Readthroughs and Random Thoughts

Writing about what I'm reading…

50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Eight

My first thought upon approaching this chapter was “Crap; it’s another long chapter.” Which was then brightened somewhat by the understanding that, hey, this is apparently where the pornish revelations happen. And trust me, after more than 100 pages of pretty much nothing happening in a book that’s been hailed as all kinds of sexeh, I have been chomping at the bit to read the stuff that’s apparently responsible for womens’ sexual liberation and the saving of marriages and the curing of cancer and everything else this book has been credited with.

As with most things in life, though, I have the expectation that I will be disappointed. Nonetheless: AWAY! To the pornz, I say.

Previously, Christian learned that Ana was *gasp* a virgin, and he reacted in a manner that I think can only be accurately described as “bugfuck crazy.” After all, I was expecting that he’d LIKE it if Ana was a virgin: that would mean she wouldn’t be comparing him to, you know, normal, sane people who don’t have hangups and some really disturbing issues like he seems to have. But, nope: apparently there is some part of dating and relating that I missed where one is supposed to disclose whether they’ve had sex before in casual conversation and apparently one isn’t meant to know about kink until they’ve had regular vanilla sex.

Even Ana is bothered by this, which seems to suggest a level of “Wow, this is so seriously fucked that even a non-objective, completely stupid character can see something problematic about it,” though Christian seems to think that “virgin” also equals “has never heard of kink,” and flips out about the fact that he’s shown Ana his playroom as though that’s actually the worst thing he’s done so far.

(I am failing to see what the big deal is. Hell, I knew about kink long before I did the deed with anyone, and now I’m wondering if somehow that’s weird and wrong, and, well, my sexual liberation ain’t happening.)

Christian asks whether she’s been kissed by someone before (clearly kissing is only notch away from sex…? Or something: I don’t know) and then comes out with:

“And a nice young man hasn’t swept you off your feet?

Dafuq? Who talks like that? I’ve dated, erm, people considerably older than me, and they didn’t speak like that. Even my mother doesn’t talk like that, and she’s in her sixties. Besides, I think it’s more than established: Ana isn’t into “nice young men,” or else she wouldn’t be following you into this mess of a story, dude.

 “I just don’t understand. You’re twenty-one, nearly twenty-two. You’re beautiful.”

Firstly: huzzah! We finally have an age for Ana. (Beats the shit out of me how he found out, though.) Though I’m shocked: she comes across as maybe fifteen. And I’m dead certain the age inclusion thing was so E. L. James didn’t get accused of writing underage characters doing sexual things because wasn’t this Twilight fanfic and wasn’t Bella, like, 17, and wouldn’t writing about a seventeen year old having hawt sexytimes sex with a guy who’s hundreds of years old be like writing kiddy porn?

Ana, however, makes me think of that argument about Teddie in the Persona 4 fandom: sure, Teddie might be as old as all of the other characters, who are at the age where they are hormonal little monsters and would be possibly getting it on, but mentally Teddie is like a little kid, and a lot of people feel it’s creepy and gross when people feature him in porn. Teddie might talk about scoring with chicks but he clearly has absolutely no fucking idea about, well, fucking.

And this is how Ana comes across to me: hell, the “Are you going to make love to me now?” question in the last chapter was indicative of how naive the girl is. As I said earlier: this is like watching one of those made-for-TV movies about a teenage runaway who believes the nice man who says she’s beautiful and then he turns out to be a pimp or a porn producer who’s just found some new talent. It’s creepy and quite sad.

I want a twist, E. L. James. I want Ana to be merely putting on the naivete, like that girl in Hard Candy. And to then dom the living crap out of Grey because that would be unexpected and kind of cool.

I already know I am going to be disappointed.


Beautiful. I flush with pleasure. Christian Grey thinks I’m beautiful.

Godammit, reading that made me have another one of those moments where I wanted to hurl the book across the room. Ana’s self-esteem is horrendous. Seriously: repeat after me: “Just because he says you’re beautiful, it doesn’t mean shit.” There are lots of beautiful things in the world. If you’re Andy Warhol, you think everyone is beautiful (or no one is). Beauty isn’t some sort of elite quality that means anything. Someone recognising you’re attractive doesn’t mean that they love you. Fuck.

And: people lie. People will say all sorts of ego-stroking crap to other people to get what they want from them: including sex. This is possibly the oldest line in the book. Once again, I’m wanting crossover fic where Toreth– or Kristoph Gavin– or damn near anyone— shows Grey what actual headfuckery looks like and wipes the godamned floor with him. Because this is fish-in-a-barrel stuff and Grey deserves it.

Ana, of course, doesn’t believe him– well, she does, sort of, because he’s Grey Almighty who can’t be wrong, but she wonders if he’s far-sighted.

Because she couldn’t actually be, you know, the perfect model of Western civilisation’s definition of attractive. Nope. Not at all.


My subconscious has reared her somnambulant head.

Whatever the fuck that means. Who cares anymore? This book is insulting my intelligence and my understanding of human psychology and now E. L. James is making references to “subconscious” which don’t make sense: is this an attempt to confuse me into just going along with whatever other stupidity gets thrown at me?


“And you’re seriously discussing what I want to do when you have had no experience.” His brows knit together. “How have you avoided sex? Tell me, please.”

Given that she and Kate seem so bloody hot for one another, I guess that is a mystery, but still, it’s none of his business. Ana, repeat after me: you don’t have to justify your virginity, kiddo, any more than you’d have to justify things if you already were sexually active. And given that she’s a product of a culture that is sex-obsessed, it isn’t so much that she’s avoided sex (unless she spent her childhood locked up in an experimental research facility or something… which might explain the naivete and poor self-esteem, actually) she just hasn’t had sex with anyone. (There’s a difference between avoiding something and just not encountering it. Sheesh.)

Then again, when you take Kate out of the equation and look at the other shining examples of awesomeness she’s surrounded by (the guy who can’t take no for an answer and a would-be rapist) it’s not exactly surprising that she hasn’t raced off to have her merry way with these people.

Grey gets weird about sharing about his sex life and asks Ana if she wants to leave. Of course she doesn’t. There’s more talk about biting Ana’s lip. (And there I was thinking that bloodplay was off the cards: lips are sensitive: bite them and they’ll bleed. I guess when it’s something Grey wants to do, it’s different and suddenly those hard limits dissolve.)

And then things get, um, wrong.

Firstly, grammatical errors:

I gasp… how can he say things like that to me and not expect me to be affected.

I believe that an ellipsis is used to denote missing words, therefore a simple fullstop should have been used here instead. Furthermore, the lack of a question mark is just irritating. Where the fuck WAS the editor? I realise it’s a painful, difficult book to get through, but for fuck’s sake, when you’re an editor, you get paid to right this shit. So people like me aren’t doing reviews like this of it and managing to attack something as petty as the terrible editing.

“Come,” he murmurs.


“We’re going to rectify the situation right now.”

“What do you mean? What situation?”

“Your situation, Ana. I’m going to make love to you, now.”

Surely I’m not the only person who read that last line in Chef from South Park‘s voice? And horrifyingly, I believe that actually made it sexier.

“I thought you didn’t make love. I thought you fucked hard.”

Oh, Ana, there you go bringing logical argument into this. What’s the point of that? We all know how this is going to play through.

“I can make an exception, or maybe combine the two, we’ll see. I really want to make love to you. Please, come to bed with me. I want our arrangement to work but you really need to have some idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

Hang on; I didn’t think she agreed to the arrangement yet. (She agreed to the nondisclosure, but she didn’t agree to anything else. Then again, since she didn’t read the nondisclosure, you, Mr. Grey, could say there’s anything in there, now, couldn’t you?)

“We can start your training tonight– with the basics. This doesn’t mean I’ve come over all hearts and flowers; it’s a means to an end, but one that I want, and hopefully you do, too.”

So, um, lemme get this straight: Grey doesn’t do non-BDSM sex unless it’s with Ana because she’s a virgin, and she is, if I understand correctly, to have no belief whatsoever that this means he’s going to take into account the idealised romance that she thinks she’s getting, but he’s prepared to offset that because he thinks that’ll make her want him in a BDSM-y sense after some vanilla sex? And after he does his one-off “don’t get used to this” thing, he’s going to start training her?

And… this is meant to make him look like the romantic hero? Seriously?

He’s just getting creepier with every statement.

Apparently the rules don’t apply now (who needs rules when Christian Grey has made it more than obvious that he’s in control of the situation, right…? Aren’t the rules just about him having control anyway?) and he wants Ana to spend the night with him. He’s wanted her since she fell into his office. He pulls her into his arms.


And this is the stuff that I think is meant to be the romantic fantasy aspect of these books. I think at the heart of it, the fantasy is about a woman being so explicitly wanted by a rich, cold, impressive and apparently classy guy who everyone else has trouble getting close to. Finally, I think I understand how the genre works. We’re meant to identify with Ana because that’s how we feel and it would be awesome for some guy to say that he wants you that much so early into a relationship and to change his normal way of behaving with women for us, we want to be the special one who seduces him without realising it and without doing more than being ourselves…

Except for the fact that this is really creepy and I want to go back to reading about Toreth investigating complicated corporate criminal (see, E. L, I can do alliteration too) stuffs and interrogating the living crap out of people and having sizzling tension with Warrick and all the rest of it because you know what? I’ve known people who get this caught up in people this early into things. And they are fucking scary. And when you don’t bend to their will or you express a desire to do your own thing, they start threatening self-harm and expecting you to bend to their will or play psychiatrist/love interest. And when they hear you’re out on a date with someone else (because you were under the impression that they weren’t that interested in you), they threaten to off themselves and then never ever contact you again leaving you to wonder wtf happened after you rang their mother out of exasperation and horror because you actually were on a date with someone else and when they realised that, they threatened to jump off the top of an eight-storey building and you were going “WTF do I do?” so you ring their mother and ask her to talk some sense into them.

And then there’s the exception thing. You’re not like all the others who came before: you’re SPECIAL. Um, you know what happens when people put other people up on pedestals? Generally a hell of a lot of bitter, crushing disappointment when they realise that the person is actually, in fact, just as flawed and human as they are. But with that comes rage, like they’ve been ripped off because even though you never said you were perfect, they decided you were, and suddenly it’s your fault that they’re a misguided creepster who had false illusions about you.

Combine that with control freakish behaviour and violence, and it’s a whole lot scarier, especially when it’s occurring in a country where firearms are pretty fucking easy to come by.

Just sayin’.


Now to return to your scheduled programming.

Grey tells Ana she is a brave young woman and that he’s in awe of her because she is apparently up for it. Eurgh. And him calling her a young woman is just weird: he’s, what, five or six years older than her? Who DOES THAT? Like I said before, I’ve dated people twice my age and none of them have called me a “young woman.” I also wouldn’t DREAM of calling anyone “young [gender]” and that includes my own kids, even when they’ve done the sort of thing that warrants a stern First-middle-last name WTF IS THIS SHIT reaction. It’s just wrong, Grey.


There’s some dilly-dallying around where they talk about how they want one another, and he leads her through to his bedroom.

He has a nautical theme going on, with white walls and pale blue furnishings (Ana, you are about to do the deed for the first time ever, with the only guy you’ve ever wanted to have sex with, and you’re looking at his interior decoration?) and an “ultramodern” bed made out of “grey wood like driftwood.” I have no idea what a driftwood bed would look like or why it’s particularly relevant, or even why you’d be focussing on that while you’re wanting to get your rocks off, but there is lots of stuff I don’t understand about all this so I’ll just let that fly for now.

Once again, Ana’s inner Patrick Bateman describes Grey’s outfit as he starts removing items of clothing. Apparently he wears Converse shoes as well. Two guesses as to E. L. James’ favourite brand of shoes when she wrote the book.

After the weird little partial striptease (there is NOTHING about the description of his body, either– surely Ana would be noticing THAT rather than his CLOTHES) he then decides to muster up his romantic charm and state:

“I assume you’re not on the pill.”

Which is where I want Ana to lecture him about safe sex or to say, “Yeah, I am, because I get the most HORRENDOUS period pains without it” or something to rival his level of romantic competence here, but she doesn’t and thinks “What? Shit.” instead which to be fair is what I’d be thinking in this day and age about a dude all but implying that oh dear, he’s going to have to use condoms because I’m not on the pill. I mean, FUCK: he’s had HOW MANY sexual partners? The pill ain’t gonna stop STDs. Their level of stupid is making me want to slap them. Or hope that karma gives him the clap in a sort of Darwinian law deal for being complete fuckwits about safe sex.

“I didn’t think so. He opens the top drawer of the chest and removes a packet of condoms. He gazes at me intently.

“Be prepared,” he murmurs.

Obviously E. L. James has never heard the score from The Lion King and her editor hasn’t, either, because now I have singing hyena camping it up in the back of my head and I cannot stop laughing. (Actually, days later someone posted a Lion King meme on FaceBook and I spent a good two minutes giggling like someone had said the word “penis” on Sesame Street thanks to this. I am never going to not giggle at the bloody Lion King now. Fabulous.)

All that said, though: can you imagine this being the first time you had sex? Seriously? “Be prepared”? What the fuck is that? (Other than the line in the song that follows “My teeth and ambitions are bared.”)

Ana comments that she didn’t think he let anyone sleep in his bed, to which Grey points out that no one said anything about sleeping.

And then, it dawns on her that they’re going to, you know, HAVE SEX. Because him grabbing the frangers and saying “Be prepared” wasn’t obvious enough. He needs to state that they’re not actually sleeping in the bed for the lightbulb to switch on.

He strolls slowly toward me. Confident, sexy, eyes blazing, and my heart begins to pound. My blood’s pumping through my body.

Blood tends to do that, sweetheart. If not, there are problems.

Desire, thick and hot, pools in my belly.

HUH? What the hell WAS THAT? Oh-kay: again, I got nothin’.

He takes her jacket off and asks if she has any idea how much he wants her. Again, I think this is meant to be the fantasy aspect.


“Do you have any idea what I’m going to do to you?” he adds, caressing my chin.

One would fucking well hope so because otherwise, that’s just even squickier and disturbing and kind of sad and horrible, not to mention trigger-warning-worthy for people who’ve been forced into sexual situations when they couldn’t give informed consent. No, seriously, sarcasm and snark switched off now, and I’m just feeling kind of ill. She’d better fucking have at least SOME sort of idea, Grey, or that’s a felony, arsehole.

He doesn’t actually give Ana a chance to reply, so we’re all hoping Ana has at least some vague idea of what heterosexual intercourse generally involves.

The muscles inside the deepest, darkest part of me clench in the most delicious fashion.

As I think mine did: the heart is a muscle, right? My delicious clenching was in anticipation of more awkward euphemisms like “deepest, darkest place.” I love horrible coy descriptors for body parts and sexual happenings. In that way I love corny jokes and The Benny Hill Show and intentional badfic and when some little smartarse in fandom goes, “I am going to think of the wrongest, grottiest pairing in fandom and write it just because no one else has.”

The pain is so sweet and sharp I want to close my eyes, but I’m hypnotised by his eyes staring fervently into mine.

Fuck. Someone loves the word “fervently” don’t they? I’ve gone whole books without reading that word, yet it’s appeared so frequently in this that you’d think it’s a word that everyone uses daily.

Also: is Ana having a heart attack? FUCK. Chest pains, and staring like that? Does not sound good. Or sexy. Unless you’re into panic!sex and paramedics.

Some flowery language later and he takes her top off. She’s wearing her exquisite French lingerie, thankfully. Grey compliments her on her flawless pale skin. Ana swoons. Or something.

 “I like brunettes,” he murmurs, and both of his hands are in my hair, grasping each side of my head. His kiss is demanding

(like his lips were a couple of sentences ago)

 his tongue and lips coaxing mine. I moan and my tongue tentatively meets his. He puts his arms around me and hauls me against his body, squeezing me tightly.

Hold on: hauls? Dafuq? E. L. James: you use all this flowery, English-lit-student look-how-educated-and-clever-I-am language, and then you throw a word like ‘hauls’ into what is, I think, meant to be the opening of a soft fuzzy-lens porn-for-women sex scene.

Hauls. Hauls is one of those completely unromantic words like “discharge” or “mildew” or “pustule” or “discombobulation” or “faecal material” which should be avoided at all costs in what is meant to be a sensual love scene. Hauling someone around is what a fucking scary, grunty, unappealing caveman would do after clubbing a potential mate over the head. Using a word like that in a sex scene should automatically relieve you of a position as a number one best selling purveyor of porn. It is like someone farting loudly in the middle of Unchained Melody.

You just don’t do these things.

One hand remains in my hair, the other travels down my spine to my waist and down to my behind. His hand flexes over my backside and squeezes gently. He holds me against his hips, and I feel his erection, which he languidly pushes into me.

This is what is driving women all over the world crazy. With desire. Allegedly. Frankly I’m surprised that doing OMG WTF AM I READING HERE readthroughs like this hasn’t become a national Pintrest passtime to share with your loved ones, but hey. I would also like to say this to people, though: honestly, you can read stuff that is better than this, on the internet. Y’see, there’s this thing called fanfiction. And generally in the sexy stories, it doesn’t take this long to get to the smut. And the smut is better. And “fervent” doesn’t get used as …fervently. And I’ve never seen “haul” turn up in a sex scene. And it’s free. You can browse for it in the comfort of your own home on your own computer and you can read it on your ereader in public without having people looking at you thinking, “Aha! You’re reading PORN! BAD porn.” And generally the authors go all merry shades of happy when people give them positive feedback and I’d argue a lot of those people have more talent and need more encouragement than this stuff does.

Another point on this: for a first-time scene, Ana’s pretty fucking blase about it and it already feels very mechanical. Hell, I’ve read seasoned-couple scenes which have been more interesting and innovative and… exploratory… than this. This sex scene reads like tired, world-weary, moan-in-the-right-place make-with-the-het-porn clichés from two people who just don’t care any more.

I moan once more into his mouth. I can hardly contain the riotous feelings– or are they hormones?– that rampage through my body.

God, I apologise for every time I’ve written someone moaning into someone else’s mouth. Not going there again. Also: hormones? Feelings? Does anyone care at this point, and is anyone expecting her to control them?

I want him so badly.

Hooray! Achievement unlocked: Consent.


Gripping his upper arms, I feel his biceps. He’s surprisingly strong… muscular.

Um, why is this surprising? We know that the dude works out from an earlier chapter, and generally when people work out, they gain muscle… and strength. Plus, Ana’s watched him remove clothing, so even if she had forgotten what he looked like, surely she’d have seen some muscle definition.

She moves her hands up to his face and hair and he eases her onto the bed. Which is better than hauling her there, I suppose.

Releasing me, he suddenly drops to his knees. He grabs my hips with both his hands and runs his tongue around my navel, then gently nips his way to hipbone then across my belly to my other hipbone.

And if all the slashfic in the world is to be believed, I think EVERYONE knows what happens after this and then after that. For the rest of you, formula goes like this: dominant partner performs oral sex on recipient whom he then fucks in the ass. It’s like a universal law of slashfic. But that probably won’t happen here where we’re dealing with virgin!Ana, and anal is like the “”Hardcore” setting on a FPS where you have to get through the game on “Normal” first. Or something.

He takes her jeans off whilst making come-hither eyes at her, and then we get… um, this:

He stops and licks his lips, never breaking eye contact. He leans forward, running his nose up the apex between my thighs. I feel him. There.

There? Where?

Let’s not get coy or weird or anything, E. L. James: you are a grown woman who is writing a sex scene. Please.  You’re a writer. Surely you can use words to tell the readers what’s actually going on. “There” is fairly fucking vague.

And so, foreplay. There’s some more twiddling around but it’s actually the most boring foreplay scene in the entire history of everything ever and I can’t be fucked retyping it let alone subjecting anyone else to it, so you’ll just have to believe me on that.

“Oh, Ana, what I could do to you,” he whispers.

It’s what he doesn’t do that’s the key point, unless somewhere in amongst the boring foreplay I was meant to pick up that he did eat her out but I think he didn’t because there weren’t enough turbulent hormones being fervent there. And it says in the next sentence that she’s still wearing her undies, so I suspect nothing happened.


“You’re very beautiful, Anastasia Steele. I can’t wait to be inside you.”

Holy shit. His words. He’s so seductive. He takes my breath away.

Hang on, I thought they’d agreed not to do the asphixiation thing. Oh, wait. Not literally. Also, how a student of classic literature could rate this as being up there in terms of seductive is completely beyond me. It’d be like being a four-star, world-renowned chef and going, “Holy fuck, he took me out to McDonald’s! Best meal ever,” and being completely not sarcastic. Unless …Ana didn’t actually read a single book in the entire however many years she was studying there and got other people to do her assignments.  Seriously, I know I’m just being snarky, but stupid little inconsistencies like this piss me off. Ana’s degree is irrelevant; if she’s going to think this is seductive, don’t have her studying the English language and its crafting; make her an Engineering student or something.

And if I wasn’t already irritated, then comes this: he asks her to show him how she pleasures herself.

I shake my head. “I don’t know what you mean.” My voice is hoarse. I hardly recognise it laced with desire.

Um, when I first read that, I assumed she was feeling a bit awkward about this being her first time and this dude asking her to do that in front of him, but–

“How do you make yourself come? I want to see.”

I shake my head.

“I don’t,” I mumble.

I call horseshit. Fine, she hasn’t slept with anyone, but wha—? She’s nearly twenty-two. Furthermore, she seemed to be enjoying herself just fine in the shower with his body wash the other day.

“Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that.” His voice is soft, challenging, a delicious threat.

Imagine learning everything you know about getting yourself off from a creepy control freak when you’re 22. I dunno, but this doesn’t feel very liberating to me, just very, very depressing, especially since the consent still feels like it falls into the “dubious” category.


Anyway, there are another four hundred pages of this book and this is pretty much yet another “time to pull out Old Red” section where the editor was getting paid far too much for substandard editing, so here’s the SparkNotes version:


He kisses her through her knickers, driving her to sheet-clawing craziness and pulls her bra down, insisting that she “keep still.” Then we get more pornytimes sex which seems far too blase to be first-time stuff, but who really gives a shit when you get lines like

“We’re going to have to work on keeping you still, baby.”

Ew. This time he’s not using “baby” in an ironic, quirky impersonation of his more-normal younger brother, I think he’s actually meant to sound sexy. The dialogue is about as sexy and original and non-cliched as you’d find in your average porno. From the seventies. With terribly non-sexy cliched porn music which we laugh at nowadays.

Anyway, continuing the SparkNotes version: he plays with her nipples a lot and she grabs the sheets, and then achievement unlocked: first orgasm.

(There’s some serious dissonance with the earlier coy mentions of “there” and I wonder why the hell someone can talk about nipples and wetness and other “naughty” bits and pieces quite normally, but can’t use the word “labia” or some hilarious euphemism, or hell, just drop the c-bomb and be all Inga Muscio and liberated about it. Seriously: we’re grownups, and one body part isn’t unmentionable any more than any other is. Sheesh: if you can talk about clitorises and nipples, you can talk about vaginas. The dissonance actually feels like when bad fanfic writers go poaching bits and pieces from other works and sort of smushing it together and changing names of characters but not looking at the bigger picture and neglecting to address the fact that the narratives are all different and it’s like having a conversation with someone with multiple personalities.)

And when it happens, demonstrating every failing ever when it comes to the American education system’s ability to provide teenagers with sex education, Ana wonders what the hell is happening to her in the same way that kids in sex ed videos freak out about growing body hair and having randy feelings and getting erections and stuff.

Godammit, this is not what I’d call liberating.

Somewhere amongst the mystery, Ana works out that she’s having an orgasm, (thank christ Grey didn’t have to dictate THAT to her) and there’s more creepy dialogue from Grey about how she’s responsive and how she’ll have to learn how to control that. (Even though I think he said he liked sleeping with responsive women because to do otherwise would make him a necrophiliac. But this is Grey, who’s already contradicted himself more than the Bible, so I think I was meant to have overlooked that.)

Anyway, what follows is possibly one of the most embarrassing sex scenes ever written. Seriously, I’ve got friends who have a serious sympathetic humiliation squick. and who get really icked off by seeing other people unwittingly humiliate themselves. I would recommend that if that’s you, skip this sex scene. Ana’s internal monologue and the quality of the writing and the porny cliches are actually making me feel embarrassed because I remember writing shit like this when I was a teenager who a) was only slightly more switched on than Ana, and b) hadn’t even read that many porny scenes herself. I actually feel guilty for not feeling sympathetically embarrassed for E. L. James, though I think that part of the reason that I don’t is because she’s riding on thirty mill and I’m still working a low-level govi job. Also, the internet wasn’t as widely used when I was a teenager and I wasn’t inflicting bad porn on it.

I will spare you the details except for the ones that stand out.

Grey basically tells her how to position herself, he does the underwear removalage for both of them, Ana has a momentary flash of “Will he fit inside me?” when she sees his penis which she mysteriously doesn’t comment on (COME ON: she’s never had sex before and she’s seen an actual, real penis belonging to the dude of her desires: one would think if she can offer commentary on his bedroom décor and she’s noticed other  small details—like his preferred brand of shoes—she would have something to say about his dick. But nope.) and realises that he’s still wearing his shirt.

Grey informs her he’s going to fuck her now, and specifies that it will be “Hard” just in case she questions his manliness or something, and then

[…] he slams into me.

“Argh!” I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity.

I’m thinking there’s a bit of biology fail here but I’ve read so many instances of really wrong things being used for lube, magical self-lubricating anuses, penises that might as well ejaculate silly string from the descriptions offered when someone comes, and all kinds of other madness that ripping through someone’s “virginity” (does she mean this in an abstract sense or is she weird about the word “hymen,” and if so, how the fuck did she fail to learn about how that works?) is fairly low down on the list of stuff I could WTF about. But still, I naturally shift towards pointing it out because it sounds fucking ridiculous.

Also, “Argh.”

Is just argh-worthy.

One thing I am curious about is how E. L. James is going to write the subsequent sex scenes without getting repetitive and topping the reactions Ana is having to this because at the moment it’s like the sex is The Most Amazing Thing Ever. Except that it kind of isn’t. Maybe this is why it had to be kinky sex: because props are going to be needed for variety

So they’re at it, and Grey tells her how to move, or not move, Ana says she likes it, and somewhere in the middle of this, he tells her to come on command even though Ana’s only just worked out what an orgasm feels like.

“Come for me Ana,” he whispers breathlessly, and I unravel at his words, exploding around him as I climax and splinter into a million pieces underneath him.


Good timing. (Or a great coincidence.)

And the description gives me visions of video game bad guys getting vapourised into particles like they do when you shoot them and the game’s rated too low for Grand Theft Auto style bloody splatters.

And as he comes, he calls out my name, thrusting hard, then stilling as he empties himself into me.

Erm, technical point: I thought he was wearing a condom, which is what he’s meant to be “emptying himself” into since we’re using such delightful terminology here.


And you know what? It’s around this point where I actually put the book down and start reading the next chapter of Mind Fuck. This is unprecedented: I have never put something down and stopped reading it and started reading something else in the middle of a sex scene. Even in the really disturbing gross ones in American Psycho. Even in some shockers I’ve beta-read through where I’ve been a nastier editor than E. L. James’. I’ve generally persevered through. But you know what?

I’m bored.

This is sex that is meant to have rocked a generation of women. This is sex that turned a fanfic writer with a ridiculous pseudonym into a bazillionaire.

Maybe I’m being unfair in my assessment and it will get awesome or liberating or something when BDSM gets factored into it, but the cold-hard truth of things is that I have no interest in, or investment in these characters, so watching them get off is about as erotic as watching a couple of animated stick figures grind against one another.

He pulls out, tucks a strand of hair behind her ear (he’s into that, isn’t he?) and asks if he hurt her because apparently it would be problematic if he did that now. Nah, he’s only going to start hurting her once she’s truly fallen for him and believes that the sex is all magical sparkly orgasms, I suspect.

There’s more blah-blah-blah conversation and Ana makes it clear that she wants more. And then she realises something: he’s still dressed. Partially.

So she asks why he’s still wearing his shirt. He doesn’t answer which I’m sure is meant to indicate something but instead of explaining, or just taking his shirt off, he says they’re going to go at it doggy style. How to avoid simple questions, Christian Grey style. It’s super-effective.
(Now, if Grey tried this on with Certain Other People, they’d probably be smart enough to ask him questions about things while he’s in the middle of sexytime and highly distracted by sensory overload or so desperate to blow his load that he’d give out his PIN and internet passwords and the name of his favourite One Direction member, but of course Ana doesn’t think of this. Instead of Ana using the situation to her advantage, they drop the subject and go at it and Grey does his whole uber-dominant thing with an added kick of creepy.)

“You are mine,” he whispers. “Only mine. Don’t you forget it.”

This doesn’t feel like role playing. If they’d been clear about that sort of stuff, I could buy this. But they’re not. It just comes off as possessive and creepy and more like the sort of thing an antagonist would say during a horrific rape than during hot sexytimes.

He fingers her and tells her that he likes that. A lot. That she’s responsive (didn’t he say the same thing only a few pages ago that other time when they were having sex? And didn’t he tell her to stop being so responsive?) and then makes her suck her fingers. And tells her he’s going to fuck her mouth and that she’s a naughty, sweet girl.

“Naughty sweet girl” doesn’t sound erotic. It sounds like a badly translated ad for mail-order brides, but what the fuck would I know? Actually, I know by this point that I’m really fucking fucked off by this whole mess. If this is erotic, clearly I’m doing something wrong because this ain’t grinding my gears.

And you know what? If it does it for you, that’s awesome. But the writing is terrible. The romance is creepy. The representation of BDSM is woefully terrible to the point of being scary. Shades is to BDSM what Froot Loops are to fresh organic produce. And before someone says “But no one actually believes Froot Loops have fruit in them,” someone actually DID try to sue Kelloggs over it for misrepresentation of goods (it got thrown out of court because apparently the misspelling of “fruit” was indicative of artificial fruit flavours being used in the cereal) and I’ve come across WAY too many stories about real live people who already have some fucked up ideas about BDSM being domestic violence with added kinky accessories.

And while you’re not going to see me decked out in skintight rubber and brandishing a whip at the Mardi Gras any time soon, it pisses me off when I see stuff that’s just stuff taht some people like to do for kicks get misrepresented in a way that’s grossly offensive. I don’t find the idea of deviance and subculture offensive (though I realise many do) but when that gets mixed up with abuse of any kind, it’s nasty. (And anyway, BDSM is pretty damn mainstream and was before this series came out. It’s hardly the domain of rich psychopaths and the naïve young things who fall for them.) And there are already plenty of people who seem to have some seriously fucked up ideas about what BDSM is—a quick trip to FetLife and you don’t have to poke around too much to find these people who advertise all their social inadequacies on the internet like it’s their godamned birthright to be creepy because They Are Special And Kinky. And it bugs me: the BDSM community generally works hard to educate people about what it’s not— and there will always be someone talking about how everything’s above-board and safe, sane and consensual. So there’s no excuse for E. L. James not doing her research, (especially in the age of the internet) but nope, this series of books becomes mainstream and suddenly it’s tied up (no pun intended) with total power exchange lifestyle stuff, a complete lack of informed consent or safety catches, or any kind of self-awareness from either party.

If you’re mature enough to be into this shit, you bloody well need to act like a responsible adult about it


Oh, I forgot: they’re about to have sex, round two. We haven’t even gotten to the actually BDSM stuff yet and I’m already ragey about it. (I’ll give the book this much: it’s capable of raising my blood pressure and getting my heart racing, though probably not in the way the publishers intended.)

Grey grabs Ana in a completely clinical, painful, non-erotic sounding fashion while he tears open a condom packet and then we start getting porno dialogue.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you?

Well. What the hell do you make of this, then?

“We’re going to go real slow this time, Anastasia,” he breathes.

Oooooh YEEEEEEAH. Cue seventies porn music, heavy breathing and an orgasm faker than that famous scene in When Harry Met Sally.

And slowly he eases into me, slowly, slowly, until he’s buried in me. Stretching, filling, relentless. I groan loudly. It feels deeper this time, delectable.

And so on and so forth.

More porn!speak from Grey:

“You feel so good,” he groans, and my insides start to quiver.

(Didn’t they do that after your temporarily trip to Margaritaville, Ana? Right before you puked their contents onto the azaleas?)

He pulls back and waits. “Oh no, baby, not yet,” he murmurs, and as the quivering ceases, he starts the whole delicious process again.

It’s like fucking Groundhog Day. Literally. I keep feeling like I’m reading the same godamned sex scene over and over again, and I sort of am because there are bits and pieces I’ve heard before, and I don’t mean from choice quotes on the internet that friends have shown me so I can raise my eyebrows in horror with them.

“Oh please,” I beg. I’m not sure I can take much more. My body is wound so tight, craving release.

“I want you sore, baby,” he murmurs, and he continues his sweet, leisurely torment, backward, forward. “Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.”

Oh my god. That actually was one of the choice quotes, and even in its context, it’s creepy and possessive. And shows up Grey’s insecurities like they’re spots of cat pee under a UV light. Of course she’s going to remember this, and that you’re the only one who’s “been there.” (And EW: “been there” is NOT a respectful way for talking about someone’s vagina.) Does he really think she’s going to run into a football team on her way home and go “ORGYTIMES, everyone!”

Jesus fucking Christ. I am making my unimpressed face.

Anyway, she says she wants him, he makes her tell him she wants him, and his dialogue moves from overly porntastic to overly punctuated.

“You. Are. So. Sweet,” he murmurs between each thrust. “I. Want. You. So. Much.”

Ew, we’re back on the sweet thing. I realise people get a bit vague when they’re on the brink of orgasm, but ANY other word than “sweet” would have made this hot rather than creepy. Hell, he could have said “You. Are. So. Fervent” and it wouldn’t have been as bad.

Also, he wants her? He’s having sex with her. Unless he wants to get her pregnant, marry her or eat her heart, I think where he’s at is the common understanding of “having” someone.

“You. Are. Mine. Come for me, baby,” he growls.

Nope, not creepy at all. And I love how Ana seems to have learned how to orgasm on command like that. That’s fairly fucking impressive for someone who hasn’t even masturbated properly prior to this.

Another earth-shattering Anagasm and more “I Can’t Work Out If He Ejaculated So Hard It Vaporised the Condom” from him, (there’s another description of him filling her with semen despite the condom) and thank fuck, he pulls out and Ana falls asleep.


If you thought this was the end of the chapter, well, you’d be very wrong. There’s still another five pages. By the way, this is the longest chapter review I’ve done and I’m now on Part Four of sitting down and writing/reading it and I’m in fucking Starbucks and deeply mortified that someone’s going to see the cover of the book and wonder what I’m doing.  So let’s make this quick and painless.


Ana awakens to… not hearts and flowers, but piano music. Because this is totally not inspired by Twilight of course. Personally, if we’re talking love stories and piano music, I love the piece from The Piano. (That movie where Holly Hunter doesn’t talk, Anna Paquin is an adorable little kid, and we get full-frontal Harvey Keitel nudity for those of you who’ve missed out. The piano theme in that is glorious. And intense. And haunting, because the piano is like a voice for the non-speaking Holly Hunter character. And on the surface the music sounds like a sweet, peppy little traditional Scottish melody, and at closer inspection, you realise how fucking furious the song is. Gimme piano music like that. Not Edw—I mean Grey—being moody and mopey and playing piano because having not-quite-protected sex with Ana has given him a case of emo.)

Grey is looking pretty and playing an Alessandro Marcello transcription by Bach which I’ve never heard of and can’t be fucked looking up because it’s probably been chosen because E. L. James knows it from a TV commercial for something that’s meant to be classy, because it has some personal significance to the writer or because it sounds just like the Twilight piano music.


Ana stands around admiring Grey’s prettiness and the music, Grey sees her and tells her to go back to bed because she’ll be tired tomorrow. He admits he has issues sleeping (which makes sense because he’s really a poorly translated fanfiction vampire after all), there’s a recognition of “OMG, blood on the sheets from first-time!sex”  (is this one of those het sex tropes that doesn’t happen much in real life? I honestly don’t know because I haven’t read much fictional virginal hetsex) and she touches his chest and he gets snappy with her and tells her to go to bed. And then he tells her, softly, to “sleep, sweet Anastasia.”

Sleep, and the end of the chapter, thankfully arrive around now.



A little side note: I haven’t abandoned the blog, I’ve just not gotten comment notifications (which makes me feel bad, because I feel like I appeared to be ignoring people: I wasn’t!) and I’ve been offline and out of it lately anyway. But hopefully we’re back on track. Sort of, I guess.

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17 thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Eight

  1. My week gets better when you load up a new blog of Fifty Shades Review. I’m sure you are dying at this point and you are only at chapter 8. I wonder what kind of bribery would be needed to get you to read the whole series. I’m not kidding, it would be awesome if you went through all three books. Plus when book four comes you can be prepared for hilarity. 🙂

    • Aw, thanks. I’m pretty sure everyone will be sick of me by the end of the book, though! 😀 But I’ll still be reading the rest of the Administration series. 😀

    • The Administration = VEEEEERY different to this, and also a lot darker and plot-intensive. They’re not anywhere near the same genre, though they do both feature the development of a relationship and kinky sex, and both writers are familiar with fanfic and being inspired by other works. The first book is actually available on here, though you can buy them in paperback and for e-readers too (in later books, there are extras in them, from my understanding). 🙂 Enjoy. 😀

      • Thanks, I’ll be sure to check it out as soon as I’m done reading my current novel. Is the sex scenes better than Chap 8 of Fifty Shades?

    • YES! Seriously, the sex scenes are done really well, and they’re intense and involved and you get to see the way the characters are *working* as they’re having sex. And the tension between the two characters sizzles: they can have dinner and some conversation or take a trip to the zoo and just look at things and talk and it feels far more intimate and intense than a graphic sex scene.

      And the power issues are fascinating between them: while it looks like there’s a clear person in a dominant position, there isn’t really. It’s awesome. 😀

      • Well now you’ve gone and peeked my curiosity. I will have to hurry up and devour my current readings to play catch up. And then start with Mind Fuck Chapter 1 review?

  2. “How have you avoided sex? Tell me, please.”
    What. Just. This is ridiculous. This whole book is ridiculous. I’m so glad I’m not the one reading it but wow you are made of sterner stuff than I! I would have chucked it as a bad idea ages ago.

    ps: that virginal blood on sheets is a trope older than the dirt under the oldest hills on the planet. It’s still a juicy source of angst in period romance novels but really, WTF.

    Also. Christian telling her to go to bed because she’ll be tired in the morning makes me think she’s fudged the age of Ana too. CREAPY.

    • I really never knew about the virginal blood thing. I mean, I’d heard of it happening, but I didn’t know that it was this commonly a thing in fiction.

      One would think if he was a vampire he’d have seen it and gotten excited. Or, at least, that’s where my mind went initially. 😀

  3. You did pre-warn me about the sex scene but I feel you didn’t forewarn enough about how horrible it really is. It could be used to promote vomiting if you swallow some noxious substance. ‘Sixties’ in italics?? I resemble that!

  4. mannafrancis on said:

    Interesting chapter!

    I guess I find myself apathetic on the rampant unreality. It’s fantasy, and sexual fantasy is not the place to look for realistic depictions of first-time sex, BDSM or pretty much anything else. Sure, it might not be my kind of fantasy, but I’m happy for all the people out there who are getting off with it. (Especially as I’m not having to read it closely for the purpose of review, heh.)

    The AU aspect, though, is still fascinating me. Writing fanfic AUs is something that requires more care and planning than people might think. There’s a lot that goes into balancing the original characters against the new setting, and making decisions about what you need to change and what you need to keep, and what constitutes a step too far that will lose the essence of the source. This is why there are a lot of really bad AUs out there.

    Of course, when you start filing off the serial numbers and make the story stand alone and work for readers who don’t know the source, you can then choose to change pretty much anything you want. Equally, though, you don’t want to lose whatever it was that made the source successful.

    There are some solid translations in 50 Shades. Bella moving to a new town and school becomes Ana graduating into the adult world. The vampire/mortal power disparity becomes millionaire/new graduate. Arguably, vampirism becomes BDSM — a scary-but-fascinating secret. Even Volvo-driving vampire becoming SUV-driving businessman tracks nicely, if you want to keep the quirk of an odd car choice.

    Then some of the other choices E.L. James has made with the AU seem jarring, where things are carried through from source to AU without explanation or translation (e.g. Ana’s teenage naivete, Christian’s old-fashioned language, his obsession with her physical fragility). On the other hand, the way the books have sold suggest that James has probably picked out what it was about the Bella/Edward relationship that made Twilight sell like gangbusters, too. Is the language a critical part of that? Would it be possible to keep that part of the fantasy appeal while making it feel more in character for two twenty-somethings? I have no idea, but it’s interesting to think about.

    • >>> I guess I find myself apathetic on the rampant unreality. It’s fantasy, and sexual fantasy is not the place to look for realistic depictions of first-time sex, BDSM or pretty much anything else.

      I think what gets me about this specific fantasy though is that people are dragging it out into the real world as “Wow, this saved my marriage/made me sexually liberated!” as though it’s more than fantasy. Or somehow more acceptable and valid than other fantasies. Alone, the fantasy aspect would just make me go, “Meh, not my thing,” but I think with the hype and the sales, it’s gone somewhere else. It does bother me, too, that there apparently have been people deciding it’s an accurate portrayal of BDSM and that’s how one goes about it. Unlike, say, someone reading Harry Potter and deciding that they wanted to do magic (for a crappy example), when you’re getting all your information on something potentially dangerous to another person from this, that’s enough to freak me out. (Perhaps this is the result of me being a manual reader and an interest in Occ. Health and Safety. 🙂 ) I realise that for a lot of people it remains fantasy, but for others it hasn’t.

      >>> The AU aspect, though, is still fascinating me. Writing fanfic AUs is something that requires more care and planning than people might think. There’s a lot that goes into balancing the original characters against the new setting, and making decisions about what you need to change and what you need to keep, and what constitutes a step too far that will lose the essence of the source.

      AGREED. I haven’t written a multi-fandom AU (I’ve written something which *sort * of could be classed as AU because the setting is more like an extension on canon) AU but the challenges you list are the reasons I find fanfic itself a lot harder to do than what most people assume fanfic is about. The first time I started writing fic, I was completely blown away, because working within someone else’s constraints AND trying to keep the characters fluid whilst adding your own twist on happenings is like spinning plates already like spinning plates. And I can only imagine when you add more constraints in and possibly conflicting ones, that makes it a hell of a lot harder. (I also think it’s why some AUs which might sound really bizarre could work, too, if there’s a logic or place that could combine them or whathaveyou.) Which is one reason it pisses me off immensely when people dismiss fanfic as lazy or unoriginal or hack work. Having started out writing original things, I found– and still do– find fic considerably harder to write, because suspending reader disbelief also involves keeping it looking vaguely canon. Or, as you said, aspects of it, and knowing which ones you can bend or do away with.

      I still would give my eye teeth to see one of the characters in other fandoms that I like who DOES play headgames well dealing with Grey. Because I’m nasty. (A friend of mine DID write a hilarious sort-of crossover which was an Ace Attorney bad guy fantasising about meeting Grey and being his friend because they had so much in common after reading “Shades.”)

      >> Equally, though, you don’t want to lose whatever it was that made the source successful.

      At least it can’t be argued that it was quality writing that made Twilight successful. 😛
      I’ve seen some hilarious “rub off the serial numbers” (I like that phrase!) examples: back in the day in HP fandom, a friend of mine had his work “copied” only the copier had changed the names of the m/m couple it was about into a m/f couple. They hadn’t done it entirely, and they’d kind of not changed some of the physical aspects about, so when the sex scenes happened… it was pretty fucking funny.

      I guess it’s like any kind of localisation, though (I’m sorta familiar with seeing it done well/done terribly given that I watch/read/play a lot of Japanese stuff and the English translations sometimes get localised for “relevance” or for censorship or whathaveyou). I think a good editor would have cautioned off anything that made Ana look disturbingly young, though, or Grey look like a vampire particularly because the source was well-known. 🙂

      The other things you point to which made me raise my eyebrows, too: I don’t know. If thus WAS why Twilight was so popular, I think the world is in a lot of trouble and I’m just going to become a hermit with a lot of cats. (Moreso than I am now.)

      I’ll be honest; I’ve often thought, “If I was the editor who actually wanted to make this book more… well, not like *this*, what would I do?” It’s funny though, because actually reading it, I feel like I’m wearing a beta hat a lot of the time. (Though usually when I beta, I will comment on what works and try to put a positive spin on my criticism… so I naturally go into, “Perhaps try saying it *this way instead, Ms. James…*” mode. Then I realise that I’m not here to be nice, that my entry has already gotten too long, and go, “Argh. Fuckit.” 🙂 )

      • mannafrancis on said:

        I don’t feel it’s fair to blame 50 Shades itself, though, either for the hype around it, or for the fact that some people have problems figuring out the difference between romantic fiction and a how-to guide. If there’s blame to hand out, I’d lay it on the publishers, critics, commentators and less-thoughtful readers, not on E.L. James or 50 Shades. But then, I know I take a fairly hard line on reader responsibility, more so than a lot of people.

        I have to assume that most people who sneer at fanfic haven’t really tried to do it well themselves because you’re absolutely right, it’s much harder than it looks. Plus, of course, there’s so much terrible, terrible fanfic on line, that it’s easy to find material to mock. But the good stuff can be brilliant.

        I used to not like AUs much, and I often still don’t — I’ll tend to read non-AUs for preference unless I’m really confident in the writer, or I get a solid rec, or the premise is especially interesting. For me, there needs to be some strong key link between the AU and source, either in concept or in the way the characters translate over. Given that, I can really enjoy something.

        That plagiarism sounds hilarous! (I hope your friend wasn’t upset, though — I know some people find it traumatic.) Maybe since it was Harry Potter, readers just thought there was some interesting use of magic in play.

        My favourite fanfic plagiarist was someone years ago who took ridiculously well-known stories from a whole range of fandoms and did actually quite a careful job of turning them into rock band RPS. It included two pop RPS stories where the part of JC Chasez from Nsync in the original was played by Axl Rose. Which, yeah. Sadly, almost all the links for the incident are long gone, now.

        Unfortunately, there’s no way to know how much 50 Shades could be changed and still have the same impact on the same number of people. I wish there was some way to conduct a controlled experiment to find out, though — I think it’s my inner Warrick breaking free. We must study the porn, for Science!

        It would definitely be interesting to know how much the story changed between its fanfic incarnation and its published 50 Shades format. I suppose the original must be floating around the internet somewhere. I’d feel kind of cruel suggesting you looked for it to make the comparison, though. 🙂

    • Any experiment involving comparisons of edited!Shades vs this version of Shades would have to involve time-travel, I suspect, though, given that the book has been so popular and widely read and discussed.

      I’m totally all for such an experiment. 😀 (Admittedly, I’d still be the wrong target audience, probably, but I wouldn’t snark about it, I guess.)

      And yeah: I was curious about the earlier version, too, and have distracted myself before actually looking for it.

      …I just found it, then, btw. Googling “Snowqueen’s Icedragon” will give you links, all of which are inaccessible from the computer I’m on at the moment, thankfully.

      And that fanfic plaguiarist sounds kind of impressively epic. And to think… my fandom was all about Cassie Clare cutting and pasting from the classics (and doing the multiple personality narrative) as well as Buffy and Red Dwarf. Making rockband RPS sounds far cooler.

      And I’m with you on the AUs, especially if they’re longer ones. The idea of short character studies (ie. one character from one fandom, one from another meeting in a bar and interacting) interests me, but anything more complex and it needs to somehow relate or come highly recommended.

  5. Tere on said:

    Nonexistent god know I’m all for being sharky with this book but, not wanting to play Devil’s Advocate, I also think that having zero experience in, wel,, every sexual area is somehow a drawback if you’re planing on playing evil Master and go into full sadistic mode.

    No, I still think they’re both unlikeable, immature characters, but I suppose your first sexual experience shouldn’t be hit with a bullwhip while tied to a St Andew Cross. And even if you’re into kink already, you should first get to know your partner >_> that’s just a sensible thing to do.

    Nothing change what I feel about the boring, idiotic sex scene and the whole book but I though I should add this.

    • >> , I also think that having zero experience in, wel,, every sexual area is somehow a drawback if you’re planing on playing evil Master and go into full sadistic mode.

      Agreed; I was really kind of horrified with Grey’s lack of serious explanation. I know it’s not very romantic, but he could have asked her if she’d read certain books or said he’d email her with some stuff she could have checked out on the internet or *something* surrounding the conversation about “Why are you like this?” (Here I go into editor!mode! 😛 )

      Maybe I’m a bit… odd… but I was watching stuff on TV and reading stuff about kink LONG before I was actually doing stuff.

      I look forward to *more* boring sex scenes. Sort of. 😛

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