As mentioned, for Chapter 13, Bug is going to take over for her post which we will also call
But before she begins, let me just say, I noticed in Chapter 13, it is supposed to be Ana getting answers from Christian, but it really seems like it’s just Christian asking Ana over and over, “don’t you trust me.” Okay, I’m a redneck. I can be a well-spoken redneck, but redneck I still am. And if this was me, this would have been my reaction to him the second or third time he asked me if I could trust him.
So party on. Here’s the buggy one~~
Hey, everyone. I’m Bug, Kody’s friend that she introduced several posts back. I’m reading Fifty Shades of Grey along with her for moral support. What we’ve both found is that this book is anything but a romance. In fact, I found it to be more akin to a “What NOT to Look for in a Man” manual, particularly Chapter 13. I’m not going to lie; Chapter 13 pissed me off. And because it did, I’m doing a guest post on this chapter and why this it completely destroys the idea that this book is a romance.
Allow me to make a quick disclaimer here: it is NOT the fact that the series attempts to show a BDSM relationship that I have issues with. BDSM requires trust and open communication of your kinks and limits. When you have those things, BDSM relationships can be just as fulfilling as “vanilla” relationships, perhaps even more so, and with kinky sex. But what Christian Grey demands from Ana Steele is complete submission, without the prerequisite of getting to know and trust each other outside their sexual relationship. In consensual BDSM, the Dominant is in agreement with the submissive’s limits and attitudes. While those limits may be pushed, they may not be violated. It’s a very fine line, but one Christian shows himself willing to step over multiple times.
Second disclaimer: Professionally, I’m an accountant, not a writer. Detail is my job. I apologize in advance if I get too verbose. My job requires documentation for nearly everything I do, so I’m going to use lots of quotes here to back up exactly why I have issues with this book. (I do regret not being able to give exact page numbers, as I’m reading an electronic edition.) I’m also a smartass, so there will be plenty of sarcasm thrown in here. It’s just the way I am. If you think I’m being sarcastic, I probably am.
The first part of the chapter isn’t that bad, in terms of getting on my nerves. (That said, the opening scene an obvious rip-off of Twilight in that the female protagonist’s mother can’t attend her graduation because the new husband has an injury. Plagiarism, we has it.) Where this chapter starts to push me into OMG GIRL GET AWAY MODE is when Ana goes to dinner with Christian to discuss her questions about and objections to the contract he gave her to define their relationship.
When Ana first gets the hotel, she meets up with Christian in the bar and they get a small booth. He asks her what she’d like to drink, and she orders “what you’re having, please.” GET AWAY POINT #1: the following exchange happened in chapter 10, when they stopped for lunch when Christian drives Ana home:
“Two glasses of the Pinot Grigio.” Christian says with a voice of authority. I purse my lips. “What?” he snaps. “I wanted a Diet Coke.” I whisper. His gray eyes narrow, and he shakes his head.
Note the negatives used here—she “purses” her lips, implying she’s pouting; he “snaps” at her because she’s not in agreement with his order; she whispers what she actually wanted instead of just telling him; his eyes narrow and he shakes his head as if he’s displeased by her.
But when they meet at the hotel to discuss the contract, Ana thinks: “See! I can play nice and behave myself.” Why would she think this? Oh right, she’s already seen that if she has an idea different from his, Christian will be displeased. They’ve known each other for about a week, but she’s already adjusting her behavior so that she doesn’t make him mad. Totally healthy start to a relationship, right there.
The conversation continues, and Ana brings up the fact that the sex contract Christian gave her is legally unenforceable, but he neglected to mention it. GET AWAY POINT #2: he overrides her concern here, saying he’s aware of its legal invalidity, and flips the question back on her, asking, “You don’t think very highly of me at all, do you?” And Ana shouldn’t, since he, you know, neglected that detail.
He then goes on to tell Ana that “relationships like this are built on honesty and trust,” which he has already violated by not telling her the contract was legally unenforceable. There’s a little more talk, he asks if she’s eaten (OMG WITH THE FOOD, MAN)
and then he tells her he’s booked a private dining room. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except the fact that Ana was expecting to hash this out with the security of being in public. Christian basically says that he’d have his way with her even in the restaurant, then says “No public.” Ana, just fucking run, girl.
After they get to the private dining room, they begin to discuss Ana’s limits per the contract and her objections. Ana says she wants a one-month trial period, not three, and GET AWAY POINT #3 happens: Christian says it’s not long enough, and she agrees to try for three months, but thinks, “I’m feeling railroaded.” She hasn’t even really consented to the relationship yet, and she’s already thinking her needs are being pushed aside for Christian’s. Again, totally healthy relationship, right?
More talking about the contract follows. There’s some discussion about Christian’s exact terms for what a submissive should be, and then GET AWAY POINT #4 hits like a ton of bricks:
“Christian. You use sex as a weapon. It really isn’t fair,” I whisper, staring down at my hands, and then looking directly at him. He raises his eyebrows, surprised, and I see he’s considering my words. He strokes his chin thoughtfully.
“You’re right. I do. In life you use what you know, Anastasia. Doesn’t change how much I want you. Here. Now.”
Ana knows Christian uses sex against her. After all, if she’s surrendering to the pleasure of sex, then she’s not objecting to the nature of their relationship. The worst part? Christian admits she’s right. Seriously, honey, get away from him.
Then, without missing a beat, GET AWAY POINT #5 happens, and really pisses me off:
“If you were my sub, you wouldn’t have to think about this. It would be easy.” His voice is soft, seductive. “All those decisions – all the wearying thought processes behind them. The – is this the right thing to do? Should this happen here? Can it happen now? You wouldn’t have to worry about any of that detail.”
This attitude right here is, to me, totally unacceptable in a modern relationship. You see that? “The wearying though processes”? Christian paints it as “I’ll take all your worries,” but when you take it in context of the whole book, he’s aiming for “I’ll take all your choices.” He will decide Ana’s drinks, her wardrobe, her sex life, her behavior even when they’re not together, her very attitude toward him.
I realize that there are probably some dom/sub relationships that mutually decide the dom will have control even outside the bedroom. But ideally, that’s a mutual decision, not “you’ll behave this way or you won’t get to be with me at all,” which is what Christian is demanding here without compromise. Ana either agrees, or doesn’t see him again.
There’s a little “I want you, I know you want me,” then Ana says she needs to leave. Christian asks her to stay the night with him, and she finds her vestigial spine and tells him no. Christian leans down to kiss her (remember the “sex as a weapon” thing?). They break away, and I’m pretty sure this is the scene in the first Twilight movie when Bella and Edward start making out in her room:
He closes his eyes and presses his forehead against mine, giving us both the opportunity to slow our breathing. After a moment, he kisses my forehead, inhales deeply, his nose in my hair, and then he releases me, stepping back.
Christian disapproves of her car as she leaves, and Bella indignantly defends the classic vehicle that Charlie got her…wait, wrong book. Then the chapter ends on this email from Christian:
I don’t understand why you ran this evening. I sincerely hope I answered all your questions to your satisfaction. I know I have given you a great deal to contemplate, and I fervently hope that you will give my proposal your serious consideration. I really want to make this work. We will take it slow.
Now, I don’t know if you read the same chapter I did or not. My take was that Christian only answered one question directly, and that was the question of how his former sub got hurt. The rest was all, “Well, here’s what I want and you will give it to me.” Ana goes to bed thinking, “I am not a merger. I am not an acquisition. Reading this, I might as well be…Perhaps together we can chart a new course.”
GIRL, LISTEN TO YOURSELF. Ana knows already that Christian will use her for his gratification, and the best she can hope to get out of it is good sex that she can’t even tell her best friend about. What’s a girl to do? Try to change him, or course! And here’s GET AWAY POINT #6—if you have to convince yourself that you will change him, that your love will fix him, GET AWAY.
In conclusion, there are so many red flags waving in this chapter I’m really starting to think EL James moonlights as a matador. As I told Kody, “If I had a man like Christian Grey in my life, he’d wind up on the wrong end of a restraining order, or my pistol, or both.” Seriously, you guys. Christian Grey isn’t a romantic hero. Christian Grey’s a fucking asshole.