Controversial study by internationally renowned academic Shere Hite. Full title: The Hite Report on Female Sexuality. First published in 1976 to critical acclaim, selling over twenty million copies worldwide. Updated to include findings from outside of the United States in 2000.

The report publishes the findings of a number of extensive questionnaires answered anonymously by 'women between the ages of 14 and 78'. The questions themselves are of a particularly personal nature, delivered by Hite with the broad-minded practicality of a nurse in a VD clinic and a no-nonsense pragmatism derived, perhaps, from having attended countless academic gatherings wearing a name badge with S HITE printed on it in big black letters.

The appeal to the general public of a volume such as this is obvious: read it and you can find out if there is something wrong with your own sexual practices. Of course, if you received this book as a gift from a partner the formality of actually reading it in order to come to these conclusions is redundant.

The topics covered by this book are designed to give a comprehensive picture of attitudes to all areas of female sexuality and the answers given number well into the thousands; here is a sample of some of the gems:

  • 'You know what turns me on? The smell of my own human mush!'
  • 'I love being eaten with a very rapid licking tickling tongue on my clitoris, accompanied by slurpy noises and throaty sounds.'
  • 'I did (masturbate after intercourse) sometimes, after my old man had gone off to sleep, slobbering and snoring.'

Interesting reading at first, if you make any attempt to really get to the heart of the study and draw any conclusions you rapidly note that you are the unwitting subject of a cleverly executed aversion therapy. Like a toddler given full access to the biscuit tin who can no longer stomach his supper, you find yourself when asked, 'are you coming to bed?' answering with trembling hands that you are, in fact, very keen to stay up all night drinking coffee and watching the Open University.

The conclusions offered to a male reader by the book are, perhaps intentionally through some ironic desire for retribution, unsatisfactory. The findings Hite presents suggest that females feel threatened by their male counterparts and are only really able to realise their sexual potential through self stimulation.

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