But a new Michigan State University study suggests that Fifty Shades isn’t as, er, innocent as you might think. When researchers surveyed 715 women ages 18 to 24, they found that those who read at least the first Fifty Shades book were more likely than non-readers to have had verbally or emotionally abusive partners who yelled, swore, or stalked them. First-book readers were also more likely to fast or use diet aids. (Note: Not. Healthy.) And as for women who read the whole series: They were also more likely to report recent binge drinking and having had five or more sexual partners.
The study authors conclude that reading about violence against woman could normalize risky behaviors and make abuse feel OK. For the record: Role-playing is one thing, but harassment and abuse are never acceptable. Even if you read about it in a book.
If the link between reading fiction and experiencing real-life abuse or self-harm seems purely coincidental, well, it totally could be. After all, the study was based on a survey, not an experiment, so it doesn’t necessarily prove causation. Which is a good thing to keep in mind as you reread the trilogy in anticipation for the Fifty Shades movie.