Nov 192015

Fifty shades of misteryExamining women’s perceptions of the relationship between Christian and Anastasia in the popular movie Fifty Shades of Grey is a safe and valuable way to discuss healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics, including the warning signs of intimate partner violence.

Young women expressed mixed views, describing parts of the movie relationship as exciting and romantic and other aspects as controlling, manipulative, and emotionally abusive in a new study published in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication fromMary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available to download free on theJournal of Women’s Health website.

In the article “Young Women’s Perceptions of the Relationship in Fifty Shades of Grey”, Amy Bonomi, PhD, MPH and coauthors from Michigan State University, East Lansing, describe their discussions with women 18-24 years of age who met in focus groups immediately after watching the film. Although the women largely viewed the relationship as unhealthy–including Christian’s use of control, manipulation, and emotional abuse–they sympathized with and rationalized Christian’s behaviors.

Regarding Anastasia’s role in the relationship, most of the women emphasized how difficult it is to speak up in such an unhealthy scenario. A small group felt that Anastasia contributed to the unhealthy relationship.

In the Editorial “Sexual and Partner Violence Prevention and Popular Media”, Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (PA) suggests, “Clinicians might consider offering information to their adolescent and young adult patients integrated into their patient education materials about being smart consumers of media. Asking our patients about their exposure to pornography (specifically violent and coercive depictions of sexual acts) may be helpful not only in identifying and supporting patients exposed to sexual violence, but also providing an opportunity to discuss healthy, positive, and consensual sex.”

“These findings indicate the importance of engaging young women in conversations about healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, and warning signs of abuse,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women’s Health.


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