A new study has found that contrary to popular opinion, women don’t read erotic novels like Fifty Shades of Grey for a cheap sexual thrill, the Mail reported.
German researchers sought to find out the motivations for buying and reading erotic novels, to explain why the genre has been so successful over the last 10 years.
Their survey which encompassed over 400 female erotic novel readers has shown that the genre is generally considered “emancipated, feminist, and progressive”.
This is even though plots tend to promote the image of “a perpetually young and beautiful woman” who strongly depends on men, despite her professional success or talents.
Those who participated in the study were mostly familiar with Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, published in 2011.
There’s been a “veritable surge” of erotic novels since 2011, including the After series by Anna Todd and the Crossfire novels by Sylvia Day, said the authors of the study, from Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) in Frankfurt, Germany.
A study published in 1984 suggested that erotic novels are used by female readers as a socially acceptable substitute for pornography that serves their sexual stimulation. Nonetheless, the study authors suggest this is not really the case in the era of Fifty Shades.
Study author Maria Kraxenberger said “many of the study participants saw erotic novels – at least in part – as being emancipated, feminist, and progressive.”
To reveal why people read erotica today, researchers conducted an online survey among 427 female self-declared avid readers of erotic novels.
They collected data including demographic information, such as age, professional occupation, educational level and relationship status, as well as reading habits, including tendencies to share and discuss one’s reading experiences with others.
The academics found that the majority of respondents were heterosexual women in stable relationships with an above-average level of education.
They described themselves as being enthusiastic frequent readers who enjoyed sharing their reading experiences with others.
The average age of the participants was 33.9 years, but 73% were aged between 21 and 40 years old.