E. L. James’ erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” has once again come under fire after a new study showed that the book glorifies and romanticizes sexual violence against women.
Writing in the Journal of Women's Health about the study, "“Double Crap!” Abuse and Harmed Identity in Fifty Shades of Grey," its co-author Amy Bonomi said that the lead character in the book, Anastasia Steele, suffers harm at the hands of her lover, Christian Grey, who engages in stalking, intimidation and sexual violence.
"This book is perpetuating dangerous abuse standards and yet it's being cast as this romantic, erotic book for women. The erotic content could have been accomplished without the theme of abuse," wrote Bonomi, who along with Lauren Altenburger and Nicole Walton, co-authored the study.
According to a Detroit Free Press report, the three researchers, who are with Ohio State University's Department of Human Sciences, found that the fictional Steele exhibited behavior patterns similar to those displayed by women who have been abused by partners they have been intimate with.
According to the researchers, about 25 percent of women in the U.S. are victims of sexual violence perpetrated by their partners, and the number goes up to 71 percent worldwide.
Throughout the book, Steele constantly loses a sense of her identity and changes her behavior to maintain harmony and peace in the relationship, according to the study. She also exhibits a sense of entrapment, which is common in women who are abused by their intimate partners, the researchers said, adding that the book glorifies the unfair balance of power that exists in the relationship between the two main characters.
The “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy has sold more than 70 million copies and is said to be one of the fastest-selling paperbacks. Currently, a movie based on the first novel that came out in 2011, is in the works, and this has managed to keep the book in the limelight.
However, this is not the first time the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series has been blamed for glorifying violence. Reacting to such criticisms, James said, in an interview last year with Katie Couric, that “what people get up to behind closed doors, providing it is safe, sane, consensual and legal, is completely up to them and it’s not for you, I or anybody to judge.”
And, she seems to have the support of many women who do not view the scenarios described in the series as being too violent. "It’s more like role-playing,” Alejandra Villegas, a bookseller from Detroit told the Free Press. “I don’t think it’s real violence.”