Review of ‘The Disappearance of Shere Hite’: The Feminist Mystique | ET REALITY


“The Disappearance of Shere Hite” begins with a 1976 television interview with Shere Hite about her pioneering study, “The Hite Report: A National Study of Female Sexuality.” As she talks about the revelations from her research (that women masturbate and most men don’t know how to please them), the interviewer tells a crew member to stop her laughing.

Then a cut reveals that what we’re seeing is actually a clip projected inside other Archive clip, from a 1994 interview, in which Hite reflects on his early media appearances. It’s a clever opening that highlights Hite’s prominence in culture from the 1970s to the ’90s, and how strange it is that the groundbreaking feminist, who died in 2020, is barely talked about now.

Nicole Newnham’s film recovers Hite’s story from the margins of feminist history with style and substance, drawing inspiration from the subject. Tall, blonde and impeccably dressed, Hite was a model who appeared in Playboy and a Columbia University graduate student who eloquently railed against sexism and classism.

“The Hite Report,” which compiled questionnaires completed anonymously by thousands of women, was a bestseller, but in interview after interview, Hite struggled to be taken seriously. When her later studies on male sexuality and women’s love lives were published, she had been branded a destroyer of men and a fraud, and she exiled herself to Europe.

Newnham deftly weaves between biography and history, damningly situating the backlash to Hite’s taboo-breaking work alongside Anita Bryant’s anti-gay activism and Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings. However, the film also shines with hope. Dulcet’s readings of Hite’s memoir by Dakota Johnson (also an executive producer) remind us that it is possible, even in an inflexible world, to think far beyond one’s own time.

The disappearance of Shere Hite
Rated R for blatant talk about women’s sexuality. Duration: 1 hour 56 minutes. On cinemas.

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