This is Andrea Chase and I’m talking with Nicole Newnham about THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHERE HITE, her documentary about the author of the 30th bestselling book of all time, who challenged the patriarchy and was rewarded with obscurity. That 1976 book, The Hite Report on Female Sexuality, revolutionized the paradigm of women’s sexual pleasure and, in the process, challenged the patriarchy while raising the consciousness of countless women about their right to orgasms, and how best to have one. Making use of the extensive archive Hite sold to the Schlesinger Library, Newnham’s documentary shows with painful detail the extent of misogyny with which Hite had to contend as a scholar and an author, and how the male fragility could not cope with a challenge to their sexual dominance. Dakota Johnson reads Hite’s own words, some never before made public, about how she reacted to first her fame, and then the backlash against a woman who refused to fit into an easy stereotype.
Newnham’s previous work includes the Oscar®-nominated CRIP CAMP, as well as THE RAPE OF EUROPA.
We started our conversation on November 21, 2023 with the synchronicity of the origins of The Hite Report before moving on to what was so groundbreaking about it back in the 1970s, and what it was like going through the Hite archives at the Schlessinger Library.
We went on to talk about the reasons for Hite’s precipitous fall, whether or not we are hard-wired to fear change, the consequences of mixing sex and politics, and cancel culture In a pre-internet age.
We finished up with the first signs of the breakdown of public discourse, the first media call-out of manspreading, and undoing a million years of bad programming.