Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 632–650 | Cite as

Fifty Shades of Feminism: An Analysis of Feminist Attitudes and ‘Grey Behaviors’

  • Patricia CaseEmail author
  • Barbara Thomas Coventry
Original Paper


This paper discusses the results of an MTurk survey (n = 479) that was designed to determine how acceptable Americans find the behaviors outlined in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, especially when they self-identify with feminist ideologies. The behaviors that this series eroticizes clearly reflect interpersonal violence. This coupled with the series’ unprecedented international success raises concerns for many scholars. We asked men and women to rank the level of acceptability on a ‘Grey Behavior’ scale, which included measures of control of person outside the context of ‘kinky’ sex. Furthermore, we asked subjects to rank their attitudes regarding the basic tenants of the feminist ideology in order to determine if support of gender equality influenced these perceptions of acceptability. Our findings suggest that despite the popularity of the book, neither men nor women report these behaviors as personally acceptable.


Fifty Shades of Grey Interpersonal violence Feminism Pornography 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Arts and LettersThe University of ToledoToledoUSA

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