After a year in limbo, a new work by controversial feminist author Shere Hite debunking cherished myths about the nuclear family is reaching U.S. bookstores.
Available Monday, months after publication in England and Australia to rave reviews, “The Hite Report on the Family: Growing up Under Patriarchy,” challenges the widely espoused notion that the family is in crisis.
Rising divorce rates and numbers of single parents, the report concludes, are signs of a rebellion against a repressive, patriarchal system that no longer suits modern needs.
“People are applying the principles of democracy, freedom and equality to their personal lives, instead of remaining locked into bad relationships,” Hite said in an interview in Paris. “That’s advance, not collapse.”
Hite became a household name in 1976 with “The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality.” The second Hite report delved into men’s sexuality. She’s been scorned as a male basher and pop psychologist. “The Hate Report” and “The Hype Report” are familiar epithets.
Like her previous works, the new manifesto took five years.
Despite widespread criticism, her methods remain much the same, with conclusions based on essay-length answers to a seven-page questionnaire filled out, in this case, by 3,000 men and women under 35 from the United States and Europe.
Hite knows her conclusions will raise eyebrows in the United States, where “family values” has become a watchword for the conservative religious and political revival.
That hostile environment and the media backlash that greeted the 1987 “Hite Report on Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress” have forced her into exile, she said.
“I was getting threatening letters. Publishers wouldn’t touch my work, even though the reports made a lot of money, and are still making money,” said Hite, who plans no U.S. book tour and now lives in Europe.
Though her works have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, several U.S. publishers bought the rights of the new report, then backed down, citing “editorial reasons.” It was finally accepted by Grove Press.
Hite said the most unique contribution of the report involves boys and the “violent dissassociation” from their mothers that society forces upon them around age 10.