The Cutprice Guignol

The Ninth Year: The Haunting of Swill House

Tag: is there abuse in 50 shades of grey

An Open Letter to Dakota Johnson

This week, when she was asked about the critics who saw abuse in Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson- the star of the recently-released movie adaptation- replied “I think that is an uneducated opinion…..Maybe because I know more about the BDSM world, so it makes sense to me, but everything that these characters do, they make the decision to do it.”.

And Dakota, we need to talk. Because you are a pretty talented young actress, the best thing about that train wreck of a movie, and you’ve spoken out a couple of times to say that you vehemently don’t believe the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy promotes abuse. I’m not surprised to hear this opinion from you, because you’re the star of this film which is being sold as a romance flick, so you can’t very well come out and announce that you think the whole thing is pretty questionable, actually. The last thing anyone involved with this film needs is for it’s star to turn around and say yes, the relationship depicted in the book and the film is extremely troublesome and not something to aspire to at all. It’s in everyone’s best interests to keep you blinkered about the critics of the series, lest you agree with them- and that might sound patronising, but if you seriously believe people are conflating abuse and BDSM and that’s where the critics are finding the abusive elements of the story, you clearly haven’t had a proper look at why people are so against the series. Add to that the inevitable amount of time you’ve probably spent with EL James and her utterly blinkered views of the criticism of her masterwork, and I’m even less surprised to hear the “BDSM isn’t abuse, and those criticising the books are just confusing the two because they don’t know any better”. I feel like it’s important we let you know that it’s nothing to do with that, and here’s a link to a post someone in the BDSM community wrote about why Fifty Shades is a hideous representation of that kink. Shall we consider this study, wherein a bunch of uneducated trolls with nothing better to do at the University of Ohio analysed the book from a scientific standpoint and found abuse present in nearly every single interaction? Shall we take a look at some testimonies from the survivors of abuse who are watching with horror as their own experiences are repackaged and sold back to them as a love story, who are being implicitly told that if they’d been as “strong” as Ana they could have fixed their abusive partner and lived happily ever after? Shall we look at the scene in the movie where Christian hefts Ana over his shoulder, before any boundaries have been formally established, and hits her on the backside because he’s furious that he planned a trip away without consulting him? As a BDSM expert yourself, I’d hope you know that hitting someone outside of an established, thoroughly-discussed, mutually-agreed upon scenario is abuse, and hitting your partner to take out your anger is always abuse no matter what the situation. Whenever you start defending it as just a movie, or just a book, you’re removing the right of critics- who include DV survivors, DV experts, and actual members of the BDSM community- to shine a light on some of the bloody dangerous things the book (and yes, the movie too) propogates. You’d think, in between all those hours spent becoming an expert in BDSM, you might have bothered looking up why people consider this story abusive.

(proper Friday post coming later today, just had to get this off my chest)

Fifty Shades of Grey Recaps: Chapter 14

Once more into the breach, dear friends, and no, I’m not talking about Ana’s vagina. Firstly, I thought I’d bring new reader’s attention to my Fifty Shades movie review, in all it’s exasperated glory, and this more in-depth piece I did about Fifty Shades as a love story. After another week of being told I “just want my own Christian Grey” (haha KILL ME) it’s time to throw myself back into the seemingly endless cavalcade of terrible writing and dull sex that is my life. Wait, no, Fifty Shades of Grey. Yeah, the second one. Definitely the second one.


After Ana weeps herself into a coma (a girl can dream), we open the chapter on a bit of a naughty sleep fantasy that Ana is having about Christian where he hits her clitoris with a riding crop (well done, EL, you’ve once again correctly named the female anatomy!) and the author uses the word leather three times in one paragraph because WRITING. Ana heads through to the kitchen where Kate asks her how her dinner went, and Ana punches her to the ground for being a dirty whoreslut who doesn’t understand that Ana DOESN’T WANT TO BE ASKED ANYTHING EVER DAMMIT. Nah, Ana sidetracks her by asking if she wants to show Ana her speech for today, because Ana and Kate are graduating. Ana takes the time to think about herself some more;

“Deep down, I’m not sure I have the stomach to be his submissive- it’s the canes and whips that put me off. I’m a physical coward, and I will go a long way to avoid pain.”

Ana, ANA, for the last buggering time, if you don’t want to do this, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS. Run! Leave forever! If your needs and his needs are so different, somebody is going to have to make some serious compromises to make this work, and it’s not going to end well. Ana’s stepdad turns up, and she mentions that she’s wearing Kate’s dress, probably because that Hidenberg replica is too fat to fit into it from all the sperm she’s eating. I’m a little taken aback by how badly this section is written because, wow, occasionally I forget that EL James understands the difference between compelling plot and shameless page-fillers as well as she understands the difference between romance and abuse. Blah blah blah, Ana goes to her graduation, Christian is there (because he’s a benefactor for the college), the girls in the audience next to Ana comment on how panty-dissolvingly hot he is, blah blah blah. Ana tells them that he’s gay, and then catches his eye.

“Unbidden, I recall my dream for this morning.”

I would tattoo this face on my face.

That’s weird, because here I was picturing Christian demanding that you remember that dream you haven’t told anyone about, so it’s good to know that it just popped into your head like that. Vital use of words there, EL. Ana listens to Kate give her speech, and is surprisingly kind about it, and for some reason every time Ana compliments Kate now I can’t read it as anything but a little sapphic. Damn me and my giant lesbian-tinted glasses. Christian comes on and does his great big speech about saving the world and feeding the hungry (by ordering an entire menu’s worth of food because he couldn’t be bothered sticking his head into the shower, but whatever) because he himself has known what it is like to feel hungry. Look, I know this line has to do with his abusive childhood, but when this happens:

“My jaw falls to the floor. What? Christian was hungry once. Holy crap.”

Look, I don’t know if I should be telling you this, but when the first Harry Potter films came out when I was but a bairne, I had a big crush on Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. There was never anything sexual about it, but I just want him to cuddle me. That Christmas, the only thing I wanted was the Hagrid’ house Lego Set that came with a special Hagrid figure that was slightly bigger than normal Lego figures. I still have Lego Hagrid. This caption kind of got away from me. Why are you still reading this? Go back to the recap.

– I can’t help but snigger because now I’m picturing the entire rest of the book being made up of Ana being bowled over by the revelation that Christian has felt things like other humans sometimes. “Christian was sleepy? Christian was a bit thirsty? Christian really fancied a can of fruity Fanta?” (look, my period cravings are my period cravings, shut up). I guess, like me, Ana had assumed he rumbled round like a remote control car on a battery of horniness, occasionally parking to crack one out so he didn’t get overheated. He finishes the speech, and they begin the “tedious process” of collecting their degrees. I can tell you this for free: when I pick up my honours next year, I will be sprinting towards that stand like Barry fucking Allen and vaulting my way into a flat in Spain with my boyfriend and my cat. There will be nothing tedious about it. Christian quizzes her on why she hasn’t returned his emails when she collects her degree, because he can’t bear the thought of anyone knowing about their relationship except the potential hundreds of faculty, students, and family who are at this event. Kate comes to get Ana after the ceremony because Christian wants to see her. He takes her to the men’s locker room, and locks the door. Yeah, that’s right- he takes her away from her friends and family, then locks them in a room together.

Christian demands to know why he hasn’t returned her calls, snaps at Ana when she reveals that Jose services her car (I accidentally wrote that as cat, and just as I did so-)

Kitten will not be having this ignoring her to get work done pish. IT WILL NOT STAND.

Kitten will not be having this ignoring her to get work done pish. IT WILL NOT STAND.

then demands to meet her stepfather. Ray (her stepdad) agrees to grab a drink with Christian and Ana, and Ana internally freaks out when she realizes that the wine at the party is cheap. HEAVEN FUCKING FORFEND THAT ANYTHING LESS THAN LIQUID GOLD SHOULD CARESS THE PILLOWY LIPS OF CHRISTIAN MOTHERFUCKING GREY. Kate’s brother turns up and hugs Ana, and Ana comments that the family resemblance is striking even though she’s met him a few times before. Yeah, every time I see my mother, I think “Wow, don’t we look alike?”. Christian is not happy that Kate’s brother Ethan has his arm around Ana, and holds out his hand to her and calls her “baby”. She swoons internally, because she obviously hasn’t noticed that this certainly isn’t an act performed for the rival rutting male in the group since he hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with the endearments of late.

According to the text, Christian begins outright flirting with Ray while Ana loses her ever-loving shit at Kate for referring to Christian as her boyfriend. Once all the unbearable friends and family have drifted off, Ana and Christian discuss the contract more. Christian tells Ana that she “knows it’s going to be good, don’t you, baby?”, which, without the term of endearment, is more or less how my parents tried to convince me to get braces as a child so my teeth would less fucked up (I never did; my mouth is clinically too small and I’ve had to have a number of teeth removed so they don’t start exploding out of the front of my face or something. I was usually too scared at the dentist to actually pay attention to anything that was being said). This chapter just doesn’t end, does it?

Ray announces that he likes Christian because “anyone who knows and likes fly-fishing” is fine by him. Ignore the fact that your daughter is clearly nervous around him , why don’t you? Ray leaves, Ana cries, Christian makes more comments about how shitty Ana’s car is, and they exchange some more emails wherein Christian announces his coming over (her tits. Kidding, nothing that hardcore happens in this trilogy!). The chapter ends with EL James clicking on that SparkNotes bookmark once again, and quoting directly from Tess of the D’urbevilles.