(And because I really want to do more original writing, and I'm hoping getting more FSoG out of the way will motivate me to do that.)
I hope you like fakey, blatantly illegal legal documents, because most of this chapter is one of them! In its entirety! Right down to the signature page and appendices! Because EROTICA!
Content warnings for this chapter: A legal document that somehow still manages to incorporate emotional and physical abuse and total disregard for consent. Also forced exercise.
CONTRACT Made this day_________ of 2011 (“The Commencement Date”) BETWEEN MR. BIG McLARGEHUGE of 301 Escala, Seattle, WA 98889 (“The Dominant”) MISS ANASTASIA STEELE of 1114 SW Green Street, Apartment 7, Haven Heights, Vancouver, WA 98888 (“The Submissive”)98889 and 98888 aren't real zip codes. I'd cut E.L. James some slack and say "well, it's like putting 555 in a phone number," except that Escala is a real building in Seattle. It's in zip code 98101. So it's sort of weird to make one up. (Vancouver zip codes are in the 986XX range.) This isn't really bad, just... unnecessarily inexplicable.
Oh, I'm just stalling. Let's get into this beast.
THE PARTIES AGREE AS FOLLOWS 1 The following are the terms of a binding contract between the Dominant and the Submissive.Did I mention this thing goes on for fifteen pages? There's sub-clauses and cross-references. Never mind D/s; I think Bark DangerStomp has a full-blown lawyer-play fetish going here.
2 The fundamental purpose of this contract is to allow the Submissive to explore her sensuality and her limits safely, with due respect and regard for her needs, her limits and her wellbeing.If you care so much about her needs and limits, maybe you should've consulted her at some point in the process of writing this monstrosity? Handing someone a fully-written contract and going "of course you have a choice! you can sign, or not sign!" isn't exactly negotiation.
3 The Dominant and the Submissive agree and acknowledge that all that occurs under the terms of this contract will be consensual, confidential, and subject to the agreed limits and safety procedures set out in this contract."Consensual" isn't a magic word. You can't just declare something consensual. The other person would have to actually consent to it.
5 Adherence to the above warranties, agreements and undertakings (and any additional limits and safety procedures agreed under clause 3 above) are fundamental to this contract. Any breach shall render it void with immediate effect and each party agrees to be fully responsible to the other for the consequence of any breach.You'd think someone who was so into playing lawyer wouldn't write a clause this garbled. "The consequence of any breach" is that the contract is void; i.e., Ana doesn't have to follow orders, and Buff ChunderStorm doesn't have to... well, he doesn't really have to do anything under the contract anyway, so he's free to continue not doing anything for her. That's all. There's nothing else to be responsible for.
I think the idea here is that Clam ThudBlast could make shit up and say "I decided you have to get one thousand lashes and give me twelve blowjobs as the consequence of your breach," but the contract as written does not allow for that.
8 If at any time the Dominant should fail to keep to the agreed terms, limitations and safety procedures set out in this contract or agreed additionally under clause 3 above the Submissive is entitled to terminate this contract forthwith and to leave the service of the Dominant without notice.Or, you know, any time she goddamn feels like it.
13 The Dominant reserves the right to dismiss the Submissive from his service at any time and for any reason. The Submissive may request her release at any time, such request to be granted at the discretion of the Dominant subject only to the Submissive’s rights under clauses 2-5 and 8 above.OH BABY CROSS-REFERENCE ME HARDER.
The second sentence is not just wildly illegal and immoral, but inconsistent with the contract itself. If she breaches the contract, it's void; therefore, if she breaches by leaving the relationship, her penalty is... not being in the relationship. Obviously this is a good thing, but it's fucking unsettling that it's a loophole in a "you can't leave" clause instead of directly granted in a "you're free to leave" clause.
15 The following service provisions have been discussed and agreed and will be ad-hered to by both parties during the Term. Both parties accept that certain matters may arise which are not covered by the terms of this contract or the service provisions, or that certain matters may be renegotiated. In such circumstance further clauses may be proposed by way of amendment. Any further clauses or amendments must be agreed, documented and signed by both parties and shall be subject to the fundamental terms set out at clauses 2-5 above.This chapter makes me feel like scrolling to the bottom and clicking "okay" so I can just get my goddamn iTunes update already.
15.22 The Submissive shall not look directly into the eyes of the Dominant except when specifically instructed to do so. The Submissive shall keep her eyes cast down and maintain a quiet and respectful bearing in the presence of the Dominant.This is just one of many clauses detailing how she's supposed to take beatings without complaint, obey orders without question, etc., but for some reason this is the one that pushed me over the "oh, FUCK YOU" line.
The weird thing is, I've done eye contact restrictions in real life and it's been hot. (Albeit for the length of a scene. If I had to go around Rowdy's house all the time with my eyes demurely downcast I'd probably bump into things a lot, and "hey honey, do you need anything from Home Depot?"-type conversations would become really weird.) But seeing it here makes me want to death-glare straight in Dash BugZap's eyes while yelling "nyahh! you can't stop me! nyahh!"
The Dominant shall provide the Submissive with a personal trainer four times a week in hour-long sessions at times to be mutually agreed between the personal trainer and the Submissive.Remember when they specifically negotiated that she wouldn't do this? And it was like the one concession Butt DampCrack was actually willing to make? He never actually edited the contract to reflect that. Raise your hand if you're shocked.
No activity that involves the direct contact of electric current (whether alternating or direct),"I'm willing to experiment with DC, but AC is a hard limit."
"Why is that?"
Is Bondage acceptable to the Submissive? • Hands in front • Hands behind back • Ankles • Knees • Elbows • Wrists to anklesYou have to work out which positions are okay by communicating while you actually set up the bondage. Having her check off "ankles are okay, no knees please, elbows are okay..." is not going to give you the necessary insight into her body mechanics and preferences.
What is the Submissive’s general attitude about receiving pain? Where 1 is likes intensely and 5 is dislikes intensely: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 How much pain does the submissive want to receive? Where 1 is none and 5 is severe: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5So... if she circles 5 and then 1, does that actually change anything?
My head is buzzing. How can I possibly agree to all this?Well, you don't have to if you don't want to. That's actually the whole point of this.
I shudder at the thought of being flogged or whipped. Spanking probably wouldn’t be so bad, humiliating though. And tied up? Well he did tie my hands together. That was… well it was hot, really hot, so perhaps that won’t be so bad.Flogging, whipping, and spanking are all things I do. And I do them because I want to. Because I've dreamed about them since before I even dreamed about sex. Because when I do them, I'm flying, and when I don't do them, I crave them. If my feelings about them were "they don't sound so bad, I think I can cope if I have to," I wouldn't fucking do them.
I can’t look him in the eye. How weird is that? The only way I ever have any chance to see what he’s thinking. Actually, whom am I kidding, I never know what he’s thinking, but I like looking into his eyes. He has beautiful eyes – captivating, intelligent, deep and dark, dark with dominant secrets. I recall his burning smoky gaze and press my thighs together, squirming. And I can’t touch him. Well, no surprise there. And these silly rules… No, no I can’t do this. I put my head in my hands. This is no way to have a relationship.It's okay to think that, Ana! It sounds like this is wrong for you! Which is fine! You don't have to if you don't want to!
My subconscious sounds sane and rational, not her usual snarky self. My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old. Please, let’s do this… otherwise we’ll end up alone with lots of cats and your classic novels to keep you company.So that's why she agrees to this. Because she thinks her only choices in life are to be owned and beaten or to be alone forever. God that's sad. Nothing about this is fucking okay.
You know, cats and classic novels can be very pleasant. Sounds downright cozy to me.
Maybe if I just sign up for the sex… would he go with that? I suspect not.This is so incredibly not the voice of someone who is enthusiastically consenting to BDSM.
Does E.L. James think all submissives and bottoms are like this? That we just put up with the domination and pain so we can be in a relationship at all? This is getting unbearably sad.
“There’s a man here with a delivery for you. You have to sign for it.” [...] “It’s a MacBook Pro.” “Of course it is.” I roll my eyes . “These aren’t available in the shops yet, ma’am, the very latest from Apple.”Growl PreenCock somehow manages to be creepy and controlling even when he's giving presents. The message isn't "you should have nice things!", it's "I have money and power and you are indebted to me!"
“Well, this has full wireless N, and I’ve set it up with your Me account details. This baby is all ready to go, practically anywhere on the planet.” He looks longingly at it.Ooh, wireless N! I love that stuff. (Is she trying to say 802.11n? That's the closest I've got to that making sense.)
And practically anywhere on the planet! That's really nice. I can only take my laptop some places. It disintegrates in Australia and most EU countries.
“Me account?” “Your new email address. ” I have an email address? He points to an icon on the screen and continues to talk at me but it’s like white noise. I haven’t got a clue what he’s saying, and in all honestly, I’m not interested. Just tell me how to switch it on and off – I’ll figure out the rest.Most of Ana's dialogue makes her sound younger than her age, so it's jarring to have her suddenly acting like my 86-year-old grandmother asking how to rewind a DVD.
[after some emails between Dog ThrashBait and Ana that are too painfully inane to relate, except that she says she didn't want the computer and he of course completely fucking disregards that] He emailed me. I’m like a small, giddy child. And all the contract angst fades. As I wash my hair, I try and think what I could possibly ask him via email. Surely it’s better to talk these things through. Suppose someone hacked into his account? I flush at the thought.She's in the bathroom at this point, so I'm not sure what kind of "flush" she means.
(I did a search, and this book uses the word "flush" exactly 100 times. I haven't checked on "blush" and "turn red" and so forth, but basically it would be more efficient if Ana told us all the times she wasn't going tomato-faced.)
I don't know if all this weirdness around email is unintentionally revealing E.L. James's attitude toward technology, or if it's yet another thing for Ana to be naive and helpless about.
José is punctual. He comes bounding into the shop like a gamboling dark-eyed puppy. “Ana,” he smiles his dazzling toothy all-Hispanic-American smile, and I can’t be angry with him anymore.*cringes*
(I can't believe it took me this long to figure out that Jose is Jacob. The "puppy" line gave it away.)
[Big McLargeHuge to Ana]: I do hope you had a good day at work. [I'm sparing you the way the emails are written out in the book, which includes the date and time stamps, subject lines, salutations, and Christian Grey's fucking email signature. Every time. And there's like twenty emails in this chapter.]
[Ana to McLargeHuge]: Sir… I had a very good day at work. Thank you.
[McLargeHuge to Ana]: Delighted you had a good day. While you are emailing, you are not researching.God what a dick. It's like, he's an abuser, but on another level, he's also just a dick.
I type Submissive into Wikipedia. Half an hour later, I feel slight queasy and frankly shocked to my core. Do I really want this stuff in my head? Jeez – is this what he gets up to in the Red Room of Pain?If you actually type "Submissive" into Wikipedia, it redirects to "Deference", which mostly discusses the term in sociological contexts. But at the end it does mention BDSM:
"In interpersonal relationships, some people prefer or are willing to adopt a submissive role in sexual activities or personal matters. The level and type of submission can vary from person to person, and from one context to another; and also is dependent on the other partner being willing to assume control in those situations. Some people can include occasional acts of submission in an otherwise conventional sex life, or adopt a submissive lifestyle."I don't know about you, but I'm shocked to my core.