called
into my boss's office.
He knew that I knew Shere.
He said, "Have you seen
this book?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Have you read it?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "This book
is preposterous."
I said, "Well, Shere wrote
a book about men,
and men were unfaithful
to their wives
in the first five years,
and no one was shocked
by that statistic.
Who do you think
they were sleeping with?"
His jaw fell because
her implications
made him have to think
about his marriage now.
MAN: The wedding day, promises
of a long and faithful life
together from the happy couple.
But according to a book about
to be published in America,
it's a dream
that rarely comes true.
A new survey of American woman
has come up
with some troubling results.
MAN: Shere Hite says
that only 13% of women
married more than two years
are in love with their husbands.
To find out
that this was a two-way street
was just too much
for many of them to handle.
I call "The Hite Report"
the Hate Report
because it really is filled
with a lot of hate toward men.
It's some interesting gossipy
stuff about people's lives,
but a study it ain't.
I believe her questionnaire
is as biased
as any questionnaire can be.
When you have pages and pages
and pages of statistics,
no matter what you say
in the body of it,
it acts as if it's science
and it's not science.
It is a scientific sample
and a scientific study.
KARLA: Where she stuck her
neck out is to say that
her research is scientific.
For Shere, this mattered.
MAN: The reporter,
David Streitfeld,
interviewed quite
a lot of people
about Shere Hite and her book.
One professor put it this way.
"Hite does not report
how many people answered
each of her questions.
So, I can't tell whether she
means 70% of 1,000 women
or 70% of 10 women, so
the statistic is meaningless."
The ABC News/Washington Post
poll decided to conduct
a scientific telephone survey
of 1,500 men and women
over age 18
in a nationwide random sample.
The idea was to determine
if the trends
Hite found could be confirmed.
They were not.
We presented Shere Hite
with our findings
during an interview.
After looking over
the statistics,
she had this reaction
to the numbers on infidelity.
You call me on the phone,
you think I'm gonna tell you?
You've got to be joking.
[ Laughs ]
I always thought she fought
too hard with her adversaries.
She may have been better off
just saying to them,
"The work speaks for itself."
This is a creative project,
which develops as it goes.
She was very sensitive
to criticism,
and that was maybe
her Achilles heel.
OPRAH: Today, the author
of this much publicized book
has agreed to face an audience
filled entirely with men,
except for me.
Hi, everybody.
JANET: When she learned
that she was going to be dealing
with an all-male audience,
Shere asked me to come with her
to provide her
some moral support.
I wasn't allowed to be in the
audience, but I was backstage.
What your study does is say
that all the problems,
everything that's wrong with
relationships, is men's fault.
You guys are the guilty ones.
And I'm saying we're all guilty.
It's society as a whole.
This whole idea that somehow
it's an equal problem,
it's not quite so simple.
Look at our body language,
it's very different.
You live in a world in which
power gives you the right
to sit with your legs apart,
and you go like this.
And you're going like this.
Now look at me,
I'm sitting here like this,
because I think
there's a big difference
between men and women.
- MAN: No way.
- Come on.
OPRAH: Yes, sir.
MAN: Yes, you know,
this is the first time
I've ever heard
that being able to sit
with your legs split
is a privilege.
Well, you've now heard it.
You've now heard it.
MAN: Shere's report
is flawed extensively.
Only 5% of the people
that she sent a report to
would even respond to her.
And she only asked women.
Why didn't she ask any men...
- Where's Janet?
- what they thought?
I was able to go in
in between breaks.
I would just keep reinforcing
the fact that
although it would
have been preferable
if they had read the book
and given her positive
feedback on it, they didn't.
OPRAH: Did you see the report
she did on men?
I've only been aware
of this report,
and everything I've heard
about her has been negative.
- Okay...
- She's only looking at one side,
the side that she chooses
to look at.
I think, first of all,
that a lot of people
who criticize the book
haven't even read the book.
And I would like to stop,
for whatever reason,
discussing how flawed
the statistics are,
how many people responded,
because the truth of the matter
is whether 4,000
or 50,000 responded,
nobody can deny
that there's a problem.
That's what we want
to talk about,
is the fact
that there's a problem.
When I've been in relationships,
the women, instead of
communicating and saying there's
something wrong, what they do is
they pout and they don't want to
tell you what the problem is.
And I think that we just need
to communicate more.
SHERE: Well, you have a whole
book of women telling what's
the problem, and men are
reacting like they'd been shot,
or they're reacting with
total terror or total outrage.
What I'm complaining about
is the general approach
to this whole program, which
started back with women's lib.
And since then, men have
been murdered
and gotten away with it.
We have had our children
taken away from us,
we've had our homes
taken away from us,
and we've had our jobs
taken away from us.
Let women have 47%
of the labor force,
but I don't want to hear you
complaining about it,
you started the program.
[ Applause ]
You all who are applauding,
you sound angry. You're angry...
JANET: We went to Oprah's
favorite thrift shop afterward
to sort of cleanse ourselves of
the nasty words
that had been thrown around.
[ Saxophone playing ]
ED: I think the years and years
and years of her
working on these projects,
the amount of effort it took,
and then to get this kind of
treatment from so many people,
it just was like someone
stabbed me in the back again
and again and again and again
until she reached the end of it.
Yes, you're very pretty.
You're the prettiest
little thing I ever saw.
Sally Jessy Raphael had a show
that was very popular
at the time.
It was a really big deal
to actually book her show.
The morning that she was
supposed to be doing it,
the limo driver was there
to pick her up,
and she wasn't quite ready yet.
FRANK: I went to pick up
Miss Hite yesterday morning
to take her back
to New Haven for her taping.
MAN: Frank says
he waited and waited.
She kept him waiting for so long
that they said, "Okay, well,
we no longer can do a live show.
We're now going to have
to do a taped."
And then it got so late
that they said,
"Okay, just forget it."
So, I walked across the street
and to tell her that,
"I'm sorry, dear.
I can't take you back with me,
I'm gonna leave alone."
Those were your words,
"I'm sorry, dear?"
- "I'm sorry, dear."
- Right.
And when I said "dear,"
she freaked out.
She went violent on me,
grabbed me by the throat,
and tried to dig her nails
into my windpipe.
The next day she was scheduled
to be interviewed
by Maury Povich on his show,
and it was going to be
a live interview.
SHERE: Will I be able to see it
before we start?
MAN: I don't think so.
We're just kind of
running out of time.
If you want to push
that little piece into your...
I heard you.
How's that?
Does it look okay?
Is my hair crooked?
MAN: Five seconds.
Shere Hite knows what
men think about women
and what women think
about men, in bed and out.
It's been quite a week for you,
I know, steeped in controversy,
particularly about another
ABC/Washington Post poll
that says basically
that much of your findings
are quite different from theirs.
How do you think
this could happen?
The Washington Post/ABC people
called women on the telephone.
I mean, imagine the scenario.
You receive a phone call,
you're standing in the kitchen,
and right next to you is your
husband stirring the lasagna,
and they say to you,
"Are you having
extramarital sex?"
Well, of course not.
So your findings you feel
because of the way you...
- That's one reason.
- Right.
What happened yesterday in
New York with the limo driver?
Did you accost him?
- No.
- You didn't?
I felt like it, but I didn't.
MAURY: You didn't.
We just happen to have
the limousine driver with us.
Frank Nicoletti.
SHERE: Well, if that's
the reason that you've given,
you know, to come
and interview me,
then you've done so
under a false reason,
because I asked what
the interview would be about,
and it seems to me
that by doing this,
you're doing what I'm saying
and what women are saying
in my book that
men generally do.
They don't want to listen
to what the issues are.
But you want to
bring up something else.
And so, therefore, you have now
lied to get this interview.
And so, therefore,
I can't continue
the interview unfortunately.
I would have liked to talked
to women in the audience
about what this book is about.
But if you don't want to listen,
then you're very similar
to many men
- that women describe in my book.
- Oh, I'm similar?
Well, let's find out
what happened yesterday
from the limo driver.
Frank Nicoletti is
with us in New York.
And let's give him
a chance to talk.
Alright, Frank?
Shere, I don't know why you say
you didn't accost me.
I certainly didn't accost you.
You tried to disfigure me.
SHERE: Stop it, you.
FRANK: Just like... same way
you did there, dear.
That's exactly what you did.
SHERE: Following me
across the room.
You don't have the right
to do that.
I have the right to get up
and walk off camera.
MAURY: You sure...
You can do that,
but we'd like to hear the story
of what happened yesterday,
and Mr. Nicoletti is here.
FRANK: I don't know
why she's lying.
SHERE: This is why I asked you
to check on that.
SHERE: Don't touch me.
No, I don't want to tell
any of them anything.
- WOMAN: Listen, Shere.
- SHERE: No, I'm sorry.
I don't care.
I'm going. I don't care.
You're not going to keep me
physically here.
I'm leaving.
MAN: What was that?
What happened?
MAN 2: Yeah, did you follow her?
MAN 3: Yeah, I tried
until she grabbed me.
MAN 2: She grabbed you?
MAN 3: Yeah, she grabbed
the whole camera.
MAN 2: Trying to help women.
[ Men laughing ]
By the next day, it was...
The whole campaign
was starting to unravel.
MAN: On "A Current Affair,"
this happened.
Stop it, you.
No more nice guy.
Things were played and played
and played
and played and played.
PRESENTER: Here's what
happened on New York television.
SHERE: What are you,
following me across the room?
Shere Hite,
the best-selling author,
has made millions dishing
out criticism of men,
but when it comes to accepting
any criticism herself,
as we'll see,
that's quite a different story.
Fort Worth, Texas. Hello.
MAN: Hello, Miss Hite.
I've read all of your books.
And my biggest criticism that
I have of you is the fact
that you seem to have
the attitude that just because
women disapprove
of something that a man does...
KAY: I watched the Larry King
interview with her,
and I was just shocked.
Her eyes looked
kind of dead to me.
Even if she was angry
about something,
there was always
a spark of real life.
It felt like the Shere I knew,
the life was draining
out of her.
I thought, "Oh, my God,
I really have no idea
the toll this has taken."
Why is Shere Hite so sensitive
about criticism?
You know you're doing exactly
what, you're doing exactly...
- May I finish my question?
- No.
And, in fact, I think that
you're gonna keep on like this
during the entire thing.
And you know what you're doing?
Excuse me?
I don't care to have
this part filmed.
You know what you're doing?
Exactly what the men
in the book do.
Then you're gonna say you've
been accused of man bashing.
- What you got to...
- You've been accused...
Turn that [bleep] thing off.
You've been accused
of man bashing.
Yeah, and it's gonna happen
right here.
So, do you want to do
a decent interview,
or do you want to leave?
I will do the interview
that I want to do.
SHERE: Well then, go home
and go back...
PRESENTER: And that's how we
parted company with Shere Hite.
You know, all publicity
is good publicity.
That's my job.
Um, in this case, you know,
I think that was the exception
to the rule.
Maybe this wasn't
such great publicity.
And it certainly stopped
pretty much anyone
at Knopf working on the book
any longer.
MARTIN: Watching Shere's
reputation in the States decline
was really painful.
Over the course of getting
to know her friends in L.A.
or here, and my story with her
would become known.
And people would have
changing responses.
Initially, people would think,
"Wow, you knew her?"
And then as she lost
that kind of luster,
people would look at me as if,
"What was with you?"
I came back to New York
on a visit,
and I was walking with my wife,
and we were walking by
her apartment on Fifth Avenue,
and I said,
"We have to stop by."
We went to the doorman,
and I said,
"Could you please buzz
Shere's apartment?"
He said, "She doesn't
live here anymore."
He said, "Over the course
of a couple of nights,
she just disappeared,
and she was gone."
REPORTER: Good morning.
The public ordeals
of Clarence Thomas are over.
He survived his final
Senate test by the closest
winning margin in the history
of Supreme Court nominees.
Literally and judicially,
he's now set for life.
WOMAN: Leaders of the
women's movement in this country
had big questions
about Clarence Thomas
almost from the day
he was nominated.
Was he too conservative?
Would he vote to overturn
Roe v. Wade?
Then came the charges
of sexual harassment.
He spoke about acts that he had
seen in pornographic films
involving such matters as women
having sex with animals,
and films showing group sex
or rape scenes.
WOMAN: According
to all the polls,
American women
weren't listening.
They supported Thomas.
Is feminism dead?
WOMAN: I think that there is
a certain backlash
in the culture
at large that's internalized
by some of our students.
They don't like to use
the F-word.
I kind of have a negative idea
of feminism.
It's too radical.
I don't think it's
really done much.
I think it's sort of
faded away with time.
SUSAN: In the last decade,
we've seen a powerful
and often unrecognized backlash
that's taken many
different forms.
He said that if I ever told
anyone of his behavior
that it would ruin his career.
What we saw and what I saw
as an African-American woman
was, if you come forward,
you will be called a liar,
an erotomaniac
and mentally disturbed.
What do you get?
You get humiliated.
You get your character
Big winner is obviously
Clarence Thomas.
Losers, perhaps,
the Women's Movement?
And, in fact, in this half hour,
we're going to talk about
the White House strategy,
what George Bush may do...
[ Crowd cheering ]
This, my friends,
this is radical feminism.
The agenda that Clinton and
Clinton would impose on America.
It's not the kind of change
we can abide in a nation
we still call God's country.
[ Audience cheering ]
[ Soulful piano music playing ]
JOANNA: I met her at the launch
for Women and Love in London.
I went along as a journalist
and interviewed her.
So, we started talking.
She'd had such bad experiences
in the States
that she was always nervous.
She just kept herself
really very private.
REPORTER: You live
in Europe now.
Where's your home?
Well, it's hard to say
that I have a fixed address.
- You move around a lot?
- Yes, I do.
What are the cities you live in?
Well, London is
my publishing base,
and I spend a lot
of time in Germany,
because of my husband,
of course, is German.
And we spend a lot of time
in Paris, too.
A lot of people say you've kind
of become a self-imposed exile,
that you've left
the United States in protest.
My books are very well received
in many countries
besides the United States.
And there was so much hysteria
over my last report
in the United States that,
I don't know, I just didn't
feel a need to come back.
JOANNA: She started living some
of the time in my flat
in London, because before that,
she'd go between the Hilton
and this, actually,
it was a squat.
It was a squat
in a council flat.
Literally on a futon
on the floor in a tiny room.
AS SHERE: "Dear Sonny,
I'm having
a terrible cash flow problem.
There were no bids
for the paperback rights
to 'Women and Love.'
No offers of interest
in publishing
any future books of mine.
I had to sell my apartment
to pay off the research debts."
JOANNA: I got a sense that the
press interest was dwindling.
And, you know, she wanted
to get her message across.
She wanted press,
but she wanted to control it,
which is the old conundrum.
It's what everyone wants and is
almost impossible to achieve.
- Okay, ready?
- SHERE: Yeah, let's go.
So, you gave a speech here
at this bookstore?
SHERE: Yes, I did.
It was about fundamentalism
and how it affects women.
- And how long ago was that?
- About a year ago.
You have your whole
book display in here now?
SHERE: I guess so.
REPORTER: You have three
new books out right now.
REPORTER: Now the novel is
all about you, is it not?
Well, the main character
is a dog,
and the second main character
is somebody who's sort of
like me, who asks a lot of
questions, about a woman
who asked too many questions,
and all the trouble
that gets her into.
REPORTER: Now this book,
the book on the family,
the nuclear family, it's not
available in the U.S. right now.
- SHERE: No.
- Why not?
I wish I knew
the answer to that.
You're gonna have to ask
the publisher that.
I'm starting to stutter.
Are you concerned ever that
it seems to be your personality,
your appearance,
your lifestyle that gets
in the way
of the messages in your book?
Yes, maybe I should
write anonymously.
half a second.
How do you feel about the fact
that I'm telling you that
Shere Hite doesn't have a
publisher for her latest report?
Doesn't make any sense.
Shere Hite's books have sold
like hotcakes
over and over, book after book.
She's made a great deal of money
for her publishers,
and she's very well known.
How can you shut somebody
like this up?
It's outrageous.
I can really understand
why she would choose
not to live here even.
She told me the last time
I talked to her
she can't make a living
in this country.
And if she can't publish
in this country
and she's a writer, then
she can't make a living here.
And so she's being censored.
Not only just criticized
and censured,
she's being censored,
too, silenced.
Are you saying things people
don't want to hear or just
things that people
don't agree with?
I think one reason my work
is controversial
because I usually connect it
to politics.
This kind of atmosphere of
violence against what was known
as feminism
gave the feeling of right
to those who would have
bombed abortion clinics,
also to those who were
leaving messages on my machines,
standing outside of my house,
showing my address
on television.
I mean, it even makes me nervous
to talk to you.
I mean, and I'm not sitting in
the United States right now,
but it still makes me nervous
to talk to you.
IRIS: I was a young photographer
coming to Paris,
and I was called from a German
magazine to do her portrait.
I thought she was just
stunning and beautiful.
But I could see that she was
kind of checking me out.
This is the first session
I did with her.
And when you look at it,
you can see in her eyes,
she doesn't know
if she can trust me.
When she saw the first pictures,
and she liked herself,
I think that's when
she started to trust me.
[ Soulful music playing ]
She was swimming
in the fountain,
which is normally not allowed.
But she just followed her
feeling, and I followed her.
We started to do more
and more pictures.
AS SHERE: Iris and I developed
a truly close friendship.
Just like a fan, some,
more movement like this.
It was a dialogue between us.
IRIS: She liked how I saw her.
There was an understanding
from my soul to your soul,
two women working together
and trusting each other,
helping each other also
to be not afraid.
We did things normally
you're not allowed to do,
but we just did it,
and nobody stopped us.
[ Soulful music playing ]
[ Camera shutter clicks ]
AS SHERE: I am on a journey.
As I was traveling,
suddenly the landscapes I saw
seemed to coincide with
some interior landscape
I had been seeking.
I have a strong memory
of my bedroom
at my grandmother's house.
So simple as to be austere,
but it had a special atmosphere.
I would lie in bed listening
to the sounds of the trains
passing by in the distance
or the last bird singing.
One of those evenings,
a strange desire began
to creep over me,
a deep craving.
I learned that the sensations
could be increased
by moving my legs around with
my body pressed against the bed.
One day, doing this, I felt
a wonderful explosion
deep inside my body.
The pleasure was like
an electric shock.
I wanted to do it over and over,
and I did, again and again.
But soon I worried, had I broken
something inside my body?
No one had ever told me
anything about their having
such an experience.
Maybe it was unnatural.
So that's where we were thinking
about ecstasy, joy,
pleasure for women.
[ Speaking French ] How can you
show a female body
with power, spiritualism,
beauty, and eroticism?
[ Speaking English ]
In the visual representation
of the woman, we were thinking
that it is missing something.
You never see an intelligent
portrait of a woman,
an intelligent face,
and at the same time a vulva.
An icon of woman complete
means with sexuality.
[ Soulful music playing ]
AS SHERE: Taking photos
and having sexual discussions
with Iris was a further way
of getting permission
to have a sexual body,
this time from the female world.
Women reclaiming themselves
from the culture.
[ Speaking French ] I am
the founder of a magazine
called Gaze, which is a magazine
that explores the female gaze.
[ Speaking French ] Early in
my career as a journalist,
I discovered Shere Hite
a very unknown icon in Europe
and France.
I quickly understood that
the history of female sexuality
was very much a story that
repeated itself.
Since the first anatomical
diagrams of the clitoris,
which date from
the 17th century to today,
it's a story of the successive
erasure of knowledge.
[ Speaking English ]
PHYLLIS: When I mentioned that
I'm doing this interview about
Shere to a group of
young radical feminists,
they said,
"Well, who is she?"
I said, "You've got
to be kidding me."
She was in the media
all the time,
and, you know, you couldn't help
but know about her work,
but who's talking about it now?
We're gonna have to bleep
the word "vagina."
[ Laughter ]
But not penis?
Please, please,
let's stay clinical.
Let's use hoo-ha.
[ Laughter ]
You know, I thought
you would be a first
on television with a man
talking about the clitoris.
I can't do that.
[ Laughter ]
- Come on, yes, you can.
- COLBERT: I can't do that. No.
REGINA: There's a disappearance
of feminist knowledge,
century after century,
decade after decade.
WOMAN: Newsweek says
"The Hite Report"
is the 30th-best-selling
book of all time.
Really? How wonderful.
It's the 30th-best-selling book
of all time?
I can't believe it.
That's quite extraordinary.
But I would be surprised
if many young women knew of it.
I don't hear people
talking about it anymore.
SHERE: This is a drawing made
by a woman
of a woman's anatomy
seen from the side.
At that time, no drawings other
than of the reproductive system,
the uterus and so on,
were available.
Male ownership of
women's sexuality
is what makes
patriarchy possible.
As women, we deserve the right
to own our own bodies.
I just find it troublesome
that perhaps younger women
coming along
will have to fight
the same battles over again.
JANET: But I see that just
since I've been answering
these questions, that the most
important thing to me now
is freedom.
WOMAN: Feminine,
how do I define it?
I define it as I can be anything
from Cleopatra to Bette Davis.
Feminine is being anything
I want to be.
WOMAN 2: That's the end.
It's been enlightening for me
to answer the questions
and tell you all my secrets.
Now I have to go
and feed my daughter.
Good luck.
GIRL: Mommy.