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Rock Street, San Francisco

Set in Manhattan during the 1960s and based loosely on the life of Quinn, Looking for
Mr. Goodbar tells the story of Theresa Dunn, a woman who rejects notions of romantic love and
devotion in favor of casual one-night stands. The novel broadly depicts a society that was being
shaped by the sexual and gender liberation ideas of the late 1960s and into the movements of
second-wave white feminists in the 1970s. During this time, women’s consciousness-raising
groups were interrogating issues like women’s rights, the notion of female sexual desire, and
what Anne Koedt referred to in her 1968 essay as “the myth of the vaginal orgasm.” In 1972,
Yoko Ono’s “Sister, O Sister” called on women in positions of power to aid other oppressed
women. Title IX, a comprehensive federal statute banning sex discrimination in education, was
added to the Education Amendments of 1972. In 1973, Billie Jean King played against and
defeated Bobby Riggs in a “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match that was a national sensation. That
same year, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade a woman’s choice to have an
abortion was constitutional under her right to privacy. Subjects that were once considered taboo
such as orgasm, oral and anal sex, homosexuality and open sexual relationships spread through
the mainstream media, with risque? films such as Last Tango in Paris, Deep Throat, and The Last
House on the Left debuting in 1972. From political perspective there was more focus on the
vagina in the examination of the relationship between sex and power, seen in such texts as
Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex (1970), Ellen Frankfort’s Vaginal Politics (1973),

9 Kern, Gwendolyn, “20th Century American Best-Sellers.” University of Virginia. Accessed at:
http://bestsellers.lib.virginia.edu/submissions/211

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Phyllis Chesler’s Women and Madness (1972), and Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will: Men,
Women, and Rape (1975). There was also an increase in feminist-oriented literature that focused
on women’s individual experiences with personal and social oppression within the dominant
patriarchy, including Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat (1970), Alix Kates Shulman’s Memoirs
of an Ex-Prom Queen (1972), Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (1973), and Marge Piercy’s Small
Changes (1973). 

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