Chapter 16 is one of those chapters that was light on plagiarism, but heavy on pissing me off, so I asked Bug to do a write up on it just for you, the readers. (And i apologize, but I’m having to upload this from my phone, so no fun little pics this time, I’m just not that skilled.) As promised, here it is, if slightly out of order, post-wise:
Apologies, dear readers. I promised Kody I would do a write up for chapter 16 of Fifty Shades of Grey. I had some IRL stuff pop up, but then I also got lazy for a bit. I’m bad about drag-assing. So, let us get on to the fuckery in chapter 16, then Kody can get back to the regularly scheduled “Spot the Plagiarism.”
This chapter starts by launching right into some emotional manipulation. Ana and Christian have just finished having sex. She tries to reach out and touch his chest, and he stops her because he doesn’t like to be touched. He tells her he’s “fifty-shades of fucked-up” because he had a rough childhood. Now, why do I call this emotional manipulation? Because of two of Ana’s thoughts about the situation: “Perhaps together we can chart a new course,“ from the end of chapter 13; and “I am desperate to know more,” from here in chapter 16. I (and some of you) dated someone like this. They’d hint at how messed up childhood had been, how they’d missed out on the love of at least one parent, and it made them someone who was emotionally stunted, and you needed to know exactly what went wrong so you could be sure it never happened again. Of course, the solution is to love them into being whole, right? To make up for the love they missed when they were younger and vulnerable? That’s exactly what Ana is doing here, because every sign Christian has given her has pointed her in this direction. He’ll try to give her some sort of emotional relationship, but it’s all predicated on how well she performs under the terms of their contract. Take away the contract, and you have the relationship I was in for 2 ½ years—you have to be emotionally available for this person, but it’s subject to their whims and whether they want to be with you at that particular moment. It’s not a relationship so much as it is being an emotional nanny.
Right after this, we run right into how much of a controlling prick Christian is. During their last romp, Ana had been on top. She tells Christian she knows she wasn’t in control, and she knows it was only because he let her be on top. He counters with telling her that all six of the orgasms she’s had so far in her life belong to him. She confesses that she had one in her sleep, so that’s actually seven. Seriously, what a controlling prick: she can only be on top during sex because he lets her be, and all of her orgasms “belong” to him. Remember, per the terms of the contract, she can’t masturbate. My theory isn’t that he wants to share in all her pleasure—it’s that he can’t stand the thought of her getting off without him. If she does, that proves that she doesn’t need him in that capacity. And heaven forbid anyhing happen Christian can’t control.
What happens next is just gross, so I have to point this out. Christian gets up to leave, and asks Ana when her next period is due since he hates wearing condoms. He picks up the one they just used as a gesture, and then PUTS IT ON THE FLOOR. Now, he is putting his pants back on, but this book focuses on boring minutiae and never mentions that he picks it up and puts it in the trashcan. I don’t care how much you love a guy, if he doesn’t immediately put the used condom in the trash, it’s a deal breaker. It’s one thing to have sex with someone and another to have to clean up their spunk. If condoms are used, that duty is totally on the guy. Just gross, man.
Their conversation continues, and Christian admits he gets her drunk to “open up,” which so far has meant “agree with Christian or at least agree to try what he wants.” Christian says it’s because she doesn’t communicate openly with him when she’s sober. Well, Christian, that’s probably because when you met, she was a virgin, and you want her to consent to a “BDSM” relationship within a couple of weeks. It’s not that she’s not being honest, it’s that she honestly doesn’t have any idea what she’s getting into, so she’s reluctant to say yes or no. She then calls him out on being honest with her, and he says he tries to be. So that time you forgot to mention that the contract you wanted her to sign was legally unenforceable was you being honest, right? And that time in chapter 15, when she said she wasn’t down for any anal action at all, and you said “but I want to, so we’ll work up to it” was being honest? That sounds to me like saying “I’ll respect your limits per the contract” then not honoring it. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure having anal sex with someone after they’ve said no is rape, even if you “work up to” getting their consent. Just saying, Christian is the one with honesty issues here.
More conversation happens, and Ana jokes about “stretching this out;” that is, having the sexy fun times without signing the contract. Christian tells her he might snap and kidnap her and lock her in a sex dungeon. Let’s play “note the language used here” again. He “grins” at the thought of kidnapping her and keeping her for his sexual use only. His eyes “shine” at the thought of having total power over her 24/7, and Ana “can feel his excitement.” Christian isn’t getting off on the “I smack some booty while we’re doing it” idea. He’s getting off on the “I own you and you are merely my plaything (which is why I want to keep emotionally distant)” idea. I’m going to put the disclaimer in here, even though it’s at the bottom of the post, but folks, this ain’t healthy BDSM. Ana and Christian are consenting to two totally different ideas of their relationship, not anything mutually agreed upon, even though they’ve convinced themselves they’ve hashed it out.
After that last exchange, Ana rolls her eyes. Apparently this is disrespectful toward Christian, and he promised to chastise her for it, so he does. They have sex again, but he spanks her 18 times first. Here’s why I’m going to call this out for being a dubious consent scene: Ana technically consented to his arrangement when she attempted to give him back the first-edition copies of Tess of the D’Urbervilles with her selected quote implying he got to decide her punishment. But what happens in this scene isn’t Ana getting spanked repeatedly because she’s into the punishment idea. It’s Ana getting spanked repeatedly because she “[doesn’t’] want to give him the satisfaction” of knowing he’s hurting her. To add more fuckery to this, he tells her, “No one to hear you, baby, just me.” In the context of this scene, that’s a threat that no one is there to rescue her.
Of course, during the sex, Ana comes and Christian shouts her name. (I swear EL James used copy paste and just changed a couple of words for each sex scene. SO REPETITIVE.) Afterward, Christian gets up to leave FOR REAL THIS TIME. He does ask if she’s ok after their sexy spanky time. Ana says she’s ok, but she’s really confused according to her thoughts. It makes sense—she was a virgin until a few days ago, now she’s in a sexual relationship with a man who demands she give her total self over to him and let him punish her if she doesn’t. In fact, after he leaves, she’s so upset she calls her mom, whom Ana says seems extraordinarily intuitive that she’s having man problems. Um, Ana, you live in Washington State; your mom lives in Georgia. It’s between 10:30 and 11 pm your time, which means it’s between 1:30 and 2 am for your mom. She’s upset because something is wrong enough that you call her that late at night. (PS, EL James—I am a woman from the American South. I’m an 8th generation Alabaman on my dad’s side, and further back if you count the Choctaw on my mom’s side. My husband is actually from Savannah, where Ana’s mom lives. We don’t use “honey” and “darling” nearly as much as Ana’s mom does because it’s annoyin’ as hey-yell. Just throwing that out there.) To further cap off that something is wrong, Kate comes home and asks Ana to sit and talk it out. Ana tells her she can’t sit because she fell and landed on her butt. Freaking Battered Woman Syndrome, how does it work? Well, it starts like this.
We then get treated to EL James’ favorite form of word-count-padding, the block of emails (including time stamps and signatures). There are two main things to take away from this: 1) Christian tells her not to drive her car again, since he’s buying her a new one. Don’t worry, Ana, the bodyguard will get you a decent price when HE sells it.* 2) Christian acts offended when Ana refers to herself as a “woman [he] occasionally fuck[s].” So, Christian, let me ask you: when Ana holds out hope that she may be more than a fuckbuddy to you, why is that? Maybe it’s because you give her hints like this that she may be something more to you but then turn around and tell her you won’t give her emotionally intimacy. That’s manipulation through and through, folks.
After all the emails, Ana goes to bed and starts to cry, for the same reasons she did at the end of chapter 13. She’s attracted to a man who is, by his own admission, emotionally fucked-up and can’t give her the relationship she wants. Let’s go back to that, shall we? If you have to convince yourself you just have to change someone in order to have a happy relationship with them, just fucking run. They won’t change until they want to, and odds are you feeding into their insecurities won’t make them want to change.
We then get a surprise at the end of the chapter: Christian comes back! But he comes back after Kate has seen Ana cry because of his actions. Kate tries to tell him to fuck off and leave**, but he comes in anyway. He tells Ana part of his job as her dominant is to make sure she’s ok. So why didn’t he stick around in the first place? Oh that’s right, it’s more important that Ana not touch him than he make sure she’s ok. He then asks her how he can trust ANYTHING she’s said. Let’s look at this objectively. At worst, Ana told a white lie here. She was confused about her reaction to the spanking, and needed time to process that. And since Christian insists on keeping emotional distance between them, she rightfully didn’t feel comfortable talking to him about it, so she told him she was ok. Christian has, however, intentionally misled her before. Just a reminder.
Christian then goes into the whys and wherefores of why he likes this type of relationship. Surprise, surprise, it’s not because he’s into consensual kink, but because he gets off on the control. He’s grooming her into thinking that this is the way emotional and sexual relationships should be. And because it’s her first relationship, she doesn’t recognize it for the predatory relationship it is. Sexual predator, thy name is Christian Grey.
But it’s all ok, with Ana, because he stays the night, like he never has with anyone else (or at least so he says).
*This is a very pro-VW rant here. Forgive me for a looooong tangent here.
Ana owns a “vintage” VW Beetle. Based on what I’ve seen here in America, this means it’s a mid-1960s to mid-1970s Beetle. You guys, these are seriously some of the easiest cars in the history of ever to maintain. If you take out the backseat, you can get to the engine from almost any angle to fix whatever’s wrong with it. That’s why today, in 2013, I still pass “vintage” Beetles on the road on my daily commute. Yes, they do lack modern safety features like airbags, but the ease of maintenance means they’re still popular. In fact, I went to high school with a girl who kept a kit of tubes and gaskets and such in her ’71 Super Beetle, but you know what? She could get that thing up and running in 15 minutes or less when something blew. So, unless Christian Grey is invested in an airbag manufacturer, there’s really not a lot of reason for him to be so anti-Ana’s-VW, except the fact that Jose maintains it.
Also, we know Ana feels guilted into giving in to Christian’s demands when he gives her expensive things. She feels like she owes him. So if she feels like she owes him after he gives her $14,000 books, how does she feel when he buys her a car that starts at twice that amount?
The last thing that rubs me super wrong about this is that Christian tells her not to drive her car, or worry about getting a good price for it when Taylor sells it. Um, excuse the fuck out of me here. The car is HER property, and it is up to her when to use it and when to sell it. This, my friends, is total bullshit. Christian is bullying her into giving up not only herself, but what little property she owns to suit his whims.
Now, why, do you ask, am I harping on this point so much? Because I, myself, am a VW Beetle owner with a husband that wants me to get rid of it. The difference? I drive a 2001 New Beetle that my grandma got me the Christmas I was 16, in 2000. Even VW dealers have apologized to me when they hear the model year, because the New Beetle was introduced in 1998/99, and until (I think) 2003 when VW did a redesign, the things were pieces of crap. They’re rolling money pits. Unlike the old VW’s, you have to take the damn thing halfway apart to get to something as simple as the headlights. As I write this, my car is in the shop awaiting at least $2,000 in transmission work after only 155,000 miles. The point is, my husband wants me to dump my car because I’ve pretty much literally driven it until it fell apart, and it’s approaching the point that the annual maintenance is getting close to what annual car payments would be. But ultimately, it’s MY decision. His name is on the insurance, but the car is titled and registered in my name only. It is my decision to drop a few thousand in repairs on this car or buy a new one. And as much as he’s tired of the maintenance on my car, my husband recognizes that it’s my decision.
**I’m not sure what, exactly, renter’s rights are in Washington. Here’s what we do know about the situation: Kate (or her parents) are the primary renter on the lease, and Ana lives there for a small sub-lease amount. As far as I can tell, Kate is well within her rights to tell Christian to fuck right off, and if he doesn’t, he’s trespassing. One call to the sheriff can make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Follow us on twitter @aka_kody @BexlyP
Other good follows:
@Jenny_Trout and her blog, Sweaters for Days, where you can follow the train wreck that is 50shades to its illogical conclusion without melting your eyeballs.
@EmmaTofi, @katjevanloon, and @Sageling and the Fifty Shades is Abuse Blogring with links to stories, articles, and other posts of interest.
@itsjustahobby and the blog It’s Just a Hobby which she posts in tandem with her Dom, shows a regular, real world example of BDSM (not the misrepresentation of it as seen in 50shades). *Not safe for work*
The History of BDSM has put together The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey in which a person 20 years in the scene gives a rundown of how 50shades measures up.
The big-ass BDSM disclaimer that nobody bothers to read: THIS PART IS IMPORTANT!!! When Bug or I (or many of the people who comment on this blog) talk about abuse, domestic abuse, or domestic violence in regards to Fifty Shades of Grey, WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE BDSM ASPECTS. We have repeated this ad nauseum, yet still hear the “you just don’t understand BDSM” arguments. We aren’t talking about that. We are talking about Christian’s manipulation of Ana (emotional, mental, psychological, etc… examples are the “I’m fucked up, and you are the only one who can fix me” spiel), the way Christian assumes 24/7 control and overrides Ana’s choices and decisions (even though Ana agrees to being his sub ONLY on the weekends; this control continues even after Christian declares that they will have a “normal” relationship), Christian’s use of alcohol to coerce Ana’s consent, Christian’s habit of stalking Ana even when she asks him for personal space, the fact that Christian isolates Ana away from her friends, the way he punishes her (be it the initial spanking that she was arguably not okay with, or the honeymoon bruising to make her too ashamed to sunbathe, which she was clearly not okay with), and so many other things wrong with his treatment of her, but also this really important fact: SHE IS TERRIFIED OF HIM AND HIS REACTIONS, AND CENSORS HER OWN WORDS AND ACTIONS BECAUSE SHE IS SCARED SHITLESS OF WHAT HE WILL DO TO HER IF SHE ACCIDENTALLY MAKES HIM ANGRY. And if your argument is “we don’t know that she’s scared,” well stop right there, because in the text, in her incessant inner monologue, she says as much, many, many times.