Born Shirley Diana Gregory in Missouri in 1942, Shere Hite became one of the foremost sexual researchers of our era. She became Shere Hite when she took the surname of her stepfather. Hite received her education in history and social history at the University of Florida and Columbia University. While her research has focused primarily on the female sexual response, Hite has also written about male sexuality. Hite’s research built upon some of the findings of the sexual researchers Masters and Johnson and Alfred Kinsey. The Hite Reports are groundbreaking and have opened the door for frank discussion about female and male sexuality. Some researchers have questioned Hite’s methods of research, as she primarily uses individual questionnaires instead of probability samples.
Hite married German concert pianist Friedrich Horicke in 1985. The couple had no children. In 1995, Hite renounced her American citizenship to become a German citizen. She has lived in Germany ever since.
The Hite Reports were groundbreaking in that they opened up the discourse about sexuality between men and women. Specifically, Hite shone a light on female sexuality and the ability to reach orgasm through masturbation, not intercourse alone. Her research showed that 70% of women failed to reach orgasm through only intercourse, which went against previous research by Masters and Johnson which said that thrusting during intercourse should provide enough clitoral stimulation to help women achieve orgasm. Although some researchers said Hite’s methodology was flawed, Hite’s reports were controversial to some, beneficial to many, and hold their own among sexual research in the 20th and 21st century.
Hite’s methodology to conduct her research on sexuality differed from those of other famous sex researchers such as Masters and Johnson or Alfred Kinsey. She did not use representative samples in her research, but instead opted for the individual questionnaire method. Some regarded this method to be invalid in a scientific sense. However, her findings came from real women and were thought by many to be much more valid than some of the surveys preceding them. The impact of Hite’s findings on our generation is far-reaching, and has changed the way we will continue to look at both male and female sexuality.
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