HotDocs ’23: The Disappearance of Shere Hite

Shere Hite was a revolutionary, not only through her ideas but also her hard work to reach women across America and give them a platform to discuss sex. The nature of the work is very taboo but Hite was certainly not a subtle person. She openly expressed herself and opened herself to discover who she was and who the women who participated in her study were. Her work broke open the Pandora’s Box around the relationship between sex and pleasure. It would explode in popularity in the coming years after her first book ended up landing as the 30th most sold book of all time. 

Even so, bearing her name on the cover got most of the widespread backlash that came with it. Most of the attacks on her work were my people who had not read the book, men and members of the religious right who felt threatened by her influential voice. They went into hysteria about her lying to the country, attacked her past, rioted against her other radical beliefs by insisting that her work was gathered on false pretenses, despite tricking her into interview that sought to frame her as a hysterical feminist. After sometime, this burden became too much and discussing her work could no longer be done in the United States. So, she disappeared. 

The Disappearance of Shere Hite opens up an important conversation about the open discussion around issues of feminism. At the end of the day, these discussion around sex and both the male and female relationship to them were coming from anonymous surveys. It was the only way to allow people (women in particular) to discuss these issues and have them voiced across the country. By keeping these subjects quiet, these issues are kept away from the national discussion and allow things to keep going as they have been but the current social condition for men and women around sex and intimacy is quite depressing. High levels of unsatisfied people, extramarital affairs and feelings of unhappiness with life were quite common and they still are. In an age where we are able to shout whatever we want online, this film calls back to a woman who sought nuance and communication between women, regardless of their identity. That’s something that needs to be seen amongst ourselves both on a personal and national scale. Hopefully, this film opens that conversation up more and inspires honesty around these topics. After all, as uncomfortable as they are sometimes, they are undeniably part of our lives.

The Disappearance of Shere Hite is now playing at HotDocs ’23. For more information, click here.

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