50 Shades of Huh?

Warnings: The Fifty Shades series is extremely sexually explicit and involves BDSM. Because of that, and because they are not exactly well-researched or high-quality literature, I will mention things such as abuse, rape, rape culture, male dominance, sexism, relationship violence, and consensual BDSM. Also, the books began as Twilight fanfic, so I will be mentioning Twilight (which is a major squick for a lot of people just by itself).

I read chapter 16.  I skimmed it a second time.  I’m still not entirely sure what I just read.

Does anyone else find it weird and kind of creepy that Christian is keeping count on Ana’s orgasms?  I mean, I guess that considering he’s a control freak it shouldn’t surprise us, but I still think it’s odd.  I’m gonna chalk this one up to bad writing, though.  It sounds to me more like the author’s poor attempt at recap and a strange transition into Ana’s confession that the count is actually seven, not six, orgasms because she had one in her sleep.  (And for those keeping another kind of count, we got both an “Oh my” and a “double crap” in the same chapter!)

Up next, we have another awkward Birth Control Discussion.  Let me explain why this bothers me.  Wait, no.  There is too much.  Let me sum up.  First, since when does it need to be all her responsibility to take care of that?  They’re only supposed to be together for a few months.  Second, she should already have been seeing a women’s healthcare professional, despite her lack of sexual experience.  Third, he wants to have her see his doctor (who is presumably not a gynecologist)–creepy much?  I guess in this section E. L. James has dispensed with any sensible Sex Ed-style advice.  I actually think this is really just so Christian and Ana can go at it like bunnies without her having to mention condoms every time.  I respect the fact that she’s kinda saying, “Stay safe, kids!” by demonstrating that no one has a disease and that they’re trying not to get pregnant.  It’s still a lazy way to do it, though.

Christian admits he got Ana drunk so she’d agree to his terms.  He claims it was so she would be honest with him and that alcohol loosens her up.

“Did you get me tipsy on purpose?”
“Because you over-think 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.”

Yeah, whatever.  Manipulative bastard.

Anyway, after a bunch of other conversation, in which Ana pushes too far and Christian tells her he needs to punish her, we finally get some mild pain/sex.  If it weren’t for the rest of the garbage thrown at us so far in this book, it wouldn’t be too bad.  Not something I would do, but hey, if it’s your thing, you go.  The problem is, we’re still seeing a situation that lacks mutual genuine consent.

Christian spanks Ana–hard–and then they have sex doggie-style.  Which is fine, but she isn’t into it at all.  She strongly dislikes the pain, and the end result is that instead of feeling satisfied herself, she is merely pleased that he is happy with her for her ability to cope.  I guess the whole part about sex being mutually satisfying only means having an orgasm; it has nothing to do with being emotionally connected or anything.

When they’re done, Ana’s “conscience” (different from her inner goddess) shames her and refers to her as a “whore.”  Sigh.  We’re supposed to believe that this whole relationship is a good thing, and yet.  At absolutely every turn of the way we see nothing but this being a bad idea.  From the creepy stalking to the manipulation to the male-gazey everything-shall-please-the-man sex to the slut-shaming, this is shaping up to be just one long advertisement for why not to get involved with men like Christian.  Too bad that wasn’t the author’s intent.

And then Ana spends a long time crying.  She cries to her mother.  She cries to Kate.  She cries while emailing Christian.  Her mother and Kate both offer her actual love and support, as well as some good advice.  Kate is absolutely the world’s best friend.  I so very badly want her in my corner–Ana is lucky.  When Christian shows back up because of Ana’s emails, Kate threatens him.  Unfortunately, Ana is fairly stupid at this point in the book and doesn’t let Kate protect her.  Instead, she lets Christian make it up to her by sleeping (literally) with her.

Before they get to the cozy, sweet sleeping, Ana must know why Christian likes hitting her (and other women).  He explains why.  Now, see, here’s the thing.  I can kind of get that, but if that’s the case, he really needs to be with someone who also gets off on being dominated.  There is no mutuality with Ana.  She likes the idea, sort of, in the same way that some couples like to play around with tying each other up.  But she is not cut out for the whole…er…package, so to speak.  He confesses that the first time he wanted to hit her was way back when she interviewed him and asked if he was gay.  (Dude.  Homophobic much?)  She wants to know why he wants her to change who she is–and he insists that all he wants is for her to be “courteous” and follow his rules.  Oh.  Okay then.

My instinct to stomp my feet and yell like a toddler every time I crack open this book is barely contained.  I really cannot fathom how anyone could find anything in here romantic or hot, nor can I understand how so many people have missed the overt abuse.  I’m kind of sick of “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” and “it’s just fiction” justifications for this crap.  I really don’t care if someone wants to read it, but I do think it’s necessary to go into it eyes wide open.  Find it sexy if you must, but understand why this isn’t a healthy relationship and understand yourself well enough to know why you find it alluring.

For a much better recap on this chapter, read this.


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