Saturday, July 19, 2014

Let's Read Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 21!

There's only 25 chapters in this book.  We're gonna make it.

I have to admit, it's all starting to blur together for me.  In the first part of the book, things were already horrible, but at least they moved a little.  Ana worked, went out with friends, graduated school, moved to a new city.  Now we've entered this vague Timeless Zone where the pacing becomes an undifferentiated dribble of "we had really icky un-fun coercive sex... and then later we had some more."  I don't know the month, much less the day of the week, and the relationship isn't developing one inch past the "I want you to submit to me but I don't actually like you" point we were at a hundred pages ago.  Trying to enjoy this book as a piece of fiction is like trying to paddle a canoe through gravel.



Content warnings for this chapter: Emotional abuse and manipulation, bigtime.  Workplace sexual harassment.  Trying to help an abused friend.  Sparkly GIF.


A glorious Seattle morning greets me – sunshine pouring through the full-height windows and flooding the room with too-bright light.  [...]  I lie back for a moment staring through the windows at the lofty vista of Seattle’s skyline.
Which way do these damn windows point?  If she's at the actual location of Escala, the big "skyline" buildings are south of her, and the sunrise is blocked by First Hill. Even if we say it's an imaginary building with the same name, I still don't know where you can go in Seattle that you're downtown, you can see the skyline, and the sunrise shines straight in your face.

...A half mile offshore on the Bainbridge Island ferry, I guess.
Life in the clouds sure feels unreal. A fantasy – a castle in the air, adrift from the ground, safe from the realities of life – far away from neglect, hunger, and crack-whore mothers. I shudder to think what he went through as a small child, and I understand why he lives here, isolated, surrounded by beautiful, precious works of art – so far removed from where he started… mission statement indeed.
I had a kinda crappy upbringing too, but I'm not a super-billionaire-vampire, so I have to settle for living on the second floor and having some interesting fridge magnets and an xkcd poster.
An elegant middle-aged woman is cleaning in the kitchen area. The sight of her stops me in my tracks. She has short blonde hair and clear blue eyes; she wears a plain white tailored shirt and a navy blue pencil skirt. She smiles broadly when she sees me. “Good morning, Miss Steele. Would you like some breakfast?” Her tone is warm but business like, and I am stunned. Who is this attractive blonde in Christian’s kitchen? [...] “Oh, I’m terribly sorry – I’m Mrs. Jones, Mr. Grey’s housekeeper.”
Oh no, not a blonde woman!  "Blonde woman" is universal shorthand for "sexual competition" and that's terrible!

I'm not sure whether to be baffled by Ana's constant jealousy or sympathetic.  On the one hand, she can't get rid of this guy and he's slowly closing a Darth-Vader-like chokehold on her life--she has a lot of things to fear from him, but him forgetting about her isn't one of them.  Since they met he's constantly been obsessing over her and spending about 90% of his waking life either screwing her or screwing with her.  It's not bloody likely that he'd suddenly forget all about her because his housekeeper is blonde.

But on the other hand, for all that he makes his presence and sexual demands inescapable, he's a master at withholding affection. The simultaneous messages of Biff Tardigrade are "you can't leave me" and "you can't have me."  So, okay, I can't really blame Ana for being insecure, not when she has to live in such a maelstrom of mindfuck.

Do wish she wouldn't focus it all on blonde women, though.
[Darth Sufferable is on the phone talking about Important Manly Business Things]: “Unless that company’s P&L improves, I’m not interested, Ros. We’re not carrying dead weight… I don’t need any more lame excuses… Have Marco call me, it’s shit or bust time...  [...]  “Clear my schedule this morning, but get Bill to call me. I’ll be in at two. I need to talk to Marco this afternoon, that will need at least half an hour…  Schedule Barney and his team in after Marco or maybe tomorrow, and find time for me to see Claude everyday this week…"
It's intentionally written to be incomprehensible and all blur into a bunch of Manly Business Not To Worry Your Little Head About, but man, even in sloppily written half-conversations Colt FootStomp sounds like a horrible CEO.  He swears at his subordinates, he works for about an hour a day, and his idea of management is barking a lot of orders at people and then hanging up.

I mean, I'm not saying it isn't realistic, but it does not serve to endear him to me.
I throw my arms around his neck and my fingers twist in his still damp hair. Pushing my body flush against his, I kiss him back. I want him. My attack takes him by surprise, but after a beat, he responds, a low groan in his throat. His hands slip into my hair and down my back to cup my naked behind, his tongue exploring my mouth. He pulls back, his eyes hooded.
I'm getting confused by the specifics of the "no touching Dick WangPeen" rule.  It obviously doesn't mean no skin contact.  And apparently it doesn't mean no contact that she initiates.  And it doesn't mean she can't put her hands on him.  Except when it does.  I have no idea what definition of "touching" we're working with here, except "whatever he says it is," which is really boring because that's his definition for everything.
“Well, sleep seems to agree with you,” he murmurs. “I suggest you go and have your shower, or I shall lay you across my desk, now.” “I choose the desk,” I whisper recklessly as desire sweeps like adrenaline through my system, waking everything in its path.
And then they have shockingly not-horrible sex.  Both of them explicitly say they want it, Ana (wonder of wonders!) internally admits to wanting it and enjoying it, and Louse GropeGroin doesn't hit her or insult her or do anything else randomly shitty during the act.  It's an actually okay sex scene.

I'm still not turned on--I mean, the writing is like "It’s so raw, so carnal, making me so wanton."--but I am sort of goggling with astonishment.
“You. Are. Mine,” he says, each word a staccato. “Do you understand?” He’s so earnest, so impassioned – a zealot. The force of his plea is so unexpected and disarming. I wonder why he’s feeling like this. “Yes, yours,” I whisper, derailed by his fervor. “Are you sure you have to go to Georgia?” I nod slowly. And in that brief moment, I can see his expression change and the shutters coming down. Abruptly he withdraws, making me wince.
Oh, silly me, thinking for one goddamn second that they were having consensual sex because things were temporarily okay.  It was just another piece of manipulation.  Just another crumb of "maybe we could have the kind of relationship you want" that he dangled out in front of her only so he could immediately snatch it back to punish her.  For wanting to see her own mother.

I've been wrong before, but is there anyone who finds this kind of manipulation sexy?  Is there anyone out there whose BDSM fantasy is "guy who pouts and throws tantrums until I obey him out of exasperated guilt and fear?"  Nothing against you if you're into that and you pursue it consensually, and I mean that.  It's just so far I haven't met anyone who's into that.
“Have you bought your air ticket?” “No, I’ll buy it when I get home – over the Internet.” He leans on his elbow, rubbing his chin. “Do you have the money?” Oh no. “Yes,” I say with mock patience as if I’m talking to a small child.
I'm not going to copy the whole conversation, because it's long and annoying, but the key points are:

1) Every time these two talk it's like pulling teeth.  The rhythm is: pointed question, terse answer, angry question, defensive answer.  It doesn't feel like the way that couples or friends usually talk.  It's the way that teenagers tell their parents that their day at school was fine, okay?

2) Bold ZapFino insists Ana take his private jet (of course he has a private jet) to Georgia, and she declines and says she'll book her own flight.  He then insists Ana tell him where she's applying for jobs, and she refuses.  Since I am an Amazing Book Psychic, I predict with a million percent certainty that Ana will end up on the jet.  The job thing's a little less certain, because it's a toss-up between her working for Gort BaradaNikto, her working in a job that seems independent but turns out to be all about him, or her not working at all because that would just distract her from licking his boots all the time.
How could he mean so much to me in such a short time? He’s got right under my skin… literally.
Ew.
Christian has ordered me to take my BlackBerry and the Mac. I roll my eyes at the memory of his overbearing bossiness, but I realize now that’s just the way he is. He likes control over everything, including me.
But she doesn't like to be controlled, that's just the way she is, and why doesn't that carry equal weight?  I mean, I know damn well why not, I'm just saying.
A woman with long, black, pre-Raphaelite hair standing by the reception desk distracts me from my introspection. She has the same bohemian, floaty look as the receptionist. She could be in her late thirties, maybe in her forties. It’s so difficult to tell with older women.
So now Ana is at a job interview at some place called Seattle Independent Publishing and it seems pretty unremarkable so far.  So please enjoy this description of "pre-Raphaelite hair" and the fathomless age of a wizened thirty-nine-year-old.
“Have you traveled far?” he asks pleasantly. “No, I’ve recently moved to the Pike Street Market area.”
Pike Place Market!  Pike PLACE!  How can you screw this up?  This is not esoteric local knowledge!

(Side note: I used to work there!  Whoo.)
“So why would you like to intern for us at SIP, Ana?” he asks. He says my name softly and cocks his head to one side, like someone I know – it’s unnerving. [...] “You have a very impressive GPA. What extra-curricular activities did you indulge in at WSU?” Indulge? I blink at him. What an odd choice of word. [...]  “And where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” he asks. With Christian Grey, the thought comes involuntarily into my head.
I realize this isn't a book about job interviews, but for chrissakes, Ana, contain yourself.

We do learn that she was a campus librarian, though, which is kind of cool.  It's one of those precious little scraps of humanizing detail.  I mean, I think the actual librarians on college campuses are professionals with advanced degrees and not moonlighting undergrads, but whatever.  I'm so glad for Ana to do anything interesting with her life.
Jack Hyde asks sharp, intelligent questions, but I’m not thrown – I keep up, and when we discuss my reading preferences and my favorite books, I think I hold my own. Jack, on the other hand, appears to only favor American literature written after 1950. Nothing else. No classics - not even Henry James or Upton Sinclair or F Scott Fitzgerald.
She seems awfully scandalized that a man whose job is publishing contemporary books would like contemporary books.

(And Upton Sinclair?  Really?  I mean, nothing wrong with him I guess, but he's not really a Designated Stuffy Literary Author.  Whatever, I'm sure he just happened to be the second Google hit on "what are some old-timey authors to make my character sound smart and stuff.")

And now we get a conversation between Ana and her friend Kate that's just... well, it's legitimately good, in a way, but... oh, just look at it.
[Ana:] “Incidentally – will you please stop winding Christian up? Your comment about José at dinner yesterday was out of line. He’s a jealous guy. It doesn’t do any good, you know.” 
“Look, if he wasn’t Elliot’s brother I’d have said a lot worse. He’s a real control freak. I don’t know how you stand it. [...] But – if you don’t want me to interfere, I won’t,” [...] “Ana,” she pauses staring at me. “You’re okay, aren’t you? You’re not running to your mother’s to escape?” 
I flush. “No Kate. It was you who said I needed a break.” 
She closes the distance between us and takes my hands – a most un-Kate thing to do. Oh no… tears threaten. “You’re just, I don’t know… different. I hope you’re okay, and whatever issues you’re having with Mr. Moneybags, you can talk to me. And I will try not to wind him up, though frankly it’s like shooting fish in a barrel with him. Look, Ana, if something’s wrong, you will tell me, I won’t judge. I’ll try to understand.”

This is (except for a bit I snipped out where Kate says she was trying to make him jealous so he'd value Ana more, which is terrible, but I forgive her because she's still the best person in this book) a really excellent model for how to talk to a friend who's being abused.  Kate expresses her concerns, but also respects her friend's boundaries.  She understands that her actions could worsen the abuse, so she isn't pushy and doesn't demand that Ana leave, and she ends by saying that she's open to talk no matter what.

The scene is brilliantly handled, except... how could you possibly write this and then deny that you're writing an abusive relationship?  I mean, Kate does everything short of slipping Ana a women's shelter's card, and good for her, but this whole dialogue and the things that made it necessary are not a place that erotic romances should be visiting.
[It's been a few chapters since we had email bickering, so here's Ana:] Dear Sir, The morning was exemplary for me too, in spite of you weirding out on me after the impeccable desk sex. Don’t think I didn’t notice. 
[And here's Crud NoseFlake:] ‘Weirding’ is not a verb and should not be used by anyone who wants to go into publishing. Impeccable? Compared to what, pray tell?
Picking on her grammar (incorrectly) instead of answering the actual issues?  I swear, if you wrote a manual on "how to make a character hateable," you'd leave this one out because it seems too obvious.

And it's dickish beyond all human imagining that his response to "the sex was good" isn't "why thank you, I enjoyed it too," but "pfft, how would you know?"
[Ana, still concerned about blonde women and their man-stealing ways:] Is Mrs. Jones an ex-sub of yours? 
[Burn FlintNugget:] Mrs. Jones is a valued employee. I have never had any relationship with her beyond our professional one. I do not employ anyone I’ve had any sexual relations with. I am shocked that you would think so. The only person I would make an exception to this rule is you – because you are a bright young woman with remarkable negotiating skills.
God what a slime.

Honey, you're fooling yourself if you think "I wouldn't have sex with an employee... except for a very special one" isn't the line he gives everyone.
“Ticket please?” The bored young man behind the desk holds up his hand without looking at me. Mirroring his boredom, I hand over my ticket and my driver’s license as ID. I am hoping for a window seat if at all possible. “Okay, Miss Steele. You’ve been upgraded to first class.” “What?” “Ma’am, if you’d like to go through to the first class lounge and await your flight there.” He seems to have woken up and is beaming at me like I’m the Christmas Fairy and the Easter Bunny rolled into one. “Surely there’s some mistake.” “No, no.” He checks his computer screen again. “Anastasia Steele – upgrade.” He simpers at me.
Of course.  I told you I was psychic.

(The "oh my heavens, a first class passenger, what an honor to be in her presence" thing seems weirdly reminiscent of Left Behind, if you've seen Fred Clark's reading of it.  Fifty Shades has lots of class issues, what with the extended fawning over Snort OinkPig's private helicopter and ginormous penthouse and ultra-luxury everything, but this scene is particularly weird about "someone with money is just the most impressive thing ever.")

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to lose myself in an extended fantasy where Ana gives up her seat to a standby passenger and books herself a new flight--coach class, thank you very much--to Alaska and drops her cellphone in Eklutna Lake and flees for the hills and is safe forever.  Mmmm.  Now that's wish-fulfillment.

56 comments:

  1. Succinct and shudder-worthy. The end is in sight. :):):) But why Gort? Why not Klaatu? ;)

    -Fishgoat

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    1. Just had a thunkier flow to it? I don't know, these are matters of Art.

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  2. Admittedly, I'm Jewish, but is The Christmas Fairy a Thing?

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    1. EL James has gone all British again. British Christmas trees are as often as not topped by a fairy, not and angel, star, spire or christ child. The fairy doesn't really do anything. It just sits up at the top of the tree.

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    2. "spire or christ child"

      On top of the tree? Is that an American thing?

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    3. The Christmas Fairy is a character you often get in shopping malls as a feminine alternative of Santa / some elf.

      I don't know about the UK, but here she usually has a basket of chocolates & candy canes to give out to the kids, which many parents are thankful for during christmas shopping time when their spawn are going insane.

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  3. There's a "Sugar Plum Fairy" in The Nutcracker, but other than that, no. It's all about Santa. (Or Jesus, for those who go in for that kind of thing.)

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  4. brb changing my legal name to "Biff Tardigrade"

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  5. " ‘Weirding’ is not a verb and should not be used by anyone who wants to go into publishing."

    That's why I'd never be able to be in a relationship with Superpowerful Hyperrich Creepy Controlling Fantasy Guy - I would never in a thousand years be able to hear this without spending the next twenty minutes yelling at him about Dune.

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    1. Besides, as I was taught ages ago, "It's not the verbing that weirds the language, it's the renounification."

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    2. This was my reaction too. "BUT...BUT THE WEIRDING WAY!"

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  6. my suspicion is (as a non-american) that blonde woman = luxury housekeeper who is not an immigrant from a poor country

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    1. Could be he imported her from Russia. Or the Ukraine.
      ~mimijones~

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  7. I'm a college student, and where I go (UChicago), there definitely are student librarians (at least if libarian is understood as "someone who works at circulation" or some similar post) here. -- M

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    1. Actually ignore what I said; I missed a line in what you wrote (with "moonlighting" undergrads). Sorry about that! -- M

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    2. She specifically says she was a librarian, and my understanding is that the student jobs would be called, like, "library assistant" or something because librarian is a professional title.

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    3. Yeah, normally - and certainly at a university library - all the librarians will have master's degrees in library science. They are not the people you see shelving or checking out books...

      And Cliff, I love that you know this. :)

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    4. Cliff knows that, and some of us know that, but does E.L. James know that?

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    5. Yeah, the students who work in the library usually have the title of "Library Assistant".

      But at the university I go to, the students looking for books, the other "Library Assistants", etc. all call them Librarians in normal conversation. The "Library Assistant" title is pretty much just on paper.

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  8. I have noticed that airlines do treat their first class passengers as if they are god's gift to humanity. I think they are trained to do so.

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    1. Maybe it depends on the airline? I got upgraded to first class once (on United, I think) and it was nice--better food and free booze, and seats that were actually wide enough for my enormous linebacker shoulders--but I don't recall everyone standing around grinning at me like I was the Easter Bunny.

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    2. It really depends on the airline, yeah, a now-dead company treated my grandmother & i like deities in first class, but another airline still treated me like a minor inconvenience in first class.

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    3. Seriously, why would the airline clerk possibly give a shit?

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  9. I'm guessing this is a common abuse dynamic: "here are my rules, presented in enough detail that I can claim to have told you about them but not so clearly that you can be sure you're following them." A la Melvin Chicsales's "don't touch me" thing.

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  10. "Biff Tardigrade"

    But tardigrades are so cute and baddeasse!!!!!!!!

    As far as the class stuff, my guess is that this book was written specifically to appeal to both the sexual *and* wealth fantasies of sexually and financially frustrated people.

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    1. But it STILL doesn't make any sense, Cliff is right. Really? Sexually frustrated people fantasize about some douchebag saying douchey shit to them all day and stalking them to their mother's house?

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    2. I'm with you about the tardigrade, I saw that and I was like, 'please to not be associating Dick Masterson with my adorable waterbears, Cliff! *tear*'

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  11. I think his beef with "the sex was good" was more along the lines of "you mean the sex we had before was not as good??". Wounded ego sort of thing.

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    1. Ah. I read it as "you've never had sex with anyone else, just reminding you of that fact."

      Either way, it's a critical failure in Level One Compliment Accepting.

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  12. Okay, so while I do occasionally think EL James had to know this relationship was abusive, I can kind of see how she could write the conversation with Kate and still not think of it that way. I'd imagine she was aiming more for "Oh, no one understands! It's just us against the world! The fact that people are worried about us just proves that we're doing something extreme/naughty and forbidden (but in the sexy way)!" Some combination of those things.

    I mean, just look at how Christian acts about the possibility that someone could find out about him liking BDSM. James is trying to act like this is some super secret thing, where everyone would be shocked and horrified if they found out. Considering how the marketing for it tended to portray it like something that had never been done before, and how some fans seem to honestly think that this is the case, it sort of makes sense.

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  13. "I've been wrong before, but is there anyone who finds this kind of manipulation sexy? Is there anyone out there whose BDSM fantasy is 'guy who pouts and throws tantrums until I obey him out of exasperated guilt and fear?' Nothing against you if you're into that and you pursue it consensually, and I mean that. It's just so far I haven't met anyone who's into that."

    I suspect it's not so much about finding that particular behavior a turn-on, and more about a) "He loves me so much he can't stand to be a moment without me!" and b) "He's so possessive because he's so damaged, now watch as I love him better!*", both of which are "I am so very special**" types of fantasies.

    *Not that he actually ever gets any better about the possessiveness/stalking/controlling, but somehow many readers seem to think he does?

    **Not judging anyone for enjoying "I am so very special" fantasies. I have a weak spot for them myself. Who doesn't crave an ego boost every now and then? I just wish these "I am so very special" fantasies had fewer awful, realistic abuse tropes mixed into them...

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    1. I have "I am so very special" fantasies, but they're usually ones where my specialness causes people to treat me well and give me things that I enjoy.

      I'm a simple creature, I guess.

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    2. I wouldn't care if he treated her badly, if for one second it seemed like she'd enjoy it. I have no grasp on Ana's characterization. She is a vehicle for the plot to move through, and that's terrible.

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  14. I'm so happy you linked to that Left Behind masterpost. Hello, entertaining reading for the foreseeable future. (I started reading those books when I was about twelve, and was pretty brainwashed by them for a long time. Seeing them picked apart is unendingly satisfying.)

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  15. As an actual librarian, I'm unreasonably annoyed by the 'student librarian' thing. She might have been a library assistant or a page or a circulation clerk, but that's NOT THE SAME THING, damn it.

    I'M A REAL LIBRARIAN AND I HAVE THE STUDENT LOANS TO PROVE IT.

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  16. Cliff, I'm glad you're analyzing this in depth because every time I try I just can't get past the writing. "Her tone is warm but business like" WHAT DOES THAT EVEN SOUND LIKE

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    1. My guess is that she's trying to channel Mary Poppins-- someone who will care about you but also get stuff done. "A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down" and such.

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    2. "Thank you for traveling with Douchetekistan Airlines; enjoy the rest of your day. *And life.*"

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  17. Do we know what kind of work Mrs. Jones does? A tailored white shirt and pencil skirt sounds horribly impractical for housework.

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    1. Maye it's the kind of household where the housekeeper is responsible for telling everyone else what to do and the actual work is done by maids and so on?

      But probably not. Probably it's just that the author thinks no woman should wear practical clothes.

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    2. She says she's the "housekeeper", although she also cooks for them. I dunno. I think the reason she's wearing those clothes is just to demonstrate in yet another way that Richie Moneybags is so rich that even his housekeeper is super formal and fancy.

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    3. Or, knowing how much of a dick Moneybags is, it might just be the "uniform"

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  18. In answer to your question about the consensual pursuit of exasperated guilt and fear-- sort of? The stage after being exasperatedly guilted, I have found, is that the boyfriend gets pissed off and grabs one about the throat and that's the part that turns me on, and to some extent the being guilted does as well, but the practical implications of this are such that I've always considered it a very unhealthy relationship dynamic and something to be worked out in therapy rather than a proper kink, and to do it in a truly consensual way would require extreme self-awareness from all involved and even then probably be a form of emotional edgeplay.

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  19. "Trying to enjoy this book as a piece of fiction is like trying to paddle a canoe through gravel."

    How many monies do we have to chip in to print a run of 50 shades with this as one of the critic quotes on the back. Kickstarter, anyone?

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  20. Hi Cliff! You are awesome and I love you. Nothing constructive to add, but I was excited that you talked about Eklutna Lake! That's right by where I live! Hope you had a great time if you visited, the hiking around there is excellent.

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    1. Sadly no, I just looked up "what's a big lake near Anchorage."

      I would love to visit, though.

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    2. By the way, have you checked out the movie preview? It's a Rifftrax classic in the making, I can just feel it.

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  21. In a surprising amount of hardcore pornography there is a seemingly kinky yet ostensibly vanilla act literally termed "Face F*cking" As you might imagine, even professionals tend to gag and choke when having a penis shoved down their throat. The truth is that it isn't really pleasant for the guy, since he is rubbing his penis against her molars. After multiple takes it can really hurt. This isn't a practice that is included in porn because individual men like it. It's included because it confirms the association between men's domination of women (AKAKAKA patriarchy) and sex.

    This relationship in this book seems to be the same thing. There are a lot of elements that neither the man nor the woman enjoy, the woman is much worse off, but Grey has moments of frustration and anger he could easily avoid if he just let her go. In EL James' mind, it features a man dominating a woman and therefore it IS sex. Perhaps this is why feminists are often accused of being anti-sex, because so many people of either gender have internalized the idea that male domination of women is the defining feature of sexuality.

    Men who have a lot of sex are studs, but women are sluts. Each sexual act raises the man up, but drops the woman down, almost as if he was draining her of some mystical substance that determines social worth. Sex is a vampiric act in that particular sense, so it doesn't surprise me to see sexy vampires. In Twilight the guy makes a huge effort to resist his natural but obviously deadly urges. In a world filled with men who can hardly resist the urge to have sex and thus drain you of your life giving fluids, our dear heroine has finally found one of the rare nice guys who actually resists sex. Of course the fanfiction includes various "What if they had sex anyway?" stories, and at least one of them decided that the best way to maximize the sexy was to maximize the domination. In both franchises, male sexuality is utterly incompatible with male concern for a woman. Edward resists his natural vampiric and sexual urges because he loves Bella. Grey can't resist his urges, and simultaneously can't really love or respect Anastasia.

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    1. If course notions like "Male Domination IS sex" only really works on a subconscious level, though somebody could come up with a twisted ideology that makes it seem logical. The same is true of "sex = bad" which is strongly present in Twilight and 50SoG.

      It's tempting to think that much of Male Dom kink comes from this patriarchal notion. It explains why so many people from all backgrounds end up interested in BDSM, but it doesn't explain the obvious variety of kinks. I guess trying to explain the psychology of all of kink is still a fool's errand.

      I have read ("Yes means Yes" blog) that many BDSM communities are inundated with guys who insist that all women are ultimately submissives, and these guys are the ones most likely to ignore a safeword precisely because they're interested in the kind of "power play" that goes beyond play and fantasy. It seems there are a lot of wannabe Mr. Greys out there.

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    2. This analysis fascinates me.

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  22. That Important Business Man Phone Call reads like it could have been cut dialogue from Tommy Wiseau's The Room.

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  23. The blonde thing (you'll note all his female employees are blonde) is actually even more gross: CG's mother was brunette. He is only attracted to brunettes. In a sadistic way. Because they remind him of his mother. Whom he wants to hurt for his bad childhood.

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  24. And here i was, thinking "Pre-Raphaelite hair" was intimatley associated with redheads. I guess i was wrong. ;)

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  25. The touching as hard limit thing - I had the impression he was sort of a stone top, as in doesn't want Ana initiating physical contact in sexual context/situations.

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  26. (And Upton Sinclair? Really? I mean, nothing wrong with him I guess, but he's not really a Designated Stuffy Literary Author. Whatever, I'm sure he just happened to be the second Google hit on "what are some old-timey authors to make my character sound smart and stuff.")

    I am 99% sure James mixed up Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis. I've had them confused my entire life up to last week, so I can relate.

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