White Women and Latina Readers’ Ambivalence Toward Fifty Shades of Grey

Publication year
Sexuality & Culture

Here's the abstract:

The consumption of erotic literature by women has been largely unexamined by sociologists. This article analyzes 36 Latina and 47 White women readers’ evaluations of Fifty Shades of Grey and offers important insights on how women interact with the themes of romance and eroticism as they reflect on the text. We identify three types of reactions to the text: categorization of the relationship as abusive, an appreciation for the power of the woman protagonist to change her lover for the “better,” and a focus on the gendered inequities in the romantic relationship, yet simultaneously feeling aroused by the sexual content. In theorizing the third reaction, we introduce the concept of erotic ambivalence to explain how even as some women seek to escape into the world of the erotic, they must often balance this desire within the gendered inequities featured in storylines. Our findings suggest that women are critical of sexist tropes in fiction, and these critiques might vary ethnoracially.