he authors of a recent study published in the Journal of Women's Health claimed that women who read Fifty Shades of Grey are likelier to be abused by their partners and likelier to be abused by themselves—likelier to binge drink, develop eating disorders, and engage in risky sexual practices. The authors of the study claimed a "a dose-to-effect relation," meaning the more Fifty Shades a particular woman read, the greater her risk for intimate partner abuse, binging, risky sexual practicing, etc.


Robert James King—School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, blogger at Psychology Today—took a look at the study's methodology, the questions asked of its subjects, and the data these researchers actually generated. And guess what? The study is so shoddily constructed that it amounts to scientific malpractice:

Let’s start with the so-called eating disorders. What was actually measured? Two things.

Q1 “Have you ever fasted for a day (or more)?”
Q2 “Have you ever used diet aids?”

That’s the lot. No. Calling the use of diet aids an eating disorder is just scare-mongering. These people didn’t have eating disorders—at least not that we know of.... [And the] criteria the authors use for prevalence of risky sexual practices were two:

Q1: “Have you had five or more sexual partners?”
Q2: “Have you ever had anal sex?”

Really? Boy, you young people! These are the criteria for risky sexuality?

So some "sex researchers" with pronounced sex-negative and kink-negative biases decided to do a "study" of Fifty Shades and—surprise!—they managed to gin up some bullshit correlations that appeared to ground their biases in some sort of objective reality. "All the authors have done is import their moralising and attached some numbers to it," says King. You don't have to be a fan of the books—and I'm definitely not a fan—to enjoy King's scathingly delicious takedown of this bullshit study. Go read the whole thing.