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  1. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Reading Fifty Shades linked to unhealthy behaviors

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by KaTrian, Aug 22, 2014.

    I'll put this thread here instead of Book Discussion in case we get a debate going...

    Full Article.

    What do you guys think?
    How could this book affect our behavior to the point we'd be more tolerant of an abusive partner just because some character thought it was sexy? Can we cast blame on dysfunctional yet fictional characters?

    I'm not sure what to think of the multiple sex partner aspect, though. Can't see it as inherently destructive.
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    "Young adult women who exhibit signs of eating disorders and have a verbally abusive partner are more likely to read “Fifty Shades of Grey”, finds a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher"

    Fixed, I suspect. Our old friends causation and correlation meet again.
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The mere thought of somebody going like "well, Anastasia thought it was sexy, so I should think so too" feels preposterous. It's almost like an elaborate marketing trick, or something, except how much more can you market a series you can already find almost every woman's book shelf?

    Shouting and swearing seems like a fairly common trait, and I wonder if people have different definitions of "stalking" when they've been answering the questions. I can't help but feel like this is yet another pointless research that should have never received funding.

    I would imagine quite a few healthy people are able to distinguish between real life and the fantasy man (or woman) who is dangerous and sometimes gets physical.
     
  4. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Came here to say exactly that. Are people who eat cough drops at an increased risk of catching the cold because the percentage of people with the cold who eat cough drops is higher than the percentage of people without the cold who eat cough drops?

    The only way to see how the book affects a person is to see how it affects a person, i.e. to compare her state of being before reading it to her state of being after reading it. Do this with many readers, and you have data.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
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  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm seeing the call for participants ad in some university mailing list:

    'Have you read the 50 Shades of Grey? Do you have 30 minutes to fill in a questionnaire?'

    Basically, she argues that there is a potential problem anyway, despite issues with the validity of her study, which leads me to wonder: if the reader assimilates and sympathizes strongly with a fictional character, could they change their behavior even towards self-destructive just because they felt it would be rewarded in the end (with acceptance, wealth, prestige etc)? I would like to read a more valid study on something like this.
     
  6. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I think that if a person is that susceptible to being influenced by a fictional character - they have bigger problems and that might be a good place to spend that research money. If you're looking hard enough for something, you're likely to find it.
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    So many women have eating disorders, or degrees of it, some even say most women have done so at some point in their lives. Also, a lot of women experience at least one abusive relationship. It doesn't have to be domestic abuse of the worst kind, but verbal and psychological, coercion into sex by a partner, bad fights, even perhaps being hit or slapped once (and then break up), especially when young.

    I thought it interesting, how they acknowledged that eating disorders etc. could be preexisting, and they still tried to make it relevant to their study by speculating that the book 'might aggravate' their condition (no evidence, just common sense). And then went on to speculate that the book 'might' cause those problems, again, no robust evidence whatsoever.

    I wonder if this like all such studies suffers from selection bias and rather than uncovering a trend, is only giving opportunity for discussion of matters that are otherwise a bit of a taboo (unless discussed impersonally and in general terms). Interestingly, there's no details of the study itself, methodology, recruitment of subjects, statistical analyses etc, so I'm taking all their conclusions with a grain of salt.
    This suggests a strong bias by the researcher, in favour of one outcome. She is stating her preconceived opinion as fact, which is not necessarily in accordance with the truth. This tells me this is a dubious study with dubious results. I wonder if this study was done as a part of the ongoing anti-50 Shades crusade, trying to justify all the exaggerations and accusations based on highly individual interpretations of the material. I note this is the second study by the same researcher, trying to prove connection between 50 Shades and domestic abuse, which is in my opinion, very misguided approach and a bit of a waste of time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "Linked" doesn't mean causal:
    And while they speculate a causal relationship, it seems so unlikely as to be comical. The described behaviors don't start overnight after reading a single book. Those behaviors are more than likely going to have a more habitual pattern.
    I'm not sure I buy the analogy given one is about reading a single trilogy while the other is about repeated exposure.

    I don't think the study supports this conclusion:
    While obviously that is good advice in general, there's no evidence anyone reading 50 Shades went out looking for a dominant/submissive relationship because of it.

    Here's the actual study:
    http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/jwh.2014.4782
    The discussion is well worth reading and I agree with the premise behind the study:
    It shines a different light on the actual study I didn't get from the news report.

    I can understand why the study's author has concerns about 50 Shades:
    She's not the first person to voice such complaints about the 50 Shades novels. I only read the first book. I didn't see enough of a plot to make me want to read the rest. The book did make abuse look erotic and that's problematic.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    :confused: There was a link to the study right there. The full study is open access.

    Fiction or Not? Fifty Shades is Associated with Health Risks in Adolescent and Young Adult Females
     
  10. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I smell bias. I've read all three books, and ironically just finished the last one. (Why? Even I don't know...). The researcher is, frankly, fishing.

    Anastasia's poor eating habits are chastised in nearly every chapter as being bad for her by Christian Grey.

    The relationship is hardly 'abusive', at least physically. Everything is performed by two consenting adults, and almost without fail Anastasia is pleased by the experience. When she does feel things have turned a corner towards abusive, she issues a safe word and everything stops (book 3).

    Mental/Emotional abuse one could make an argument for, as Christian Grey is highly controlling. Anastasia does not accept it casually, and in fact frequently challenges Christian, proving she is not a doormat.

    I think @stevesh is correct with his view that the people involved in the research mostly just happened to also read 50 Shades.
     
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  11. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Fifty Shades is sooo dangerous, but hey literally tonnes of porn uploaded to the internet everyday in which women are depicted being raped, beaten and otherwise truly and horrendously victimised is not of major concern at all? Even though they might receive far more than the 100 million subscribers 50 shades did? What makes me angry about this is how it so thoroughly misses the point, that by far the most offensive and dangerous content out there receives very little air time at all as to it's influence. How about that steady diet on TV of serial killings and other acts of violence all in the name of entertainment?

    And then there is that oh so subtle message between the lines here that ultimately women are to blame for their degradation by reading stuff like 50 Shades and making themselves vulnerable. What a quaint bit of Victorian chauvinism, can't trust women with their own sexuality.
     
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  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Can't like your post enough. :D

    Interestingly, something similar arose when Pauline Réage (real name Anne Desclos) published The Story of O in 1954. It actually won the Prix des Deux Magots, a major French literary prize.. Feminists criticized the novel for somewhat similar things throughout the following decades, and clearly the mindset still prevails. However, what I have managed to plow through with 50 Shades suggests it isn't nearly as hardcore as O, but maybe it gets darker later?

    Basically what I see in James's work is a blatantly fantastical depiction of The Dream Man and The Dream Relationship, and for it to bleed so heavily into real life so as to actually make a significant amount of women sick seems quite ludicrous.
     
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  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @KaTrian : I've read everything by Marquise de Sade when I was fourteen, but to this day I haven't read 'The Story of O'. Is it good? I'm not squeamish at all, and all kinds of sex are no longer a mystery to me, but I do like a good story so that's my criterion for erotic lit as well.
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not as "bad" as Sade, imo. I do like it and would consider it a good, well-written novel, and it's a quick read. It made me think, especially about freedom, so it's certainly no fluff. I don't know how good the English translation(s) is/are, but probably they'll get the story across pretty well. It lacks the "taming" of the Byronic hero that is present in 50 Shades, which made it more my cup of tea (I don't believe in changing abusive and aggressive people into angels with the power of love).
     
  15. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, cool, thanks for that recommendation, I'm looking forward to it now! Although, I must say, I'm a SUCKER for taming the Byronic antiheros. (I'll spare you my imagination, it's firing like crazy about now and it involves Eric Northman or Spike from Buffy...). It's all my teen fantasies were made of! I'm not into BDSM at all now, it's all a bit too fussy for me, but I love the performance aspect of it, almost like a twisted burlesque. I'm totally rambling, I really need to go do some work before I waste a free Sunday away...
     
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  16. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    My mother works with battered women and Christian Grey tips every red flag for emotional abuse. The fact that his physical abuse is couched in sexual gratification makes it 100x worse. The BDSM community has condemned the work saying it's a gross misinterpretation of their practices. Grey manipulates Anastasia into a sexual relationship she doesn't want, and doesn't feel attracted to. She's not "convinced" to like BDSM, she's plied, cajoled, and groomed.

    That whole thing around zip ties? Doms never use zip ties, for reasons that should be obvious to everyone but E. L. James.

    Surprise! People in unhealthy relationships with themselves, and others, are drawn to this work.
     
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  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I did like the Spike/Buffy thing, to be honest. Maybe 'cause Buffy is so badass so there was never this sense of her drawing the shorter stick with Spike, the way it was written. She wasn't a clueless girl sighing after a bad boy, in fact, she was quite bad herself. And the way Spike was written actually made him somewhat sympathetic. A geek turned evil by magic (or whatever vampirism is). :p
     
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  18. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    The books are very misrepresentative of a niche community. That and people are often guarded, or dismissive of their own sexual desires based around such things. Using such poorly written narratives such as the trilogy in question as a way to introduce such concepts is just wrong. Wikipedia is not the go to for every answer. If one is really interested there are niche communities that are very open and willing to discuss such things with those who show interest. This is where most fall short as they are embarrassed to admit such things openly, even when it is anonymously. So I chalk the whole thing up to bad info, and no effort to do any real research on the matter so as to be educated on the reality. Doing 'homework' on a subject is better than taking fiction as a lay out. Things are not so simple in reality. Just a thought. :p
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Was going to be my point as well :)
     
  20. outsider
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    I've read the first chapter of this book (it was lying around somewhere).
    I immediately felt unhealthy, nauseous in fact.
    It had nothing to do with the content though and everything to do with the prose.
     
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