Growing Up Under Patriarchy

In 1995 the exceptional documenter of sexual mores Shere Hite wrote an underappreciated book honing in on the experience of family, exploring dynamics teaching youth about love, intimacy, gender roles, and sexuality. THE HITE REPORT ON THE FAMILY Growing Up Under Patriarchy is qualitative research based on written responses of more than 3,000 women, children, and men in 16 countries to an 80-item questionnaire. Some findings are predictable but remain confined by shame: With civilization taboos on child touch, they feel isolated being forced to sleep alone and by a lack of physical affection. Other conclusions are shocking challenges to widespread assumptions: Many girls masturbate to orgasm by the age of five; in woman-headed households girls have better relationships with their mothers than girls in two-parent households. As in early Hite reports, the respondents’ own words give profound and intriguing insight into the deeply personal. But this revealing look at everyday patriarchy, mediated by numerous modern cultural factors, serves as a provocative challenge to civilization norms. One is left questioning the origins, purpose and essence of patriarchy in its smallest structural unit: the family. One is left pondering the clarion call of this intimate patriarchy exposé.



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