Controversial New Trends, Statistics Demand Our Concern and Attention

Published October 22, 1987. I was just sitting down to a bowl of Wheaties one morning last week, when I turned on the small TV set on our kitchen counter. Charles Gibson co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” was interviewing Shere Hite, author of the new book “Women and Love, A Cultural Revolution in Progress” They were no more than one minute into the interview when Gibson, usually serene and calm, bristled and stated. “Shere, are you ‘male-bashing’ in your new book?”

Hite seemed unmoved by the accusation and rather nonchalantly replied, “No, Charles, I am not. I believe what I have written in the book is accurate.” I munched on another bit of Wheaties and turned up the sound on the television set. What I was hearing concerned me.

The polite but pointed exchange continued. Hite contends in her book that American women are fed up with the men to whom they are married. Gibson stood his ground. But so did Hite.

The controversy of Shere Hite’s new book continues. The October 12 issue of Time magazine arrived later that morning. And guess what was on the cover? In big black letters were the words “Are women Fed Up? A hotly disputed Hite Report says ‘Yes’ and that men are to blame.” And on pages 68-73, was a review of the book.

Hite spent seven years analyzing a survey of the views of some 45,000 American women. So what is all the controversy about?
  • Over and over, writes Hite, women of all ages express their increasing emotional frustrations and gradual disillusionment with their personal relationships with men. 
  • Ninety-five percent of the women reported forms of ‘emotional and psychological harassment’ from the men they love. 
  • Ninety-eight percent said they wanted to make basic changes in their love relationships, while trying to make them their highest priority. Only 19 percent said that their relationship with their husband came first in their lives. 
  • Ninety-eight percent wished for more ‘verbal closeness’ with their male partners. And 77 percent said “He doesn’t listen. 
  • Seventy-one percent of the women married for some time said they have given up and no longer even try to emotionally draw out their husbands. 
  • Ninety-one percent of the divorced women surveyed reported they were the ones who initiated the divorce. 
  • Eighty-seven percent of the married women said they have their deepest emotional relationship with a woman friend.
And now, are you ready for this? According to Shere Hite’s new book “Women and Love, a Cultural Revolution in Progress":
  • Seventy percent of the women married five years or more said they are having extramarital affairs, more often for “emotional closeness” than for sex. The overwhelming majority (76 percent) said they do not feel guilty about their infidelity.”
The book has its critics, many of whom are quoted in Time. But if Shere Hite’s statistics upset us, let’s at least pay attention to the trends suggested. Can we ignore the reported sentiments and feelings of 45,000 contemporary women in America?

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