“The Disappearance of Shere Hite” opens with a 1976 TV interview with Shere Hite about her pioneering research, “The Hite Report: A Nationwide Research of Feminine Sexuality.” As she talks concerning the revelations of her analysis — that ladies masturbate, and most males don’t know methods to please them — the interviewer tells a crew member to cease snickering.
Then a minimize reveals that what we’re watching is definitely a clip being screened inside one other archival clip, from a 1994 interview, by which Hite displays on her early media appearances. It’s a nifty opening that drives house Hite’s prominence in tradition from the Nineteen Seventies to the ’90s — and the way unusual it’s that the groundbreaking feminist, who died in 2020, is barely mentioned now.
Nicole Newnham’s movie recoups Hite’s story from the margins of feminist historical past with each type and substance, taking its cue from its topic. Tall, blonde and immaculately dressed, Hite was a mannequin who appeared in Playboy, and a Columbia College graduate scholar who railed eloquently towards sexism and classism.
“The Hite Report,” which compiled questionnaires accomplished anonymously by 1000’s of girls, was a greatest vendor — however in interview after interview, Hite struggled to be taken severely. By the point her later research on male sexuality and ladies’s love lives had been printed, she had been labeled a male-basher and a fraud, and went into self-imposed exile in Europe.
Newnham weaves deftly between biography and historical past, damningly situating the backlash to Hite’s taboo-breaking work alongside Anita Bryant’s anti-gay activism and Clarence Thomas’s affirmation hearings. But the movie additionally shimmers with hope. Dulcet-voiced readings of Hite’s memoirs by Dakota Johnson (additionally an govt producer) remind us that it’s doable, even in an unyielding world, to assume far past one’s time.
The Disappearance of Shere Hite
Rated R for brazen discuss of girls’s sexuality. Working time: 1 hour 56 minutes. In theaters.