New Study Links “Fifty Shades Of Grey” Readers and Dysfunctional Behaviors

It’s hard to say whether this is comical, depressing, or the least surprising news ever. A new study says that women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are about 65 percent more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as binge drinking and sex with multiple partners. The study focused on young women, age 18 to 24.


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.”

“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.”

While it’s tempting to laugh at these results as proof that a bunch of dumb bimbos are rushing out to buy these books, other findings are no laughing matter. The researchers also discovered that women who had read the series were more likely to have a partner who yelled or swore at them. The researchers say they’re not sure whether the women adopted these unhealthy behaviors before or after reading the books. I have my own theory: Women are reading Fifty Shades in order to justify relationships with bad guys. Does he fly off the handle and call you names when you flirt with other men? That’s because he cares! It must be love! That’s what Christian Grey would do, right?

Fifty Shades is the latest installment in a series of twisted “love” stories sold to women beginning in childhood, in which bad guys become Prince Charming and abusive behaviors are dressed up as romantic and sexy. Fifty Shades is basically a grown-up version of Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, which most of the women in the study probably watched as kids. Let’s discard any nostalgic attachment we have to this Disney classic and recall the plot. An angry, terrifying “Beast” holds a young woman hostage in his house, storming around and attacking her when she tries to escape. Instead of getting help, it’s Belle’s job to use her feminine charms, kindness, and caretaking to tame the vicious Beast into a decent guy. Although he sounds more like Ariel Castro than Prince Charming, the happy ending comes when Belle abandons her family and her bright future in order to marry him.


That’s not too far off from a “love story” about a young woman who has to put aside her dignity and take beatings – er, BDSM – in order to transform an angry guy with daddy issues into husband material. Christian Grey eventually comes around, but that’s because, like Disney’s “Beast,” he’s a fictional character. In the real world, these relationships don’t end that way.