The recent release of the highly-anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey movie has stirred up a lot of conversation—some people loved how the movie touched on the sexual nature of the novel, while others are disappointed with how many details from the book were left out of the film adaptation.

Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t the first bestselling book to be turned into a movie, but every time one of these comes out, people start comparing the written version to the on-screen one. This usually leads to the question, why read a book when you can watch the movie? It’s an especially hot-button question when you’re talking about an erotic, sexually charged story like Fifty Shades of Grey—wouldn’t it be more satisfying to watch the steamy sex scenes than read about them?

Well, according to some experts, watching erotic stories won’t be as satisfying for women as reading about them, at least in the case of Fifty Shades of Grey, because research shows that women prefer sexual content to be textual, as opposed to visual. Apparently it all boils down to evolution. In order to evolve, men are said to be hardwired to spread their seed and propagate, which means having as many kids as possible. “For a man, all he needs to know is whether the woman is healthy and fertile. You can judge that visually,” explains acclaimed neuroscientist Ogi Ogas. This explains why men are more easily stimulated by visual cues, such as erotic movies like Fifty Shades of Grey.


Women, on the other hand, are inherently more meticulous about picking a mate because, biologically, they have fewer opportunities than men to bear children. According to this theory, women need to know all about a man before deciding whether or not he has enough long-term potential to have sex with him. Brain scans have shown that women need more than a visual stimulus in order to be psychologically aroused, because a picture doesn’t provide enough detail. “What is he thinking? Will he be here for the long haul? These are not questions you can get immediate answers to,” says Ogas, adding that novels, in this case the Fifty Shades of Grey book, are better suited to this inherent female thought process.

This theory supporting erotic books over movies is also clearly shown in other channels. For instance, one popular porn site targeting women reportedly only gets about 500,000 visits a month, but millions of erotic books are regularly purchased by women. By February 2014, books sales of Fifty Shades of Grey alone passed the whopping 100-million mark.

Long story short, we’re not saying the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is a complete waste of time—it has its good points. But there’s a reason why a lot of female fans were left disappointed after watching it, and it’s a perfectly logical one. So if you’re looking to really get aroused, you’re probably better off picking up a good book instead of relying on a video.


Dockterman, E., “The Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Won’t Arouse You Like the Book Did, According to Science,” TIME web site, February 12, 2015;


Lewis, A., “‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Sales Hit 100 Million,” The Hollywood Reporter web site, February 26, 2014; 

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