CWC Docs: The Disappearance of Shere Hite

  • Tuesday, April 23, 2024 / 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: 4K digital projection (118 minutes)
  • With Nicole Newnham (director)
  • Narrator: Dakota Johnson

Whatever happened to Shere Hite? The feminist writer and researcher made significant waves in the 1970s for her groundbreaking research on the female orgasm, conducting thousands of anonymous surveys among American women about their private sex lives. The result was her landmark 1976 publication The Hite Report, which candidly explored a myriad of sexual taboos, concluding that women don’t need penetration to achieve orgasm—other methods of stimulation are much more effective. The book became a worldwide bestseller, making her both an instant sensation and a target, yet her name is virtually unknown among younger generations. The Disappearance of Shere Hite charts her fascinating story from repressed childhood to celebrity figure on New York’s Upper West Side, her establishment-rocking writings on gender and sexuality, and the media’s aggressive campaign to discredit and bury her life’s work. Director Nicole Newnham combines extensive archival materials and interviews to present the flamboyant and charismatic life of Hite, the era in which she worked, and the opposition that triggered her withdrawal from public life.

Director Nicole Newnham joined moderator Kyna McClenaghan for a post-screening discussion of The Disappearance of Shere Hite (2023).


Filmmaker Nicole Newnham appears against a neutral background. She is smiling, and wears glasses, a black blazer with a print blouse.

Director Nicole Newnham

Nicole Newnham is an Emmy-winning documentary producer and director, four-time Sundance Film Festival alumnus, and five-time Emmy nominee. Her most recent documentary The Disappearance of Shere Hite, narrated by Dakota Johnson, premiered at Sundance and was released by IFC. Prior to that, her documentary Crip Camp, which was produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, won the Audience Award at Sundance and was nominated for an Academy Award. Nicole also co-directed 37 Words for ESPN, which tells the inspiring story of Title IX. Previously, Nicole won an Emmy as the producer of the VR short film Awavena. Her previous film credits include the documentaries The Rape of Europa, Sentenced Home, and The Revolutionary Optimists. She has several projects currently in development and is excited to dive into the narrative space.

PhD student Kyna McClenaghan stands against a white tile background. She is smiling at the camera, and wearing a green sweater and a printed scarf.

Moderator Kyna McClenaghan

Kyna McClenaghan is a PhD candidate in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara, broadly researching occult media histories. After studying feminist philosophy, science and technology studies, and film for her bachelor’s degree at New York University, and subsequently feminist film theory, the occult, and folk horror for her master’s degree at Columbia University, she merged aspects of both projects and began working on histories of the occult and technology. Her dissertation focuses on the intersections of California media industries and occult practices between the 1930s and 1970s. Her other projects include the Alt-Right Media Literacy Series (a speaker series on how media is used by the alt-right and/or Far Right), and the Californian Ideology Project (a working group centered on the political and media industry stakes of Californian ideology). She currently works as the Managing Editor of Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies.

This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center and the Center for Feminist Futures.

CWC Docs

The Carsey-Wolf Center is committed to screening documentaries from across the world that engage with contemporary and historical issues, especially regarding social justice and environmental concerns. Documentaries allow filmmakers to address pressing issues and frame the critical debates of our time.