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).
Happy Monday! I now have enough caffeine in my system to write about Fifty Shades. (But not nearly enough alcohol; I have no idea how I’m going to finish this series. Meh–I’ll manage.)
Ana has arrived in Georgia to visit her mom and husband-I’ve-lost-track-of-what-number. She thinks,
I like this husband, Mom. You can keep him.
This is yet another example of Ana telling us how much she likes some person or another, even though we readers have no idea why. With Kate, Ana is constantly in Jealous Mode, yet she assures us Kate is superawesome. With Christian, he’s intensely creepy, but Ana reminds us on nearly every page how hot he makes her. Now we have Bob. Apparently, the thing Ana likes is that Bob has twinkly blue eyes “that gaze at [her] fondly.”
Ana spends several paragraphs complaining about the heat and her “fog of fatigue.” So it’s only natural that instead of going to her mother’s house to rest and soak up the AC, she asks to go to the beach. You know what? I’ve taken late-night flights before. It’s not pretty. The last thing I wanted to do was anything other than shower and take a nap. But hey, who am I to judge? At least it’s gotten her mind of Christian, right?
Here comes the Big Mother-Daughter Talk. Ana’s mom opens by asking about the relationship, to which Ana replies that Christian is “complicated and mercurial.” Her mother wisely chooses to focus on those two things, but then she goes on to lose all the respect I was just beginning to have for her. Somehow she fails to notice when Ana says,
. . . his mood-swings make me dizzy. He’s had a grim up-bringing, so he’s very closed, difficult to gauge.
Instead of going with the giant red flag about the mood swings, Ana’s mother asks Ana if she likes him. Yeah, that would not be my first response to that. What follows is a really strange bit of dialogue. Her mother decides to characterize men somewhat oddly, going with tired stereotypes of men as hardly more deep than a kiddie pool:
Men aren’t really complicated . . . They are very simple, literal creatures. They usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyze what they’ve said–when really it’s obvious. . . I’d take him literally.
In a sense, I guess I agree with her advice. If Ana were to take Christian at his word, she might recognize him for the abusive, creepy person he is. On the other hand, I don’t think that Ana’s mother is a good source of advice on this. Besides making it sound like all men are shallow and kind of stupid, she’s also on her fourth (ah, yes, that’s it) husband. Ana doesn’t seem to realize this, though.
She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.
Did it occur to you, Ana, that she’s on husband number four precisely because she doesn’t know crap about men at all? I’m going with “like mother, like daughter” here.
Her mother proceeds to tell her that most men are moody. Apparently her mother can’t make up her mind. Are men simple and literal, or are they complicated and moody? I don’t even know what to do with this one:
I used to think your father was moody. But now . . . I just think he was too caught up in his job and trying to make a life for us.
Dear Ana’s mother: You would know if you’d ever bothered to, I don’t know, have a real conversation with him about it. It’s a myth that men don’t like to talk about what’s on their minds. There isn’t some secret to approaching men about their feelings. I mean, you can’t just open with, “Hi, honey. You’ve been super moody lately. Want to tell me why?” Women generally do not like that approach either. Who wants to be grilled like that? But good, old-fashioned communication works pretty well, I find.
Eventually, the conversation ends somewhat abruptly and Ana’s mom disappears to “mold some candles or whatever she does with them.” Off-topic, but I seem to recall a YA book where the mom’s best friend is into candle-making. Anyone remember reading such a book back in the ’80s? If you remember the title, let me know. It’s really bothering me now.
Christian has finally replied to Ana’s email. He’s all mad that she communicates openly when there’s distance between them, but not in person. Well, yes, because you scare her, you ass. He threatens to make an appointment for her with his psychiatrist. Is it wrong of me to think that’s not a bad idea?
He goes on to explain to her that in a D/s relationship, she has all the power as his sub. Except that is never how he behaves with her. Not only that, he tells her that if she says no, he can’t touch her and reminds her that she said no in his parents’ boathouse. He seems to have forgotten that in the boathouse, he didn’t respect her no. Remember the time when he raped her? Yeah.
See, if he hadn’t come across as a creepy stalker, a rapist, and an all-around horrible person/boyfriend, this email is actually decent at the start. It’s just wrong in the context of everything else that’s happened. His assurance that she has the power here is only true in regard to what they do in the bedroom (or the Red Room of Pain). The rest of the time, he is the one controlling every last thing between them.
He goes on to tell her that she’s not properly allowing him to have control over her anywhere but the “playroom.” Wait…didn’t he just say that she is the one really in control? He ends by saying that he will “try” to do things her way. It seems to me that there is a huge gap in their understanding of each other, not to mention that he’s still creepy as hell–evidenced by his closing line:
. . . enjoy yourself. But not too much.
What the actual, Christian. Not too much? She is with her mother and stepfather number three. What constitutes “too much fun”? Learning how to make candles? Lying on the beach? Dinner at the golf club?
Ana’s reaction reminds me so much of a line from the movie Roxanne. Steve Martin’s character says to Daryl Hannah’s,
A few frilly words and you’re counting ceiling tiles!
That’s a pretty accurate description of Ana here. Christian sends her an email she describes as being like a high school essay (“and most of it good!”), and all of a sudden she’s giddy with the desire to make things work between them. This story would be a thousand times more interesting if Christian had had someone else write his emails and if Ana figured out she was really in love with that other person. Alas, we’re stuck with Ana *hearts* Christian Forever.
I’m going to spare everyone a discussion on the rest of their email exchange, which quickly devolves into something no one wants to read. If it weren’t for the fact that Ana’s not allowed to touch herself, and the interruption from her mother that it’s time for dinner, I would expect the two of them to start having email sex. Unfortunately (fortunately?) they don’t.
I will leave it there for now. Up next week, I ask the question, “How can this possibly get more convoluted while Ana is on vacation?” because somehow, it does. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, though.