Tag Archives: Feminism

Shere Hite Awakens

Shere Hite Awakens

Shere Hite AwakensShere Hite was born on November 2, 1942 in St Joseph, Missouri. MO. She died in London as a German citizen on September 9, 2020.

To oversimplify, Hite was a feminist writer about female sexuality, especially a woman’s orgasm. Perhaps you can begin to understand her dying in a country other than the one she was born in.

Shere Hite Awakens

Shirley Diana Gregory

Hite was born Shirley Diana Gregory.  After her parents divorced, she would take the surname of her stepfather, Raymond Hite.

In 1967, she received a master’s degree in history from the University of Florida  and moved to New York City to enroll at Columbia University in a doctoral program.  While there, she posed in Playboy and also posed for a typewriter ad that unbeknownst to here would have the tagline: “The typewriter is so smart she doesn’t have to be”

Hite joined the protest against the ad’s chauvinistic attitude.

She did not complete the doctorate because of her dissatisfaction with what she felt was the overly conservative views of the university.


Hite taught at Nihon University in Tokyo, Chongqing University in China, and Maimonides University, North Miami Beach, Florida.

The Hite Report

In 1976, she published The Hite Report on Female Sexuality. The book challenged the traditional view of female sexuality which meant that it scandalized many people. The discussion of sexuality in the United States is always controversial and the publication of a book that challenged the then staid view of female sexuality outraged many.

The male-dominated academia refused to accept the well-researched work.

Erica Jong

In an October 3, 1976 New York Times article, Erica Jong wrote about the Hite Report: We learn…just how much sexual starvation exists in the midst of this seeming plenty. We learn that 95 percent of women (even those who think themselves “frigid”) always reach orgasm when they masturbate, even though no one taught them how and even though most of them feel guilty about it. We learn how they do it, how they hold their legs up for orgasm, what they think about, whether or not they make noise, move, lie still, what devices they use (from electric toothbrushes to water spouts!). We learn how they feel about intercourse, their anger at not reaching orgasm when their men do, their real pleasure in giving pleasure, their paradoxical tendency to suppress anger (and their own feelings) in an attempt to win love and approval.

In 1995, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and accepted German nationality, because she regarded German society as more tolerant and open-minded about her endeavors.


Among her works are:

  • Sexual Honesty, by Women, For Women (1974)
  • The Hite Report on Female Sexuality (1976, 1981, republished in 2004)
  • The Hite Report on Men and Male Sexuality (1981)
  • Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress (The Hite Report on Love, Passion, and Emotional Violence) (1987)
  • Fliegen mit Jupiter (English: Flying with Jupiter) (1993)
  • The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up Under Patriarchy (1994)
  • The Hite Report on Shere Hite: Voice of a Daughter in Exile (2000, autobiography)
  • The Shere Hite Reader: New and Selected Writings on Sex, Globalization and Private Life (2006)


Hite died on September 9, 2020. In a New York Times obituary, Katharine Q Steele wrote:  Her most famous work, “The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality” (1976), challenged societal and Freudian assumptions about how women achieved orgasm: It was not necessarily through intercourse, Ms. Hite wrote; women, she found, were quite capable of finding sexual pleasure on their own.

The Disappearance of Shere Hite

In January 2023, a documentary called The Disappearance of Shere Hite, directed by Nicole Newnham and narrated by Dakota Johnson premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Adrian Horton wrote in the January 23, 2023 review of the film and Hite: …her confidence on the language and centrality of female sexuality was startling then, and still invigorating now.

Shere Hite Awakens

Elizabeth Jennings Refused

Elizabeth Jennings Refused

Elizabeth Jennings Refused

July 16, 1854

We know the name Rosa Parks and her refusal tp give up her seat in 1955.  We are less likely to know the name Irene Morgan and her refusal in 1944.  Nor Sarah Keys‘s refusal in 1954 nor Claudette Colvin‘s  or Aurelia Browder‘s in 1955 before Rosa Parks.

What about the 19th century? Before there were busses, there were street cars.

Elizabeth Jennings Refused

Third Avenue Railroad Company

In July 1853, the Third Avenue Railroad Company began a streetcar service consisting of carriages pulled along these rails by horses. Passengers could board or leave the carriages at various points along the route. Some carriages carried a placard “Colored Persons Allowed,” but these carriages ran infrequently and African-Americans were often permitted to board the general streetcars at the discretion of the driver and conductor, provided none of the other passengers objected.

Elizabeth Jennings Refused

Elizabeth Jennings

Elizabeth Jennings lived in New York City and on July  16, 1854 the 24-year-old Black schoolteacher was on her way with friend Sarah Adams to the First Colored American Congregational Church on Sixth Street near the Bowery, where she was an organist. She boarded a Third Avenue Railroad Company horsecar at Pearl and Chatham Streets in lower Manhattan. Soon after boarding, the conductor ordered them to get off and wait for a car that served African American passengers.

Jennings refused, but with the assistance of police, the conductor succeeded in forcefully removing Adams and Jennings.

I told him . . . I was a respectable person, born and raised in New York . . . and that he was a good for nothing impudent fellow for insulting decent persons while on their way to church,” she later said, according to a 2005 New York Times article.

“The conductor undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full, when that was shown to be false. He pretended the other passengers were displeased at her presence. But [when] she insisted on her rights, he took hold of her by force to expel her. She resisted. The conductor got her down on the platform, jammed her bonnet, soiled her dress and injured her person. Quite a crowd gathered. But she effectually resisted. Finally, after the car had gone on further, with the aid of a policeman they succeeded in removing her.” New York Tribune, February 1855

Elizabeth Jennings Refused


That same NYT article stated,  Her father, Thomas L. Jennings, was a prominent tailor who helped found both a society that provided benefits for black people and the Abyssinian Baptist Church, which later moved to Harlem.

The daughter had worked in black schools co-founded by a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Her own church — First Colored American — was a place of learning and political rebellion, where, one evening in 1854, addresses on God and the Bible alternated with talks on “The Duty of Colored People Towards the Overthrow of American Slavery” and “Elevation of the African Race.”

She wrote a letter that was read in church the next day. Parishioners forwarded the letter to The New York Daily Tribune, whose editor was famous abolitionist Horace Greeley, and to Frederick Douglass’s Paper. Both reprinted it in full.

Chester Arthur

Mr Jennings hired a young lawyer. Chester Arthur, who would become President of the United States in 1881 upon the assassination of James Garfield.

Arthur won. Judge William Rockwell of the Brooklyn Circuit Court ruled: “Colored persons if sober, well behaved and free from disease, had the same rights as others and could neither be excluded by the rules of the company, nor by force or violence.

The all-male, all-white jury found for the plaintiff and awarded her damages of $225. She was also awarded $22.50 in costs. More importantly, the Third Avenue Railroad Company agreed to the immediate desegregation of its streetcar service.

Elizabeth Jennings Refused


Other streetcar companies, however, retained segregated services and Thomas Jennings  founded the Legal Rights Association to challenge racial segregation in public transportation. By 1861, all New York public transit was desegregated.

The importance of Elizabeth Jennings’s case is two-fold: The strategy of the Legal Rights Association became a model for later civil rights organizations through its use of public-opinion campaigns, lobbying, civil disobedience and litigation to effect change. [NY Courts site]

Elizabeth Jennings Refused


Elizabeth Jennings married and had a son; she ran a school for black children and died in 1901. She’s buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, but her name lives on with this City Hall street sign.

In New York City,only five female historical figures were depicted in statues  in outdoor public spaces, according to She Built NYC, a city effort to expand representation of women in public art and monuments. All of those statues were in Manhattan, like the sculpture of Eleanor Roosevelt in Riverside Park and the bronze of Harriet Tubman in Harlem.

On March 6, 2019, the  City announced that four more female historical figures would be honored with statues in New York. The announcement followed a monthslong process seeking to fix what New York’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, called a “glaring” gender imbalance in the city’s streets and parks.

The four women — Billie Holiday, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Katherine Walker , and

…Elizabeth Jennings.

The city will place the statues in the boroughs they once called home.

Elizabeth Jennings Refused

War Hero Deborah Sampson

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Early life

Deborah Sampson was born on December 17, 1760 in Plympton, Massachusetts. Her father, Johnathan Sampson, Jr. was a direct descendant of the Mayflower pilgrim Miles Standish. Her mother,  Deborah Bradford, was a direct descendant of the Mayflower pilgrim, William Bradford.

Though having historic roots, the Sampson family suffered financially due to bad luck and poor skills on Johnathan Samson’s part. He eventually abandoned his wife and seven children.

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Indentured servant

Because of her difficult situation and in poor health, Mrs Sampson placed her children in the homes of various relatives and friends. Ten-year-old Deborah Sampson became an indentured servant until her release at the age of 18.

For the next three years, she worked part-time as a schoolteacher and worked in homes spinning and weaving. Turning 21, above average in height  strong, and hearing of the Revolutionary War’s heroics, Deborah was looking for adventure. She decided to dress like a man and join the Continental Army.

After her first attempt, she thought others were suspicious and left.

Abner Weston,  a neighbor of Sampson, wrote in his diary about her cross-dressing: “Their hapend a uncommon affair at this time, for Deborah Samson of this town dress her self in men’s cloths and hired her self to Israel Wood to go into the three years Servis. But being found out returnd the hire and paid the Damages.

Sampson tried again, this time successfully joining the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment on  May 20, 1782 under the alias Robert Shurtliff,  Her five feet seven inch height helped fool others.

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Battle of Tarrytown

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Less that two months later, on July 3, 1782 at the Battle of Tarrytown, Sampson was wounded . Two musket balls hit her in the thigh and a sabre cut her forehead.

Fearful that others would discover her true identity, she begged her fellow soldiers to let her die and not take her to the hospital, but they refused to abandon her. Doctors treated her head wound, but she left the hospital before they could attend to the thigh.

She removed one of the balls herself with a penknife and sewing needle, but her leg never fully healed because the other musket ball was too deep for her to reach.

Almost a year later, on April 1, 1783, Sampson was transferred to Philadelphia as a personal orderly to General John Patterson.  This job entitled her to a better quality of life, better food, less danger, and improved shelter, but during that summer, Sampson came down with fever.

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Dr Barnabas Binney

Dr Barnabas Binney cared for her. He saw the cloth she used to bind her breasts and so discovered her secret. He did not betray her; he took her to his house, where his wife and daughters housed and took care of her.

In September, after Sampson had fully recovered, Binney asked her to deliver a personal letter to General Patterson. Upon delivering it, Patterson informed her that the letter said she was a woman in disguise.

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Discharge and marriage

On October 23, 1783 Deborah Sampson was honorably discharged from the Army.

On April 7, 1785 she married Benjamin Gannet from Sharon, Massachusetts. Together they had three children, Earl, Mary, and Patience.

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Request for pay

Revolutionary War Hero Deborah Sampson

In January 1792 Deborah Sampson petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the army had withheld from her because of her sex. Her petition passed through the State Senate, was approved, and signed by Governor John Hancock. The General Court of Massachusetts verified her service and wrote that she “exhibited an extraordinary instance of female heroism by discharging the duties of a faithful gallant soldier, and at the same time preserving the virtue and chastity of her gender, unsuspected and unblemished“. The award was 34 pounds.

War Hero Deborah Sampson

Pension request

Twelve years later, on February 20, 1804 Paul Revere wrote to Massachusetts US Representative William Eustis on behalf of Sampson. Revere requested that the US Congress grant her a military pension. This had never before been requested by or for a woman, but with her health failing and her family destitute, the money was greatly needed. Revere wrote, “I have been induced to enquire her situation, and character, since she quit the male habit, and soldiers uniform; for the more decent apparel of her own gender…humanity and justice obliges me to say, that every person with whom I have conversed about her, and it is not a few, speak of her as a woman with handsome talents, good morals, a dutiful wife, and an affectionate parent.

More than a year later, on March 11, 1805, the US Congress obliged Revere’s letter and placed her on the Massachusetts Invalid Pension Roll. This pension plan paid Deborah Sampson four dollars a month.

Continuing to experience financial difficulty, in 1809, Sampson sent another petition to Congress, asking that her pension as an invalid soldier, given to her in 1804, commence with the time of her 1793 discharge. Had her petition been approved, she would have been awarded $960, to be divided into $48 a year for twenty years. However, Congress denied the request.

Seven years later, Sampson’s petition came before Congress again. This time, they approved it awarding her $76.80 a year. With this amount, she was able to repay all her loans and take better care of the family farm.

War Hero Deborah Sampson


War Hero Deborah Sampson

On April 29, 1827 Deborah Sampson died at the age of 66. She is buried in Rock Ridge Cemetery in the town of Sharon, Massachusetts.

In 1831,  Sampson’s husband petitioned Congress for pay as the spouse of a deceased soldier. Although the couple was not married at the time of her service, in 1837 the committee concluded that the history of the Revolution “furnished no other similar example of female heroism, fidelity and courage.” He was awarded the money, though he died before receiving it.

War Hero Deborah Sampson


Revolutionary War Hero Deborah Sampson

May 23, 1983: Governor Michael J. Dukakis signed a proclamation which declared that Deborah Sampson was the Official Heroine of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Two news services stated this was the first time in US history that any state had proclaimed anyone as the official hero or heroine.

Using her unselfish example today, it was reported on March 21, 2017 in the Military Times that “advocates are lobbying for sweeping reforms in women veterans services in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandals that have raised questions about misogyny and morale in the military.

“When people think of veterans, when they close their eyes, they don’t think about someone who looks like me,” said Allison Jaslow, chief of staff for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “Until we get over that hurdle, we’re not going to be able to get everything else that we need.”

The measure — dubbed the Deborah Sampson Act, after the woman who disguised herself as a man to serve in the Continental Army — mandates more peer-to-peer counseling for women veterans, expanded newborn care services at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, better tracking of women’s health issues by the department and $20 million to retrofit VA medical centers with more privacy features.

Deborah Sampson Act

On January 5, 2021, President Trump signed  H.R. 7105, the “Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020.

The American Legion reported that, “One of the bill’s most notable provisions is the Deborah Sampson Act, which paves the way to improving care for women veterans within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The act will establish an Office of Women’s Health within VHA to oversee women’s health programs. The office will be responsible for ensuring standards of care for women veterans are being met by the VHA. The bill mandates that every Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health-care facility has a women’s health primary care provider.

War Hero Deborah Sampson