In a study of 655 women ages 18 to 24, 25% of those who admitted to reading the novel were found more likely to have engaged in an abusive relationship.
In the study ‘Fiction or Not? Fifty Shades Is Associated with Health Risks in Adolescent and Young Adult Females’, 219 participants admitted to reading the first book in the Fifty Shades trilogy.
The online university survey found that 25% of readers were more likely to have been in a relationship with a partner who “shouted, yelled or swore at them”.
While the study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, does not indicate if the abusive partnerships came about before or after the women had read James’s novel, Michigan State University Professor Amy Bonomi said her participants’ history of abuse and the books are linked.
“The book is a glaring glamorisation of violence against women,” Bonomi told US News & World Report, using the fiction series’s lead female Anastasia Steele as a prime example of female abuse, and “over time, she loses her identity [and] becomes disempowered and entrapped”.
Despite James’s claims the series was designed to be a “fun” read, Bonomi slammed the author for projecting the character’s unhealthy romance as a loving relationship. “While Christian and Anastasia’s relationship is being cast as sexually liberating for women, in fact, it is entrapping them further through the abuse standards being perpetuated in the book,” she said.