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In 1976, Shere Hite Wrote About Orgasms, Masturbation And Female Sexuality Upsetting Many Men. Rest In Power, Always.

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When someone asked in one of the meetings of the National Organisation of Women whether all of them experience orgasms, silence filled the room instead of reminiscent bliss. That couldn’t have looked good and things haven’t completely changed, even today. However, at that moment, Shere Hite, present in the room got the inspiration to compile The Hite Report.

Feminist and sex researcher Shere Hite passed away at 77 but left a legacy behind – of women who refuse to accept a life without orgasms. Famous or still infamous among misogynists for The Hite Report, she uncovered truths about female sexuality but most importantly she acknowledged it.

So what is this The Hite Report? It is a revolutionary study in which she spoke to 3500 women who opened about sexual pleasure, uninhibited. For the first time, women found a platform that felt safe to speak about their struggles and what pleasured them. This was back in 1976 and even though women in New York were getting empowered, sex remained a taboo. Women didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t. For instance, the most important thing the report brought to limelight was the potency of the great clitoris, which we know today as the powerhouse of orgasms. Back then, thanks to patriarchy, it was a common belief that women were supposed to orgasm via intercourse alone and if a woman couldn’t, she was sexually immature or there was something wrong with her.

Imagine the kind of anxiety and self-esteem issues all women had to face back then before they figured that most women need clitoral stimulation to come. “In an instant, I was catapulted back 44 years to 1976 — the time her ground-breaking survey of women’s sexuality, The Hite Report, was published and women all over the world could not stop confessing and comparing sexual notes,” former Cosmopolitan editor Linda Kelsey wrote in an article for Daily Mail. She further added, “At 633 pages, this densely packed tome on how women felt about topics ranging from masturbation and orgasms to sexual slavery had us all volunteering to read it first. For the rest of that day, I barely looked up from the text in front of me. It was both eye-opening and a relief to read the personal sexual revelations of the 3,000 women who responded to Shere Hite’s survey about their sexual experiences.” Kelsey opened up, “Eye-opening because women had never spoken so specifically and honestly before about their sex lives. A relief, because the sexual experience of so many of these women chimed with my own.”

I may not have been born then but reading the first-hand account of 20-something women in the 70s finally having someone normalise variations in female sexuality gave me goosebumps. It had to take a feminist, strong woman to finally let it all out in the open and challenge patriarchy that expected women to be done when the men are done. Patriarchy expected women to be dependent on men for pleasure but the report spoke about masturbation as real women revealed that was probably more or equally pleasurable as sex.

With women taking charge of their orgasms, misogynists (basically majority of our society) found her work crass and to be a bad influence on culture. Men couldn’t digest the fact that women don’t need them to feel pleasure. They couldn’t take it that they have been doing it all wrong and that women will no longer accept selfish-in-bed behaviour. It could mean men would have to work and all those years of gaslighting – telling women that not being able to orgasm is their fault – has been called out. Playboy, for which Hite had even modelled called it the Hate Report because women getting empowered is a direct loss for men? If our happiness is deemed as “anti-men” then it’s their shame, not ours and Hite knew that. “I was saying that penetration didn’t do anything for women and that got some people terribly upset,” she told the Guardian in 2011. She had also added, “I was the only sex researcher at that time who was feminist. I tried to extend the idea of sexual activity to female orgasm and masturbation.”

With the criticism of her work in the US getting rather personal (as misogynists like to harass women with a voice) she denounced her citizenship and moved to Europe, a place more open to sexuality. She passed away in her home in London on Wednesday. She was suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. However, her work was truly revolutionary as she carved the way for women to prioritise their pleasure and not just be an aide to men during sex. Writer Julie Bindel, who interviewed Hite in 2011 said, “Her work was groundbreaking – in many ways, she began the real sexual revolution for women in the 1970s after the abject failure of the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s. In the 60s, women didn’t even feel that they had the right to sexual pleasure. Shere Hite put women’s sexual pleasure first and foremost for the first time ever.” Hite made women believe they have a voice, even when it comes to sex. “She centred women’s experiences as opposed to seeing men as the default position and women as secondary. That really spoke to a lot of women about their own bodies, their own sexual liberation and sexual pleasure,” Bindel said.

ALSO READ: 5 Reasons Slow Masturbation Can Make Your Orgasms So Much Better And Satisfying

Today, we owe our orgasms to this lady who encouraged women to stop fakin’ them. When you’re on your bed after a long, hard week, blasting the AC and making yourself come – it’s because she took the first step in normalising female masturbation, back in the 70s’. Thank God for The Hite Report that made women aware that it’s the clit that does the magic. But most importantly, Hite gave female sexuality a voice and existence. She is the witch that patriarchy couldn’t burn down and we are her descendants refusing to fake an orgasm to boost his ego!  Rest in power, Hite.

ALSO READ: The Sale Of Sex Toys In India Went Up By 65% During This Pandemic. SexTech Cannot Replace Intimacy But It’s A Great Surrogate

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