Monday, May 7, 2012

50 Shades of Grey chapter 11 recap, or "Sign here. And here. Initial here. Are you getting hot yet?"

If you haven't yet checked out the Name Chedward's Penis contest, I highly encourage you to give it a try. You stand to win some awesome prizes.

Also, did everyone see the 50 Shades of Grey/Amazon spoof on SNL? I combination love/hate it, because it falls in step with the media praising these books for being erotic, but it's super funny, so I guess I have to give it a pass. Plus, it depicts female masturbation in a pretty positive, normal light, unlike the book that actually inspired it.

Hopefully, embedding it here doesn't result in some huge formatting catastrophe, because Hulu sometimes insists on operating that way:



So, last time we saw Ana, she had just opened the sex contract Christian had given her. Her heart is pounding as she starts to read it. My heart starts pounding when I realize that the contract is actually in the book. No glossing over it, the entire contract is here, and we're going to have to read every last boring bit of it.
2. The fundamental purpose of this contract is to allow the Submissive to explore her sensuality and her limits safely, with due respect and regard for her needs, her limits and her wellbeing.

No, it's not. The fundamental purpose of this contract is so Christian can get his rocks off and she can't tell anybody about it. Let's be completely clear on that point, okay? Because nothing up to this point has been about Ana. There is a clause about safety procedures and about either of them informing the other if they happen to get le herpes during the course of their relationship. There is a clause allowing Christian to "discipline" Ana, and a clause stating that she must obey Christian "in all things":
Subject to the agreed terms, limitations and safety procedures set out in this contract or agreed additionally under clause 3 above she shall without query or hesitation offer the Dominant such pleasure as he may require and she shall accept without query or hesitation his training, guidance and discipline in whatever form it may take.
Stop with your sexy talk, binding legal document. So, just for how long does Ana have to offer Christian "such pleasure as he may require" and do it "without query or hesitation"? Three. Freaking. Months.
11 This contract shall be effective for a period of three Calendar Months from The Commencement Date ("The Term"). On the expiry of The Term the parties shall discuss whether this contract and the arrangements they have made under this contract are satisfactory and whether the needs of each party have been met. Either party may propose the extension of this contract subject to adjustments to its terms, or to the arrangements they have made under it. In the absence of agreement to such extension this contract shall terminate and both parties shall be free to resume their lives separately.
Now I know why Christian Grey has never been married. Too much paperwork. He might have millions in the bank, but he can't afford the lawyer's fee to draw up the document needed to make that kind of commitment.

Let's keep in mind, too, that Christian is asking Ana to agree to three months of submission when she still doesn't know what it is. There's no way for her to know if she's going to be down to be caned, but she has to sign a piece of paper saying she's okay with Christian caning to her for three months, or else he's going to withhold emotional intimacy entirely. What a charmer this guy continues to turn out to be.

Ana is expected to "make herself available" from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. And then we got to this part:
13 The Dominant reserves the right to dismiss the Submissive from his service at any time and for any reason. The Submissive may request her release at any time, such request to be granted at the discretion of the Dominant subject only to the Submissive's rights under clause 2-5 and 8 above.
Excuse me? Christian can kick Ana's tail to the curb for any reason, whatsoever, but if she decides that this isn't her scene, Christian gets to decide whether or not she can get out of the contract? Yeah, the third clause in this nightmare of paperwork that passes for a chapter specifies that everything has to be consensual, but the second she wants out, he has the right to consider whether or not she's breaching the terms of the contract? That's some bullshit. Don't sign it, Ana.

Christian's terms are pretty simple. He gets to do whatever he wants with Ana's body, including using physical punishments on her for his own enjoyment and without reason, just so long as he doesn't endanger her health or leave permanent marks on her. If he does hurt her, or if she just gets sick, he'll take care of her and get her medical attention if needed. Oh, and he'll stay healthy, too, so he can "maintain a risk-free environment". I stopped when I read that and thought, "How is him not being healthy enough going to affect maintaining a safe environment for this kind of thing?"

Oh, riiiiiight.

There is also a clause stating that Chedward has to keep all his bondage equipment clean. Because if there is anything a woman hates, it's getting sloppy seconds from the ping pong paddle.

Ana's terms are a little more involved. She has to agree that Christian is allowed to use her any way he wants, at any time, because she is his property. She can't masturbate (not that it's going to be a hardship for Polly Pureheart, anyway),  and she has to stay on the pill. Then come the even weirder ones:
15.22 The Submissive shall not look directly into the eyes of the Dominant except when specifically instructed to do so. The Submissive shall keep her yes cast down and maintain a quiet and respectful bearing in the presence of the Dominant.
Why, is he a big fan of Memoirs of a Geisha? His desire to see Ana with her eyes cast down seems like a ploy to get her to walk into a lot of shit, when seriously, man, you could just wait for it to happen organically. I wonder if falling down constantly is part of "respectful bearing".
15.23 The Submissive shall always conduct herself in a respectful manner to the Dominant and shall address him only as Sir, Mr. Grey, or such other title as the Dominant may direct.
I understand this one isn't all that weird during BDSM play, but this contract covers the entire three months. "Who have you been seeing for three months, Ana?" "Oh, this guy, Mr. Grey. I'm not allowed to call him by his name." She's also not allowed to touch him without his permission, which seems like it's going to make the sex scenes from here on out even more tedious.

The paperwork goes on for quite some time in this chapter, so you'll have to forgive me for skipping over a lot of it. As you can tell from the excerpts I've already posted, it's about as juicy and titillating as burnt toast, and by the time I reached the end I still had no idea what would happen if Ana broke the agreement. I suppose she loses the privilege of being with Christian Grey but not being able to tell anyone about it.

There is a safe word, not one picked by the Submissive, as would be the safest possible option, but one that Christian dictates. The word is "Red". That will certainly never come up by accident or in a confusing way in the Red Room of Pain. For all his paperwork, Christian is really bad at the basics. He's also super bad at logic:
The Submissive will not enter into any sexual relations with anyone other than the Dominant. The Submissive will conduct herself in a respectful and modest manner at all times. She must recognize that her behavior is a direct reflection on the Dominant.
How, genius? How is her behavior a reflection on you, when you made her sign a non-disclosure agreement that keeps her from telling anyone she's had sex with you? When there is a clause in this very contract that says everything you do together is confidential. It's not like she can tell anyone that she's connected to you, in any way, without some vague legal ramification, so how does her behavior reflect on Christian Grey? I'd also like to point out, there is no similar clause for Christian. He can apparently bang anybody he wants, without consequence.

By the time Ana gets through the Hard and Soft limits pages, where she has to decide whether or not she's up for anal fisting, among other things, Ana is about ready to self-destruct:
Holy Fuck. I can't bring myself to even consider the food list.
Yeah, because the list of what you are and aren't allowed to eat is going to be somehow more shocking than the list of what orifices you'll allow a man's fist in.
My head is buzzing. How can I possibly agree to all this? And apparently it's for my benefit, to explore my sensuality, my limits - safely - oh please! I scoff angrily. Serve and obey in all things. All things! I shake my head in disbelief. Actually, doesn't the marriage ceremony use those words... obey?
What in the actual fuck, Ana. You don't want to do this. You're straight up saying that you don't want to do this, but as long as you can pretend it's just like being married...  She is not okay with pretty much all of the contract, and she doesn't want to do any of it. Ana realizes that this is not the relationship she wants, and she's not going to sign the contract. That is, she's not going to sign the contract until:
My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old. Please, let's do this... otherwise we'll end up alone with lots of cats and your classic novels to keep you company.
The only man I've ever been attracted to, and he comes with a bloody contract, a flogger, and a whole world of issues. Well, at least I got my way this weekend. My inner goddess stops jumping and smiles serenely. Oh yes... she mouths, nodding at me smugly.
There's one of those references to children in a moment of serious consideration of sexuality. Just, you know, in case you're keeping a box score or something. So, right about here, Ana puts a real fine point on my argument that she's too immature to consent to the type of relationship Christian is wanting. No part of the arrangement sounds beneficial to her, to the point that she feels traumatized by reading the contract, but she's considering signing anyway because this might be her last chance. At twenty-one, she's either got to enter into a D/s type relationship she does not want to be involved in, or she's going to die alone, surrounded by cats. No middle ground at all. Now, obviously, if she spoke to someone, perhaps someone a little wiser in the ways of relationships, she would see that OH THAT'S RIGHT. He's made her sign a non-disclosure. She can't talk to anyone - except him - about her misgivings or concerns.
Am I submissive? Maybe I come across that way. Maybe I misled him in the interview. I'm shy, yes... but submissive? I let Kate bully me - is that the same?
Maybe you come across as submissive? Because you misled him? Ana, you have yet to display any backbone at all, through this entire book. In fact, the only reason you know Christian Grey is because you went and interviewed him despite the fact that you did not want to. Of course, Ana can't say no to Kate, because Kate is a bully. Just because we've never really seen Kate "bully" Ana into anything (but we have seen Ana agree to do whatever Kate asks, internally complaining while outwardly protesting that she really, really wants to do these things) that doesn't matter. Kate is a bully, because Ana believes her to be. Just like Ana believes that she's not a walking doormat. The problem can't be with Ana's total lack of self esteem or inability to say no. Ana is actually a strong-willed, independent woman who would never do anything she didn't want to. She doesn't have to ever actually be strong-willed or independent; if she tells the reader that she is strong-willed and independent, that makes it so.

 She's so freaked out by the contract, she has to sleep it off, but when she does, she has oddly literal and specific dreams about Christian Grey. The next morning, Kate wakes her up, and Ana is so exhausted, she's slept until eight in the morning. Nine whole hours! Jeepers. A guy is there with a delivery, and Kate is super excited because "'It's big'". I'm wondering if it's a piano or something:
"I have a package for you here, but I have to set it up and show you how to use it."
"Really? At this time?"
"Only following orders, ma'am." He smiles in a charming but professional he's-not-taking-any-crap way.
She can't even tell a delivery person that no, she doesn't want him to come in and set up what's in the great big box he's carrying. And honestly, I'm surprised that Mr. Jealous McHypersensitive allowed the package to be delivered by a man, the way he reacted to her getting a phone call from another dude. What is in the big package, you ask? It's a Macbook Pro. One of the most compact, sleek machines on the market right now. If you've never bought an Apple laptop, here's a hint: they don't come in excessively large packaging (my Macbook Pro came in a box smaller than an average briefcase) and they don't require set up. Like, at all. You literally just plug the thing into the wall and go.

Kate points out that Ana could have just used her laptop, but Ana knows that she just can't use Kate's laptop to look up sexual things. She tells Kate that the computer is just on loan, because Christian wants her to try it out. So, already, Christian Grey's demands for this relationship involve Ana lying to her friends. But there's no time to dwell on that, the messenger guy has to tell Ana all the technical specs of her Macbook, right down the 1.5TB hard drive (that Apple does not put in their Macbook Pro models). Christian has even gone so far as to give her a Me account with an email address. Because Ana, a college graduate in the 21st century, did not have an email address.

When Ana checks her email, she finds that Christian has already sent her a message regarding the laptop, and saying he looks forward to having dinner with her. This results in an email exchange that would be kind of cute, if taken out of the context of this specific book with this specific weird relationship. Ana is totally psyched that he emailed her:
I'm like a small, giddy child. And all the contract angst fades.
So, here we are again, feeling like a child because a man paid attention to her.

Why don't you have a seat right over there, Mr. Grey?

If you'll note, Ana was all wound up about the contract and unsure if she wanted to get involved, until Christian became playful and fun in his emails. In other words, his manipulative tactics of withholding affection to get what he wants are working perfectly on Ana, who we all know is going to sign the damn contract even thought she would never do anything she didn't want to do.

Ana goes to work at Clayton's, and Jose calls her, hoping to meet up for coffee. Ana says yes, because she has a thing for men who treat her like they have some right to her. When Jose shows up, Ana is instantly not mad at him anymore, because of his "dazzling toothy all-Hispanic-American smile," and the fact that he has the mannerisms of "a gamboling dark-eyed puppy". In a couple paragraphs, Jose and Ana's friendship is mended, because this book's strong point is glossing over everything that is important (how Ana decided she was able to remain friends with a guy who was making unwanted advances and not taking "no" for an answer) and lingering with painful slowness over every damn detail that isn't important (Everything that happens in the helicopter). But it's okay, because when Ana gets home, there's an email from Christian waiting for her!

Through another series of email exchanges that would be charming if I didn't know so much about the couple in the first place, Ana (the recent 21st century college graduate) asks Christian how to research on the internet, and he (the most powerful young entrepreneur in America) tells her to always try Wikipedia first. So, Ana types "submissive" into Wikipedia.
Half an hour later, I feel slight queasy and frankly shocked to my core. Do I really want this stuff in my head? Jeez - is this what he gets up to in the Red Room of Pain? I sit staring at the screen, and part of me, a very moist and integral part of me - that I've only become acquainted with very recently, is seriously turned on. Oh my, some of this stuff is HOT. But is it for me? Holy shit... could I do this?
Just as a fun experiment, go to Wikipedia. Type in "submissive". See if you get the same results Ana does. HINT: You will not.

Ana thinks that she needs some space, so that she can think. I'm not sure what kind of space she's looking for, as she is in the apartment entirely alone, and thus ends the chapter.

This is a short recap, I know, but seriously, the bulk of the chapter is made up of either legal documents or emails, and neither of those were prime sporking material. It's quite a shame that Ana and Christian are such a creepy couple, because the email exchanges were pretty cute, in a Bridget Jones/Daniel Cleaver kind of way.

That's it for me today. Please do check out the contest, or, if you're not good at thinking up wang names, tell your friends about the contest and have them put their wang names in the hat.

4 comments:

  1. "Deference (also called submission or passivity) is the condition of submitting to the espoused, legitimate influence of one's superior or superiors.[1] Deference implies a yielding or submitting to the judgment of a recognized superior out of respect or reverence. Deference has been studied extensively by political scientists, sociologists, and psychologists."

    SO HOT.

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  2. As someone who graduated from college with an English degree in 2001, I call furious bullshit on Ana not knowing how to look up anything on the Internet. 3/4 of my sources for reference material were found online. In most of my classes, we were required to provide sources that were found online. Huge shenanigans there.

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  3. OMG, that's exactly what those emails reminded me of, too - the whole Bridget Jones "I love your tits in that top" exchange. Weird.

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  4. I like how E. L. James didn't even look up the Wikipedia article she's referencing. That says a whole lot about how much research is put into this book and how much stock we can place in it.

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