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).
Having been derailed by fibromyalgia and Internet drama during the fall, I skipped four months’ worth of Fifty Shades posts. But I had some requests to continue the series. Because I love my friends (even if I don’t love Fifty Shades), I am enduring the pain. You’re welcome.
We begin chapter 3 with Ana looking for the silver lining. She says,
The one good thing about being carless is that on the bus . . . I can plug my headphones into my iPad . . .
I’ve been carless. That seems like reaching.
Apparently, though, being able to listen to her Special Christian Grey “Mix-Tape” is a good beauty secret, because her boss remarks that she looks “radiant.” Ana finds this inappropriate. Now, if he were stalking her and giving her expensive gifts and taking her to his Red Room of Pain, that might have been another matter. But how dare he say she looks radiant! Everything in this story is some kind of innuendo, so that’s why she deems it inappropriate. This is because Ana is a Clueless Hottie: She goes on and on about how unattractive she is, but every man in her sphere is pining away with desire for her. That might be the single most annoying thing about Ana, even worse than her Inner Goddess and her overuse of certain phrases.
Next, we get a series of emails between Ana and Christian. I’m sick of these, too. Can we just dispense with them? They’re boring, for one thing, and for another, E. L. James isn’t an expert enough writer to pull them off without making Christian sound worse than he already is. In today’s installment, Christian reminds Ana that she needs to eat (again) and tells her she’s going to need energy for begging him to give it to her. Yeah. I think it’s supposed to sound like naughty role-playing, but given the tone of their relationship, it definitely doesn’t come across that way.
After more boring and pointless stuff about work and another set of emails (including one about hers being monitored), Ana finishes her work day and her boss invites her to join the staff for a drink. Because she’s a Clueless Hottie, she immediately imagines he’s hitting on her again. She’s “relieved” when she finds out it’s not just the two of them. This whole thing with every man wanting her reminds me of how we women are taught that all men everywhere are predators and we should protect ourselves. The whole book series kind of implies that this is true, even though it’s not.
In what I’m sure is supposed to be a bit of humor, the bar is called 50s. Ana tells Jack to order her a beer. For a moment, that surprised me, but then I realized something. She only does the high-end putting on airs thing when she’s with Christian. By herself, she’s pretty down to earth. She even drinks beer. It’s too bad she can’t find someone who might like her for who she is, not who she could become.
Another series of emails later (I seriously think E. L. James was creating filler to make this into three whole books) and Ana is off from work. She checks herself out (Clueless Hottie) and notices that she looks better than she has been. (Incidentally, this is probably why her boss commented–wouldn’t you notice if your employee suddenly looked like the walking dead and then equally suddenly looked decent again?) If the only thing she has keeping herself together is Christian Grey, that’s a scary thought indeed.
This is emphasized in the next few paragraphs, where she meets a woman who knows who Ana is but refuses to reveal her own name. Ana describes her as looking like a ghost, and there’s an implication of this woman’s self-injury. Ana immediately thinks this must have something to do with Christian. Now, why would she automatically draw that conclusion? That would seem like a stretch, but it’s the most self-aware I’ve seen Ana in this entire series so far. She recognizes something in the woman that reminds her of herself, and she connects it to Christian. If only she would make the leap that if he leaves women as shells of their former selves, he is someone to stay far, far away from.
I’m not wild about the way it sounds like women never recover from their encounters with him. This is a dreadful combination of whatever abuse she suffered (and subsequently internalized) and the idea that we are nothing without our men. Even if the story is supposed to be about Christian’s redemption, this whole scene would have been so much better if the woman had not been haunted and harming herself because she wished she were still in Ana’s shoes. I’m not comfortable with the implication that Ana would have ended up like this woman if she hadn’t chosen to let Christian back in her life–and therefore it’s a good thing she did.
So that I don’t drag this post out too long, I’ll stop there. Join me next week for Fun at the Bar with Christian and Jack. Should be fascinating to watch two men fight over Ana like she’s an uncharted island and whoever wins gets to plant a flag.