Cain chose to focus on girls, she explains, because a countercultural childhood had particularly radical implications for them, in an era when Western women in general were seeking more social and sexual freedom. Indeed, many of the writers mention their contacts with the so-called free love movement, which some brushed against lightly and others slammed into, with long-term repercussions. Looking back on life with a hypersexual mom, Elizabeth ShÈ now caustically defines free love as having the right to say yes to sex, but only yes. Another common--and closely related--issue involves personal boundaries, which several of the women have had trouble establishing.
In the end, are these wild children better off than their parents? The book offers no simple answer, but it does suggest that their hippie pasts have profoundly affected their entire lives. "There is just no way that you can escape being influenced by a childhood designed specifically to influence you," concludes Cain. "You can take the girl out of the counterculture, but you can't take the counterculture out of the girl.