November 22, 2010

What They’re Reading: Heather Corinna

Book recommendations from experts in the fields of sexuality, gender, health, science and relationships

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Sex educator, activist, writer and artist Heather Corinna is reading Judith Rossner’s Looking for Mr. Goodbar:

“Over the last year, I’ve been immersing myself in historical attitudes  and propaganda around casual sex, and I’m always particularly  interested in the impact of literary and artistic work about sexuality and the profound cultural impact they can have. I just reread “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” by Judith Rossner, a book I last snuck off of my mother’s bookshelf and read when I was in my early teens.  I don’t remember it having any impact on my when I read it then, I only remember getting in a lot of trouble for being caught reading it!

“I’d strongly recommend reading it if you haven’t, because it’s an  amazing historical snapshot of sex panic, particularly panic around  the sexual freedom of “nice girls,” who were not supposed to be the  women engaging in casual sex from a general cultural viewpoint.  In part because it was based on a real event — the violent murder of  Roseann Quinn in 1973, perpetrated by a man she’d picked up for casual  sex — and written so well, the book packed serious punch, sending a  strong message to many women that casual sex wasn’t just a matter of  putting one’s moral virtue into question, but something that would  literally get you killed.

“It’s one of those books that even today, women of a certain generation and a certain set of morals will tend to bring up as a moral object lesson, a book that “proves” the dangers of casual sex and should be heeded as a serious warning of What Will Happen To You.  Nevermind  that we know the idea that women are always in danger of violence or death in casual sex and never in danger in serious relationships is a  pervasive and dangerous myth, one obvious if you work at all in  domestic/intimate partner violence. The zeitgeist of this book was such, that, especially for many women at the time who felt they may have become Theresa Gunn, the protagonist based on Quinn, it hit hard  and had an intensely strong and lasting impact.”

-Heather Corinna

Heather Corinna is the founder and editor of Scarleteen, Scarlet Letters, the All Girl Army and Femmerotic and author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College.