DATE February 17, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/Aâ¨ TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/Aâ¨ NETWORK NPRâ¨ PROGRAM Fresh Airâ¨â¨Interview: Shirley Glass discusses her book, "Not `Just Friends':â¨Protect Your Relationship From Infidelity and Heal the Trauma ofâ¨Betrayal"â¨TERRY GROSS, host:â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.â¨â¨Good people in good marriages are having affairs. That's the newsâ¨psychologist Shirley Glass delivers in her new book "Not `Just Friends.'"â¨She's a marriage and family therapist and estimates that in two-thirds of theâ¨couples she's treated over the past 20 years, either the husband, the wife orâ¨both were unfaithful. Glass has been studying infidelity since 1975. Anâ¨accomplishment that is probably not mentioned on her resume is that she's theâ¨mother of Ira Glass, the host of "This American Life." In examining changesâ¨in the nature of infidelity, Shirley Glass has found that today's affairs areâ¨more frequent and more serious than they used to be because more men areâ¨getting emotionally involved and more women are getting sexually involved.â¨Many affairs get started in the workplace, but they don't usually fit the oldâ¨stereotypical relationship of the boss and his secretary.â¨â¨Dr. SHIRLEY GLASS (Psychotherapist): What I see happening in the contemporaryâ¨workplace is that men and women are working together as equals. They areâ¨colleagues because women have entered what were formerly male-dominatedâ¨professions. And so these men and women get to know each other very well.â¨They have a lot of respect for each other, and they're working in anâ¨environment where there's a lot of excitement, there's a lot of pressure. Andâ¨so they become very bonded, and they form deep friendships.â¨â¨Unfortunately, because many people think that they're invulnerable to havingâ¨an affair unless they're in an unhappy marriage, they begin to imperceptivelyâ¨cross these thresholds that lead them from a platonic relationship into anâ¨emotional affair, and then that emotional affair often becomes sexualized, andâ¨then you have something that's very threatening to the primary relationship.â¨â¨GROSS: Now you write that there's a new kind of affair in which there isn'tâ¨necessarily even any sex. You call this, like, the new infidelity, affairsâ¨that aren't even sexual. Well, how can that really be an affair?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Well, I think the epitome of that is the Internet affair. Andâ¨when we say that there isn't any sex, what we really mean is there isn't anyâ¨physical contact, but there is a lot of sexual tension and sexual chemistry orâ¨sexual sharing of fantasies or sharing of sexual attraction. So that thisâ¨emotional affair that doesn't have physical contact consists of an emotionalâ¨intimacy that is often greater than in the committed relationship. And onceâ¨that relationship becomes secret, then you have something that is muchâ¨different than a platonic relationship, because platonic relationships areâ¨open to the committed relationship.â¨â¨So, for example, somebody will come home from work or from school or from theâ¨gym and they'll be talking about some new person that they've met, and they'llâ¨share lots of information about this person and the fact that they went toâ¨lunch together and they talked about the schools that they went to or whateverâ¨their common interests are. And then it's as though this person disappearedâ¨from the face of the Earth, because they stop talking about them and they stopâ¨mentioning that they saw this person today or that they had lunch with thisâ¨person or they stopped after work and had a drink with this person. And onceâ¨that wall of secrecy goes up, that is a very important danger sign that you'veâ¨entered a very unsafe zone for your committed relationship.â¨â¨GROSS: You know, when more women started working, a lot of people wereâ¨afraid, `Well, does that mean my husband will meet a woman in the office andâ¨fall in love, and that will spell doom for the marriage?' and you're sayingâ¨maybe.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Yes, I am...â¨â¨GROSS: That's a kind of scary thing to hear.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I am saying that. In fact, in the clinical couples that I treat,â¨62 percent of the unfaithful men and 46 percent of the unfaithful women had anâ¨affair with somebody they met at work. And a very interesting side piece ofâ¨that is that for women, from 1982 to 1990, 38 percent of the unfaithful womenâ¨met their partners at work, but from 1991 to 2000, it was 50 percent of theâ¨unfaithful women who met their affair partners at work.â¨â¨GROSS: OK. So you've established that a lot of infidelity starts at theâ¨office, where two people are working together, they're very involved with eachâ¨other, and that develops into an emotional and then into a physicalâ¨relationship. Are there certain types of people who are most likely to getâ¨involved in this kind of affair at work or with a friend?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: That's a very good question because what I see is that these areâ¨not the typical philanderers. These are not people who believe that it's OKâ¨to have a little bit of sex on the side, and these are not people who areâ¨consciously looking for a relationship outside of their marriage becauseâ¨they're so unhappy. And so these are pretty average people. In goodâ¨marriages, perhaps the marriages are stressed, perhaps they don't have a lotâ¨of time to do fun things together, but you certainly wouldn't call theseâ¨marriages distressed or unhappy. I would say that many of these people areâ¨naive. They're naive because they think they're immune to getting involved inâ¨an extramarital relationship because they love their partner, they're goodâ¨people, and it's the naivety that keeps them from being alert to those dangerâ¨signs.â¨â¨And the step into an affair from this platonic friendship is so subtle and canâ¨take place over months or even over years that the person doesn't reallyâ¨recognize what's happening to them. And so I don't think that there's aâ¨particular type. I think the people who are aware of the dangers and who backâ¨off when they feel those attractions and see those signals are certainly muchâ¨less likely to get involved this way.â¨â¨GROSS: Americans have a deep belief in romantic love, love conquers all, andâ¨you think of so many movies about how two people fall in love and they'reâ¨separated by war or catastrophe, and they climb mountains and ford rivers toâ¨be united again. So does that romantic belief still apply when the romance isâ¨an extramarital affair? I mean, if you really believe in the magic of loveâ¨and romance and finding your soul mate, if you believe you've found it outsideâ¨of marriage, I mean, should you still kind of, like, pursue it because it'sâ¨the real thing, you've found it at last?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Well, you've really tapped into one of my buttons because I hateâ¨those movies because I think they're so misleading. You know, love that isâ¨going to last over the years is love that we grow into, that we grow to loveâ¨somebody, that falling in love may get us started, it may kick-start aâ¨relationship, but it is so unreliable is a predictor of what's going to happenâ¨to a couple long term. And so that's why so many of these affairs just fizzleâ¨out when people have an opportunity to be outside of that forbidden zone. Andâ¨you mentioned, you know, the barriers and the war and the people that are, youâ¨know, in the way. One of the things that we know about romantic love is thatâ¨romantic love is enhanced greatly by barriers, so that every great opera endsâ¨with them dying. I mean, nobody goes on to just get married and, you know,â¨lead this loving, wonderful life after they've surmounted all these barriersâ¨to get to be together. You know, all these great passions and great storiesâ¨always end as a tragedy.â¨â¨GROSS: So are you saying that you would always advise somebody not to followâ¨that romantic love that they have found in an extramarital relationship?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I would say that they're creating a fantasy that doesn't exist inâ¨the real world, and what often happens is that, in their mind, this personâ¨who's having this affair is trying to decide which relationship they want toâ¨be in. And the affair may, at times, be the one that is calling them, andâ¨yet, when their spouse finds out that they've had an affair and they realizeâ¨that they may lose their marriage, for some people, it's almost as thoughâ¨they've been shocked out of a spell, and they come back to reality, and theyâ¨suddenly begin to see things in this affair partner that they know theyâ¨couldn't live with, that the only reason that they could maintain thatâ¨relationship as an affair is because they had the marriage to supply them withâ¨the, really, sustenance of their life. So it's really like the marriage isâ¨the bread and the butter and the affair is more like the icing and theâ¨champagne. And then they realize they don't want to exist on icing andâ¨champagne.â¨â¨GROSS: My guest is psychologist Shirley Glass, author of the new book "Notâ¨`Just Friends.'" We'll talk more about infidelity after a break. This isâ¨FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is psychologist Shirley Glass.â¨She's the author of the new book "Not `Just Friends': Protect Yourâ¨Relationship From Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal."â¨â¨You've said that, most of the time, the affair doesn't last; that even if theâ¨person leaves their marriage to be with the affair partner, in the light ofâ¨day, the relationship with the affair partner falls apart. I'm wondering ifâ¨that isn't always the case, though, and if you've seen people who you'veâ¨counseled who left the marriage, went with the affair partner and was able toâ¨create a real long-lasting, good relationship, a better relationship than theâ¨one they had in the marriage.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I've seen a few relationships like that, and I must admit that theâ¨ones I've seen are more in the community of the people that we socialize withâ¨than I've seen in my practice. I think...â¨â¨GROSS: Gee, what does that say, do you think?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I don't know. That those people weren't in therapy.â¨â¨GROSS: Right. That those people maybe really knew so certainly what it wasâ¨they needed to do.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Yeah. But what I do see is that...â¨â¨GROSS: Or maybe they saw a different therapist.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Right. Right. I do see people coming into therapy whoseâ¨relationship began as an affair, and they have enormous trust issues, and manyâ¨times, they end up cheating on each other. And we...â¨â¨GROSS: Trust issues because, like, well, if you cheated with me, you canâ¨cheat on me, too?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Exactly, exactly, 'cause the relationship began with cheating, andâ¨so there's a lot of insecurity about that. Unless, you know, they both areâ¨operating under the illusion that, you know, I've found my one true love and Iâ¨was with the wrong person, and then you're my soul mate, you know. And so ifâ¨they have that shared illusion, then those would be the couples who wouldâ¨probably, you know, make it work. The divorce rate in first marriages is 50â¨percent. The divorce rate in remarriage, in second marriages is 60 percent,â¨and the divorce rate in marriage to an affair partner is 75 percent.â¨â¨GROSS: Hmm.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Unless--there's an exception to that. An exception is if youâ¨marry an old flame, then those couples have a very high stay together rate,â¨like 78 percent.â¨â¨GROSS: Hmm. Do you believe in monogamy, that it's the...â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Oh...â¨â¨GROSS: ...best way to have a long-term relationship, as opposed to trying toâ¨have a more open marriage and accepting that, from time to time, there will beâ¨infidelities, but you can deal with that?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I believe in monogamy. I have seen people in open marriages whoâ¨were devastated when their partner violated whatever their basic assumptionâ¨was. For example, in many open marriages, the assumption is that it's OK toâ¨have sex with somebody else, but you can't get emotionally involved. And whatâ¨often happens is that one person becomes jealous or one person becomesâ¨emotionally involved. And, you know, the O'Neills, who wrote the originalâ¨book on open marriages, did end up getting divorced. So, you know, I haven'tâ¨over time seen too many people who have been able to handle an open marriageâ¨and keep their marriage intact. I recognize that there are some situationsâ¨where people stay in a marriage for reasons that don't have to do with lovingâ¨their partner. They stay in a marriage because they want to raise theirâ¨children or they stay in a marriage because there are so many financialâ¨rewards from staying in their marriage, and then they get their emotionalâ¨needs or their sexual needs outside the marriage.â¨â¨And by lowering their expectations, then they're able to stabilize theirâ¨marriage, but a stable marriage is not necessarily a happy marriage. One ofâ¨the interesting sidelights is that when women are looking for emotionalâ¨intimacy in their marriages and they say to their husbands, `I don't feelâ¨we're connected enough or, you know, you don't share enough of yourself withâ¨me,' and they're pursuing their husbands to get more emotional closeness,â¨their husbands often regard that as criticism, as being put down, and theâ¨husbands withdraw. And the women keep trying and they keep trying, and theyâ¨get more critical, and they get more intense in their complaining, and itâ¨becomes a vicious cycle. And at some point, they just give up, and they pullâ¨away, and they say, `You know, I've had it. There's just nothing here.' Andâ¨at that point, they may be getting involved with somebody else. Well, theâ¨husband thinks the marriage has improved because the fact that she's notâ¨complaining anymore to him says that things are better.â¨â¨And when couples come in for therapy, it's very interesting because I'll say,â¨`Well, how was your week?' and the husband will say, `Oh, we had a greatâ¨week.' I'll say, `Really? That's wonderful.' And he'll say, `Yeah, noâ¨conflict.' And then the wife will say, `We had a terrible week.' I'll say,â¨`Well, how's that?' She said, `We didn't connect. We didn't talk aboutâ¨things. We didn't stay up late and share our thoughts, and we didn't talkâ¨about what's going on in our lives.' And so a marriage can look better whenâ¨the expectations become lower, but that's only a temporary situation.â¨Eventually, those marriages either crumble or they become aware that there'sâ¨something going on outside, and then they have to do something about it.â¨â¨GROSS: Have you ever worked with a couple and felt, `You know, this marriageâ¨really isn't very good; the person was probably right to have an affair andâ¨they'd probably be better off with that person'?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Well, I certainly have been with many couples where I thought thatâ¨they had very poor communication or that--you know, I don't understand howâ¨anybody could live with that kind of conflict, but my bias is that ifâ¨somebody's unhappy in their marriage, the way to solve that is not by havingâ¨an affair. The way to solve that is to try to work on it in couples therapyâ¨or to take a marriage education course and to optimize that relationship. Andâ¨then if the relationship isn't what they want it to be, then to get out of itâ¨and then to look for a new relationship, because an affair just is a dirty wayâ¨to leave. It causes tremendous pain. It makes it very difficult for theseâ¨people to raise their children together afterwards because there's so muchâ¨resentment. And so it's certainly not a good solution to a bad marriage.â¨â¨GROSS: When you are working with a patient, are you usually seeing them withâ¨their spouse? If the issue is infidelity, are you usually seeing this personâ¨as part of a couple or seeing them alone?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: More often, I'm seeing them as a couple, but certainly people willâ¨come in to individual therapy because they're having an affair and theirâ¨partner doesn't know about it and they want to make a decision or understand,â¨you know, what's going on. And when somebody comes in, it's very reflectiveâ¨because when somebody comes in individually then they're really working onâ¨themselves. They're not working on the marriage. Whereas when the come inâ¨with their partner, then they're working on the marriage. Usually when peopleâ¨come in with their partner, it's after the affair's been discovered. And soâ¨there's a lot of trauma that they're experiencing and a lot of very intenseâ¨emotions that they're going to need a lot of help with in order to recover andâ¨to regain trust. And if the person who had the affair is ambivalent aboutâ¨which relationship they want to be in, then the beginning of the therapy isâ¨certainly, you know, very agonizing.â¨â¨GROSS: What can you do for a couple like that?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Which couple?â¨â¨GROSS: Well, let's start with the couple where the person is unsure aboutâ¨whether they want to stay in the marriage or be with the person they had theâ¨affair with.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Then we have to decide how open are we going to be about what'sâ¨going on in the affair, and if the involved person is willing to talk aboutâ¨the affair in the couples therapy and not just in individual therapy, thenâ¨that's a much better sign than if they want a wall up around what's going onâ¨in the affair. And one of the questions I'll ask the unfaithful partner is:â¨What are you sharing with your affair partner about the marital therapy?â¨Because if they're running to the affair partner and talking about what'sâ¨going on in the marital therapy and they're not talking to their spouse aboutâ¨what's going on in the affair, then it's very clear where their basic loyaltyâ¨is and who's the insider and who's the outsider. And that's a--you know, whenâ¨I have a couple like that, then I usually think that the prognosis isn't veryâ¨good for them to stay together unless that shifts radically.â¨â¨GROSS: If you find out your spouse has been having an affair, you'd probablyâ¨want to hear all about it and obsessively dwell on the details, and at theâ¨same time, you wouldn't want to hear a word of it. So what advice do youâ¨usually give couples about how much information to share about what actuallyâ¨went on in the affair?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I'm really guided by the betrayed spouse. When somebody finds outâ¨that somebody that they have loved, somebody that they have trusted, somebodyâ¨that they thought was a good person, has lied and deceived them, then theirâ¨reaction is traumatic. And they experience the same post-traumatic reactionsâ¨that people experience when they are violated by someone that they trusted,â¨when a natural disaster happens, when a person who thought that they wereâ¨healthy finds out that they have a serious illness, because they lose theirâ¨sense of innocence and they lose their sense of invulnerability.â¨â¨And one of the things that we do when we're traumatized is we try to makeâ¨sense of it and we try to understand what the story is. And so telling theâ¨story, the affair, is the only way I know that people can get closure and it'sâ¨the only way that I know that people can rebuild trust. In terms of whatâ¨questions need to be answered, usually the betrayed partner has pages andâ¨pages of questions. And then as a therapist, then I have certain questionsâ¨that I want people to think about because I think that they deal more withâ¨meaning of the affair than just the what, where, when and how.â¨â¨GROSS: Shirley Glass is the author of the book "Not `Just Friends.'" She'llâ¨be back in the second half of the show. I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESHâ¨AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨(Announcements)â¨â¨GROSS: Coming up, more with psychologist Shirley Glass on trying to patch upâ¨a marriage after an affair. Interracial marriage used to be illegal in 42â¨states. We'll talk with Harvard law Professor Randall Kennedy about his newâ¨book, "Interracial Intimacies."â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with psychologist Shirleyâ¨Glass. She's a family and marriage therapist who has studied infidelity sinceâ¨1975. Her new book is about what she describes as the `new infidelity,'â¨relationships between people who form a deep connection at work and findâ¨themselves crossing the line from a platonic to a romantic relationship.â¨â¨When we left off, we were talking about the advice she gives married couplesâ¨on how to talk about the affair after it has ended. Glass says the questionsâ¨she thinks most need to be addressed have to do with the meaning of theâ¨affair, not just the when, where and how.â¨â¨What kinds of questions would you ask that deal with the meaning of theâ¨affair?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I would ask `How did you give yourself permission as you crossedâ¨these various thresholds?' I'm looking for `What are the vulnerabilities?â¨Was it curiosity? Was it flattery?'--as you pointed out before--`Was it thatâ¨you felt your emotional needs weren't being met in the marriage? Is itâ¨because everybody that you work with is engaged in these kinds of relationshipâ¨and it looks like it's an acceptable thing to do?' So we want to know, whatâ¨are the different vulnerabilities set the stage for an affair?â¨â¨I want to know `What role did you play in that affair, with that other person?â¨What did you like about yourself in that other relationship? And what wouldâ¨you like to bring back into your marriage? What did you give in that otherâ¨relationship that perhaps you aren't giving in your marriage? And if you wereâ¨giving more in your marriage, maybe you'd be more invested, and maybe thisâ¨marriage would seem more appealing to you,' because the more we invest in aâ¨relationship, the more we feel. And so sometimes the affair looks betterâ¨because the person's making time for it, they get together, they look in eachâ¨other's eyes, they plan when they're going to be together, they share theirâ¨most recent triumphs and their disappointments. And if we did that in ourâ¨marriages, the marriages would feel a lot better.â¨â¨So I'm trying to get at `What's the meaning of the affair? What was theâ¨attraction of the affair? And what does it say about the marriage?' so thatâ¨we can use that information to build the marriage back.â¨â¨GROSS: Let's take a hypothetical couple; one of the spouses had an affairâ¨with somebody at work. What's your relationship to that person at work whoâ¨had the affair with the married person? I mean, do you want to hear theirâ¨side of the story? Do you want to bring them in for counseling with theâ¨married couple? Do you think that the person who had the affair with theâ¨person at work should keep the job and still be around this person?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: The only time that I have wanted to bring in the affair partnerâ¨was when somebody was ambivalent and kept going back and forth between the twoâ¨relationships. And it seemed like if we got all three people together, maybeâ¨we could do something to break up that stable triangle, because the worstâ¨resolution is to have one of these ongoing triangles that goes on for yearsâ¨and, you know, with all the tensions and the promises and the broken promisesâ¨and the lying to this one and then the lying to that one, so that...â¨â¨GROSS: Boy, how did that work out?â¨â¨(Soundbite of laughter)â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Usually, if it was a man who was, you know, involved with twoâ¨women, the two women would be willing to do that, but the man wasn't, becauseâ¨the way that you'd carry on a double life is to keep those parts of your lifeâ¨separate, to keep them, you know, split. And that would be their worstâ¨nightmare, would be to have these two women get together. And I did know aâ¨woman who was in that situation with her husband and she insisted that theyâ¨have a meeting with the affair partner, and when they did, that really createdâ¨the crisis that ended his relationship with the other woman, that the otherâ¨woman could see that he really was devoted to the wife and, of course, she hadâ¨refused to believe that and believe that he was only in the marriage for theâ¨sake of the family.â¨â¨GROSS: What about the issue of going back to work if your spouse has had anâ¨affair with somebody at work?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: It is so awful to know that your partner had an affair withâ¨somebody at work, it's supposed to be over, and now every day they go to workâ¨and they see this person. And so one of the things we talk about is that theyâ¨share what goes on when they see this other person and that they stop all theâ¨contact and, you know, when you say `stop all contact,' people misinterpretâ¨that. What they say is, `Well, I'm not having sex anymore,' but they mayâ¨still have coffee together or they may still e-mail that person or they mayâ¨still call the person on the cell phone to see how they're doing becauseâ¨they're worried about them since they broke up with them. And stopping theâ¨contact means stopping all kinds of personal exchanges. So if the affairâ¨partner at work says, `Well, you know, how's the marriage therapy going?' or,â¨you know, `How are you doing?' or, `How's your wife handling this?' then theâ¨person really needs to say, `I'm sorry, I'm not going to discuss anythingâ¨personal with you.'â¨â¨And at the beginning, people do a very poor job of that because they feelâ¨responsible for having hurt this person who cared about them. But as theyâ¨begin to put up thicker walls, then they can move back a few steps. It'sâ¨certainly better if they don't have to work together. In the olden days when,â¨you know, it was the powerful man and the secretary, then the secretary wasâ¨fired. In today's world, even in that situation, a secretary can't be firedâ¨because she'll end up suing for sexual harassment. If she can be transferredâ¨to another department, that's a good idea.â¨â¨What sometimes happens is if the unfaithful partner really puts up a wall,â¨then the affair partner will on their own move out of that situation, becauseâ¨it's too painful to be in this formal arrangement with somebody that you hadâ¨this very intimate relationship with; it hurts too much. And so they'll lookâ¨for another job on their own. But if they don't or they can't, then the rulesâ¨have to be very carefully understood. Just as when somebody has an Internetâ¨affair, the rules about how we're going to use a computer have to be veryâ¨carefully understood.â¨â¨GROSS: Have you seen a lot of marriages survive affairs?â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: I've seen many marriages not only survive affairs, but I've seenâ¨marriages really stronger and exceptionally intimate. Because if we can talkâ¨about this very painful thing in a way where we show compassion for eachâ¨other--and the compassion isn't just for the person who's been betrayed;â¨compassion is also for the person who went down that slippery slope perhapsâ¨without realizing it, who had unmet needs from their childhood that were beingâ¨acted out--and so if we are willing to open up all of those doors and look atâ¨those issues and be understanding of each other and work through the painâ¨together, then we have a very strong relationship.â¨â¨I mentioned before, Terry, that people suffer these traumatic reactions afterâ¨they find out about an affair, and so somebody may have flashbacks for monthsâ¨or even years. And if their partner is supportive and comforting during thoseâ¨flashbacks, then again you have a couple who are building something veryâ¨strong and very special in a situation that is certainly very difficult.â¨â¨GROSS: Shirley Glass, thank you so much for talking with us.â¨â¨Dr. GLASS: Oh, thank you so much, Terry.â¨â¨GROSS: Shirley Glass is the author of the book "Not `Just Friends.'"â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨GROSS: Coming up, Randall Kennedy on interracial love and marriage. This isâ¨FRESH AIR.â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Interview: Professor Randall Kennedy discusses fears and controversiesâ¨surrounding interracial relationships in the USâ¨TERRY GROSS, host:â¨â¨Interracial marriage was illegal at one time or another in most Americanâ¨states. It wasn't until 1967 that the Supreme Court overturned the remainingâ¨anti-miscegenation laws. But there are many whites and African-Americans whoâ¨are still uncomfortable with or even opposed to interracial romance.â¨â¨My guest, Randall Kennedy, is the author of the new book "Interracialâ¨Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity and Adoption." His previous book wasâ¨about the changing meaning of a word that is a terrible epithet, but hasâ¨become almost a term of endearment in part of hip-hop culture. That book,â¨titled "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word," has just come outâ¨in paperback. Randall Kennedy is a professor at Harvard Law School, andâ¨served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.â¨â¨You're a law professor so, obviously, you researched a lot of the legalâ¨aspects of interracial relationships. Now at one time there were 42 statesâ¨that banned intermarriage. What was the legal case for the state intercedingâ¨and making intermarriage illegal?â¨â¨Professor RANDALL KENNEDY (Harvard Law School; Author): Interracial marriageâ¨was viewed for a long time as a real menace. There were some people whoâ¨thought that it was against the teachings of the Bible. So, frankly, even inâ¨the 1960s there were judges who said, you know, marriage across the race lineâ¨is against the teachings of the Bible. If God had wanted--clearly God did notâ¨want people of different races to intermarry. That's why, you know, differentâ¨races were put on different continents, and it's only because of man'sâ¨intervention that people have been able to--different races have been able toâ¨get together anyway.â¨â¨The main thing going on, of course, was white supremacist, white separatistâ¨notions, the idea that America should be a white man's country. And one wayâ¨of keeping it a white man's country would be to police the race line.â¨â¨GROSS: How carefully were the laws enforced?â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: It's difficult to tell, frankly, the degree of energy that wasâ¨put into the enforcement of anti-miscegenation laws. But one thing I did findâ¨is that the private enforcement mechanisms were sometimes more in evidenceâ¨than the resort to criminal law. So, for instance, imagine the followingâ¨episode: a white man who has an estate, a wealthy white man, dies. He leavesâ¨his estate to his wife. Well, let's imagine that the white man's brothers andâ¨sisters get angry because, after all, the white man has died, he has this bigâ¨estate, they don't have any of it. They hire a private investigator, theâ¨private investigator finds out that the wife's grandmother or maybe evenâ¨great-grandmother was colored. The brothers and sisters of the dead man thenâ¨go and challenge the putative widow's right to the estate. If she isâ¨determined to be colored under state law, that means that she was neverâ¨legally married to the man; that means that she should not get his estate;â¨that means that the children that she has had with this man are now deemed toâ¨be illegitimate.â¨â¨But I found hundreds of cases of private enforcement. Often these cases wouldâ¨be brought by resentful, angry relatives.â¨â¨GROSS: Although there are no longer any anti-miscegenation laws on the books,â¨there are still certain prohibitions against adopting children of anotherâ¨race. What are some of those prohibitions?â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Well, until recently there were states that had laws on theâ¨books that required strong racial matching policies. For instance, inâ¨California, until relatively recently, social welfare officials were directedâ¨to search for adoptive homes of the same race as a child who was eligible forâ¨adoption. Now those laws have been essentially superceded by a federal lawâ¨that was--two federal laws, actually--a federal law that was passed in 1994â¨and then a federal law that was passed in 1996--which prohibits race matchingâ¨by any entity that is taking money from the federal government.â¨â¨But on the ground, race matching still exists. Throughout many areas of theâ¨United States, probably most areas of the United States, there is still a veryâ¨strong inclination to try to place children of a given race with adults of theâ¨same race for purposes of adoption.â¨â¨GROSS: And...â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: As you know, I'm quite critical of race matching for a varietyâ¨of reasons.â¨â¨GROSS: What are your reasons?â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Yeah. Well, there are a couple. First, race matching has hadâ¨the consequence of condemning children to institutionalized care for longâ¨periods of time, or for foster care where they're bumped around from oneâ¨insecure, you know, household to another. It seems clear to me that theâ¨children need security in their lives, they need continuity in their lives,â¨they need someone who is going to view that child as, you know, their child,â¨and someone who's going to be willing to be a permanent parent 24 hours a day,â¨seven days a week.â¨â¨A second reason is that I don't think that the state should in any way suggestâ¨that the monoracial family is any way superior to the multiracial family. Andâ¨I think that that's an inescapable inference that is drawn when state policy,â¨you know, tries to create monoracial families, viewing them as more naturalâ¨than multiracial families.â¨â¨Now as for the question of identification, you know, inculcating a correctâ¨sense of racial identity, first of all, the whole question of what is aâ¨correct sense of racial identity is itself very controversial. There areâ¨probably all sorts of, you know, notions of racial identity. We have aâ¨pluralistic nation, pluralistic country. We should applaud pluralism. And inâ¨this context pluralism, it seems to me, means being willing to facilitate andâ¨tolerate and encourage all sorts of family formations--multiracial and, youâ¨know, any other sort of family formation that makes sense.â¨â¨GROSS: Now I'm sure a lot of your readers wonder, `Well, is Randall Kennedyâ¨married to a white woman? And is that why he wrote this book?' And...â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Yeah, a lot of people, I'm sure, will want to know that. I'mâ¨married to a black woman, very happily married to a wonderful black woman, soâ¨that's fine. I'm not making any claim that interracial relationships areâ¨necessarily better than, you know, relationships between people of the sameâ¨race. All I'm saying is that people ought not feel embarrassed, ought notâ¨feel bad, ought not feel ashamed if their affections carry them--you know, ifâ¨their affections cross the race line.â¨â¨GROSS: My guest is Randall Kennedy. His new book is called "Interracialâ¨Intimacies." We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨GROSS: Randall Kennedy is my guest. He's the author of the new bookâ¨"Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity and Adoption." His previousâ¨book was "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word," and it's allâ¨about the history of that word and the controversy over its uses.â¨â¨Randall Kennedy, among the things that happened after your book was publishedâ¨was that there was an episode of "Boston Public," the Fox TV series set in anâ¨integrated high school--an episode in that series about the use of that wordâ¨in class, and I think, you know, the students had to read an excerpt of yourâ¨book in that class as part of their assignment. So I'm wondering if you sawâ¨the episode, and what you thought of the episode, and how they handled theâ¨controversy over the word.â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: I did see the episode. I thought it was an excellentâ¨episode--very complex. I thought that it allowed people with different pointsâ¨of view to articulate those points of view with reason and with power, andâ¨that's one of the things that made it a very compelling instance ofâ¨television.â¨â¨GROSS: Among the issues in that episode was, you know, does a white teacherâ¨have the right to teach a class about that word; can white students use thatâ¨word since the black students are using it all the time in the context ofâ¨talking to each other and in quoting rap lyrics. And so, you know, everyâ¨point of view was represented within the episode.â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Right. And it was a very realistic rendering of controversiesâ¨that are ongoing all across the United States. And one reason why I know thatâ¨to be the case is that in the aftermath of the airing of that episode I gotâ¨hundreds of letters from across the country--from teachers andâ¨students--telling me about, you know, controversies at their schools. I got aâ¨lot of papers where teachers have actually asked students to write about thatâ¨particular episode or write about my book or write about articles in theâ¨newspaper that talked about my book. That episode also helped garner my bookâ¨an audience that, frankly, I had not considered. I now hear from high-schoolâ¨students a lot. You know, they write me, they send me their papers, they sendâ¨me questions all the time, because they were introduced to my book throughâ¨that episode on "Boston Public."â¨â¨GROSS: So did they call you and say, you know, `We're using your book in oneâ¨of the episodes for this series; just wanted you to know'?â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Well, it was a little bit more involved than that. Theâ¨producer called and said that they were thinking about doing an episodeâ¨involving a controversy regarding the N-word. They heard about my book. Theyâ¨said, `We'd like to read your book.' So I sent the book to them. Then aâ¨couple of weeks later they sent me a draft of the script and asked for myâ¨reactions to it. I sent back a little memo giving, you know, my reactions.â¨Then they sent another draft, and the second time around they said, `Listen.â¨We'd like to use your book as a prop in the show. We'd like to use your nameâ¨in the show. And, you know, is that OK?' And I said, `Sure, it's OK.' Andâ¨they went ahead and did the show, and I saw it and I really liked it. Andâ¨it's--like I said, it's certainly been helpful in spreading the word about myâ¨book.â¨â¨GROSS: And have you been saying `the N-word' or using the full word when youâ¨talk about it?â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Oh, I use the word `nigger.' I mean, you know--there is aâ¨place for euphemism. I don't get mad when people, you know, use `the N-word.'â¨But, you know, the name of my book is "Nigger: The Strange Career of aâ¨Troublesome Word." And depending on the context, I use `N-word.'â¨â¨I mean, it was funny. I was on a radio show where the host of the show said,â¨`Listen. The station had a strong policy, no exceptions. Nigger could not beâ¨pronounced on the show.' I went on the show. We spoke for one hour. It wasâ¨radio program. Never once was the word `nigger' used, although I did spell itâ¨out for purposes of identifying my book. And we had a wonderful, wonderfulâ¨discussion.â¨â¨GROSS: Well, how'd you feel about that? Because obviously the purpose ofâ¨that policy is to protect you and other African-Americans from being offendedâ¨and from being intentionally or inadvertently insulted. But here you areâ¨trying to kind of start an intellectual conversation...â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Right.â¨â¨GROSS: ...about the use of the word, the origins of the word, the linguisticsâ¨of--you know, all this stuff, and you're not allowed to use it.â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Well, I argued. I said--on the show I said, `I think theâ¨station's policy is not a good policy.' For one thing, when you make a wordâ¨or a symbol tabooed expression, you give it a certain allure, and I don'tâ¨think that this word should be given that sort of power. And so I'm againstâ¨the sort of policies that would--the policy of this particular radio program.â¨But I mention it because it was interesting to discuss my book on a programâ¨where the title of my book could not be mentioned.â¨â¨GROSS: Right. Part of your book was devoted to the word's use in pop cultureâ¨and rap music, movies, comedy routines. I'm wondering if you're finding anyâ¨more or less citings of the word since the publication of your book.â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Well, the book, you know, caused quite a stir, and there wereâ¨a lot of articles generated by the book itself. I think some people haveâ¨become considerably more self-conscious in the aftermath of my book. And, ofâ¨course, controversies continue. Recently in St. Louis a schoolteacher wasâ¨publicly reprimanded because she gave out to her class a chapter of my book.â¨It was almost, frankly, a parody of some of the things that I talk about andâ¨discuss in the book. But that happens, and I'm sure it will continue toâ¨happen.â¨â¨GROSS: Was the teacher white or black?â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: I do not know. I get the sense that she was white, but Iâ¨don't know that for sure.â¨â¨GROSS: 'Cause I'm thinking maybe that if she was white the reason why she wasâ¨reprimanded might have been, in part, because some people think it'sâ¨presumptuous and inappropriate for a white teacher to pretend to have anyâ¨authority on this subject...â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Yeah.â¨â¨GROSS: ...which is part of what the "Boston Public" episode was about.â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: That's right. And some people do have that point of view, andâ¨it's a point of view that should be opposed. This is a teacher teaching in aâ¨public school. The authority that she has should be an authority that comesâ¨not from her skin color, but from what she knows, the energy she brings to theâ¨job, her effectiveness in trying to educate the upcoming generation ofâ¨Americans. That's where her authority should lie, not in what she happens toâ¨be.â¨â¨GROSS: Well, Randall Kennedy, good to talk with you again. Thank you veryâ¨much.â¨â¨Prof. KENNEDY: Thank you so much for having me on your show.â¨â¨GROSS: Randall Kennedy's new book is called "Interracial Intimacies." Hisâ¨book "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word" has just come out inâ¨paperback.â¨â¨(Credits)â¨â¨GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.