Shere Hite’s work was a thesis produced for her doctorate in sexuality. Her research had much lower funding than Kinsey’s and so was more limited in scope. Hite circulated a lengthy questionnaire through women’s magazines and to passers-by on the street in the US in the early 1970s.
Shere Hite’s sample was made up of volunteers. Her sample was not selected in a way that it could ever be representative of the general population. So the percentages cannot be applied to all women. There was even less reliability in the claims since they were written anonymously on a form rather than given via personal interview as Kinsey’s findings were.
Shere Hite proposed that women orgasm with a lover because the clitoris is stimulated manually or through oral sex because the clitoral stimulation is more direct. Hite wanted to show that clitoral stimulation was needed for female orgasm. But she failed to establish this.
Of the women in Hite’s sample, 82% said that they could easily orgasm when masturbating. But only 30% of them said that they could orgasm regularly through intercourse alone (hands free). Hite suggested that the women who could orgasm through intercourse did so because they took conscious steps to obtain clitoral stimulation. But if this were so more heterosexual couples would be more aware of the role of the clitoris.
Hite suggested that the ‘hands free’ approach worked for women who had found a suitable position for intercourse that maximised the clitoral stimulation. But it is illogical to suggest that anyone would opt for indirect stimulation of the sex organ. In any case the stimulation would never be sufficient or of a suitable kind to cause orgasm.
Although four fifths (82%) of her sample of women could masturbate to orgasm (assuming that all the women in her sample were masturbating to orgasm and so stimulating the clitoris) around half said the same stimulation techniques did not help them orgasm with a lover. Only 44% of them said they could orgasm regularly with a partner through clitoral stimulation by hand and only 42% through oral sex.
One of the problems with suggesting that female orgasm occurs through masturbation, is that very few women masturbate. Women are rarely motivated to engage in sexual activity because they are not easily aroused. Women rarely refer to masturbation and are often disgusted by male masturbation. Most women are embarrassed by any reference to fantasies or explicit stimulation of the clitoris, which is associated with porn.
The few women who do talk about the clitoris and masturbation on the web are clearly providing turn-ons for men. They often imply that they can use the same techniques with a lover. They are quire unaware that there is no research to back this assertion. The only research we have indicates that most women think it’s not possible.
The anatomical evidence for the clitoris as the female sex organ is overwhelming. Researchers have asked leading questions by suggesting that women might stimulate the clitoris with a lover. There was no evidence previously that heterosexuals (of either sex) had any interest in the clitoris. Researchers did not appreciate the issue of arousal. If clitoral stimulation caused female orgasm with a lover, the clitoris would be accepted as the female sex organ. It would not be ignored as it currently is.
Kinsey concluded that educated women were less responsive with a lover than other women. But there is no reason why an education should affect responsiveness. Educated women have the confidence and the economic autonomy to challenge male fantasies. Some women are confident that they do not orgasm with a lover, because they have the intellect to appreciate that orgasm must be a significant and identifiable phenomenon.
Both Alfred Kinsey, and later Shere Hite, noted that women use clitoral stimulation when alone and also during sexual activity with another woman. They concluded that women should be capable of orgasm with a man if they were to use clitoral stimulation. We assume that female sexual anatomy should respond exactly as the male equivalent. But men and women approach sexual activity with quite different levels of arousal. This is the key reason that the clitoris does not respond with a lover.
Has orgasm regularly from intercourse 30%; Has orgasm rarely from intercourse 22%; Has orgasm during intercourse with the addition of simultaneous clitoral stimulation by hand 19%; Does not orgasm during intercourse 29% (Shere Hite 1976)