Welcome back to another instalment of Fifty Shades of It’s Only BDSM, OMG, You Prude, Do Ur Research XD (amusingly, a couple of weeks ago on Twitter, someone snarled at me to write a damn essay on the abuse in Fifty Shades if I cared so much. FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT). Anyway, we left off with Ana opening the sex contract Christian gave her, and basically the entire chapter is her reading that contract. Shall we begin?
Right off the bat, let’s bear this in mind for later:
“2. The fundamental purpose of this contract is to allow the Submissive to explore her sensuality and her limits safely, with due regard for her and her needs, her limits, and her well-being.”
Seriously, bear that the fuck in mind. Anyway, the contract goes on to cover STDs (not allowed, disappointingly), and what Ana would be expected to do as the submissive. Basically, it outlines that be signing the contract, Ana is comitting herself to three months of being Christian’s sub, at which point they’ll negotiate the terms if they intend to continue the relationship. Three months?! But what if she doesn’t like it? What if she wants out? I’m seriously doubting that this fucking contract would hold water in court, y’all.
Essentially, the contract makes for pretty boring reading, but in a lot of ways in does actually outline what a safe, sane, and consensual BDSm relationship consists of: safewords, the discussion of boundaries, and, um, the dictating of how much sleep Ana would be required to have every night and precisely what she’s supposed to eat from a perscribed list of foods. Help me out, BDSM peeps: is this sort of thing normal? I’m pretty well versed in BDSM but I’ve never been in or near a relationship of this intensity, so is the establishment of rules over eating and sleeping the norm or not?
The contract goes on to mention that Ana would be responsible for any “misbehavior” that might cast Christian in an ill light, even though she signed an NDA which means she couldn’t talk about the relationship anyway. She must realize that her behaviour “is a direct reflection on the dominant”, even though no-one but Ana, Christian, and any hapless family members who wander into his house ad nauseum would know about the whole BDSM thing. Urgh. The contract also discusses the fact that Ana will have to go to a trainer four times a week, and commit herself to whatever beauty treatments Christian sees fit. Again: BDSM folks, can you offer comment on this?
And after four pages of that (OOOH YEAH THIS FINE PRINT IS GETTING ME HOT DOWN THERE), we finally get to the stuff about actual sex. Hard limits (things that Christian won’t do, basically) include fireplay, breath play, and anything involving children or animals (if the flat is so small that your cat can hear you while you’re doing it, does that count?). Then the contract goes on to ask what Ana’s into, because the contract is a caring lover that’s interested in Ana’s limits. I’d go to bed with this contract over Christian. They include vaginal and anal fisting, the infliction of pain, bondage, swallowing cum etc. Aw, this isn’t nearly as hardcore as I was expecting!
Now, let’s take a look at Ana’s reaction to all of this. “I shudder at the thought of being flogged or whipped. Spanking wouldn’t be so bad; humiliating though…No, no I can’t do this. I put my head in my hands. This is no way to have a relationship”.
Ana, honey, serious talk now. It’s okay not to be into the same things the guy you like is into. But this reaction to even reading about BDSM suggests that you’re not into it. You’re not turned on by this. You can’t even consider it. And that’s totally okay. But if your sexual appetites are that different, one of you is going to have to be making massive compromises to make the other person happy, and, let’s face it, it’s going to be you.
She goes and brushes her teeth, and remembers “his body inside mine”, thus reminding us he is a Slitheen
And we have to put up with yet another reference to the muscles “deep, deep down” tugging at her. Does EL James just have a smooth bit of plastic between her legs, or is she just so embarrassed about the thought of writing about female sexual arousal she can’t fucking call anything what it actually is? At this point, I’m pulling for the former.
The next morning, a brand new, not-in-the-shops-yet Macbook arrives for Ana and the delivery man sets it up for her while trying to not blow his load all over the exclusive screen. Seriously, the way this is written, I think I’d like to read the sexual exploits of this way too enthusiastic computer fan and his new Macbook. That shit sounds hot as fuck.
“Most women gets flowers or maybe jewellery” says Kate suggestively”
SHUT UP KATE YOU PUTRID SEACOW. Anyway, Christian and Ana exchange some emails and he says “laters, baby” and the last vestige of my faith in humanity withers up inside me for good. Ana goes to work, and Jose turns up to take her for lunch, and she’s like “you know I could never stay mad at you, friends who repeatedly pushed himself on me after I turned him down!” and I can’t any more. Ana and Christian exchange some more interminable emails in which Christian orders Ana to go to Wikipedia to research BDSM.
Ana ends the unbelievably dull chapter by mentioning that she’s queasy and sick and doesn’t want this kind of stuff in her head, and saying to herself that she needs time to think. You know what, I’m plowing right on with the next chapter because I think that it’s worth putting these two back-to-back just to appreciate what an utter clusterfuck this story is turning into. So, chapter eleven.
Ana goes for a run, and wonders if it was Christian being “seduced” (and certainly not molested!) at such a young age that made him a dominant, because people with sexual fetishes are broken in some way obvs. Ana gets home and is forced to sit through Kate showing Ana what she’s going to be wearing on holiday to Barbados while Ana listens to the white noise in her head. Then- and it’s key you remember this- Ana sends Christian this email.
“Okay, I’ve seen enough.
It was nice knowing you.
Ana laugh to herself, because she’s made a joke. But all Christian sees is this: this is an email, for all intents and purposes, that’s politely saying that hey, Ana isn’t into the BDSM stuff she’s seen and doesn’t want to see him again. And no, I’m not twisting that out of context- that’s the only thing Ana sends to him. Just that. Ana bemoans the fact that he doesn’t reply, and then gets on with packing up her room. As she’s re-reading the contract, this:
“I don’t know why I glance up, maybe I catch a slight movement from the corner of my eye, I don’t know, but when I do, he’s standing in the doorway to my bedroom, watching me intently. He’s wearing his grey flannel and pants and a white linen shit, gently twirling his car keys. I pull out my earbuds and freeze. Fuck!”
Aside from the fact that this paragrpah sounds like it’s lifted straight out of a horror movie, let’s consider what’s happened here. Ana sent Christian an email that she knows was a joke, but for all intents and purposes is telling him to leave her alone. And what does he do? He turns up uninvited in her room to watch her.
Christian tells her that he thought her email required an in-person response, and sits on her bed. Ana’s thoughts: “I glance around, plotting an escape route”. Because plotting an escape route is exactly how I react to being in the same room as my lover FOR FUCK’S SAKE, HOW CAN PEOPLE NOT SEE THIS IS PROBLEMATIC?!
Christian questions Ana about her email and, before he asks her if it’s okay or if she meant what she said about not wanting to see him again, he’s kissing her and pinning her to the bed. Ana thinks “He wants me…not Kate in her little bikinis, not one of the fifteen [other submissives], not Mrs Robinson…me”.Yeah, because it’s sooo healthy to take all your self-esteem from a man who’s chosen you over all the other women who totally want to nail him like Kate and her slutty bikinis, that dirty two-dollar whore!
Okay, this passage coming up is one that I’ve wanted to analyse for a while, because it’s a quote that I often see in anti-Fifty Shades memes and suchlike (which are basically providing a national service to all of humanity).
“He bends and starts undoing one of my sneakers. Oh no…no…my feet. No. I’ve just been running.
“No!” I protest, trying to kick him off.
” If you struggle, Miss Steele, I’ll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you. Keep quiet. Katherine is probably outside listening right now.”
Being privy to Ana’s inner monologue, we know that the reason she doesn’t want Christian to take off her shoes is because her feet are sweaty because she’s been running. But think about what Christian hears in this situation. After receiving an email from Ana telling him she didn’t want to see him any more, he turns up at her house. When he begins to undress her, she explicitly says “no” and tries to kick him away from her. In that situation, you fucking STOP AND ASK IF IT’S OKAY TO CONTINUE. If your partner ever says “no” during sexual activity, you stop immediately and check what’s up. Even if Christian had just stopped for a minute and said “is it just your feet or do you want me to stop altogether?” this scene would be less of an issue. But for all the Fifty Shades defenders reading this: Ana says no, and Christian ignores her, then threatens her. That’s what happens right here. She hasn’t signed the contract, hasn’t agreed to any BDSM, they haven’t discussed boundaries at all (the most we got was Christian asking “trust me?” and Ana nodding), there’s no discussed safewords. If you take Ana’s inner monologue out of it, this is an explicit rape scene, because she said no and he carried on.
Christian goes outside and gets a drink for them both after chatting to Kate while he’s half-naked, because if Ana protests about something Christian’s doing it will bring humiliation on everyone involved, but wandering out of the bedroom with only trousers on and chatting away to the roomate doesn’t give the game away. Christian dribble wine over Ana and- HOLD THE FUCK UP! ANA REFERRED TO HER CLITORIS AS A CLITORIS! AND WE’RE ONLY 194 PAGES INTO THE BOOK! Then there’s this as Christian prepares to fuck Ana and Ana refers to it unfortunately as “his sudden assault” and I’m all-
They come, Ana screams Christian’s name (picture it for a second), and Christian says “I thought you were saying no, no discussion at all”. Which, you know, means that he thought Ana was turning down his sexual advances but proceeded to turn up at her house uninvited and ignore her protests during sex because LOVE. Christian offers to introduce Ana to one of his ex-subs so she can learn from them, and Ana throws him out. Finally. Ana runs into her room and bursts into tears. Kate comes in, and asks why Ana is crying-
“I sent him an email.”
“Asking him to drop by?”
“No, saying I didn’t want to see him any more.”
“And he turns up? Ana, that’s genius.”
Is it, though? Is it really genius that the man she asked to stay away from her turned up without asking? Ana sends Christian some emails outlining what she is and isn’t willing to consent to on the contract, and I’m impressed that she’s actually negotiating. Instead of addressing any of her issues, Christian tells her to go to bed. Because mixed signals make me wet.