WorldMag.com 13 September 2014
Young women who read sexually violent fiction often display the same behavioral symptoms as those who have actually been victimized, according to a study published last month in Women’s Health.
The research team compared women, ages 18 to 24, who had read at least one novel in the Fifty Shades series with those who had not. Fifty Shades, one of the top-selling fiction series in history, is a trilogy of romantic novels that graphically portrays the victimization of one young woman in the throes of a romantic relationship. A movie based on the first book will come out in February.
Numerous studies show that consumption of fictional material can alter beliefs and attitudes. The researchers wanted to know if it can also change behavior. They found that women who read the novels are at an increased risk of being in an abusive relationship, having an eating disorder, binge drinking, and having multiple sexual partners. Victims of sexual violence often show the same behaviors. The study did not determine whether reading such fiction causes women to engage in certain behavior or whether those already engaging in such behavior are more drawn to sexually violent fiction.
Gail Dines, a professor of sociology at Wheelock College, radical feminist, and an anti-pornography advocate, believes the $96 billion pornography industry has “hyper-sexualized” girls through books, the Internet, movies, and songs. We are raising a generation of girls who, even though they have never been raped, are exhibiting the same symptoms as those who have, Dines said at a conference in 2010.
Girls look to culture for cues about how to be a woman and define their femininity. When all they see are hyper-sexualized role models, they come to believe that is what it means to be a woman, and they mimic what they see, Dines said. The culture affects even those girls who don’t want to dress and act in a hyper-sexual manner because those who do are the ones who get attention from boys. The girls who don’t go along are invisible, and no adolescent girl wants to be invisible.