The erotic romance novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, selling tens of millions of books within months. The story of a young college grad’s sadistic affair with a billionaire CEO obviously appealed to a broad audience, and who can be surprised? Sex sells.

Now that the novel is debuting as a movie, I beseech you: Do not go see it. Decent people have no business consuming or celebrating this degrading storyline. Although we don’t realize it, consuming sexually violent images affects the way we see others, our relationships, and ourselves.

Society recognizes the need to censor the words and images that children see and hear. Why? Because we know that when garbage goes in, garbage comes out. Children repeat curse words, have bad dreams, and emulate the worst behaviors they see in movies and video games. As adults, we have more self-control and trust ourselves to consume various media without being affected. But perhaps we trust ourselves too much.

The human mind is a tricky thing: We may think we are unaffected by the sexual images we see, but we are not. Scientists have found that viewing sexually explicit images — like those in pornography — drive up dopamine levels. Dopamine is the same drug that makes us feel addicted to sweets and fatty foods; it’s a part of our evolved rewards system wherein our bodies are wired to seek out more of the stuff that made us feel good.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeling good. But dopamine highs brought about by pornography or sex scenes in movies aren’t really real. In fact, they can take away from our ability to enjoy our real sex lives. Too much exposure to pornography can cause desensitization, making it more difficult to become aroused absent that stimulation.

Then again, “Fifty Shades” is only one movie, so can it really be harmful? Research would caution that the answer is yes: It can be harmful, perhaps because the story mixes sex – a powerful ingredient – into a twisted relationship, and may mislead viewers to think of this relationship as healthy or even desirable.

In fact, a study from Michigan State University, published in the Journal of Women’s Health found a link between women who’d read the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book series and other unhealthy behaviors, such as binge drinking, eating disorders, and coupling with men who verbally abuse them. Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but we should think about why this correlation exists.

The center of the relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey is sex – and not just normal sex. The Motion Picture Association of America called it “unusual behavior.” By this they mean sadism and masochism, basically torture, in pursuit of sexual gratification.

Obviously, adult people are free to do as they please. Far be it from me to be your nanny or tell you what your sex life should be like. But even BDSM experts say the book is closer to domestic partner violence than the edgy bedroom fantasies that are meant to be executed with consent and clear boundaries.

It was even enough to make the actors uncomfortable.

Jamie Dornan, who played Christian Grey, told Glamour magazine, “There were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman.” And Dakota Johnson described filming the scenes this way: “It was emotionally taxing. At first I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,’ and then I was like, ‘All right, let’s get on with it.’”

How sad.

“Fifty Shades” teaches that sex is a power play between the sexes, meant not to express love, but used to control someone else. It also depicts the sexes in extreme caricature: an emotionally distant (and sex-obsessed) man and the weak woman who is unable to change him. It’s a recycled version of the age-old plot line, “Good Girl falls for Bad Boy.”

The movie threatens to normalize or reinforce behaviors that are not healthy. As Amy Bonomi, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University and lead author on the aforementioned study said, the relational dynamic in “Fifty Shades” is consistent with abuse.

Anastasia Steele “begins to manage her behavior to keep peace in the relationship, which is something we see in abused women,” Bonomi says as quoted in the New York Daily News. “Over time, [Steele] loses her identity… becomes disempowered and entrapped.”

This is not a relationship structure that society should glamorize or celebrate. Even as adults, we should recognize the impact that stories, images, and movies can have on the way that we think and feel – and we should reject the “Fifty Shades” narrative as unhealthy, and potentially harmful.

You may call me a prude. Fine. But I am a happy prude who finds deep satisfaction in the real world, with no need to retreat to fantasies or unhealthy behaviors to find a high. I know I am better off for not reading the “Fifty Shades” books or seeing the movie, and I invite you to join me.