[from the project abstract:]
Fifty Shades of Grey (by E.L. James, Vintage Books, 2011)--on the New York Times Bestseller List for 40 weeks and counting--depicts a "romantic" and "erotic" BDSM (bondage/discipline-dominance/submission-sadism/masochism) relationship involving 28-year-old mega-millionaire, Christian Grey, and 22-year-old college student/recent graduate, Anastasia Steele. In our systematic analysis, we use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Uniform Definitions of intimate partner violence ("IPV") and Smith's battering conceptualization to argue that, beyond romance and BDSM: 1) Christian Grey's behaviors within the couple's relationship are consistent with those of IPV perpetrators; and 2) Christian's IPV-consistent behaviors result in significantly harmed health and identity in Anastasia.
Our presentation will begin with an overview of these findings and the methods used to determine them. It will then move to an open discussion about issues and questions raised by this work, such as: how appropriate is it to apply scientific approaches or concepts related to domestic abuse to literary characters? Can such an approach illuminate social mores around sexuality and power? Do the findings suggest that readers who find the book erotic have been socialized into a culture that accepts, even glorifies, women’s abuse and men’s domination; or is there a line to be drawn here between fantasy and acceptance of intimate partner violence? Does popular literature (and other forms of pop culture) simply reflect or does it help to create the conditions that make intimate partner violence one of the biggest social problems of our time?