The zeroes flew by, didn’t they? We’re here to give you a recap of books that caught our eyes, captured our hearts and made us think during the noughties.
Thirty-four years ago, a young, unknown graduate student tackled the myth that most women should be able to orgasm through vaginal intercourse in a book that revolutionized our understanding of women’s sexuality. The book was The Hite Report on Female Sexuality and it shot its author Shere Hite, to center stage.
Having surveyed over 3,000 women about their sex lives, Hite had enough data to back up a revolutionary claim: that conventional sex placed unrealistic expectations on women.
“I was making the point that clitoral stimulation wasn’t happening during coitus,” Hite told The Independent in an interview several decades later. “That’s why women ‘have difficulty having orgasms’–they don’t have difficulty when they stimulate themselves. Shouldn’t we just rethink the idea of what sex is and what equality is?”
Hite’s wasn’t an attack on men, it was an attack on a general lack of understanding about female sexuality. Being able to delight in sex as much as one’s partner is a matter of equality and human rights.
Since that revolutionary work, Hite has explored other areas, such as the societal pressure placed on men to perform, and her belief that religious extremism in the East and West is the manifestation of protest against the growing power of women.
Her 2007 book The Hite Report: On Women Loving Women, is an examination of friendship and partnerships between women and why they fail.
Jessica Brinton at the Times Online offers her take:
Hite says that there is an underlying tension in relationships between girls that makes us compete with each other rather than get along. She thinks that if we could only overcome it, we would be all set for a new kind of 21st-century female power, one that relies not on trying to be sexier than one another, but on helping each other out.
On the face of it, she’s spot-on. We do give other girls an unnecessarily hard time. These days, it isn’t considered chic to bitch, Dynasty-style – we leave the crude viperishness to the Jordans, the Cheryls and the Poshes. Competitiveness comes in a different guise: an awesomely sophisticated game of one-upmanship. Do you have the latest Mulberry bag? Are you wearing this season’s key shape in denim? Will you go back to work after having a baby – and if so, how long after? Is your baby sleeping through the night? No? Oh, you poor thing. Urgently trying to guess a woman’s age the moment you meet her is not very sisterly. Nor is our morbid fascination with the collapsing lives of Misses Winehouse and Spears.
And even when we are not getting one over on other women, we are probably still forgetting to give them the respect they deserve. Yes, we tell each other when a new haircut looks fab, but if we are honest, our girlfriends are mostly there to play a supporting role in our lives with men. Married women complain how hard it is to make and maintain new friendships. The only permanent fallout I have ever had with a close girlfriend happened because of a stupid misunderstanding over a man. The ITV series Mistresses was hit girls’ television but, like Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives before it, the implication was that the beautiful friendships at its centre wouldn’t have had anything like the intensity without the fuel of romantic crisis.