Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 25.

Hi!  I still exist!  I got a new job as a nurse and I was very busy for a while.  I'm still busy, but I have some actual free time now.

And I spent that free time reading Fifty Shades of Grey, because dammit, there's only two chapters left now and I've already left you hanging for like four months.



When we last saw our heroes, they were in Georgia, because Ana went there to get away from this confusing relationship and clear her head and talk things through with her mother--and Punch ThunderMeat stalked her there and totally prevented any head-clearing by taking her away from her mother and monopolizing her time.  ROMANCE.

Content warnings for this chapter: Stalking, gaslighting/mindfuckery, graphic sex and BDSM, and do I even have to mention emotional abuse.


“Oh, Mom.” Hot, unwelcome tears prick my eyes as I cling to her. “Darling, you know what they say. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” I give her a lopsided, bittersweet smile. “I think I’ve kissed a prince, Mom. I hope he doesn’t turn into a frog.”
This is backwards.  She kissed a frog, and the frog gave her a big song and dance about how maybe if she's very good he'll consider being a prince.  One day a week.  Maybe.  And his princehood is going to involve a lot of being green and hopping.
She thinks Hank BeefSaw loves me, but then she’s my mother, of course she’d think that. She thinks I deserve the best of everything. I frown. It’s true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it. It’s very simple: I want his love. I need Slab CrumpleMuscle to love me. This is why I am so reticent about our relationship – because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished.
Break my fucking heart, why don't you.  "This relationship would work great, except that I lucidly understand he doesn't love or value me."  God, it's not even that.  It's "this relationship would work great, except for my gosh-darned inconvenient need for him to love or value me."

I've been there.  I've spent years in the land of Don't Ask For Love, You'll Ruin Everything.  I got out.  I got into a relationship where my romantic advances aren't rebuffed with an eyeroll and a muttered "cliiiingy," but returned with cuddles and affirmation that my emotional needs are valid.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

[Ana and Chuck StagBlast exchange emails while she gets on a plane.  His emails are weirdly cold and distant and refer to some vague "situation" that's bothering him.  On a writing level, this is meant to make the audience anxious and thus emotionally invested, but within the book, it comes off as Gaston ThornJaw deliberately making Ana anxious and thus emotionally invested.]
As I mentally flick through all the scenarios that could be ‘the situation’, I become aware that once again the only empty seat is beside me. I shake my head as the thought crosses my mind that Christian might have purchased the adjacent seat so that I couldn’t talk to anyone. I dismiss the idea as ridiculous – no one could be that controlling, that jealous, surely.
JESUS H. CHRIST ON A JETLINER! SOMEBODY HELP THIS WOMAN.

And seriously, let's talk about love.  When you say you love someone, it isn't purely an abstraction, a declaration of relationship.  It also means that you actually love them--you strongly like them and think good things about them and want good things for them.

If what someone thinks about you is "you are so likely to betray me that the only way I can trust you is when you're physically isolated from all possible co-conspirators," that's not love.  That's a hostage situation.
The journey [from Sea-Tac to downtown Seattle] is slow, caught up in rush hour traffic. [...] I sit back as we drive slowly but steadily along the I-5 into Seattle. Twenty-five minutes, later he drops me outside the impressive façade that is the entrance to Escala.
Twenty-five minutes is slow?  At the peak of rush hour on I-5?  Were they in the Hovercar Lane?
I stand paralyzed as he closes the distance between us, devouring me with his eyes. Holy shit… something’s amiss – the strain in his jaw, the anxiety around his eyes. He shrugs out of his jacket, undoes his dark tie, and slings them both on to the couch en route to me. Then his arms are wrapped around me, and he’s pulling me to him, hard, fast, gripping my ponytail to tilt my head up, kissing me like his life depends on it. What the hell?
What the hell indeed.  Once again, I'm sort of caught between the Doylist and Watsonian implications here.  The Doylist one is "what could cause this mysterious man's tempestuous brooding?  read on to find out!"  But the Watsonian one is "gawd, if he milks this Dramatic Mainpain any harder, he's going to chafe something."
He steps out of his shoes and reaches down to take each of his socks off, never taking his eyes off me. I am rendered speechless by the look of hunger in his eyes. Wow… to be this wanted by this Greek god.
Yeah, but not so much in the "perfect marble muscles" sense.  More in the "he'll turn into various barnyard animals and assault women who are then also turned into animals" sense.  I thought you were into classic literature, Ana.

Also, he's bending over and taking his socks off without breaking eye contact.  That seems awkward.
“Wrap your legs around me, baby,” he commands, his voice urgent, strained. I do as I’m told and wrap my arms around his neck, and he moves quickly and sharply, filling me.
So they have sex or whatever.  It's pretty generic, neither offensive nor arousing, which makes me nervous, because the last time Ratchet RocketCock had sex without being a dickweed about it, it meant that he was warming up to be a major dickweed immediately afterwards.

And he is!  Ana (nervously) tells him she has a job, he asks where, she says something to the effect of "pfft, like you don't already know," and:
“With your stalking capabilities, I thought you might have… ” I trail off as his face falls.“Anastasia, I wouldn’t dream of interfering in your career, unless you ask me to, of course.” He looks wounded.
How dare you accuse me of being a stalker!  Never mind that I tracked you down while you were drunk at a bar, found out your address to send you unwanted gifts, followed you to your mother's home uninvited, and threatened that I could find you anywhere if you tried to run away--How dare you use a word as cruel and hurtful as "stalker"?  I am wounded, ma'am, positively shattered.
“I have something else to tell you,” I murmur as his hands start on my shoulders. “Oh, yes?” he asks mildly. I steel myself with a deep breath. “My friend José’s photography show is opening Thursday in Portland.” He stills, his hands hovering over my breasts. I have emphasized the word ‘friend.’“Yes, what about it?” he asks sternly. “I said I would go. Do you want to come with me?” After what feels like a monumental amount of time, he slowly starts washing me again. “What time?” “The opening is at 7:30 p.m.” He kisses my ear. “Okay.” Inside my subconscious relaxes and then collapses, slumped into an old battered arm-chair.“Were you nervous about asking me?” “Yes. How can you tell?” “Anastasia, your whole body’s just relaxed,” he says dryly.
Gosh, why ever would she be nervous?  Maybe because the last time someone brought up José, you threatened to beat her but graciously allowed her to bargain you down to a hate-fuck instead?

Sure is really fuckin' hilarious that she's nervous right now.  That silly, silly girl.

Like most things in this book, this is a bona fide abuser tactic--switching rapidly between "I might hit you" and "oh my God, did you seriously think I would hit you?" is a great way to keep someone completely unsure of what reality they live in.
“I want you ready and waiting in my playroom in fifteen minutes.” He stands and gazes down at me.
Against all my better wisdom, the page that follows is actually kind of hot.  Ana kneels in the Red Room waiting for Hank PorkThud, and E.L. James builds up a relatively decent sense of anticipation as she looks around the various furnishings and implements wondering what exactly he has planned.  It's the first bit of the book that I could actually relate to as a kinkster.  Except for sentences like this:
Closing my eyes, I try to calm myself down, to connect with my inner sub. She’s there somewhere, hiding behind my inner goddess.
Oh geez, Ana, you already have two people in your head giving you nothing but grief and bad advice.  Do you really want a third?

But more importantly, I've never felt desperate to connect with my inner sub during a scene, because I wouldn't even be there if I wasn't already an outer sub.  If there's a single sentence I can say to destroy Fifty Shades of Grey, I think it's this:

I bottom because I like it.

Not because I can tolerate it, and that means I have no excuse to say no. Not because it's the only chance I have to experience love or relationships.  Not because enduring it is my only way to escape worse punishment.  Not because I can't turn down my partner.

I bottom because I am a kinky, horny little bottom who likes the smack of leather on his ass, who fucking gets off on it, who goes out of his way to find people who will tie him up and hold him down and pound fist-shaped bruises into his skin.  Who snuggles up against his lover in the night and whispers "I want you to bite me."

I bottom because I like it.
This is so… I want to think wrong, but somehow it’s not. It’s right for Flint PlankThrust. It’s what he wants – and after the last few days… after all he’s done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs.
Ana does not.
“We don’t have a signed contract, Anastasia. But we’ve discussed limits. And I want to re-iterate we have safe words, okay?” Holy fuck… what has he got planned that I need safe words?
E.L. James, seriously, if you were going to write a whole book about it, you could've at least read the Wikipedia page on BDSM the whole way through instead of skimming.

Safewords are for any kind of play, because you might need to stop any kind of play.  Hell, you might need to safeword cuddling if you get claustrophobic and they're restricting your movement too much.  Saying "ooh, this play must be scary if we need safewords" is like saying "ooh, this car must be fast if it has brakes."
“Good girl,” he pauses as he stares at me. “My intention is not that you should safeword because you’re in pain. What I intend to do to you will be intense. Very intense, and you have to guide me. Do you understand?”
No.  No no no no no.  You don't get to tell someone when they should and shouldn't use their safeword.  Someone using their safeword is revoking consent to play with you, and you don't get to tell them when they're allowed to say no to you.  That's not how "no" works.
“I am going to tie you to that bed, Anastasia. But I’m going to blindfold you first and,” he reveals his iPod in his hand, “you will not be able to hear me. All you will hear is the music I am going to play for you.” Okay. A musical interlude, not what I was expecting. Does he ever do what I expect? Jeez, I hope it’s not rap.
...As I've said before, Ana has my sympathies, but I don't like her.
Leaning down, he nuzzles my neck. Tracing his teeth and tongue from the base of my ear to my shoulder. He hums softly as he does, and the sound resonates through me. Right down... right down there, inside me. Unbidden, I groan quietly.
Down where?  Your toes?  Your knees?  Is the humming sound making you have sexy feelings inside your knees?  Are you a cicada?

(Note: please do not do this to real people who say "down there," as they may have genuine issues with talking about their genitals and mocking them will be hurtful.  Please do this all you like to fictional characters who have been contrived by the author to say "down there" for some goddamn reason.)
“Hush now,” he breathes against my skin. He holds up his hands in front of me, his arms touching mine. In his right hand is a flogger. I remember the name from my first introduction to this room. “Touch it,” he whispers, and he sounds like the devil himself. My body flames in response. Tentatively, I reach out and brush the long strands. It has many long fronds, all soft suede with small beads at the end. “I will use this. It will not hurt, but it will bring your blood to the surface of your skin and make you very sensitive.”
Like hell a flogger with beads on it won't hurt.  Soft suede might be a nice warmup, sure, but solid beads?  Either he's going to have to use the lightest little bunny taps ever, or he's going to leave serious marks and possibly break her skin.  Beaded floggers are not beginner toys--they concentrate a lot of force into very small impact points.  The difference between suede tails and solid beads is like the difference between being hit with a snowball and being hit with a stone.
“What are the safe words, Anastasia?” “Um… yellow and red, Sir,” I whisper. “Good girl. Remember, most of your fear is in your mind.”
In fact, all of it is!  That's how minds work!  But just because something is in your mind doesn't mean it can't be in there for a damn good reason.
Abruptly, the soft silent hiss and pop of the iPod springs into life. From inside my head, a lone angelic voice sings unaccompanied a long sweet note, and it’s joined almost immediately by another voice, and then more voices – Holy cow, a celestial choir – singing acapella in my head, an ancient, ancient hymnal.
Okay, this is actually kind of cool. Except for the cringe-inducing "holy cow, a celestial choir!"  And the belief that turned-off iPods "hiss and pop."  Is she thinking of cassette tapes?

Anyway, he ties her down all spread-eagley and then takes a fur glove and rubs it all over her.  And then he takes a glass tube and rubs it on her, and discovers the electron.  Or something like that.

No, he doesn't really do that, he just puts the fur away and whaps at her with the flogger.  Once again, I'm a little embarrassed to find some good writing hidden in these scene:
I want to move, to writhe… to escape, or to welcome, each blow… I don’t know – it’s so overwhelming… I can’t pull my arms… my legs are stuck… I am held very firmly in place… and again he strikes across my breasts – I cry out. And it’s a sweet agony – bearable, just… pleasant – no, not immediately, but as my skin sings with each blow in perfect counterpoint to the music in my head, I am dragged into a dark, dark part of my psyche that surrenders to this most erotic sensation. Yes – I get this.
I find that almost disturbingly relatable.  Being pulled into bottomspace is a darkening and deepening for me, a folding back into my own head while the physical sensations on my skin transform from pain to sex.  So yeah, I get this.  It's the first thing that makes me wonder--96% of the way into the book--if maybe the heroine of this kink story has a little potential spark of kink inside her.

I just wish it was something Ana could have come to under her own terms, instead of being the meager bit of pleasure she managed to squeeze out of a miserable situation.
“Please,” I beg, and in one swift move, he lowers me back onto the bed, and he’s lying on top of me, his hands on the bed beside my breasts as he supports his weight, and he thrusts into me,.as A the music reaches its climax, I fall… free fall… into the most intense, agonizing orgasm I have ever had, and Christian follows me… thrusting hard into me, three more times… finally stilling, then collapsing on top of me.
Gosh, three whole thrusts?  Look, I don't want to mock people who have premature ejaculation, I realize it's not something they can control and it's not funny... but at the same time I have to wonder a little about E.L. James' personal experiences and if she even knows that intercourse sometimes lasts more than fifteen seconds.

Post-coitally, Buck FizzleStain gives her aftercare in the form of a half-hearted shoulder rub and an immediate turn back into demanding she tell him all her private thoughts so he can use them against her.  She asks him if she said anything revealing in her sleep, it turns out she didn't, and then things get ugly again:
Torch LargeKnob stops his heavenly massage and shifts so that he’s lying beside me. His head propped up on his elbow. He’s frowning. “What did you think you’d said?” Oh crap. “That I thought you were ugly, conceited, and that you were hopeless in bed.” He crease on his brow deepens. “Well, naturally I am all those things, and now you’ve got me really intrigued. What are you hiding from me, Miss Steele?” I blink at him innocently. “I’m not hiding anything.”[...] “You are hiding something, Anastasia. I may have to torture it out of you.”
And on that cheery note, we're on to the last chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey!  We're almost there!  The finish line is in sight!

I'm going to try really, really hard not to wait another four months to get there.

79 comments:

  1. Great post, and glad to see you're back! This makes me so happy I never read the books. And I don't think E L James knows what a subconscious is. There's so much bad writing in there. That last line, though, I like...being tortured for information is so fun and will make a great scene if she doesn't screw it up by making it coercive.

    Obviously, there's no reason why coercion and rape shouldn't be in fiction, as they happen in real life. But to present abuse as "okay" or as being as valid and normal as consensual activities is very damaging to our society.

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  2. Ahahaha to "and discovers the electron". I would read that book.

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    1. I think that's the one where he hooks up with Amber.

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  3. Cliff? I think I have something here that's going to upset you. It's from an interview with E L James.

    "I am fascinated by BDSM, and fascinated as to why anyone would want to be in this lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s as hot as hell, and find Doms hot as hell. I met this guy recently who is a Dom… well… ‘nuff said about that – but he was fucked-up– boy, was he fucked up – and while I was talking to him, I thought, ‘I have written about you…’ It was weird. Having said that, he was nowhere near as good-looking or successful as Christian… but still.

    Anyway, I digress. On a fantasy level for me, there’s something about Doms – how they act, how in control they are, how you can surrender yourself to one and not have to think about anything except them – that is very appealing… so I kind of started from there. Also, I wanted to explore what would happen if one partner didn’t want to be part of this lifestyle, and to see where that would take me. I had come across stories where Doms and willing Submissives had signed contracts, but I wanted to explore how a person who had never encountered that world before would react to one. I was determined to write a story that involved a proper, detailed contract… and Christian as a fantasy guy kind of evolved from all that."

    http://www.cheekymonkeysm.com/interviews/interview-with-fifty-shades-trilogy-author-el-james

    Did you catch it? Ignoring the part where she calls someone in the BDSM community "fucked up", ignoring the part about how she thinks it's sexy...she says one very key thing:

    "I wanted to explore what would happen if one partner didn’t want to be part of this lifestyle, and to see where that would take me."

    The stuff you've been talking about, about how Ana doesn't enjoy BDSM and she doesn't seem to want to submit, at all? That is, according to E L James herself, the *entire point of the book*. She wanted to write a book about "What if someone into BDSM forced a vanilla person to do BDSM?"

    And the thing is, that would be one thing. I'm sure you could write a good book about someone in the BDSM community forcing BDSM on someone else. The person doing the forcing wouldn't be a //good guy//, but still. Except for one thing:

    "Asked if female readers were attracted by the adventurous bedroom scenes or the fantasy of dating a ludicrously rich man, James replied: “No, it’s the love story. Women like to read a passionate love story." "

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9526791/50-Shades-of-Grey-Just-an-old-fashioned-love-story-says-EL-James.html

    She wrote a passionate love story about someone forcing their kinks on someone else who didn't want any part of it.

    On purpose.

    I thought you should know.

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    1. Huh. I never read E.L. James' interviews because I just find her profoundly annoying, but it seems like she's confusing "someone who's never tried BDSM before" with "someone who does not want to do BDSM" in a really weird way. Apparently she thinks that willing submissives just spring fully-formed from the brow of Midori?

      Or in other words, "I've read stories about dominants and submissives doing BDSM, but imagine if it was a dominant and a human."

      Also, if she's never read a story about someone who's new and naive being introduced to BDSM, then I think the number of BDSM stories she's read is, like, one. Maximum.

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    2. To my (cynical) this sounds too thought out a fan-fic that grew too big.

      While I suspect that most authors tell one lie for publicity's sake I fear FSoG needed many...

      Jon

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    3. >Or in other words, "I've read stories about dominants and submissives doing BDSM, but imagine if it was a dominant and a human."

      That is a great way to put it. She isn't coming out and saying it, but that's the subtext of basically every interview she gives about it, and even some parts of the book itself; how Ana is a normal person who naturally thinks BDSM is weird and awful, because she's not like those /submissive freaks/.

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    4. "Ignoring the part where she calls someone in the BDSM community "fucked up"" - well, he sounded abusive, and I am clinging to her or anyone else's right to call out creepy/boundary-crossy people even if they might like to hide it under BDSM. Fucked-up is not a nice word, but taking away words of self-defense is not. Is the "sane" in safe-sane-consensual also Opressive? :/

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    5. Not having further details about the guy, I don't know. "Fucked up" coming from her could mean abusive, or it could mean he did some kind of consensual but non-glamorous play like watersports, or it could mean he foolishly told her about actual mental problems he had. Heck, he probably was a creep, but the source makes it hard to tell.

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  4. Yay! Glad to see you updating again. :)

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  5. Ugh. E.L. James just makes me sick. Like this is not how the world works and I don't think the words she strings together mean the things she thinks they mean. I can't even form a full coherent attack on her interviews because that level of contradiction and stupid makes my brain shut down. :-(

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  6. This is probably the smallest nit I've ever picked, but

    "singing acapella in my head, an ancient, ancient hymnal"

    That should be "hymn", right? Like, if she's referring to the actual song, it's a hymn. Of course, she could be using metonymy, or meaning that they're singing *from* an ancient hymnal, but I don't think that's possible with the woman who the entire (long!) sentence that the phrase is in.

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    1. the woman who wrote*. I also probably shouldn't be writing comments at 6 in the morning.

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    2. Ooh, good catch. I bet she thinks a "hymnal" is like a hymn but fancier.

      (Also, "a capella" is two words, but c'mon, you'd need to be a professional writer or something to know that.)

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    3. A possibly even more nitpicky nitpick than that: it can't be *that* ancient. The earliest known examples of polyphony are only like 10th cen at the earliest. (I realise as a medievalist with classicist friends my idea of what constitutes 'ancient' may be way off the average person's, but still.)

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    4. They actually specify it's "Spem in alium," which is from the late 1500s. But whatever. I think she'd call anything from before 1950 "ancient."

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    5. I was lucky enough to get to sing it when I was in college, and you can imagine how surprised I was recently when I went looking for a recording and it had a little sticker on it saying "as mentioned in 50 Shades of Gray!"

      I wonder why E.L. James chose it, anyway? To be perfectly honest, I can think of lots of more angelic-sounding pieces. I mean, I personally do think Spem in Alium is cool because it's so outrageously complicated, and because when I spend months rehearsing something I generally learn to appreciate it, but I wouldn't suggest it as a soundtrack for sex or anything else.
      The only thing I can think of is that she intended the words to be significant-- it's about putting your trust in God, and how powerful God is and how small and humble you are. And now that I've thought of it I really hope she didn't intend that, because it seems gross and disrespectful to compare kink to religion that way.

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    6. I bet she just chose it because it's public domain so it'll be cheap to put in the movie.

      ...Come to think of it, I wonder how much "this character is so cultured, he only listens to classical" can be chalked up to that.

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  7. The second she said "I hope its not rap." I immediately wanted him to put on Soulja Boy's "Crank That".

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    1. I feel I ought to clarify: not because the idea of Ana being afflicted with every possible discomfort at once is funny to me, but rather because that particular song is a deeply goofy, stomping, thundering piece of music that immediately draws attention to itself and annihilates whatever tension or mood is present in the room in which it is played.

      Indeed, to paraphrase, Grunk ClonkTromp gets mad cuz I got me some Bathing Apes.

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  8. So glad to see you back Cliff, and I hope the new job is going well. Every chapter just seems to get worse and worse with this - I can't believe we have to wait for the penultimate chapter before Ana is starting to enjoy the kink. I can't however understand how anyone would be confident in submitting to a guy who can't take a bit of teasing, flips out at the smallest things and constantly threatens to ignore limits. It's very much on the smug lines of 'I know you better than yourself' - would he have actually stopped if she'd safeworded?

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    1. It's very much on the smug lines of 'I know you better than yourself' - would he have actually stopped if she'd safeworded?

      This. A hundred times this.

      Personal anecdote about this:

      I ran the hell away from a classmate who propositioned me in college because he responded to my initial ambivalence with "Well, if you need time to think about it, OK, but understand that I'm going to be impatient waiting for your eventual answer because I already know what that answer is going to be."

      Bonus points: The reason he knew me better than he knew myself? He'd read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Also he was older than me, and not a virgin. So.

      Bonus BONUS points: After this conversation he *demanded* that I give him a hug to show that I wasn't scared of him now that he'd said these things.

      After this conversation, I made 300% sure never to be alone with him, ever. Asked my roommate to hang out with us when we had our study-date. Made no further plans with him. And did not seek to reinitiate contact after we both got back from summer break.

      Because, by and large, people who make it clear that they think they know you better than you know yourself are BAD NEWS. They cannot be trusted to respect a "No." They cannot be trusted not to respond with, "Oh, you're saying no, but I know you really want it."

      (There was a fun, smug-making part hiding out in that horrifying conversation: He thought my ambivalence had to do with my never having had sex before and not knowing whether I was ready. He was surprised when I said, "No, what I need to think about is whether I'm into you that way. I'm not at all sure that I am." For all that he was creeping me the fuck out, it was amusing to realize I'd just accidentally deflated his ego a bit.)

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  9. "I bottom because I like it.
    (...)
    I bottom because I am a kinky, horny little bottom who likes the smack of leather on his ass, who fucking gets off on it, who goes out of his way to find people who will tie him up and hold him down and pound fist-shaped bruises into his skin. Who snuggles up against his lover in the night and whispers "I want you to bite me."
    I bottom because I like it."

    PLEASE tell me you're already selling T-shirts with this text. I'll buy a dozen.

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    1. That would be good on a t-shirt!

      Jon

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    2. Or on panties. In very, very small text. With the addition of a footnote saying, "If you're close enough to read this, your spanking technique needs some work."

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  10. Ana, Ana, I have two words for you, and they even rhyme:

    DATE KATE.

    Kate cares about you, Ana, Kate is sweet and friendly and charming, Kate wouldn't steamroller over your wishes like Christian does, and you think Kate looks damn good. DATE KATE.

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    1. Kate can do better.

      I'm much in the same place Cliff is in that I sympathize with Ana, but I don't particularly like her. Her situation is shitty, but I can't imagine even a healthy relationship with her being pleasant based on the fact that she's demonstrated herself to be... not a great or particularly well-adjusted person even before Christian started completely controlling her life.

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    2. Yeah, but you have to admit there's more evidence for Kate/Ana in these books (seriously, Ana gives detailed, gushing descriptions of how beautiful Kate is and what she looks like and how lovely she is and stuff, whereas Grey gets "he's hot" and "I'm scared of him" and "he gives me orgasms"), and I can see why someone would be attracted to Kate, which is more than I can say for FauxDom AbusiveWanker. Take away his abusive tendencies and his "tragic backstory" and you're left with pretty much nothing.

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    3. But anonymous...he's really rich. And has a helicopter. You forgot that...

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    4. These books are so deeply heteronormative I don't think James would even realize she's put in all that slashy subtext. If you told her she'd probably be as shocked as she would be if you told her not all Doms are 'fucked-up'. And don't even mention bi-sexual switches because that would probably make her brain explode.

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  11. This is so… I want to think wrong, but somehow it’s not. It’s right for Flint PlankThrust. It’s what he wants – and after the last few days… after all he’s done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs.

    What the fuck? This is actually in there? This is actually text?

    This is an unhealthy dynamic if we're talking about who cooks dinner. It's just... no, nope, a ton of nope.

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    1. Especially consider that "all he's done" over the last few days is give her grief. He's spent a lot of time and money stalking her, I guess, but none of it went toward anything she actually wanted or needed.

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  12. Not a BDSM person but I thought the point of safewords was to replace "no" or "stop" in situations where "no" and "stop" are to be ignored? Otherwise, why have a special word?

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    1. Sort of yes. But I'd say that "no" and "stop" are safewords, they're just default safewords.

      Also, even when you're not ignoring "no" or "stop," I think it can still be good to have safewords, just because they're... more explicit? I think the act of agreeing on a safeword before a scene acts as an active reminder to both participants that consent can be withdrawn, in a stronger way that passively thinking "well, of course we'll stop if someone says stop" does.

      Also, if you're in a kink group/party setting, bystanders may subconsciously filter out "no" but will definitely turn their heads at "red."

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    2. Some people also deliberately choose safewords that will interrupt the flow of a scene. Someone blurting "TURNIP" out of nowhere will probably make you stop for a second out of confusion no matter what you're doing.

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    3. I think safewords can provide a nice clarity. While "no", "don't", and "stop" are all default safewords, you might choose to say "don't stop", which is worlds different from "Don't. Stop!" and people should be able to tell the difference, but there's no room for ambiguity with "red" or so forth, because you aren't going to say, "don't red". And you might want to be able to ask yes or no questions, like, "Am I on your hair?" and then just say, "No." and that doesn't mean stop everything. So, having a term that is purely going to come up when something needs to stop is, I think, of value, whether or not you are doing something kinky.

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  13. I want his love. I need Slab CrumpleMuscle to love me. This is why I am so reticent about our relationship – because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished.

    If someone had a perfectly healthy, friendly, non-romantic relationship and they had a moment like this, that would be a good reason to change things and break up, because incompatible desired. Not every relationship needs to be about love, but wanting to be loved is a good reason to not pursue a relationship where you can't have that. A decent person would recognize that and if love wasn't on the table for them, they'd recognize your right to pursue it elsewhere.

    Christian Grey is not a decent person, so of course he's got Ana convinced she owes him a relationship that doesn't meet her needs. Which would be a reasonable and realistic thing to write if the book wasn't going "Hold on long enough with the guy who makes you do things you don't want, controls you and doesn't meet your needs, and eventually he'll give you true love!"

    after all he’s done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs.

    And not only is it not okay for her to ask for what she wants, she specifically has to endure the scary and painful things she doesn't want because she feels she owes him. He gives her stuff he wants to give, when and how he chooses in ways that let him better control her, and makes her feel obligated to do stuff she doesn't want to, when and how he chooses, to in a way that lets him better control her.

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  14. " She thinks I deserve the best of everything. I frown. It’s true, and in a moment of startling clarity, I see it."

    For a hopeful second there I thought she meant "It's true that I deserve the best of everything" but alas.

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  15. Congrats again on the job!

    Also seriously you are much more diligent about this than me. I caved like ten chapters before this.

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  16. So Ana and Crash NasCar are going to Offensive Mexican Stereotype's photography exhibit, and that will be the climax (or lack thereof) to this miserable book.

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  17. I don't like safewords in porn. I don't really want to read about a scene going south during personal time, and if it's not going to go south, the setting up of the safeword is putting a gun on the mantelpiece that will never be fired.

    I'm not saying setting up the safeword doesn't have a place in erotic fiction, just that it's difficult (if not impossible) to work into that erotic fiction which is porn.

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    1. Have you read the Kushiel books? The lead character safewords just once, but it's worked up to really well.

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    2. Conversely, I don't like it when characters don't set up a safeword in erotic fiction. For me it's as much a character note as anything is; these are people who care enough to set up a safeword, so I already like them better.

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    3. I guess -- and that this is plausible may simply be a consequence of the type of porn I read -- I assume they negotiated off-stage. And I'm not sure Kushiel is porn as I define it (stories all about the sex, and centered on the sex, in which the sex is its own reason for existing).

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  18. I think my first comment got eaten, but Welcome Back!
    Thanks for seeing this car crash through to the end. I hope your new job kicks ass.

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  19. "This is why I am so reticent about our relationship – because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished." This is one of the more terrifying lines to read. She's shocked to learn that she shares the same need as 99% of humanity. For her it's problematic because of the nature of their relationship and the fact that somehow she's increasingly desperate to continue it, despite all of the horror she has already faced in said relationship. Either she doesn't understand how normal the need for love is, and how truly necessary is, or at some point she inexplicably decided that this relationship is more important than absolutely anything else. Well there are two reasons she might stick around, 1. It's seems to be established that she never felt any sort of sexual feelings until she met Christian, and when she does meet with Christian she experiences particularly powerful arousal. At first she didn't even identify these feelings as a good thing, but maybe she's come to crave those feelings? 2. Sometimes...Abuser tactics work. She stopped considering "Leave Christian" as a real possibility, at this point the idea doesn't even cross her mind. She's learning that standing up to him, standing up for herself, etc. doesn't do anything good. So her brain cuts off any attempt at free will before it gets her in trouble.

    I am certain this book is written for the sexually repressed. People who do not think of themselves as sexual beings, but ultimately have a lot of sexual feelings and urges hidden away in what I think Jung would call the "shadow self". Jung noted that the more effort one puts into ignores, rejecting, and denying the shadow self, the more powerful it can become. Thus these sexually repressed people respond to erotica, but they can only identify with a seemingly asexual character, someone who normally has no sexual desire, has no sexual experiences in the past, and initially reject all but the most vanilla of sexual acts. Erotica for the sexually repressed inevitably features rape because the woman says No! and the man does it anyway, but it's not really rape because because the man is definitely worthy. He is simultaneously the very definition of masculine success, but also devoted to her, and thus entirely entitled to her. Also because he exudes masculinity all women automatically feel aroused, and if he actually touches them in the right way his masculine aura will bring about an orgasm, no foreplay necessary!

    I've been reading wehuntedthemammoth.com a lot over the last few months, which documents and mocks some of the more absurd things that anti-feminists say on the internet. Some of the entries remind me of FSoG and reading this today reminds me of some of the worst things on wehuntedthemammoth.com. Unfortunately patriarchal thinking and the fetishization of the mythical "ALPHA MALE" can affect both genders.

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    1. I agree that this book is aimed at the sexually repressed. I grew up with with sex positive 1970s values and have never understood the notions of sex being dirty or bad. I REALLY don't get how ambivalence, or outright lack of willing is sexy! I can only imagine that if you have been raised NOT to own your sexuality maybe you would find this idea that someone else decides everything *whether you like it or not* to be arousing, or even remotely acceptable.

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  20. "Inside my subconscious relaxes and then collapses, slumped into an old battered arm-chair."

    It then curled up with a good book and learned how to end sentences without tacking on unnecessary, absurd imagery.

    If E.L. James had written the Bible, it would have been "Jesus wept buckets".

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    1. Every time EL James does that, I spend five minutes trying to either visualize the subconscious as a physical form or figure out what in hell it would feel like to have your subconscious perform literal actions. Super distracting. I don't think I'd be able to make it through the book if I tried to read it cover to cover.

      I really wish someone would tell EL James that she can just write "my muscles relaxed and I felt like collapsing into an armchair" instead of trying to offload all Ana's feelings onto her little inner marionette.

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    2. Right? It would be hilarious if her inner subconscious went to collapse in an armchair, and her inner goddess was already sitting there. And then her inner subconscious tries the loveseat, but it's occupied by her inner sub. And then she realizes she has too goddamn many freeloaders living in her head, and that ugly-ass inner furniture has to go.

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  21. As a lesbian, I continue to find the 15 second sex thing baffling. That's not even enough time for the "we're just getting started here" kissing...or any of the things that follow. I can't think of a single thing I do in bed that I could do for 15 seconds and then call it a night!

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    1. I assure you that's not normal heterosexual behavior either.

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    2. I think the idea is that they get so worked up by the spanking and whipping and bondage play that by the time they actually stimulate each other they're already on the edge. Though that still isn't realistic for most people. Of course this is the same book where women apparently feel physical arousal just from the man's presence because he's just so manly...

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    3. To be fair, he did go down on her before that. Although it sounds like it was for approximately a millisecond:

      He moves down to my belly – his tongue circling my navel – following the path of the flogger and the fur… I moan. He’s kissing and sucking and nibbling… moving south… and then his tongue is there. At, a the junction of my thighs. I throw my head back and cry out as I almost detonate into orgasm… I’m on the brink, and he stops.

      "A the junction of my thighs" is almost as bad a euphemism for vagina as "down there." It makes me think perhaps he's licking somewhere above her knees.

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  22. Comradde PhysioProffeDecember 13, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    HOW CAN A HISS BE SILENT!?!?!?

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    1. It's soft and silent. Belt and suspenders writing, albeit that the belt and the suspenders are each holding up a completely different pair of pants.

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    2. If you have a view that silence is relative, then it makes sense. The hiss of your air compressor leaking is silent when you have a table saw running.

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  23. Welcome back :) Sorry for the unsolicited correction, but I read your link about the Watsonian vs Doylist comparison (as I've never heard of it before), and according to that you used them mixed up.

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    1. Unless Cliff changed it already, it look's like he's got it the right way around to me. Doylist/Real World explanation: He was written that way to add suspense and drama. Watsonian/In Universe explanation: He's being mysterious on purpose to manipulate Ana, what a dick!

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  24. So glad to see you back and writing. Was worried about you.

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    1. You can check "Cliff's personal Tumblr" linked in the sidebar. He writes frequently there, lots of fun stuff.

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  25. What's bad about Ana not liking rap? Are you assuming it means she's a snob or racist?

    "Did you seriously i would hit" - you're missing the word think.

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    1. Well, basically yes. Not because everyone has to love rap, but there was just something of the sheltered kid going "anything but rap or country!" in that line.

      Whoops, fixed, thank you.

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    2. Well not to play "decode the text's racial politics on sparse evidence", but given that the only other notable POC-related incident of note was Jose trying to force himself on Ana, yeah making a point of not wanting rap music (as opposed to polka, blue grass, death metal, screamo, ska, big band jazz, or any other number of "unsexy" musical genres that might not be immediately coded "black"), its hard not to connect what dots there are.

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    3. LOL what if the song he picked out was "Accidental Racist"

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  26. “With your stalking capabilities, I thought you might have… ” I trail off as his face falls.“Anastasia, I wouldn’t dream of interfering in your career, unless you ask me to, of course.” He looks wounded.

    Ha. Ha ha ha.

    Spoiler alert for those who care: this conversation happens on Friday, June 3rd. Ana and Christian break up the next day, which ends 50SoG.

    50 Shades Darker picks up the following Monday, June 6th. Ana and Christian agree to start dating again that Thursday, June 9th.

    THE NEXT DAY, JUNE 10, EXACTLY ONE WEEK AFTER THE CONVERSATION ABOVE, Christian reveals that he's in the process of buying the company Ana works for. (He has not mentioned this to her previously, let alone asked if she's comfortable with it, naturally.) This purchase is apparently completed by the following Monday, as Christian is able to request specific tasks from the company's IT department and make financial policy changes to prevent Ana from going on a business trip.

    (Why yes, I did spend way too long mapping out the timeframe of the first two books from various recaps - the length of time the honeymoon in the third book confuses me and throws me off, although I may still tackle it at some point.)

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  27. Glad to hear you're alive and still kicking! One thing:

    "Please do this all you like to fictional characters who have been contrived by the author to say "down there" for some goddamn reason."

    As a budding romance/erotica writer who wants to make sex actually SEXY—as opposed to, say, terrible abusive fanfiction of an already terrible book series—I'm completely lost on the names to use for ladyparts at this point. 'Vagina' and 'labia' and other clinical terms are too clinical, apparently; 'pussy' is out, 'heat' is out, 'grip' or 'tunnel' or 'depths' are out, 'sex' is definitely out, [insert hilariously terrible/weird euphemism] is right out, and... yeah. I know you're not able to please everyone, but are there any (somewhat) acceptable words or descriptors or whatever?

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    1. You could try going either more vague or more specific with things. Like, "I felt him enter me and lifted my hips to urge him deeper" or "His touch made me blush from head to toe, and I felt a tingle and a pleasant wetness in my underwear" for vague or "He parted the lips and flicked his tongue once over my clit" for more specific.

      I'd say that while vagina is one of the more clinical terms (and labia refers to a very specific part of it) you can still use it, just not as your primary word for it. It wouldn't break the mood if you used it sparingly. Also "hole" is always an option.

      I'm curious though, what's wrong with "pussy"?

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    2. I think that one's down to personal preference, some women like it and others despise it. Personally I'm not a fan - it has a cheesy porn vibe to it - but I do snerk a bit when I see the phrase "wet pussy". Makes me think of a cat taking a bath.

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    3. I'm curious though, what's wrong with "pussy"?

      For me most such words are inextricably connected with middle-school bathroom walls and a smell of drains.

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    4. Personally, I've always been a fan of 'he fed his Boba Fett into her pocket Sarlacc'. But I can see that might just be me...

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  28. Does James mean 'conscience' by subconscious?

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    1. She's mixed up "subconscious" with "superego."

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  29. Help me out, pervocracy fans.

    My apologies if this has already been addressed in a thread somewhere, but I want to see the "50 Shades of Grey" movie. However, I'm starting to feel like I can't throw any more money at E.L. James in good conscience as a feminist. I hesitate to contribute to the market for fiction that promotes the idea that abuse (disguised as BDSM) is romantic or OK in any way.

    What do you all think?

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    1. I pirated the book, and I intend to either pirate the movie or buy a ticket to a different movie and sneak in.

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    2. Regarding the movie... I see so many people making comments like "well, in a movie, they either have to change lots of stuff or else it will be obvious to everyone that the relationship is abusive and unhealthy", and I'm like "guys, have you SEEN MOVIES before?".
      Stuff that people watch in movies all the time without realizing that it's NOT FUCKING ROMANTIC: Unhealthy relationship dynamics, outright stalking, sexual harassment, men refusing to take "no" for an answer, in slightly older movies outright rape (luckily, this trope seem to have died out during the last decades, but most people still don't see the problem when they watch older movies where this occur). Just put on soft lighting and romantic music and everyone will interpret what happens as romantic.

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  30. Cliiifff! I've been checking in now and again, and it's great to see you back! Glad to hear about the new job, and hope the rest of what's been keeping you busy has been good stuff.

    Haven't read the books, don't intend to, but thanks to various take-downs around the net, I feel I've gotten the gist. Of the bits you posted above, the moment that was sexy for me was when he grabbed her ponytail to tilt her head back for a kiss. Not even the whole sentence, just that one moment, which could have been so sweet and intense between a happy, consensual couple.

    SherryH

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  31. Aren't princes spoiled, entitled dictators who can execute you and face no consequences? Maybe she kissed a prince after all.
    Plus, now I'm thinking that Tudors show was the first '50 Shades of Tudors' that greased the rails to all this madness. The minute you start thinking Henry VIII should be somehow sexy and pouty and not at all resembling an evil, ginger Santa Claus, it is but a short step to Christian Grey. (And didn't they do a movie of Eric Bana playing sex-ay Henry VIII? Why?!

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