Picks and Pans Review: The Hite Report on Male Sexuality

UPDATED 07/27/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/27/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Shere Hite

It takes her 1,129 pages to say it, but the point of this book, if there is one, is that sex means different things to different men. Establishing that wasn't exactly what motivated Hite, whose 1976 study on female sexuality, a genteel form of pornography, was a best-seller. She, in fact, wanted to redefine sex and male sexuality and ask, "How can life be better for all of us?" So she distributed 119,000 copies of a questionnaire that included long series of queries such as: "Is success important?" "Do you mind the wetness of ejaculation?" "Do you like sports?" and, perhaps toughest of all, "Why did you answer this questionnaire?" Hite, who studied history at the University of Florida and Columbia, got 7,239 replies and seems to have reprinted every line of every answer, no matter how self-evident or irrelevant. What do you do when stricken with impotence? "I most often usually go to sleep." On homosexuality: "One advantage is not worrying about getting him pregnant." On self-description: "I am 28 years old, presently an auto mechanic. I have won awards for farming." Hite asserts that her sample reflects the U.S. male population, though men who bother to answer such a mammoth questionnaire are hardly typical. In any case, even those who might learn something from this book are in trouble unless they're speed-readers; by the time anyone else is finished with it, they'll be practically too old to care. (Knopf, $19.95)

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