We’re not a city of carefree adulterers?
New York is in many ways a perfect storm. You have urban hipsters, unmarried, and then a lot of young married people, and they are probably the top demographics for infidelity. But I found that even among urban hipsters, there’s a real puritanical streak. If they are married, they value monogamy as much as anyone else in America.
So is cheating happening at all here?
You have Wall Street, which is a sexual culture of its own — these bankers work 80 hours a week, and there’s the thinking that you are entitled to life pleasures, and one of them is women. On Wall Street, people have these bragging affairs with strippers. I also interviewed a corporate lawyer and a paralegal, and they described how the partners cheated and that sets the tone for what was allowed in the firm.
What about among the Hasidic community in Brooklyn?
I do know that the men who cheat are obsessed with blow jobs because it’s not technically adultery. But then, Bill Clinton said the same thing. Also, theirs is such a closed world, so when they finally escape it, even just for a night, they go a little crazy and end up in strip clubs or sleazy massage parlors, where even a slightly more sophisticated cheater would never go.
It seems you set out already knowing that Americans are more puritanical than the rest of the word.
They are more puritanical. Looking at the statistics, the only countries that are as disapproving of affairs are Ireland and the Philippines. Americans disapprove more than anyone else, but they behave the same way that everyone else does. Why bother having all this guilt if you are going to behave like the French anyway? —Emma Pearse