Young women who read the popular “Fifty Shades of Grey” series are more likely to be practicing unsafe behaviors than those who have steered clear of the erotic novels, a new study found.
The study, published in Journal of Women’s Health, focused on 655 female participants and found those who read at least the first novel were more likely to have had a partner who shouted, yelled or swore at them.
Women who reported reading all three novels in the series were found to be 65 percent more likely to engage in binge drinking and 63 percent more likely to have had more than five sex partners, compared to non-readers.
While the study did not distinguish whether women changed behaviors before or after reading the books, written by E. L. James, researchers noted that their findings were troubling.
“If women experienced adverse health behaviors such as disordered eating first, reading Fifty Shades might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma,” Amy Bonomi, lead researcher and professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University, told MSUToday. “Likewise, if they read ‘Fifty Shades’ before experiencing the health behaviors seen in our study, it’s possible the books influenced the onset of these behaviors.”
With the film-adapted version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” set to hit screens in February 2015 and more than 100 million copies of the novel sold worldwide, Bonomi highlighted the importance of teaching young adults to regard fiction with a critical eye.
“We recognize the depiction of violence against women in and of itself is not problematic, especially if the depiction attempts to shed serious light on the problem,” Bonomi said. “The problem comes when the depiction reinforces the acceptance of the status quo, rather than challenging it.”
The study focused on women aged 18-24.