Gaslighting and Anal Ginger Root: Chapter 6 of EL James’s “Grey”

bed

Previous Post.

This chapter is unfathomably long, so I’m not going to waste a lot of time complaining right off the top. But what I will mention — since I haven’t brought it up so far — is that the “chapters” in this book only encapsulate a single day. So all of the chapter headings are dates, rather than Chapter 1, 2, 3, etc. It’s almost — almost — as though EL James used the timeline for her original book as a guideline and then was too lazy to restructure the book into real chapters.

Almost.

Anyway, we left off with Christian joking about raping the unconscious woman he’d kidnapped, so let’s see how EL James manages to convince you that this is a foundation for lasting love:

For seconds, minutes, hours, I don’t know, I watch her. And while she sleeps, her lips slightly parted so I glimpse her even white teeth. She mutters something unintelligible and her tongue darts out and licks her lips. It’s arousing, very arousing. Finally I fall into a deep and dreamless slumber.

That’s right. He kidnapped her, stripped her naked, put her in his bed, touched her while she slept, and now he’s going to sleep next to her without her knowledge.

Next morning, he offers this Earth-shattering revelation:

I have never slept with a woman. I’ve fucked many, but to wake up beside an alluring young woman is a new and stimulating experience. My cock agrees.

Before you ask, yes — his cock is his Inner Goddess and he communicates with it throughout the book. It does not, however, perform tricks or peer at people over half-moon specs or own a chaise lounge, all of which is a major oversight on EL James’s part because I’d love to hear about his cock’s expert dismount off the uneven bars.

Olympic cock notwithstanding, I think it’s fair to say that you’d know whether you were watching someone for seconds or minutes or hours, but he’s just Edward Cullen and EL James is ripping off someone else’s hyperbolic stupidity, so I won’t linger too long on it. Because instead, I’d like to linger on this: Christian, who claims he has literally never slept next a woman in the same bed in his entire life, decides the perfect time to pop that figurative cherry is with a woman who is passed out drunk and has no idea that it’s happening or where she is.

We’re less than a paragraph into this chapter and I’m ready to quit.

Christian gets up for a bit, then returns to the bed to ogle the body of a woman he — let’s please not forget — kidnapped from her friends, stripped naked, and slept next to while she was unconscious and could not remotely consent:

She’s still asleep when I enter, her hair a riot of mahogany spread across her pillow, and the covers have slipped below her waist. Her T-shirt has ridden up, exposing her belly and her navel. The sight stirs my body once more.

Stop standing here ogling the girl, for fuck’s sake, Grey.

I have to get out of here before I do something I’ll regret.

What incredible restraint on his part despite the fact that that comatose slut had the gall to expose her stomach. But he’s not going to rape her — so really, feminists, you’re way off base. He’s actually a great guy who deserves a lot of credit for not raping someone in her sleep.

Christian returns from his sexual release jog and decides that — because he cares very, very much about not wasting food — he’s going to order everything on the breakfast menu. I bet, when Ana can’t eat everything on the breakfast menu, he’s going to be really understanding about it.

Before breakfast arrives, he goes to wake her up:

Grabbing my workout towel and the shopping bag, I knock on the door and enter. To my delight, she’s sitting up in bed. The tablets are gone and so is the juice.

Good girl. 

So he’s pleased because — remember now, he’s all about personal safety — Ana swallowed pills and drank a glass of orange juice that was left at her bedside by the man who kidnapped her the night before. He didn’t leave her a pill bottle, mind, he took the pills out so that she couldn’t be completely sure of what they were, and then gave her a mystery drink to wash them down with.

Safety first, everyone.

Then EL James has the fucking nerve:

She pales as I saunter into the room.

Keep it casual, Grey. You don’t want to be charged with kidnapping. 

She closes her eyes, and I assume it’s because she’s embarrassed.

Or? FUCKING TERRIFIED. Of waking up in unfamiliar surroundings, next to someone she barely knows, while dealing with a hangover.

But because EL James wrote these characters, and because she hates women, Ana is actually “embarrassed” — as she should be, evidently.

“Good morning, Anastasia. How are you feeling?”

“Better than I deserve,” she mutters, as I place the bag on the chair.

What does she deserve for going out and having a good time with her friends and then being kidnapped by a stalker? God this is awful.

So after being “appropriately” embarrassed, Ana does — just for a moment — regain a sense of normalcy and logic and asks the question that surely even Christian will have the dignity to be ashamed of answering. But don’t worry — he still manages to make her feel like it was her fault somehow:

“How did I get here?” she asks, as though she’s afraid of the answer.

Reassure her, Grey.

I sit down on the edge of the bed and stick to the facts. “After you passed out, I didn’t want to risk the leather upholstery in my car, taking you all the way to your apartment. So I brought you here.”

He can’t get worse than this. He has now taken an undeniably creepy action — bringing an unconscious woman to his hotel room without her consent — and flipped it so that she feels ashamed for having gotten drunk. But then, because that’s not bad enough, he makes her feel bad because while she was unconscious and being taken away from her friends without her consent, she might have vomited on his car seats. She didn’t, but she might have.

On top of that, his inner monologue is coaching him through the interaction like a lawyer preparing his client for a police interrogation. “Stick to the facts”? Makes you wonder how many times he’s been in this scenario.

Sorry, sorry, this conversation isn’t actually finished:

“Did you put me to bed?”

“Yes.”

“Did I throw up again?”

“No.” Thank God.

“Did you undress me?”

“Yes.” Who else would have undressed you?

Yeah, you’re right — she’s stupid for confirming that you, a virtual stranger, stripped her naked while she was passed out. What an unreasonable question to ask.

Wait, wait, wait, though — Christian is about to be offended that you could think such a thing, so let him get even worse than you thought possible:

She blushes, and at last she has some color in her cheeks. Perfect teeth bite down on her lip. I suppress a groan.

“We didn’t-?” she whispers, staring at her hands.

Christ, what kind of animal does she think I am?

HOW CAN YOU ASK THAT? I’ve said it about 10 times already, but let’s go for one more: you kidnapped her, took her back to your bed, stripped her naked, and then slept beside her. The fact that you didn’t rape her is not praise-worthy and doesn’t undo how horrible all of the rest of those actions are.

Again, Fifty Shades fans, if you see this as a romantic story, please explain to me how any of this is acceptable. I’m begging you.

Because the next line — which is in the original book, but bears repeating — is:

“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing.” My tone is dry. “I like my women sentient and receptive.”

Just so we’re on the same page, Christian has just informed Ana — his future wife, the mother of his future children, and the woman he loves — that the only reason he didn’t rape her while she was asleep was because it’s not his particular sexual preference.

Not because he has ethical concerns about rape, but because if he is going to rape her, he’d like to see her reaction.

She sags with relief, which makes me wonder if this has happened to her before, that she’s passed out and woken up in a stranger’s bed and found out he’s fucked her without her consent. Maybe that’s the photographer’s modus operandi. The thought is disturbing.

Oh, silly me. You can’t be a rapist because you hate rape. I forgot. Because you say that you hate rape, so that makes all of your near-rape actions void. Good thinking, EL James. Cracking characterization.

But I recall her confession last night — that she’d never been drunk before. Thank God she hasn’t made a habit of this.

I’ve reached a point, I think, where I can’t even form words when I read shit like this — his cruel, manipulative gaslighting — and I just want to post a gif of someone screaming because it would be less draining than trying to put my rage and incredulity into words. So for the next little bit, when Christian says something this rage-inducing, I’m just going to give you this:

scream

Incidentally, reading this does indeed make me feel like my head is being crushed like a grape by a giant.

Oh, wait — I’ve looked down the page and I already get to use the gif again, so enjoy:

“You didn’t have to track me down with whatever James Bond gadgetry you’re developing for the highest bidder.”

Whoa! Now she’s pissed. Why?

“First, the technology to track cell phones is available over the Internet.”

Well, the Deep Net…

“Second, my company does not invest or manufacture any kind of surveillance devices.”

My temper is fraying, but I’m on a roll. “And third, if I hadn’t come to get you, you’d probably be waking up in the photographer’s bed, and from what I can remember, you weren’t overly enthused about him pressing his suit.”

scream

Victim blaming her for being assaulted? Laughing at her for her lack of knowledge about illegal phone tracking and stalking? Using the phrase “Deep Net”?

I’m fucking done. And this — I’m not joking here — is only about the first two pages of this chapter.

So blah blah blah, Christian makes Ana feel shitty for being kidnapped and almost-but-not-raped, and then I get yet another chance to use my gif so it’s a good day for all of us:

“You’re quite the disciplinarian,” she snaps.

“Oh, Anastasia, you have no idea.”

An image of her shackled to my bench, peeled gingerroot inserted into her ass so she can’t clench her buttocks, comes to mind, followed by judicious use of a belt or strap. Yeah…That would teach her not to be so irresponsible. The thought is hugely appealing.

scream

I keep hitting these walls where I think: how did anyone write this insane manual of domestic abuse with no sense of guilt or shame whatsoever? And then I have to go one level deeper, because how did she re-write this book, adding in scenes with Christian being even more horrible than he was in the original, after receiving a mountain of criticism from domestic violence groups and feminists?

And the answer is because — please let’s be clear about this — she doesn’t give a fuck. She knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’s painting an abuser as the ideal man and believes that, at the end of the day, it is only women’s actions that should be judged and condemned. That is the take-away from the entire Fifty Shades franchise: men are not responsible for their actions, and anything that happens to a woman is entirely her own fault. Even if she’s passed out. Even if she’s been stalked and kidnapped.

When we focus on the silliness of peeled ginger, we choose to ignore the victim blaming. When we laugh about his “cock concurring,” we choose to ignore the kidnapping and assault. This is hateful, anti-woman propaganda. And when we ignore that fact, we fail all of the women who have been, are being, and will be abused by men like Christian Grey because they’ve been taught time and time again that it’s always their fault and never his.

Back to the story. Christian goes for a shower, having found the events of this morning arousing because nothing gets him going like causing someone intense confusion, fear, and guilt:

In the bathroom I take a deep breath, strip, and climb into the shower. I’m half tempted to jerk off, but the familiar fear of discovery and disclosure, from an earlier time in my life, stops me.

Elena would not be pleased.

Old habits.

Then Christian — who will later be shocked (shocked!) that Ana is a virgin — offers us this:

As the water cascades over my head I reflect on my latest interaction with the challenging Miss Steele. She’s still here, in my bed, so she cannot find me completely repulsive. I notice the way her breath caught in her throat, and how her gaze followed me around the room.

Yeah. There’s hope.

But would she make a good submissive?

It’s obvious she knows nothing of the lifestyle. She couldn’t even say “fuck” or “sex” or whatever bookish college students use as a euphemism for fucking these days.

Ah, yes, “fuck” — that classic euphemism for “fucking.”

She’s quite the innocent. She’s probably been subjected to a few fumbling encounters with boys like the photographer.

And yet, later in this very chapter, you’re going to be really really surprised that she’s a virgin? Sorry, why am I even pretending that this is a continuity error? I know it’s just another manipulation technique to make her feel vulnerable and insecure.

I could just ask her if she’s interested.

No. I’d have to show her what she’d be taking on if she agreed to a relationship with me.

Consent and clear communication? Nah — mind games are the way to go.

Good one, Cock!

Thanks, Random Italics.

Hey, Cock?

Yeah, Random Italics?

Why are all of our internal thoughts figured as some kind of dialog?

I think it’s meant to mimic the division between Ana’s Inner Goddess and Subconscious from the original trilogy, even though that didn’t make sense and just came off like an episode of Lizzie McGuire rather than the inner workings of a grown woman engaging in an adult relationship.

But wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to just write these interactions as an inner monologue anyway, rather than a conversation between two non-sentient forms?

Don’t ask me, Random Italics. I’m just a cock. And, like my owner, can’t be held accountable for anything I do.

When I open the bathroom door she’s out of bed and searching for her jeans. She looks like the archtypical startled fawn, all long legs and big eyes.

“If you’re looking for your jeans, I’ve sent them to the laundry.” She really has great legs. She shouldn’t hide them in pants.

Flames. Flames on the side of my face.

Her eyes narrow, and I think she’s going to argue with me, so I tell her why. “They were spattered with your vomit.”

“Oh,” she says.

Yes. “Oh.” Now, what do you have to say to that, Miss Steele?

Haha, you sure showed her, Christian! Right when she was about to get upset about a stranger taking her clothing without her permission, you made her feel guilty and disgusting. Wow, you’re really good at this. It’s almost like you’re an insecure, fragile person who needs to prey on vulnerable young women with little self-worth and then trick them into catering to your needs and desires by portraying yourself as a helpless victim whenever they muster up enough courage to question your behavior.

Almost.

But food’s here, and you guys know how Christian feels about food. So let’s give it all of our attention:

Two young women have arrived from room service.

“Where would you like the breakfast, sir?”

“Set it up on the dining table.”

Walking back into the bedroom, I catch their furtive looks, but I ignore them and suppress the guilt I feel over how much food I’ve ordered. We’ll never eat it all.

Having so clearly established this, Christian couldn’t possibly get angry if, say, Anastasia doesn’t eat everything she’s given, right? Right, guys? But before she cleans her plate like a good girl, she needs to make sure she won’t catch cold:

“Your hair’s very damp,” I observe.

“I couldn’t find the hair dryer,” she says, embarrassed.

She’ll get sick.

It’s May in Seattle. Which means that the most likely scenario is that she’ll blow-dry her hair only to have it rained on again, and not that she’s going to catch her death in sub-zero temperatures.

My immediate internal retort to this exchange was, “Thanks, Dad,” but then I realized that that’s exactly what he’s doing — he’s making her feel infantile and irresponsible so that, by the time she leaves this encounter, she’ll be in absolutely no doubt that she behaved poorly and that he “saved” her.

A little bit more from this intentional manipulation to drive it home further:

“Thank you for the clothes,” she adds.

“It’s a pleasure, Anastasia. That color suits you.”

She stares down at her fingers.

“You know, you really should learn to take a compliment.”

Taking a page from the street harasser’s handbook? Oh, Christian — you really are the complete package of men I would cross the road to avoid.

And just a little more, because Christian really needs to ensure that she feels indebted to him:

“I should give you some money for these clothes.”

What?

I glare at her, and she continues quickly, “You’ve already given me the books, which, of course, I can’t accept. But these, please let me pay you back.”

Sweetheart.

“Anastasia, trust me, I can afford it.”

“That’s not the point. Why should you buy these for me?”

“Because I can.” I’m a very rich man, Ana.

“Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.” Her voice is soft, but suddenly I’m wondering if she’s looked through me and seen my darkest desires. “Why did you send me the books, Christian?”

Because I wanted to see you again, and here you are…

scream

Now I worry that at this point, people are tempted to see Ana’s replies as proof that she’s not a wilting flower. And in fact there are many times within the books that Ana will confront Christian, name the exact behavior that he’s performed, explain why it’s unacceptable, and will get Christian to admit that what he’s done is wrong. It’s these moments that fans of the books point to as evidence that Ana is “strong,” and that she could leave at any time but chooses to stay with Christian because she does ultimately feel safe and loved.

And it’s bullshit.

Because, like any effective abuser, Christian allows her these moments of temporary strength, pretends to go along with her line of reasoning, and then humiliates her or will makes himself so prostrate and so apologetic that she feels guilty for having questioned him.

So let’s watch what Christian does next:

“Well, when you were nearly run over by the cyclist — and I was holding you and you were looking up at me — all ‘kiss me, kiss me, Christian’–“

DING DING DING — humiliation.

Then he gives her the big “I don’t do hearts-and-flowers” speech, which to some extent (I have to give him this) is intended to set her expectations, although that’s mostly undone by the romantic gesture of sending her books  — oh, and his internal admission that he sent them because he wanted to see her again, even though he’s claiming that they were a warning to stay away. So nevermind — he gets nothing. Still the worst.

This, as you might imagine, is not the end of the chapter. But this post is already way too long and the remaining pages are just as screamingly, frustratingly awful as this, so I’m going to stop things here with the promise that you’ll be seeing my Ellaria gif many times tomorrow.

Next Post.

7 thoughts on “Gaslighting and Anal Ginger Root: Chapter 6 of EL James’s “Grey”

  1. Pingback: What Would You Like to #AskELJames? | Tea Leaves and Dog Ears

  2. “That is the take-away from the entire Fifty Shades franchise: men are not responsible for their actions, and anything that happens to a woman is entirely her own fault. Even if she’s passed out. Even if she’s been stalked and kidnapped.”

    I personally know someone who actually, truly believes exactly that, so I have no problem agreeing with you that that is probably EL James’ deal as well. You hit it on the head. :L

  3. Pingback: Erotic Lip Biting and Demon Weed: Chapter 6 of EL James’s “Grey” (Part 2) | Tea Leaves and Dog Ears

  4. Never tried it, but I’m led to understand the sensation of peeled ginger can be quite enjoyable.

    BTW, I’m not sure if I ever said this, so here goes: I agree with the vast majority of everything you say. Christian is manipulative and abusive and I totally understand your anger. I’m mostly nodding along in agreement as I read your stuff.

    I think a few of the things you post are unfair, and those are the bits I tend to comment on, but they’re generally minor criticisms of an essentially solid article.

    “I think it’s fair to say that you’d know whether you were watching someone for seconds or minutes or hours, but he’s just Edward Cullen and EL James is ripping off someone else’s hyperbolic stupidity, so I won’t linger too long on it.”

    Interestingly, that probably does make some sense for a century old vampire. For a twenty-something guy, less so. :/

    “And the answer is because — please let’s be clear about this — she doesn’t give a fuck. She knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’s painting an abuser as the ideal man […].”

    You’re honestly of the opinion that the six chapters so far have been presenting Christian as the ideal man? Really? “Fifty Shades of Grey” might have, but “Grey”?

    I suspect this actually *is* James trying to acknowledge the criticisms of the first trilogy.

    In a way she can’t win. Her first trilogy got criticised for glossing over how abusive Christian and Ana’s relationship was and how predatory, abusive and manipulative Christian’s actions were.

    So she writes a new series retelling the trilogy from Christian’s perspective, letting us see his thoughts and making his predatory, abusive, manipulative and misogynist nature blatantly obvious. Aaaand she gets sledged for that too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s