Saturday, December 14, 2013

Let's Read Fifty Shades of Grey! Chapter 10!

Nothing interesting happens in this chapter, but I made a really good joke in Chapter 11, and we won't get to that if I don't post this.

Content warnings for this chapter: Emotional abuse (which is almost continuous in this chapter), child/adolescent sexual abuse.  You know, light fluffy romance stuff.

His grin widens, and leaning down, he undoes the tie. The woven pattern has made an indented pattern around my wrists. It’s… sexy.
What is this, a burlap necktie?
I’d like you to meet my mother. Get dressed. I’ll just go and calm her down.” His mouth presses into a hard line. “I will expect you in that room in five minutes, otherwise I’ll come and drag you out of here myself in whatever you’re wearing."
Okay, buddy, it's going to be a lot more embarrassing for you than her if she's naked and struggling with you the first time your mom sees her.
“Mother, this is Anastasia Steele. Anastasia, this is Grace Trevelyan-Grey.”
In the first draft, she was Lady Plinkington Symthe-Twombly-Blythe-on-Thames, so this is actually an improvement.
[Ana gets a phone call.] “Dios mio! Ana!” Holy crap, it’s José. He sounds desperate. “Where are you? I’ve been trying to contact you. I need to see you, to apologize for my behavior on Friday. Why haven’t you returned my calls?”
Jose really isn't any creepier than Bog ClankDraft, but because he's Latino Stereotype instead of Marble Adonis, he doesn't get cut the same slack.

This is plenty creepy, though.  Badgering someone to let you apologize to them is... not how apologies are supposed to work.  "I was going to commit to respecting your wishes, but I can't because you're not doing what I want!"
[back to Bear SlamBark] “This is the contract. Read it, and we’ll discuss it next weekend. May I suggest you do some research, so you know what’s involved.” He pauses. “That’s if you agree, and I really hope you do.” He adds, his tone softer, anxious. “Research?” 
“You’ll be amazed what you can find on the Internet,” he murmurs. Internet! I don’t have access to a computer, only Kate’s laptop, and I couldn’t use Clayton’s, not for this sort of ‘research’ surely?
She doesn't have access to a computer?  It's 2011, she just graduated college with (I think) a degree in English, and her background seems pretty middle-class.  I'm not sure what's up with this.  Is it yet another way to say "she basically didn't exist before she met Steak RoughKnob?"

And may I suggest that if you're trying to get someone in a particular sort of relationship with you, the very least you could do is explain to them in person what kind of relationship you want?  "You're going to be my submissive. So you better go Google it."  Cripes.
“I’ll just make a call,” I murmur. I just want to hear Kate’s voice. He frowns. “The photographer?” His jaw clenches, and his eyes burn. I blink at him. “I don’t like to share, Miss Steele. Remember that.”
Yes, the issue with the guy who assaulted her and now won't leave her alone (I mean, the other one) is that he's on another man's turf.  That's the real problem here.
His quiet, chilling tone is a warning, and with one long, cold look at me, he heads back to the bedroom. Holy crap. I just wanted to call Kate, I want to call after him, but his sudden aloofness has left me paralyzed.What happened to the generous, relaxed, smiling man who was making love to me not half an hour ago?
When people said this book was about an abusive relationship, they weren't fucking kidding.  I thought it would be like "bad implications" abusive, but this shit is not implied.  It's right the fuck out there.  They're about three hours into the relationship and he's making her feel like shit for wanting to talk to a friend.

This is making all those "waiting for my Christian Grey!" socks and shit on Etsy look dark as fuck.

Tears of joy, yes.

“I need to talk to Kate. I’ve so many questions about sex, and you’re too involved. If you want me to do all these things, how do I know–?” I pause, struggling to find the right words. “I just don’t have any terms of reference.” He rolls his eyes at me. “Talk to her if you must.” He sounds exasperated.
Oh hooray, he's deigning to allow her to speak to her friend, but not without letting her know how annoying and immature he thinks she is for asking.
“The sooner I have your submission the better, and we can stop all this,” he murmurs. “Stop all what?” “You, defying me.”
Yeah, defiantly having friends and rebelliously wanting to know what the fuck is going on.

Real Talk: outside friendships are more important for someone who's actively in a submissive relationship.  Having a more experienced submissive to ask questions and compare notes with is great, but even a vanilla friend can keep you grounded and remind you there's life outside the relationship.  Above all else, you need someone to bounce "this isn't okay, right? it's not just me, right?" off of.

So I can see why he wouldn't want Ana to have that.
“Hungry?” he asks. Not for food. “Not particularly.” His mouth tightens into that hard line. “You must eat, Anastasia,” he chides. “I know a great place near Olympia. We’ll stop there.”
What is WITH the food thing?  Is it sexy that he's secretly a Jewish grandmother?

Digression: my personal great place near Olympia is the cafeteria at Cabela's.  You wouldn't think an outdoor-goods store cafe would have notable food, but oh my gosh the bison burgers.  Every time I've driven past Olympia I've made an excuse to go get a Cabela's burger.
“Two glasses of the Pinot Grigio,” Christian says with a voice of authority. I purse my lips, exasperated. “What?” he snaps. “I wanted a Diet Coke,” I whisper. His gray eyes narrow, and he shakes his head. “The Pinot Grigio here’s a decent wine, it will go well with the meal, whatever we get.” He says patiently.
I'm going to have to start skipping abusive incidents just for time.  I mean, if we count every single time in this chapter he ignores the fact that she still hasn't consented to submit to him, I'll be typing the whole damn thing out.

Also, going into yet another petty snit because she whispered that she wants a soda is the least "patiently" anything ever.
“I’ve never slept with anyone, never had sex in my bed, never flown a girl in Charlie Tango, never introduced a woman to my mother. What are you doing to me?”
Yeah, sure, uh huh. I think the "you're the special one who might change me" speech is Chapter Eight in most pickup-artist manuals.

...Never had sex in his bed?  I can't put my finger on it, but there's something kind of assholish about having play partners you fuck but don't let in your bed. It stinks of the "if I don't treat you with open disdain you'll probably turn all clingy" game.
He frowns for a moment and seems to be engaged in some kind of internal struggle. Then he glances up, a decision made. “One of my mother’s friends seduced me when I was fifteen.” “Oh.” Holy shit that’s young! “She had very particular tastes. I was her submissive for six years.” He shrugs.
So, this.  I'm reading this stuff cold, so I don't know what exactly this is going to lead to, but I'm thinking the answer is "nothing good."  Ana does acknowledge that this is abuse.

My guess for how this turns out: he's kinky because he was abused, and when he's Healed By Love it'll fix all his survivor issues (oh man do I wish that part worked in real life) and then he won't be kinky any more.  But that's just my guess. I'll have to wait and see to find out exactly how badly James handles this.

So... is kink fun and sexy, or is it part of the cycle of abuse and something a person needs to be healed from?  Because although I think the latter is wrong, "both" is much, much worse.
I stare at him. This man – sexually abused as an adolescent – his tone is so threatening.
That's sort of an unsettling sentence.  I mean, people who were sexually abused as adolescents go on to do all sorts of things.  "This man - sexually abused as an adolescent - he's playing hacky-sack in rainbow toe socks" is an equally possible statement, and makes about as much sense.

I can understand it in the sense of "Ana can't get the disclosure out of her mind; it keeps coming up unbidden when she looks at him" but I don't trust that James means it that way.  I suspect it's an "abuse survivors--so edgy and dangerous!" thing.
“Is this what our err… relationship will be like?” I whisper. “You, ordering me around?” I can’t quite bring myself to look at him. “Yes,” he murmurs. “I see.” “And what’s more, you’ll want me to,” he adds, his voice low. I sincerely doubt that.
Wait, WHAT?  So why is she doing this?  I thought the whole point was that she wanted to submit to him!  If she doesn't want him to order her around, then why the hell is she entering into an ordering-around relationship with him?
“Thank you for this weekend, Anastasia. It’s been… the best. Wednesday? I’ll pick you up from work, from wherever?” he says softly. “Wednesday,” I whisper. He kisses my hand again and places it back in my lap. He climbs out, comes round to my side, and opens the passenger door. Why do I feel suddenly bereft? A lump forms in my throat. I must not let him see me like this.
Oh for fuck's sake, Ana.  You can survive two whole days without Stud ManChunk.  You'll make it through somehow.
“My first time was horrid,” [Kate] continues, making a sad comedy face.
Leave for the plot, stay away for the writing!
My subconscious glares at me, wagging her long skinny finger, then morphs into the scales of justice to remind me he could sue if I disclose too much. Ha… what’s he going to do – take all my money? I must remember to Google ‘penalties for breaching a non-disclosure agreement’ while I’m doing the rest of my ‘research’.
I would like to see Stud McMuffin try to get that enforced in court.  I really would.

The penalty for breaching an NDA is whatever's written in the NDA; it's a contract, not a law.  Did Ana not even get a copy of what she signed?
"José has been calling every hour on the hour. He sounded desperate.” “I’ll call him,” I mutter evasively. If I tell Kate about José, she’ll have him for breakfast.
Sounds good to me. Scrambled or over easy?
“Hey, I have interviews! The week after next, in Seattle, for intern placements!” “For which publishing house?” “For both of them!” “I told you your GPA would open doors, Ana.”
So she's going into publishing, and she doesn't have a computer?  How does she figure that's going to work?

I bet you twenty Inner Goddesses that it turns out Buff SteakTips secretly pulled strings to get Ana those interviews, and this will be presented as a wonderful and caring thing, instead of yet another way he puts her in debt to him and takes over her life.
“Ana, you’re back!” José shouts his relief at me. [...] “Can I see you? I’m sorry about Friday night. I was drunk… and you… well. Ana – please forgive me.” “Of course, I forgive you José. Just don’t do it again. You know I don’t feel like that about you.” [...] “José, I love you dearly, you mean so much to me. You’re like the brother I never had. That’s not going to change. You know that.” [...] 
“So you’re with him now?” His tone is full of disdain. “José, I’m not with anybody.” “But you spent the night with him.” “That’s none of your business!” “Is it the money?” “José! How dare you!” I shout, staggered by his audacity. “Ana,” he whines and apologizes simultaneously. I cannot deal with his petty jealousy now. I know he’s hurt, but my plate is overflowing dealing with Christian Grey. “Maybe we can have a coffee or something tomorrow. I’ll call you.” I am conciliatory.
At least Jose is supposed to be an asshole.  (And hey, he got through an entire conversation without any "did I mention I am Latino today" Spanglish!)  But I really feel bad for Ana here.  She spends the entire "Jose called to apologize" conversation apologizing to him and talking him down and worrying about his needs.  It rings truer than anything else in this book so far.

I honestly don't know what E.L. James thinks is going on here--if she thinks "this is the conversation where they both apologize because they both screwed up, and we realize Jose isn't such a bad guy."  She might.
Kate opens a bottle of wine, and we sit amongst the boxes eating, quaffing cheap red wine, and watching crap TV. This is normality. It’s so grounding and welcome after the last forty-eight hours of… madness. I eat my first unhurried, no nagging, peaceful meal in that time.
That sounds nice.  I'd stick with it if I were you.
My mind drifts to last night, and this morning… and the incredible, sensual sexuality I’ve experienced. Do I want to say goodbye to that? No! Screams my subconscious… my inner goddess nods in silent zen-like agreement with her.
Oh no, there's two of those little fuckers inside her?  I  thought "subconscious" and "inner goddess" were synonyms.  I didn't realize they were having goddamn conversations in there.

Anyway, the only incredible sensual sexuality she really experienced was some intercourse and some oral and a tie around her wrists.  Somebody please get on the phone with this girl and let her know she can get that from lots of people who will not continuously belittle her.
I sit on my bed and gingerly extract the manila envelope from the bag, turning it over and over in my hands. Do I really want to know the extent of PorkLoin’s depravity? It’s so daunting. I take a deep breath, and with my heart in my throat, I rip open the envelope.
What's in there is a D/s contract, and that contract is fifteen goddamn pages long.  Next time, on "As the Perv Turns," we're going to delve into the nitty-gritty of Thud ManRock's pseudo-legalese fetish.  You'll want hip waders.


  1. If you really want to know about the "food thing" :
    It's about his birth mother who was, as he politely calls her, a "crack whore". She was pretty young (she must have been 16 years old when she had him) and she didn't have enough money to feed him (even though she managed to bake him a birthday cake once). This was before he was adopted by the rich Grey family, when he was four. He hates his birth mother because of that, and that's not the worst part.
    *end of spoilers*

    "why the hell is she entering into an ordering-around relationship with him?"
    Because she is a "natural submissive", of course ! That's the first thing he noticed in her, seriously.
    "Did Ana not even get a copy of what she signed?"
    She did not even read what she signed...

    Thank you for doing those sporkings, I usually read the ones from das-sporking, but your take on this... book is very interesting too. ^^

    1. Hi, fellow Das_Sporking lurker!

      You forgot the other fun thing about poor Ella the 'crack whore'.

      He picks all his subs because they look like his hated mother

      Also, Hellspawn wants to abuse Ana because she asked him if he was gay. Truly, this man wets the panties. Ugh.

    2. Hello to you too. ^^
      Yes, that's what I was thinking about when I mentioned a worst part.

      I forgot about the "gay question"... --" That's his thoughts when she asks him that :
      "How dare she! I have to fight down the urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her across my knee, and spank the living shit out of her, then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied tightly behind her back. That would answer her question."

      How is that guy supposed to be romantic ?

    3. I knew it was bad, but after learning the mom stuff I basically want to scream forever.

      ...Also, how many people have vivid memories from before they were four? I'm not saying that deprivation when you're a toddler doesn't change you, but being raised as a rich kid from age four means that most of his conscious memories are of never having to worry about food.

      Also AUAHAUAAGH to the "picks subs who look like his mother" thing. That's just... so... it's one thing to think BDSM is about recruiting human punching bags to take out your misery on; it's another to think that and somehow still think it's sexy.

    4. Godric - I always like my romantic heroes to have some "serial rapist" in their homophobia!

      ...I can't even joke about this book without sounding incredibly fucked up.

    5. I have like, three memories from under five. One of them was my dad's accident where he had a spinal injury (2) and then the rest are early schooldays (so I would have been 4, maybe?). None of them particularly clear.
      I personally think he has second-hand knowledge (and/or pulling it out of his arse) and is putting it on so Ana feels sorry for "poor widdle Chwistian" and doesn't say "fuck this, I'm not putting up with his shit any more".

      And there's a load of subtext about him being a serial abuser and rapist, but when I say subtext it's more like how "1mm below the water" is "submerged" really. I think the fans just skip to the sex scenes and the few 'fluffy' scenes where Christian isn't actually acting like a consummate asshole. (He's not capable of acting like not-at-all-an-asshole. I checked.)

    6. Well, Hellspawn always says that he doesn't remember anything about his early childhood, except when he does. And he never wants to talk about it, except when he does, so that Anaconda can feel sorry for him.

      This book gets even worse if you read the "bonus" chapter at the end of the third one, where you see the beginning of the first book (the interview) from Hellspawn's point of view. *shudders*

    7. How young your memories start and how much you remember from young childhood varies a lot from individual to individual. My own go back to about age two, some of which are significant and some are just insignificant moments that somehow stuck. So, it is definitely possible for a character to remember and still be upset about an incident or incidents before age four. Although not having worked through any traumas enough to be making significant progress on issues it caused, especially when you can easily afford good therapists (it can be a lot harder if you can't), does not speak well of the person. I would have sympathy for such a person, but would tell them that until they can resolve such issues within themselves, they clearly are not ready to be in a relationship with someone else, since they are taking it out on that other person in a very unhealthy way. So, Christian Grey is vaguely possible, but rather pathetic.

  2. Honestly, this is becoming kinda heartbreaking to watch. Like in a horror movie where the girl runs and then trips and falls over nothing and is caught to be tortured to death. Ana, for all her innocence and fear is actually doing a credible job trying to stand up to dickface... but then all of a sudden, for absolutely no good reason she is just /overcome/ with lust for him and stays.

    This is not what romance should be E.L. James! Bad author!

  3. "So... is kink fun and sexy, or is it part of the cycle of abuse and something a person needs to be healed from? Because although I think the latter is wrong, "both" is much, much worse."

    Cliff, what do you mean with the last sentence? I don't understand it...

    1. I mean it's wrong to think that kink is abuse, but it's wrong and fucked up to think that kink is abuse and that abuse is sexy.

  4. Comradde PhysioProffeDecember 14, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    The sentences are so fucken horrible and stilted, it's like this shitte was written by a twelve year old. Even if you buy into the grossness of the content, how can you get past the fucken prose? Why is this shitte popular????

  5. Actually PUA manuals say never to dangle "You're the one who could change me" because that's an open door to too much of a relationship.

    50 Shades leaves me with "What is this I don't even?". I don't even want to make the infrastructural investment it would take to mess with BDSM. If nothing else, PUA's failure condition of a drink in the face is less harmful than that.

    1. So what I got from this was

      A) Eurosabra is a creepy intruding douche because I'm pretty sure they've been asked to pretty please never darken the comments section of this blog ever again


      B) Creepy intruding douches find 50SoG a step too far, even if it's for different reasons to the rest of us.

    2. I'm not sure what "infrastructural investment" means--it's not like I've had to install three-phase power and reinforce my foundation before my bedroom was up to residential BDSM code. But whatever it is, I think I'm okay with Eurosabra not having it.

    3. Cliff's mention of PUA activated the sleaze-signal. I generally lurk, but read this whole blog. PUA is non-consensual kink with bare glimmers of self-awareness among the best practitioners, who know they have a really irritating sex-tourist mentality.
      Still not banned here yet, but very careful when I do post.

    4. No, you're not technically banned, just deeply unwelcome, and the fact that that distinction is important to you speaks of how much business you have doing non-consensual kink with a sex-tourist mentality.

    5. (For new readers: Eurosabra has been posting weird creepy defenses of PUA on this blog for years. This is no first-time-poster pile-on.)

    6. Thanks, I was actually kind of confused by that.

    7. We don't pile on newbies around here unless they do something spectacularly shittastic.

    8. Yeah, see, I'm beginning to be as skeptical of BDSM as I am of PUA, because I was recently dumped for refusing to get bruised. It's nice she respected a hard boundary I have because of a medical issue, it's not nice that I get to be denied intimacy. They get me going and going.

  6. >When people said this book was about an abusive relationship, they weren't fucking kidding. I thought it would be like "bad implications" abusive, but this shit is not implied. It's right the fuck out there.

    Oh, Cliff. Poor, poor innocent Cliff. Never read the sequels. Spare yourself that agony.

  7. "I bet you twenty Inner Goddesses that it turns out Buff SteakTips secretly pulled strings to get Ana those interviews, and this will be presented as a wonderful and caring thing, instead of yet another way he puts her in debt to him and takes over her life."

    Oh dear non-existent god. It's so much worse than that...

  8. So, this might be my brain imagining memories, but I'm sure I read somewhere that the eating thing was a not-terribly-subtle hint that Ana has an eating disorder. Coupled with the author deciding to throw subtext out the window and go right ahead and call the character with the eating disorder "Ana" in the first place.

    But then I haven't read the book myself, so this is at best third-hand theorising from something I half remember reading on the internet and at worst entirely invented by my own terrible memory.

    1. It was actually on this blog, in the comments ;)

  9. And actually yeah, doing a quick google to see if I was right, this link lists individual instances of Ana having issues with food, and it does add up to her barely eating, resisting food and having a habit of losing her appetite in extreme ways when she's under any emotional... anything...

    1. I've read other reviews that floated the theory that Ana has an eating disorder. However, when I read the books it came off more as a power struggle. As he exerts more and more control over her life, Ana responds by becoming increasingly reticent about eating food. It's the only part of their relationship that she can control and it drives him bug-fuck crazy. When he's not around, she has a pretty healthy appetite. You can see the way it plays out in the bit that Cliff quoted upstream.

    2. Right, I was going to say, I haven't read the books, but simply looking at the section above, she seems to have a fine and reasonable appetite whenever Beefsteak isn't jumping down on her about it. In fact, if she *is* anorexic, food policing her and generally subjecting her to stressful emotional experiences is like, the worst fucking strategy imaginable.
      Why, it's almost like the only reason he does it is as another means of abuse and control, except this one is presented as him "caring for her," which is just a means to gaslight her and make her think that, no, really, he loves her, so this other stuff is okay. Or something.

    3. So...this is just based on my own experience and not necessarily a universal thing (though a past therapist has confirmed that this is a thing that people do sometimes), but in my past when I was stuck in abusive situations with partners or family, I often didn't eat, or didn't eat as much, or specifically ate things I wasn't "supposed" to as a way of rebelling/trying to gain some sort of control over some aspect of my life.

      I feel like it's kind of early in the relationship for Ana to be doing the same thing, but this ongoing food thing in these books *really* reminds me of that time in my life.

  10. I also think the food thing is some sort of "Most men don't want their women to eat and get fat, so the fact that Studs McMuffinpants WANTS Ana to eat proves he loves her and wants her to be healthy" bullshit.

  11. Spoilers re: The abuse/kink/sexy question...

    If you make it all the way through the third book, they end up in a place where kink is a casual, occasionally-just-for-mutual-funsies part of their relationship. Some of the story arc is watching how kink starts as a driven-by-abuse thing, and develops into a healthy, mutually pleasurable, integrated-but-not-central part of their relationship. And yeah, the books do a pretty terrible job of making that transition, but it does come around to a better place than just the first book would lead you to believe.

    1. I hate to give spoilers, but this really bothered me so ****spoiler alert****

      When is that? You mean like on their honeymoon when she seems to be enjoying the kink but then discovers afterwards that he covered her from head to toe in hickeys or you know...really just straight up bruises, along with rope burns around her hands and ankles, all because she had the audacity to take her bikini top off whilst on the French Riviera. That'll show her, right? Now she can't even go out in public at all.

      Nope. Abuse, all the way through...

    2. There's no spoiler rules here, on the principle that fuck it, it's not like spoiling it is going to make anyone enjoy it less.

      And yeah, that doesn't sound like a "healthy, mutually pleasurable" thing for damn sure.

    3. No, clearly not that.

      It's been awhile since I read the series, but my recollection is that the third book wraps up with them being in a house that they picked out together, with a social network, and a much more rounded out lifestyle. Ana asks for a flogging in a, "Hey, this sounds pretty good right now!" kind of way, and Chunkbutt agrees, so off they go for a scene on mutually agreed terms.

      Don't get me wrong, I think that this is plenty problematic in that it's based on the narrative "If you just love your abuser hard enough, they'll totally come around!" But the place that kink holds in their lives does shift.

  12. I was having a hard time consistently visualizing Ana's inner goddess and subconscious until someone on the internet suggested that the inner goddess is Timon and the subconscious is Pumbaa.


    1. Thanks for the belly laugh. :D I'm assuming Timon is wearing the grass skirt? ;)


  13. I'm pretty much unable to read Jose's lines without picturing him as Bumblebee Guy from the Simpsons.

  14. Doesn't this guy ever just speak? He's always murmuring and stuff. I mean, I get that rich people can have speech impediments too, but that doesn't seem to be what the author had in mind.

  15. Something that's been bothering me, that I don't think anybody else has mentioned yet; it's really dumb of him to be telling her to go do research, in lieu of actually talking to her about what she wants to do. Doing research in addition to talking is awesome, but saying, "you're going to be my submissive. Don't know what that means? Okay, go look it up," is awful, because all submissive means is "I enjoy being obedient to certain other people in certain contexts." I mean, for some subs there is no sex or masochism involved, they just go over once a week and do housekeeping for their Dominant, and then they cuddle for an hour. Being submissive doesn't even mean bottoming; some people quite like ordering someone else to beat them up and fuck them, in this exact specific way. Doing research is a great way to find out the range of options that are out there and how to play safely, but it's a terrible way to find out what your specific Dom under consideration wants you to do.

    I mean, obviously he has no interest in finding out what she's interested in, because he's an asshole, but you'd think he would be at least slightly invested in her knowing that he expects her to be a "tied up" sub and not a "make me coffee then let's cuddle" sub. But hey, I doubt E. L. James knows there's such a thing as a "make me coffee then let's cuddle" sub.

  16. I didn't know there was such a thing as a "make me coffee and then let's cuddle" sub either. That sounds...really incredibly appealing, actually? Thanks, I think I'll be talking to my partner about that. :D