50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Sixteen
So, the chapter starts with some post-coital snuggling and Ana trying to touch Christian through his t-shirt, and we get the classic Snakes on a Plane line from this book.
“Why don’t you like to be touched?” I whisper, staring up into soft grey eyes.
“Because I’m fifty shades of fucked up, Anastasia.”
Yeah, you and everyone else, emo kid. And you, unlike most of us, have both the resources and self-awareness to get some fucking help.
Because he’s all about the honesty and clarity, he explains it with the following:
“I had a very tough introduction to life. I don’t want to burden you with the details. Just don’t.” He strokes his nose against mine, and then he pulls out of me and sits up.
Oh god. This is the second time he’s been in her for what seems like a while after sex. Maybe he was thinking of going another round but discussing his awful childhood has a pretty awesome way of deflating an erection.
Also, that wasn’t much of an explanation, but we’ve had Ana asking him several times why he doesn’t like being touched now and it’s pretty obvious that a) he doesn’t like talking about it, and b) it has stuff to do with him previously being sexually abused.
And his level of “don’t touch me” seems to fluctuate a hell of a lot, which probably makes it worlds of confusing for Ana, and the further I see repetition in this book along the lines of this, as well as the inconsistencies, I wonder if E. L. James kept releasing this as a work in progress and forgetting stuff that she’d previously written (which is a feasible explanation since we’re 268 pages into the book), but ye gawds. I haven’t picked up this book in a hell of a long time, and I haven’t read over the recaps, but even I’m picking it up.
One of the things I’ve been doing at uni has been a writing class, which I have enjoyed immensely. Part of that has involved writing fiction (duh!) and the other major part has been learning about editing– both our own, and other people’s work. In tutorial discussions, I used Shades as an example of why editors are very, very important, and also why it’s good to edit your own work.
There’s some sweet talk, and Christian tells her that she’s not just a pretty face, and that she’s had six orgasms and they all belong to him.
Wow. He wasn’t wrong when he said he was fifty shades of fucked up.
The problem with that, though, is that it just made me think of that famous internet meme: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.
ALL YOUR ORGASMS ARE BELONG TO GREY. Hell, I was hesitant to even mention that because I’m guessing that the internet has already jumped on this one.
Ana decides to admit that she was dreaming about him and that she came in her sleep, and of course Grey wants deets, which makes her all coy and hiding her eyes with her arm.
[L]ike a small child, I briefly entertain the thought that if I can’t see him, then he can’t see me.
Theory of mind, Ana-style.
He gets up, and asks when Ana’s period is due, because he hates wearing condoms.
“Next week.” I stare down at my hands.
“You need to sort out some contraception.”
Or you know, you could just wear condoms. But Grey’s too important for this, or E.L. James has exhausted “how the make condoms part of foreplay,” I assume, and even though they’re cheap, easy to obtain and don’t have side-effects for most people, he’s too precious for them.
He is so bossy. I stare at him blankly. He sits on the bed and puts on shoes and socks.
Okay, I wouldn’t so much as call that bossy but him being a douche again, and secondly, wouldn’t your put your socks on before your shoes?
“Do you have a doctor?”
I shake my head. We are back to mergers and acquisitions– another 180 degree mood swing.
He frowns. “I can have mine come over and see you at your apartment– Sunday morning before you come and see me. Or he can see you at my place. Which would you prefer?”
No pressure then. Something else that he’s paying for… but actually this is for his benefit.
“Your place.” That means I am guaranteed to see him Sunday.
So that’s the doctor sorted, I guess. I hope Doc doesn’t have a round of golf on that morning or anything else to do.
Grey gets up and says he’s going to go, and Ana offers to drive him in her lovely new car.
He gazes at me, his expression warm.
“That’s more like it. But I think you’ve had too much to drink.”
“Did you get me tipsy on purpose?”
Charming. Again, I draw a comparison between what he’s done in the past and what Jose did (which, albeit was a far more extreme example) and think that the guy’s a creep.
“Because you overthink everything, and you’re reticent like your stepdad. A drop of wine in you and you start talking, and I need you to communicate honestly with me. Otherwise you clam up and I have no idea what you’re thinking. In vino veritas, Anastasia.”
“And you think you’re always honest with me?”
“I endeavour to be.” He looks down at me warily. “This will only work if we’re honest with each other.”
He talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk on this. Seriously, I’m just sitting here shaking my head thinking he’s got some serious fucking double-standards and that translates to how he feels about honesty. But he’s back to using “we” language, including Ana in his statements about what will work for them (classic manipulator trick, btw), which is irking me. But hey.
Ana says she wants him to stay so they can use the second condom, but he seems to dislike them that much and talks about how he’s already crossed so many lines that he has to go. He says he’ll see her Sunday with a revised contract, which he assumes she’ll agree to, and then they’ll start playing.
“Play?” Holy shit. My heart leaps into my mouth.
This was not at all unexpected for anyone reading this book, but it warrants a “holy shit” (which ranks higher than a “holy crap”) from Ana, who then asks what will happen if she doesn’t sign. Grey tells her ominously that he might crack under the strain and it could get really ugly. He’s teasing her, but still.
“Oh, you know, explosions, car chases, kidnapping, incarceration.”
“You’d kidnap me?”
“Oh yes.” He grins.
“Hold me against my will?”
Not like he didn’t, you know, lock her in a room not long ago while she was graduating and he wanted an answer from her.
Ana decides this is all hot, and then Grey brings out the reality:
“And then we’re talking TPE 24/7.”
“You’ve lost me,” I breathe, my heart is pounding … is he serious?
“Total Power Exchange– around the clock.”
Um, a couple of things here: there’s a world of difference between some BDSM and a TPE situation, and you really shouldn’t be foisting that onto someone who has the lack of knowledge on it that Ana does. But, okay. Whatever.
They sarcastically giggle about how Ana will totally have no choice in the matter, Ana rolls her eyes, and Grey decides that he’s going to fuck her quick and hard and will need that second condom after all.
My insides practically contort with potent, needy, liquid, desire.
Hooray! Let’s defy the world of physics and the English language at the same time, hey?
Ana, in her liquidy needy potent practically contorting insides way (does it feel like a burst appendix when your insides contort? Or just like really bad indigestion?) feels that the relationship lies in the balance of her consenting or not, and that if she doesn’t, it’ll all be over. Because Grey has such a wonderful history of caring about consent from her, demonstrated by so many acts earlier. Anyway, Ana’s inner goddess is pleading with her and her subconscious is paralysed, and so she goes along with it.
So much for the fucking: we get spanking instead because she rolled her eyes at him. And even though he warns her he’ll spank her each time she rolls her eyes, after eighteen spanks (that’s a lot of eyerolling), and her crying out, and him informing her that “No one will hear you, baby, just me” (which probably wasn’t meant to sound creepy but did), he stops and tells her he’s going to fuck her.
Another sex scene where he “pours into me” despite the condom, and where Ana gets an orgasm of epic proportions.
“Oh baby,” he breathes. “Welcome to my world.”
I’m giggling at this one. Of all the stuff to say post-sex, this is like something out of a kids’ animated feature: you know, the streetwise stray hooks up with the posh purebred type and they have a night on the town with G-rated innuendo, and she has a great time, and then: “Welcome to my world.”
Afterwards, he picks at the strap on her camisole, and tells her she should be sleeping in silks and satin and that he’ll take her shopping.
“I like my sweats,” I murmur, trying and failing to sound irritated.
I’m not sure if she’s trying to defy him so he can spank her again or something, or if she’s genuinely happy wearing sweat pants and he’s just being controlling, but he tells her “We’ll see” anyway. There’s more lying together, some implied dozing, and then he asks if she’s okay.
And then he gets rid of the used condom. EW. One of the grossest stories I know about someone was that he hooked up with someone at a friend’s party, and utilised their bedroom. There was a lot of utilisation going on that night, because post-party, when the poor host went to bed, he found a little surprise in there. And another one. And…
Maybe I’m anal-retentive about tidiness (my previous ex would say that, but the ex before me would argue that I’m a complete slob) but seriously, you just don’t leave used condoms lying about, especially when they can get hidden amongst bed sheets. That’s just gross. You get rid of that shit as soon as possible, or at the very least, get some tissues onto it. Here’s Ana thinking about her sore arse, here I am just thinking about the fact that in the previous paragraph she suggests they might have dozed off and there’s a used condom lying around on the bed. Remember when Ana said that there was “nothing worse” than wearing day-old knickers? I can think of one: sleeping in a bed with used frangers in it.
Ana’s not thinking about that, though: she’s thinking that she feels so much better after being spanked, and that she doesn’t understand why. Grey returns with baby oil and rubs it into her skin, and then decides he’s leaving. Ana gets up and is glad that Kate’s not home and didn’t hear what just happened.
“You didn’t cry,” he murmurs, then grabs me suddenly and kisses me fervently. “Sunday,” he whispers against my lips and it’s both a promise and a threat.
There is so much fervence in this book that trying to envision this happening is like imagining a high school drama production with far too much *emphasis* on everything. But hey.
Anyway, he leaves, and Ana has a brief moment of thinking about how she’s going to leave her apartment now, and then an angst moment which somehow, like everything else, becomes all about Grey.
[…] I feel lonely and uncomfortable here, unhappy with my own company. Have I strayed so far from who I am?I know that lurking, not very far under my numb exterior, is a well of tears. What am I doing? The irony is that I can’t even sit down and have a good cry. I’ll have to stand.
Cue some My Chemical Romance and the world’s smallest violin playing. Also, you could lie dramatically on your stomach and look all moody, ala that picture of Diana Dors on one of The Smiths’ album covers if you wanted to.
Instead, Ana calls her mother. Because that’s always a great idea.
Ana is all teary and her mother is worried and sympathetic in that way that you can afford to be when you’re a million miles away and you know that you can’t actually do anything. It all reeks of false sincerity, which might explain where Ana gets it from.
They instantly start talking about Grey, after mom’s asked how graduation was and Ana hasn’t replied (I still can’t get how flippant everyone is about it: she’s fucking graduated, for fuck’s sake) and a few paragraphs in, after mom’s given some advice about how she can’t possibly know someone in three months, it occurs to mom to suggest that Ana go and visit her and Bob.
Oh boy, is this tempting. Run away to Georgia. Grab some sunshine, some cocktails. My mother’s good humour… her loving arms.
Da fuq? When did Mom have a sense of humour? This is the first I’ve heard of it, and it hasn’t been demonstrated through the text.
A wild Kate appears, so Ana has to get off the phone for some in-person attention.
“Has that obscenely rich fucker upset you again?”
Um… That’s not quite an insult. “Obscenely fucked up,” maybe. “Obscenely douchey,” yes. “Obscenely arrogant,” totally. But… rich? I’m not sure if Kate’s meant to be jealous of Ana for her supposedly good fortune in finding this catch.
Kate tells her to tell him to take a hike, which is probably the best bit of advice Kate’s given her, but Ana dismisses it.
The world of Kate Kavanagh is very clear, very black and white. Not the intangible, mysterious, vague hues of grey that colour my world. Welcome to my world.
It’s like watching advertising in action, with tied-in themes blatantly permeating everything. For fuck’s sake, we get it. If Ana really was a lit grad, we’d see some more subtlety here, but nope-a-dope, none of that here.
Kate suggests she sit down and they crack open a bottle of wine, because the other thing this book likes emphasising is that wine solves everything (I’m not sure I can snark about this, though), and Ana gets funny about sitting.
“I fell over and landed on my behind.”
Pfft. Fell over from what? A fucking two metre height? Bitch, I’ve fallen on my arse at speed, in fucking roller skates, and I’ve never been so sore that sitting down has been painful. But okay. Kate doesn’t give the explanation much thought, because Ana is teh klutzy, and Ana sits down and has a memory about Grey telling her that she wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after “that stunt you pulled yesterday.” What stunt? Oh, wasn’t that about Jose getting her drunk so he could date-rape her? What’s killing me is that she’s remembering this and still not realising that Grey is a fucking creep. Instead, she thinks about it as a warning sign about Grey being serious about teh spankage.
Kate gives some weird advice telling her in the same breath that Grey’s got commitment issues and that he’s clearly smitten with Ana, which ain’t helpful. Ana asks about Kate’s situation, and Kate says that Ethan might be coming to live with them. Oh, okay, fifty shades of awkward, especially since we all know that Creeper von Moody isn’t going to be thrilled with this at all.
Their convo ends after some more wine, and Kate goes to call Elliot, and Ana checks for emails. Of course, we have email.
Dear Miss Steele,
You are quite simply exquisite. The most beautiful, intelligent, witty and brave woman I have ever met. Take some Advil– this is not a request. And don’t drive your Beetle again. I will know.
Okay, I call horse shit. When a guy comes on with this much flattery, this early in things, you start freaking out. Because he’s either a glib, lying creep who feeds people shit like this to get what he wants, or he’s bugfuck crazy. Or both.
Given who he is, and his worldly experience, he’s met plenty of beautiful women. Given Ana’s persistent stupidity, calling her bright is like calling Tony Abbott a champion of women’s rights issues. Given that she’s come out with the odd sarcastic comment and he’s chastised her for it, it’s hard to argue that he appreciates her wit. And given that he’s had fifteen others before her, odds are that he’s met far braver souls than her.
Secondly, what’s he done to the Beetle? Wired up a detonator so when she starts the engine, kapow? As Ana would say, Holy fuck.
Ana emails him back saying that flattery won’t get him anywhere, that she’s driving the Beetle to a garage to sell it, that red wine is better than Advil, and that caning is a hard limit. Grey emails back saying he accepts no caning, and that Taylor will get rid of the car for her. There are more emails; Ana expresses concern that he’d risk his right-hand man in a “dangerous” car and not some woman he sometimes fucks, and Grey emails back explaining that Taylor is ex-army and has driven all manner of dangerous things, and that he’s mad that she’s referred to herself as “some woman [he] fuck[s] occasionally.” There’s another threat about making him angry and more spanking along the lines of “you really wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
Dude, we know. You get passive-aggressive, you go silent, and you become even creepier than you usually are. We’ve seen you angry.
Ana tells him she doesn’t think she likes him right now, Grey asks why, Ana says that he never stays with her.
Oh. God. This has just taken a whole new level of Stockholm Syndrome.
Ana goes to bed and reflects upon her day (I hope the movie shows this with a montage of stuff happening throughout the day and Fall Out Boy’s Thanks for the Memories playing through it: that would be glorious) with the graduation, seeing Ray, Christian and the car, and realises that she hasn’t told Kate about the car. Then again, didn’t it occur to Kate that there’s a new car in front of their place? Ana then thinks about how she’s never been hit in her life and this genuinely surprises me (seriously, I’m not a particularly violent person, but you know how you just want to hit some people? Ana is one such specimen) and then starts crying again about him, and about his tortured past and about how maybe he wouldn’t like her if he was normal.
I am momentarily distracted from my dark night of the soul by Kate shouting.
Dark night of the soul? Oh, bitch please.
Kate is evidently going off at Christian Grey. It is glorious, and I’m hoping she’s throwing in some punches, too, since her “What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?” suggests she’s not on the phone to him. Even though she’s clearly telling him to GTFO, he ignores her and bursts into Ana’s bedroom.
“Do you want me to throw this asshole out?” [Kate] asks, radiating thermonuclear hostility.
Christian raises his eyebrows at her, no doubt surprised by her flattering epithet and her feral antagonism.
Wow, E. L., using the thesaurus now, are we?
Ana worries about making him mad, like he’s going to spank her or something worse, Kate then tells Grey that he’s on her shit list (GO KATE!) and advises Ana to “holler if you need me,” and makes an exit.
Grey asks what’s going on, like it’s not obvious, and then explains that part of his role is to look after her needs, and that he’s staying because that is apparently one of her needs. Turns out he thought she was okay, and she wasn’t; turns out Ana thought she was okay and she wasn’t, and then they discuss the spanking, that she wasn’t meant to enjoy it, and Ana asks why.
I’m genuinely mystified here on a couple of levels. One being that Ana couldn’t work out why she felt so good immediately afterwards (adrenaline?) so there was the suggestion on some level that she enjoyed it. Two: Grey should have some idea of how someone feels about “after the first time” given that he’s been there himself. Three: wasn’t this whole thing meant to be about “exploring Ana’s pleasure”? And yet, he quite bluntly says that she wasn’t meant to enjoy it. Four: I don’t think that’s entirely how this works. Isn’t the point that the person being spanked enjoys it and has somewhat masochistic tendencies and stuff? I honestly don’t get that, but then again, I’m not agreeing to being someone’s 24/7 submissive and will acknowledge that like Supernatural, Will Ferrell movies, Ugg boots, bacon and vodka, there are things that loads of other people like, but I don’t.
“I like the control it gives me, Anastasia. I want you to behave in a particular way, and if you don’t, I shall punish you, and you will learn to behave the way I desire. I enjoy punishing you. I’ve wanted to spank you since you asked if I was gay.”
Holy fuck. So much to dissect here. Firstly: you can control people without laying a finger on them, Grey. Actually, violence strikes me as the last resort of someone who has lost control and who’s clutching at straws. Sheesh. Secondly, as a method of “training,” it’s fairly haphazard and prone to unexpected results or undesirable ones, like fear and psychological problems. Thirdly, the fact that her asking if you were gay is clearly something you’re a bit preoccupied with, and that is far more interesting to me than any of your other issues, Mr. Grey.
Ana asks if he doesn’t like how she is, and he says he loves her the way she is, but
“I don’t want to change you. I’d like you to be courteous and to follow the set of rules I’ve given you and not defy me. Simple,” he says.
So in other words… you want to change her behaviour and break her will so she won’t defy you? Nope, that’s not changing anyone at all. Anyone else wondering what happened to the previous fifteen now? If they were failed experiments he never quite controlled and now they’re decaying in shallow graves in some bit of mostly-undisturbed wilderness somewhere?
“It’s the way I’m made, Anastasia. I need to control you. I need you to behave in a certain way, and if you don’t– I love to watch your beautiful alabaster skin pink and warm up under my hands. It turns me on.”
Why not just say, “I have a thing for spanking people”? That would make it far more palatable. Why all this crap about “This is how I am because of my experiences!”?
He then goes on to explain that the control is a turn on for him, which, again, makes it more palatable than “I need you to do stuff.” Sorry, but need versus want comes to mind here, too. And given all of his understandings about basic needs and Darfur and the rest of it, surely he realises that need is a bit too serious a word for something he, well, wants. I’m not criticising his kink whatsoever. But I’m suggesting that it’s not a necessary thing for his survival. And throwing in that since he’s talking about and to Ana like they’re in a relationship at times… surely the “need” isn’t all-encompassing. I’d have less of a problem with him saying he “needs” it from Ana if this was purely a transaction based on the BDSM thing, but Grey keeps blurring things and making out that it’s an emotional relationship, too. Not fair.
Grey explains that it’s not the pain that he’s putting her through that’s getting him off, but the control, and that’s what turns him on. Then he offers this gem:
“Look, I’m not explaining myself very well… I’ve never had to before. I’ve not thought about it in any great depth. I’ve always been with like-minded people.”
Yes, Grey, but you chose to pursue things with someone who clearly wasn’t, this time, so that’s a pretty shit-poor excuse.
“And you still haven’t answered my question– how did you feel afterward?”
“You were sexually aroused by it, Anastasia.” He closes his eyes briefly, and when he reopens them and gazes at me, they are blazing.
Way to go! Ask her how she feels, then tell her! Nice one, Mr. Manipulator.
His expression pulls at that dark part of me, buried in the depths of my belly– my libido, woken and tamed by him but, even now, insatiable.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he murmurs.
Ana wonders what she’s done wrong now, but it’s just Grey explaining that he has no condoms and Ana’s upset. Which should be irrelevant, but I think there’s a suggestion that her expression is making him verge on losing control and giving less of a shit about consent than usual. This is fucking horrible. Seriously, it’s another point where I’m verging on chucking the book across the room.
He then tells her she’s fine being honest in emails, but not in person, and asks if he’s really that intimidating.
Let’s see: he’s locked you in a room, ignored your desire to dine and discuss with him in public where there are onlookers, he’s blamed you for nearly getting date-raped, he’s warned you about making him angry, and every time he asks you something and you give him an answer incompatible with his wants, he tells you how you’re feeling.
I’d say that’s already pretty fucking intimidating.
“You beguile me, Christian. Completely overwhelm me. I feel like Icarus flying too close to the sun,” I whisper.
And oh god, I feel like I’m going to puke.
He tells her that she’s bewitched him, and tells her to email him and that he’d like to stay. So… what? Ah, he’s staying. Silly me. He empties his pockets (in amongst all the drama, Ana reflects on how men carry so much crap in their pockets), Ana gives a completely unerotic list of all the items of clothing and articles he removes, and then he lies in bed with her, telling her to cry in front of him so he knows what’s up with her.
So here… and still so bossy, but I can’t complain; he’s in my bed. Maybe I should weep more often in front of him.
ARRRRGH! See what I mean about spanking not being the only way to condition particular behaviours? Great: now she’s learned that she can cry in front of him to get what she wants, and if you must know, there is little more that disgusts me than people who pull that shit. I’ve had exes do crap like that. I went to school with people who did that. My sister had it down to a finely-honed art form. It’s fucking disgusting and a special kind of cowardly-manipulative, and sorry, but Ana making that observation just makes me dislike her even more.
He tells her how to lie in bed, and puts an arm around her, and then tells her to “Sleep, baby,” and miraculously, she does, peacefully and sans irritatingly not-so-symbolic dream sequences. Awesome.