From Publishers Weekly
Somewhere between social science and pop sexology, this volume collects 40 years' worth of Hite's writings on the role of sex in our individual identities and our culture. Hite, a controversial figure when she emerged in the 1970s as an outspoken sex educator and feminist, has revised and condensed her best-known works as well as shorter essays and unpublished writings. Most of the book is founded on Hite's interviews and surveys of thousands of Americans, and while some have criticized her methodology, Hite's work is most compelling when she stands back and lets her respondents speak, openly grappling with the nuances and motivations of their sexual practices. Many of Hite's earlier conclusions seem surprisingly mundane (perhaps a testament to how far we've come in recent decades), and her more recent analysis of globalization and sex lacks the solid empirical foundation of previous Hite reports. By flattening decades of work into a single volume without offering the context in which that work emerged or its subsequent impact, the volume leaves readers with a general sense of the scope and breadth of Hite's ideas, but no greater understanding of where they fit in the big picture of research on human sexuality.
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Cultural historian Hite offers a wide--ranging look at the complexities and the subtleties of female and male sexuality. Drawing on several independent research studies, the five Hite reports, and current essays and theories, Hite documents how girls and boys grow up and experience changes in their bodies. She argues that single-sided views of women harm both relationships and the need for women to balance their own sexual needs. Hite explores how sexuality fits into concerns about human rights, examining the pressures on women from religious fundamentalists and the countervailing pressures of modern culture that border on the pornographic. She reassesses sexual attitudes and behavior in the postfeminist era and explores aspects from the tensions between sexual equality and self-determination to the impact of Viagra on sexual performance. Hite urges readers to remember their earliest sexual feelings and to rediscover "original sexuality" versus the images imposed by the culture. In this fascinating exploration, Hite moves beyond the cliches of what pleases men and women and explores how attitudes on sex and pleasure have evolved and continue to evolve. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved