Fifty Shades of Grey Recaps: Chapter 16
Yeah, there was supposed to be a post up on Friday, but I ended up going on an impromptu flat-booze-up and having some of the darkest, most hilarious banter I’ve had all year. Things will be back to normal this week, and that firstly involves the trudge through the garden of earthly delights that is Fifty Shades of Pish.
We left off with Ana banging the fuck out of Christian, and the chapter opens with her lying on top of him, trying to touch his chest (which he’s said before he doesn’t like being touched). Now, I’m never going to back down over Christian being an abuser, but if I’d asked a partner specifically not to touch a certain part of my body and they did it anyway, I’d be a little bit pissed off. C’mon, Ana, don’t be a bitch. Ana asks him why she can’t touch him there, and he replies
“Because I’m fifty shades of fucked-up, Anastasia”
I feel like it’s important that you know this line was also in the movie, and I was almost incoherent with laughter after it. My challenge for you this week is to use this phrase in conversation and see how many of your friends laugh in your face and never speak to you again. I bet it’s 100%. Christian says that he gave control to Ana, Ana mentions her high GPA and how she knows that he’s not given over the reins properly, then Christian comments that she’s “Not just a pretty face”. Now, it’s something that struck me when I was watching Sex and the City (shut up, you don’t know) and everyone kept going on about how great a friend Carrie is. They kept up with this line of reasoning, despite the fact that Carrie is basically a self-centred, cruel, childish cow for the entire series’ run, but the creators had to get us to invest in her as a good friend.
EL James has to get us to invest in Ana beyond the fact that she’s allegedly attractive, so they have people announce to the reader how great/smart/funny/kind Ana is, even though we rarely see evidence for it outside characters announcing it like they’re in the fucking Truman show. We’re being asked to ignore her actual personality in favour of the one James has artlessly grafted on to a figure who certainly isn’t Bella Swan (hey, remember how these books are Twilight fanfiction but EL James threatened to sue people making fanfiction based on Fifty Shades? What a jape). It’s the same thing as when we’re told how much Ana and Christian like each other when they seem to find little to like past wanting to fuck and him being super-rich. They ARE in love, because the AUTHOR says it’s so, even if this wouldn’t pass for love in even the most clueless high school romcom ever made. Sometimes, being a writer myself, someone who knows so many incredible writers working round the clock to get their excellent, well-researched and fascinating books out there and knowing that EL James is probably rolling about on a pile of money and burning studies that show the abuse in her books is a thought more depressing that I’d care to contend with.
Euch. Rant over. BRB wiping myself from existence.
“”Do you have something to tell me?” His voice is suddenly stern.
I frown. Crap.
“I had a dream this morning.”
“Oh?” he glares at me.
Double crap. Am I in trouble?”
Do I really have to spell it out here? Ana had a dream (about Christian, in which she had an orgasm) and she thinks that she might get in trouble for it. A) The contract had fuck all about dream-screwing in it, and B) WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! Why does she think a dream would get her in trouble? Why is he glaring at her for having a dream? Christian Grey is an absolotue, raging piece of arsehole and I will bare-chested battle to the death with anyone who thinks otherwise.
Christian announces that Ana needs to “sort out some contraception” because he doesn’t want to wear a condom any more. She stays schtum on the subject, and Christian decides to organise for his doctor to come round and see her. This is bullshittery as it is, and then we get this fantastic bit of fun just as Christian is leaving:
“Did you get me tipsy on purpose?”
“Because you overthink everything, and you’re reticent like your stepdad. A drop of wine in you and you start talking, and I needed you to communicate honestly with me”.
1. It wasn’t “a drop of wine”, it was several glasses of champagne. 2. If you have to get someone drunk yo get them to agree to talking about certain sexual acts about which they’ve expressed discomfort, that’s dubious consent. 3. DUDE, YOU ADMITTED TO GETTING HER DRUNK AFTER YOU HAD SEX WITH HER. I’m not saying this scene is a rape scene, but seriously, that’s fucking grim. Yeah, the thought of someone plying me with alcohol to get me to talk about stuff that makes me uncomfortable is making me all, well:
Christian and Ana banter some more, and she rolls her eyes at him. Christian pulls some shitty questionable-consent jiggery-pokery so Ana will let him spank her, and before we know it, he’s got her over his leg.
“…he hits me…hard. Ow! My eyes spring open in response to the pain and I try to rise, but his hands move between his shoulder blades, keeping me down.”
Here are a selection of phrases from the rest of that passage: “Holy fuck it hurts”, “I endeavour to absorb the gruelling sensation”, “this is getting harder to take. My face hurts, it’s screwed up so tight”. So, first, Ana tries to stand up after being hit, and he pushes her back down without checking to see if something’s wrong, ignores the physical indicators of discomfort, and carries on hitting her, before pushing two fingers inside her and declaring her wet, proof that she likes this. No consideration for, say, the sex they had all of half an hour ago? They fuck, it’s amazing, whatever. Honestly, I read this book long before I wrote these recaps, and I was never even remotely aroused by it; in fact, most of the sex scenes are best read with a kind of detached analysis, like reading a prinary source for history class or having sex with Paris Hilton . Christian leaves after rubbing some baby oil into Ana’s arse, which, by the way, doesn’t really count as particularly decent aftercare for a BDSM scene which is, based off Ana’s previous experience, pretty intense. Christian Grey is as shitty a dom as he is an everything else!
Ana is sad, so she calls her mother and weeps down the phone to her, because she’s having a subdrop and Christian didn’t stick around to really look after her. Kate arrives home, and notices that Ana has been crying and that sitting down apparently hurts her. Ana tells her that she fell over and hurt herself, because using an excuse to pass off the injury your partner has inflicted on you has never ever been a signifier of abuse. The only thing stopping me from burning down my entire building is the fact I found the full Infinity on High album on Youtube and am currently reliving my early teens.
Christian and Ana exchange some emails, and Christian tells her that if she doesn’t take some Advil he’ll make sure she doesn’t sit for a week, instead of a night. Thing is, a lot of the stuff Christian and Ana say and do to each other would be super-hot if it wasn’t framed in the story of an abusive relationship where neither partner actually respects the other’s boundaries. We know that when Christian says he’ll be sure she doesn’t sit for a week, he means that he’d hit her whether or not she wants it. I can be doubly sure of this when we take a look at the sex scene just passed, when he ignored all the signifiers that she wasn’t enjoying what she was doing. I know people will try to defend this as “OMG SHE SHOULD HAVE USED THE SAFEWORD IF SHE DIDN’T LIKE IT, HOW WAS HE SUPPOSED TO KNOW GOD”, but the fact of the matter is that both parties should be aware of the other’s limits, and read verbal and physical signals that might indicate that their partner might not be into things. C’mon, now, Christian.
Ana tells him she’s angry at him because he didn’t stay, then goes to bed and sobs some more. Seriously, is this book just fucking and weeping? Because that’s way too similair to my life for my liking. Christian turns up, despite Kate trying to turn him away at the door, and he and Ana have a discussion about the spanking. Ana says she didn’t like it, and Christian says she wasn’t supposed to like it. Look, I get the kinky sexy BDSM punishment thing, but surely the recieving partner should at least enjoy it on some level? Otherwise, you know, there’s nothing sexy about it and that person might be thrown into emotional disrepair by the fact that the person they think they love has beaten them in a way that they don’t like, just like Ana’s doing now. You’re all lucky that Thnks Fr the Mmrs came on right nowm otherwise I’d be fucking snapping my laptop in half. Christian asks how she felt about it;
“You were sexually aroused by it, Ana””
Oh was she now? I’m for sure doing to start asking people how they feel about things, then telling them they were in fact sexually aroused by said action (“How did you feel about that tuna salad sandwhich, Ellie?” “Um, it was okay, I guess.” “YOU WERE SEXUALLY AROUSED BY IT”. Apologies in advance to my friend Ellie). Ana convinces Christian to stay the night, and they fall asleep together. Hopefully forever. Tune in next week to find out!