So we left off last post midway through an excruciatingly long chapter filled with anal punishment and victim blaming — and yet I just bet this entry is going to top it.
So to getting up to speed, Christian has just explained that he doesn’t do that “hearts and flowers shit,” Ana wants to be “enlightened” about what he does do, and so Christian decides he will indeed allow Ana to enter his dark, dark soul of darkness and butt plugs.
But, because clear communication and respect are not part of Christian’s bullshit version of BDSM, he’s going to keep things nice and cryptic and schedule a meeting for later so he can force her to sign paperwork without a lawyer present. Fun!
For now, however, we pick up back at the hotel room:
“I’d like to bite that lip,” I whisper, because it’s true.
Her face flies to mine and she shuffles in her seat. She tilts her chin toward me, her eyes full of confidence. “Why don’t you?” she says quietly.
Oh. Don’t tempt me, baby. I can’t. Not yet.
“Because I’m not going to touch you, Anastasia — not until I have your written consent to do so.”
“What does that mean?” she asks.
“Exactly what I say. I need to show you, Anastasia.” So you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Definitely the best way to engage someone in a sexual relationship — particularly something like BDSM — is to be as vague as possible and to constantly keep them on the back foot so they feel like they’re failing to get an inside joke.
After Christian and Ana sit around for a while talking about why he can’t tell her about his sex secret because it’s so dark and scary, Christian pauses for a moment to bark orders at Taylor (his Manservant? Butler? Driver?) over the phone, and Ana voices something we’ve all been thinking:
“Do people always do what you tell them?” she asks, and the disapproval in her voice is obvious.
Is she scolding me now? Her challenge is annoying.
“Usually, if they want to keep their jobs.” Don’t question how I treat my staff.
Why, Christian? Are you dimly aware that you’re the kind of boss that people tell horror stories about to their friends for years afterward?
“And if they don’t work for you?” she adds.
“Oh, I can be very persuasive, Anastasia. You should finish your breakfast. And then I’ll drop you off at home. I’ll pick you up from Clayton’s at eight when you finish. We’ll fly up to Seattle.”
Another great way to involve someone in your BDSM sex life is to control every aspect of their life before they’ve agreed to the relationship.
“Yes. I have a helicopter.”
Her mouth drops open, forming a small o. It’s a pleasing moment.
Because you get off on constantly making her feel inadequate and indebted to you. And you’re a fragile, insecure child.
“We’ll go by helicopter to Seattle?” she whispers.
“Because I can.” I grin. Sometimes it’s just fucking great to be me. “Finish your breakfast.”
She seems stunned.
Does he mean it’s “great to be him” because he owns and flies a helicopter, or because he’s able to force a confused young woman to “clean her plate” like she’s a child because she again feels totally inadequate and insecure?
“Eat!” My voice is more forceful. “Anastasia, I have an issue with wasted food. Eat.”
I told you he was going to be an asshole about the food. And let’s make that clear: he ordered too much on purpose so that, regardless of how much she ate, he would make her feel wasteful, ungrateful, and poorly behaved for not finishing it.
“I can’t eat all this.” She studies all the food on the table and I feel guilty once more. Yes, there is too much food here.
“Eat what’s on your plate. If you’d eaten properly yesterday, you wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be declaring my hand so soon.”
I have to say something obvious here because there are still far too many people who read that line and think, “Well, she did drink too much. She did get nearly assaulted.”
A drunk person is at fault if they drink too much and fall over. A drunk person is not at fault if someone decides to assault them.
Fuck you, Christian Grey. And since you’re fictional, fuck you, EL James. And fuck all of your defenders. A woman drinking with her friends at a bar near her work did not NEED to be kidnapped, stripped, and assaulted by a stalker.
She did not need his help.
Jose’s assault was not her fault either, and if he had carried on assaulting her, being drunk would not have put her at fault. Both of these men are responsible for their actions. So naturally Christian is pushing his guilt and his responsibility onto someone who was literally unconscious.
And because he’s so effective at making women feel like garbage, Ana dutifully cleans her plate rather than throwing it at his head and running as fast as she can. The power of gaslighting!
“Good girl,” I mutter. “I’ll take you home when you’ve dried your hair. I don’t want you getting ill.”
You’ll need all your strength for tonight, for what I have to show you.
Dry your hair. For the ultimate sex strength.
Suddenly, she gets up from the table and I have to stop myself from telling her that she doesn’t have permission.
She’s not your submissive… yet, Grey.
And thus begins a relationship completely based around fear, control, abuse, infantilization, and coercion.
I’m pleased when I hear the buzz of the hair dryer and surprised that she’s doing what she’s been told.
I just feel sad at this point. Every time Ana cedes a little more control over her own life, he feels a little more empowered to do whatever he wants with her.
Skipping ahead, they finally get out of the hotel room and he pounces on her in the elevator, but guess who the “real” instigator is:
She bites her lip.
She’s doing this on purpose.
She probably isn’t, but since you just love pretending that you’re not responsible for your own actions, let’s go with it.
And for a split second I’m lost in her sensual, mesmerizing stare. She doesn’t back down.
I want her.
In the elevator.
You’re so crazy and kinky.
“Oh, fuck the paperwork.” The words come from nowhere and on instinct I grab her and push her against the wall.
Nope. The words came from your mouth because you chose to say them. And then you chose to grab her and push her.
Clasping both her hands, I pin them above her head so she can’t touch me, and once she’s secure, I twist my other hand in her hair while my lips seek and find hers.
All on instinct. No conscious thought or decision-making involved whatsoever.
She moans into my mouth, the call of a siren, and finally I can sample here: mint and tea and an orchard of mellow fruitfulness. She tastes every bit as good as she looks. Reminding me of a time of plenty.
How do you go from, “I wanna slap her with my punishment cock” to this purple prose?
Good Lord. I’m yearning for her. I grasp her chin, deepening the kiss and her tongue tentatively touches mine…exploring. Considering. Feeling. Kissing me back.
So she’s just now kissing back.
After like five pages they get out of the elevator and then Christian reminds you that he only treats male staff or service workers nicely:
The car is waiting in one of the bays in front of the hotel; the valet is pacing impatiently. I give him an obscene tip and open the passenger door for Ana, who is quiet and introspective.
This, of course, is also a method of manipulation so that Ana can see another expensive gesture that she’ll never be able to repay.
Christian drops her off at home where we get yet another exchange that makes me sad:
“Why do you insist on calling me Anastasia?” she asks.
“Because it’s your name.”
“I prefer Ana.”
He’ll be sure to stamp that out.
“Do you, now?”
“Ana” is too everyday and ordinary for her. And too familiar. Those three letters have the power to wound…
Let’s all marvel at the fact that he is once again gaslighting the reader by saying, “Woah, woah, woah — stop worrying about what she wants. Remember my pain? I have a lot of it. So that’s why I’m allowed to ignore all of her wants and needs.”
Ana goes inside and greets Kate who — as you remember — is responsible for everything that happened to Ana because she was a bad womanfriend and only women can be at fault for anything.
Kavanagh jumps up and gives me a critical once-over as she hugs Ana.
What did she think I was going to do to the girl?
What literally anyone would think that someone was going to do with a drunk woman they took back to a hotel room. I mean Jesus Christ.
I know what I’d like to do to her…
As Kavanagh holds her at arm’s length I’m reassured; maybe she does care for Ana, too.
How are you holding Kate responsible for your and Jose’s actions? HOW?
“Good morning, Christian,” she says, her tone cool and condescending.
Because you took a drunk woman you barely knew to a hotel room. But fuck Kate, right? Because now that she DOES clearly care about her friend, she’s being rude. And that’s not acceptable either.
“Miss Kavanagh.” And what I want to say is something sarcastic about how she’s finally showing some interest in her friend, but I hold my tongue.
The added issue here is that Ana also treats Kate like trash — Kate who let Ana live in an apartment rent free while going to school for four years, and Kate who is now going to let Ana live lent-free in an apartment in Seattle indefinitely. And Kate who is one of the only people who allows Ana a judgment-free outlet while she deals with her first-ever relationship.
Yet both Christian and Ana treat Kate either like an irresponsible slut or an interfering bitch. How? How are they this repulsed by generosity and friendship?
Eventually Christian (and Elliot, who’s there while all of this is happening, presumably strumming a guitar and eating cold pizza and doing flips on a half-pipe while thinking about sustainability) leaves and we’re treated to even more brologues:
“Man, I need some sleep,” Elliot says, as soon as we’re in the car. “That woman is voracious.”
“Really…” My voice drips with sarcasm. The last thing I want is a blow-by-blow account of his assignation.
“How about you hotshot? Did she pop your cherry?”
That drunk chick you took home — you rape her, bro?
I give him a sideways “fuck off” glare.
Because Elliot called him a virgin, not because he’s offended by a rape accusation.
Elliot laughs. “Man, you are one uptight son of a bitch.” He pulls his Sounders cap over his face and nestles down in his seat for a nap.
I turn up the volume of the music.
Sleep through that, Lelliot!
Haha, you got him, Christian!
Yeah. I envy my brother: his ease with women, his ability to sleep…and the fact that he’s not the son of a bitch.
Casual misogyny: that’s Christian’s raison d’etre.
Oh, and if you were wondering if Jose did in fact have a police record, please settle in for a little more casual bigotry:
Jose Luis Rodriguez’s background check reveals a ticket for possession of marijuana.
Of course it does.
There is nothing in his police records for sexual harassment. Maybe last night would have been a first if I hadn’t intervened.
And the little prick smokes weed? I hope he doesn’t smoke around Ana–and I hope she doesn’t smoke, period.
This has been an important anti-drug PSA from Christian Grey, hater of the demon weed that turns nice girls into sluts and Mexicans into criminals.
But remember how Christian Grey really hates rape?
I picture her sleeping beside me, soft and small…and my cock twitches with expectation. I could have woken her and fucked her then–what a novelty that would have been.
I’ll fuck her in time.
I’ll fuck her bound and with her smart mouth gagged.
How does this book not end with him wearing her skin like a cape?
We speed right ahead to Christian picking up Ana from the hardware store, taking her to his helipad, and then flying her to his penthouse apartment. Skipping ahead several more pages (this fucking chapter will never end), they get out of the helicopter, and then Christian — who, again, has not yet discussed the contract or the offer with Ana yet — begins making plans:
She’s wearing a pale green shirt beneath her black jacket. It suits her. I make a mental note to include blues and greens in the clothes I’ll provide if she agrees to my terms. She should be better dressed.
He wants her to say yes and is already building his Dream Wardrobe for Submissive Barbie. Fine. But what’s especially snide about this passages is that Ana probably put together an outfit that she liked for tonight, and in one small sentence he dismisses it as trash that he’ll be only too happy to replace. Because her wants, needs, desires, and sense of self all need to be “upgraded” to fit his.
Finally — finally — it’s time to discuss his crazy weird sex secret. But because this is an important moment for Christian where he’s going to reveal his darkness, and he needs her complete consent and comprehension, the very first thing he does is offer her alcohol.
I’m not going to give you a big long speech about why that’s so inappropriate. Mark Oshiro has pretty much written the book on that. But it’s not just that he’s going to get her tipsy so she’s more compliant and relaxed, he also uses alcohol (throughout the books) to make her feel unsophisticated and insecure:
“Would you like a drink?” I try a different approach and decide that I need a drink to steady my nerves.
Why am I so nervous?
Because I want her…
He feels nervous, so he needs to make sure that she’s at a greater disadvantage.
“I’m going to have a glass of wine. Would you like to join me?”
“Yes, please,” she says.
In the kitchen I slip off my jacket and open the wine fridge. A sauvignon blanc would be a good ice breaker. Pulling out a serviceable Pouilly-Fume, I watch Ana peer through the balcony doors at the view. When she turns and walks back toward the kitchen I ask her if she’d be happy with the wine I selected.
“I know nothing about wine, Christian. I’m sure it will be fine.” She sounds subdued.
He must know that a poorly-dressed college student doesn’t know that much about wine. So again, this is about making her insecure and compliant. Which is why this next passage is just gaslighting for the reader’s benefit:
Shit. This isn’t going well. Is she overwhelmed? Is that it?
OBVIOUSLY. Because you’ve just constructed this incredibly overwhelming experience — you’ve been cryptic about your dark, dark, crazy secret; you’ve taken her on your helicopter to your giant apartment; you’ve let her enjoy the amazing view while you flaunt your knowledge of expensive French wine. You KNOW this is overwhelming because you’ve ensured that literally every element of it would be impressive and intimidating to someone like her.
I pour two glasses and walk to where she stands in the middle of my living room, looking every bit the sacrificial lamb. Gone is the disarming woman. She looks lost.
And then there it is — mission accomplished. He found her “disarming,” so he made sure to set up the entire evening to knock her down, brick by brick, until she was as intimidated and insecure as possible.
Oh fuck off. You could not possibly have put yourself in a position of greater advantage.
But no, no — you see, Ana is seducing him… somehow.
They talk a bit about the books and his reason for sending them and they get into a metaphorical discussion about Tess and her two male love interests. Ana says she wants to be debased by the villain, not loved by the hero, and because Christian feels uncomfortable about her taking the lead, he gaslights her a little more:
“Anastasia, stop biting your lip, please. It’s very distracting. You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“That’s why I’m here,” she says, her teeth leaving little indentations on a bottom lip moist with wine.
And there she is: disarming me once more, surprising me at every turn. My cock concurs.
No she ISN’T. You have all of the power and, in this moment, you’re still deliberately holding back your “secret”. She’s trying to be open and communicative and clear, and you’re acting like it’s all some kind of slutty trick. He must know what he’s doing, so why does EL James keep writing him like he’s totally confused about his very obvious behavior?
Either way, Ana immediately signs Christian’s NDA without thinking because she’s 22 years old and has never had a job that would require such a thing and doesn’t really understand what she’s agreeing to — all of which Christian knows because of his extensive background check. But whose fault is it, really?
“Okay, I’ll sign,” she says.
Well, that was easy. I hand her my Mont Blanc and she places the pen at the signature line.
Of course it’s a Mont Blanc. Of course the readers needs to know that.
“Aren’t you even going to read it?” I ask, suddenly annoyed.
“Anastasia, you should always read anything you sign.” How could she be so foolish? Have her parents taught her nothing?
Nothing is ever this guy’s fault, is it? How does he run a company if he’s incapable of taking responsibility for anything he says or does?
But it doesn’t matter, because despite his grave concerns over her reckless contract signing, he lets her sign it anyway, and Ana — who still doesn’t know what she’s just agreed to — asks if this means that they can bone down at last:
“Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?”
Oh, Grey, let’s disabuse her of this straightaway.
You’re finally going to communicate with her clearly? This should be good:
“No, Anastasia, it doesn’t. First, I don’t make love, I fuck, hard.”
She gasps. That’s made her think.
Yeah — about the fact that you’re still being cryptic. On purpose.
“Second, there’s a lot more paperwork to do.”
So much paperwork. In an erotic novel. Because what could get a woman hotter than a trip to the notary public?
“And third, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. You could still run from here screaming! Come, I want to show you my playroom.”
Rather than have an adult conversation, I’m just going to drop it on you like a surprise party because I get off on manipulation, fear, and confusion.
She’s nonplussed, the little v forming between her brows. “You want to play on your XBox?”
I laugh out loud.
Because you’re enjoying the power dynamic.
“No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no PlayStation. Come.” I offer her my hand, which she takes willingly. I lead her to the hallway and upstairs, where I stop outside the door to my playroom, my heart hammering in my chest.
This is it. Pay or play. Have I ever been this nervous?
And it’s all about him again. You can’t be mad at him for manipulating her like this, because he’s SO nervous you guys! Poor Christian. Stop being mean to him!
I’m skipping past pages and pages of the exact same dialog that EL James made you slog through in the first book where Christian makes Ana feel alternately stupid for not knowing everything about BDSM, and then acts like she’s being interrogative:
“Are you sure you don’t want to intern at my company? You’re a good negotiator.”
No she isn’t.
“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Of course she’s right. And it’s my number-one rule: never fuck the staff.
Just treat them like garbage.
“So, limits. These are mine.” I hand her the list.
This is it, shit-or-bust time.
That’s not a saying. And if it is, it shouldn’t be.
I know my limits by heart, and mentally tick off the list as I watch her read through. Her face grows paler and paler as she nears the end.
Fuck, I hope this isn’t frightening her off.
I want her. I want her submission…badly. She swallows, glancing nervously up at me. How can I pursuade her to give this a try? I should reassure her, show her that I’m capable of caring.
“Is there anything you’d like to add?”
And, before we get to the horrible virgin conversation, let’s quickly reflect on the fact that “do you have any wants/needs in a sexual relationship” is Christian’s idea of a really generous concession.
Deep down I hope she won’t add anything. I want carte blanche with her. She stares at me, still at a loss for words. It’s irritating. I’m not used to waiting for answers.
She finally admits that she’s a virgin and Christian’s initial response is just monosyllabic outbursts of “How?” “Why?” “Fuck.” And because he can’t be remotely decent about this, this happens:
I close my eyes. I can’t look at her.
How the hell did I get this so wrong?
Anger lances through me. What can I do with a virgin? I glare at her as fury surgers through my body.
“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” I growl, and start pacing my study. What do I want with a virgin?
So here’s the thing.
He told us earlier that he instinctively knew she had almost no experience. He knew that. And even if he didn’t know she was a virgin, he said that he did know that she had never been involved in a BDSM relationship. So regardless of her level of sexual activity, she would essentially still be a “virgin” in terms of what he wants to do to her.
Which means that this outburst is not just manipulation, it is now a full-blown commodification of Ana’s body and of her sexual experience. She has less value to him in this form. He’s disgusted that she hasn’t been “broken in” yet, and that he’ll “have” to do it.
He is a monster.
He is an absolute monster.
At this point, I’m drawing a line in the sand: he is irredeemable, regardless of what happens next.
He can’t spare any sympathy or concern for her in this moment, so how can the author possibly ask us to spare some for him?
“And a nice young man hasn’t swept you off your feet? I just don’t understand. You’re twenty-one, nearly twenty-two. You’re beautiful.” Why hasn’t some guy taken her to bed.
A line that lets us know that Christian believes that men fuck women and women are the recipients of the fucking.
Shit, maybe she’s religious. No, Welch would have unconvered that.
What a great time to remind us of your illegal background check.
He continues to make her feel disgusting and dirty because she might not fit his needs:
She really knows nothing. How could she ever be a submissive if she has no idea about sex? This is not going to fly…and all the ground work I’ve done has been for nothing. I can’t close this deal.
The groundwork. This deal. Her body is a commodity, her sexuality is an object.
“Why are you so angry with me?” she whispers.
Of course she would think that. Make this right, Grey.
“I’m not angry with you, I’m angry at myself. I just assumed –” Why the hell would I be angry with you? What a mess this is. I run my hands through my hair, trying to rein in my temper.
There are times, like now, when I get unbearably frustrated with EL James’ attempt to salvage Christian in unsalvageable moments because she is so awful at writing characters that she can’t keep their motivations or inner thoughts consistent from one sentence to the next.
He’s angry with her for not telling him she’s a virgin. He’s mad that she thinks he’s mad at her. He has to keep a lid on his explosive temper.
All of that in the space of less than a page.
Either you’re angry with her or you’re not. Pick one. Stick to it.
But no. Instead, let’s focus on the way in which Ana’s body and her sexuality are something to be owned and possessed and controlled:
And I want to fuck her, spank her, and watch her alabaster skin turn pink beneath my hands. That’s out of the question now–isn’t it? Perhaps not the fucking…perhaps I could. The thought is a revelation. I could take her to bed. Break her in.
Good news, guys: Christian starts to realize that her virginity might work to his advantage. Because let’s never ever forget that everything is always going to be about him:
Shit. Contraception. I’m sure she’s not on the pill…Fortunately, I have condoms for backup. At least I don’t have to worry about every dick she’s slept with.
Her lips form a perfect small o. My cock hardens further. Yes, I’d like to fuck that mouth, that o. I stalk toward her like she’s my prey. Oh, baby, I want to bury myself in you. Her breathing is shallow and quick. Her cheeks are rosy…she’s wary, but excited. She at my mercy, and knowing that makes me feel powerful. She has no idea what I’m going to do to her.
Her tongue shyly meets mine, tentatively probing my mouth, and for some reason, her fumbling inexperience is…hot.
She’s probably never had an orgasm–though I find this hard to believe. Whoa. I’m responsible for her first fuck and her first orgasm. I’d better make this good.
“Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that.” I’m going to make you come like a freight train, baby.
Hell–she’s probably never seen a naked man, either.
Because this is a world in which a recent college graduate doesn’t have an e-mail address, I do actually believe that.
And one more musing on how awesome it is (for him) that she’s a virgin:
I kneel up between her legs, pushing them farther apart. Anastasia watches me with–what? Trepidation? She’s probably never seen an erect penis before.
“Don’t worry. You expand, too,” I mutter.
I doubt she was worried that you were going to stove her in twain with your giant whale dick that I’m sure you don’t have.
Finally, after claiming his virgin prey, Christian gets to the real heart of just what he loves so much about her:
“You are mine,” I whisper. “Only mine. Don’t forget it.”
Well, everyone. There you go. That’s the reason that Christian is so “beguiled” by Anastasia: of all the things he’s ever bought, her virginity is by far his favorite toy.