Yesterday was a wonderful day, because I finally found myself a comfortable, form-fitting leather jacket in a charity shop after literally four years of searching. I will wear that thing with pride all through the summer, even if it did mean I was sweltering all through this slightly warmish March afternoon whenever I nipped out for a smoke. So, it’s plenty time to ruin my week before it really gets a chance to get going with another chapter of Fifty Shades. If you missed it, Dakota Johnson declared those calling Ana and Christian’s relationship an abusive one were “uneducated”, a term that Fifty Shades apologists have been swarming over like a gleeful pack of wasps, and you can read my response to it here. Revel for a minute in the fact that I’m over halfway through this book, and let’s plough on with Chapter Fifteen. Oh, and as ever, read the rest of my Fifty Shades recraps (heh) at the blog directory.
We left off with Christian declaring that he was coming round to Ana’s house, and he arrives with a bottle of champers as Ana inwardly thinks of him as a “mountain lion” stalking around her property-
This agonising conversation happens after Ana tries to return the very expensive books that Christian gave her (by the way, I only realize now that he had no way to know her address when he sent these to her, and the thought of the high-level stalkathon he probably went on to find it has just made my soul crawl back up inside itself and refuse to come out).
“I bought these for you,” he says quietly, his gaze impassive. “I’ll go easier on you if you accept them.”
I swallow convulsively.
“Christian, I can’t accept them, they’re just too much.”
“You see, this is what I was talking about, you defying me. I want you to have them, that’s the end of the discussion. It’s very simple. You don’t have to think about this. As a submissive you would be grateful for them. You just accept what I buy you because it pleases me for you to do so.”
“I wasn’t a submissive when you bought them for me,” I whisper.
“No…but you’ve agreed, Anastasia.”
Woah, woah, woah, where to start with this passage. Firstly and probably foremostly, when the buggering fuckery did Ana agree to be a submissive? I’ll admit that a lot goes on in between these recaps and occasionally I forget certain details of the chapter I read last, but I flicked back over the last few pages and nowhere did Ana agree to be his submissive. The contract hasn’t been signed, and in fact Christian said he was specifically coming over to discuss it further. Also, for once in her painful little life, Ana is right about something: she wasn’t his submissive when he got these extortiantely expensive presents for her. And since they make her uncomfortable, she has every right to not want them around because the submissive contract doesn’t pull any Back to the Future shit that retroacticely makes Ana Christian’s sub since the beginning of time, to the best of my knowledge. We’re not even one full page in and I’m already exhausted. It’s only afternoon where I am, and I’m already trying to tie a fiver round my cat’s neck and send her to the corner shop for some wine.
Ana tells Christian she wants to auction the books for charity, which is actually a pretty nice idea, but backs down once Christian starts pouting like the little git he is. He explains that it’s normal for her to have some reservations about their situation because “you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into”. Which is funny because A) I thought Ana already was his submissive and B) Man, I wouldn’t really want to be with someone who didn’t fully understand the extent of the possibly damaging sexual situation I was pressuring them to get into. The first is just bad writing (I feel like this book was editing and chopped and changed and chapters were shifted around, because there are wierd leaps in logic and such which flag that sort of thing up), the second is bad person-ing. One day, EL James is going to come out and announce that she deliberately wrote this book as a social experiment and denounces the abuse in it and we all have a great laugh and get smashed together and the fans of this series sit sadly masturbating in a corner over this abusive manchild and fruitlessly calling Jamie Dornan’s agent to see if he’s doing the next movie (mark my words, he’s not). Ah, back from the world of dreams.
They drink champagne, and Ana wonders if Christian’s deliberately trying to get her tipsy, the answer to which is yes, yes he almost certainly is. They discuss what publishing house Ana hopes to work at after her move, and Ana rolls her eyes at Christian, whereupon he threatens to take her across his knee if she does that again. Again, no agreement has been made, no real discussion of hard boundaries has been established; this is just a dude, threatening to spank his not-quite-girlfriend for doing something he doesn’t approve of. There’s no hint that he’d be doing it for his or her pleasure, or with her consent; just that he’s going to do it if she displeases him. Hand on heart, I glanced round the room to see if there was anything I could make a noose out of close to hand (there wasn’t) when I realized once again that this is considered a romance book. “Romantic” is the first word on the blurb on the back cover, for fuck’s sake. To the publishers of this novel, and particualrly whoever greenlighted the back-cover blurb:
They go over some more limits while Ana moves on to what, by my count, is her third glass of champagne. Obviously Ana has a fucking sterling constitution (except when the plot requires her to be drunk so Grey can save her), but three champagnes in doesn’t seem like the best state of mind to be in when discussing the hard and soft limits of your first-ever BDSM relationship with a man who “hopes you never have to use” safewords. Yup, we deal with that doozy later in the chapter, because safewords certainly aren’t there to protect participants from potentially pushing their boundaries in a dangerous or uncomfortable way, or even just to avoid basic physical injury, but for pish-posh people who aren’t IN LOVE when they begin their BDSM fucking. Considering that Christian admitted he hurt someone while they were suspended, I would very much fucking want a safeword thanks very much. The thought of my shoulder popping out halfway through sex because my sexy billionaire fuckbuddy ignores my “red” doesn’t make me all squirty in the nether regions.
Christian demands sex from Ana, on the basis that she accept his graduation present to her. And I want you all to take a big deep breath and all hold hands in a circle, because what Christian Grey has done is sold Ana’s car and bought her a new one without checking if any of that was alright. Yup, he didn’t like her old Beetle, and decided to scrap it for a red hatchback. Ana is rightly furious, but somehow she ends up apologising to him and he drags her back inside the house to fuck her. As she follows him up the hall, she begs him not to be angry with her, and tells him that he scares her when he’s angry. That line genuinely makes my heart ache, because I’ve been near (thankfully finished) relationships were one partner was scared of the other’s anger, and it’s an awful thing to go through and it makes me physically fucking sick to think that a woman being frightened of her partner’s temper- especially when that temper is bought on by his ignoring her boundaries and wishes- is now a hashtag relationship goal.
They get dirty (well, barely dirty, and we take a step back from the glorious use of the word “clitoris” that only took two hundred pages to turn up and back into the infinitely less sexy “groin”. Anyone else think of Hans Moleman’s movie from The Simpsons whenever they hear the word “groin”?), Ana undresses him, Christian lets her touch him with clothes on, She goes on top, she comes “shouting incoherently”,
And the chapter’s over. This chapter has genuinely been a depressing trial, one where the leading man has ignored his partner’s boundaries, pushed her to get drunk while they discuss vitally important matters of consent, made her uncomfortable with his displays of material affection, and then become so angry he frightened her. BUT IT’S OKAY BECAUSE SEXY ORGASM TIMES. Urgh, see you all next week, I’m going to put my new leather jacket on and never leave the house again.