The researchers gave 715 women between the ages of 18 to 24 a survey based on the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, an exercise that measures attitudes that correspond with both benevolent and hostile sexism. Benevolent sexism was evinced on the survey by statements like “A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man” and holds that men should take care of and provide for women. Hostile sexism, á la “Women are too easily offended,” regards women as straight-up inferior to men. (Hmm...wonder how a certain orange-tinted presidential candidate would score on the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory?)
The researchers then asked the women whether or not they had read all or any part of Fifty Shades of Grey and they correlated the responses. They found that young women who had read some or all of the Grey series exhibit more and stronger sexist beliefs than those who had not. The correlation was particularly strong among those who’d read the books and considered them “romantic.”
Now, I find this very interesting, but - full disclosure and disclaimer - I have not read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey series and have no wish to; however, I am all about everyone making his or her own reading choices and reading whatever gives them pleasure, and I make no personal judgments about their choices. (Well, that may not be entirely true. For example, if someone chooses to read something like Mein Kampf, I might make some assumptions about them.)
The story that I read about this in Slate referred to an earlier study that was done in 2014 that found that Fifty Shades of Grey readers were more likely to exhibit destructive behavior and accept abusive behavior from a partner. Perhaps there is a pattern here that could apply broadly to Fifty Shades of Grey readers, but I would maintain that there are always individual exceptions to that pattern as there are all kinds of reasons for a reader to pick up a particular book. Maybe that reader of Mein Kampf is doing research on extremist philosophies.
All of which started me thinking about what my choice of reading material might say about me. Looking at the books that I've read so far in 2016, it's quite obvious that my choices tilt toward mysteries of all kinds, but there is a lot of overlap between that genre and historical fiction which also ranks as my second most often chosen type of reading material. Next comes literary fiction, then nonfiction, thrillers, and, finally, fantasy. So, I'm sort of all over the map, it seems. Maybe my choices just indicate that I am a person of vacillating, dithering, indecisive reading tastes.
What does your choice of books say about you?