Shere Hite is back, with over 1100 pages of questionnaires, replies, and conclusions; and this will probably be hailed as a...



Shere Hite is back, with over 1100 pages of questionnaires, replies, and conclusions; and this will probably be hailed as a landmark study--just as her previous report on female sexuality was. In truth, however, readers who have been following the literature on sex and gender research over the past few years will already be familiar with many of the conclusions here: from the lack of close contact with Dad to the lack of fidelity in marriage (a whopping 72% of those married two years or more) to the overwhelming approval of fellatio, this mostly just corroborates the testimony of other researchers and writers. Where Hite excels, however, is in the massive accumulation of data (7,239 men participated), its orderly organization, and the willingness to present even minority views (so labeled in all cases) in full detail. Moreover, unlike the earlier study, this survey makes a conscious attempt to deal with the whole sexual being; the assessment of specific preferences in technique is in evidence again (in graphic detail), but Hire has branched out to explore men's feelings about their personal relationships, about the nature of being male. Most men were able to define a difference between masculinity and machismo (""Macho is phony, masculinity is real""); most were able to recognize the need to work toward a love relationship over a period of time. And Hite found that most heterosexual men still had a fear of and disgust for homosexuality, a great deal of anger directed toward ""liberated"" women, and a certain amount of ambivalence about pornography (soft-core was more popular than hard-core). Among the other topics covered: masturbation; attitudes toward rape; confusion about women's orgasms; bisexuality; physical affection between male friends; and ""Do older men enjoy sex as much as younger men?"" Happily, most of the answers throughout are ""essay""-type rather than the yes-no variety; and additional credibility-enhancing texture is supplied by 40 longer replies (covering sexual life in general) grouped at the end. So though there are statistics here to bandy about--and material which may of course lend itself to prurient interest--Hite's accomplishment is a real one: a major summary of current data in the field; and an often-convincing body of generalizations that's firmly anchored in individual, distinctive testimonies.

Pub Date: June 15, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1981