Monday, January 21, 2013

50 Shades Freed chapter 4 recap, or "Tickle Me Chedward"

While I was dying from the flu, a lot of people sent me the link to the story about Alisa Valdes and her anti-feminist memoir. But all I'm going to say on the subject is that I'm very sorry she had to go through an abusive relationship, but I don't feel she's owed anyone's forgiveness or understanding for continuing to promote and profit off a book glorifying abuse and denouncing feminism, especially when her comments about her current boyfriend writing her abuser a thank you note show that she doesn't seem to really grasp why her book is dangerous. If you want a Cliffs Notes version, here's the Jezebel article about it. For the record, you cannot spank feminism out of a woman, no matter how erotic you think you can make it.

In funnier news, Amanda sent me this comic, that illustrates the phases of reading 50 Shades of Grey that we're all so, unfortunately, familiar with.

Meanwhile, Genevieve Burgess imagines a confrontation between evil!blonde hater Ana and evil!brunette hater Taylor Swift at her blog.

We last left Christian and Ana on the honeymoon that will never end. I hope you guys enjoy the boat, because we're still. fucking. on it.
I'm restless. Christian has been holed up in the onboard study for over an hour. I have tried reading, watching TV, sunbathing - fully dressed sunbathing - but I can't relax, and I can't rid myself of this edgy feeling.
How does "fully dressed sunbathing" work? Do your clothes soak up all the vitamin D? Granted, it is better for your skin, and I think Ana mentioned before that she's pale, so maybe fully dressed is the way to go.

Ana goes to find Taylor, because she's bored. Don't get your hopes up, she just wants to go shopping, and she wants to ride the Jet Ski. Taylor is reading an Anthony Burgess novel, which is absurd. Taylor is obviously an Ian Fleming guy. Taylor tells Ana that "Mr. Grey" wouldn't be comfortable with her taking the Jet Ski.
Oh, for heaven's sake! I want to roll my eyes at him, but I narrow them instead, sighing heavily and expressing, I think, the right amount of frustrated indignation that I am not mistress of my own destiny.
You have never been mistress of your own destiny, Ana. For this entire series, all you've done is get pushed around by one person or another. The only real decisions we've seen you make are when you took the job at SIP, which your boyfriend then bought, and when you're buying a present for Christian. Or choosing which outfit you're going to wear, but it's from clothes Christian bought you.

Ana finds Christian in the onboard study, dealing with the fallout from his office fire.
Shit. Why do I feel like I've entered the principal's office? This man had me in handcuffs yesterday. I refuse to be intimidated by him, he's my husband, damn it.
The first time I read that excerpt, I was like, "Wait... what kind of schools do they have in the UK?!" Then I reread it and I was like, "Ohhh... she's saying she SHOULDN'T feel like she's in the principal's office BECAUSE of the handcuffs. Got it. So, sixty-one pages into the third book, I finally got a moment of enjoyment out of this series, and then only because my reading comprehension wasn't the best and I imagined, briefly, that schools in the UK routinely employed handcuffs for discipline and how great that would be if we did that here.
"I'm going shopping. I'll take security with me."
"Sure, take one of the twins and Taylor, too," he says, and I know that whatever's happening is serious because he doesn't question me further.
Uh, did you think she was going to take the other security, Chedward? Because all we've heard about are Taylor and the twins.

Seriously, the references to "the twins" is messing my head up, because I'm reading A Dance with Dragons right now, and there's a castle/bridge set up known as the twins that is constantly referenced in that series. All I see now, when someone mentions "The Twins" in that book are the guys from the Matrix.

Like this, but on wave runners with Chedward.

Ana decides that since Christian is her husband, she can kiss him without asking permission first. Yes, she actually goes through this line of reasoning for us on the page. His response:
"You're distracting me. I need to sort this out, so I can get back to my honeymoon." He runs an index finger down my face and caresses my chin, tilting my face up.
There was a fire at your business. There, sorted it out for you. What needs sorting out? "Hey boss, there was a fire, it's out now, we're handling it." Either go back to your honeymoon, or go home and go to work. These are your options. Trying to micromanage shit from a boat is probably not going to achieve the results you're looking for.

Ana's subconscious reminds her that she never mentioned taking the jet ski, and Ana calls her a harpy. I don't understand why Ana's subconscious is suddenly worried about this. The way it's been set up so far, the subconscious seems pretty anti-Chedward. Shouldn't her inner goddess be the one whinging about making Chedward mad? Or is she too busy being passed out from amazing sex on top of a pile of dirty romance novels? Which stereotype are we supposed to be siding with here? It seems to me that Ana's subconscious - if this were a book with anything even remotely close to consistent characterization - would be saying, "Ana, you are twenty-two years old, you don't need permission to ride a jet ski."
Taylor patiently talks me through the controls on the Jet Ski and how to ride it. He has a calm, gentle authority about him; he's a good teacher.
Mmmm, I bet he is.

Oh my gosh, guess what happened while I was ill? My husband comes in from getting the mail and he says, "It's Christmas for Jen," and drops this on my keyboard:

 I bet you are, Jason. I bet you are.

So, Ana learns how to drive a jet ski. Reading the description of Ana learning to drive a jet ski takes longer than actually learning how to drive a jet ski, in case you were wondering. Also, Ana manages to stall the damn thing somehow, leaving my cousin D-Rock to wonder, "How fucking stupid do you have to be to stall a jet ski?" No, she hasn't read these books yet.

Anyway, Ana manages to get the jet ski going, and she goes zipping around the harbor a little bit. Man, as a boater, there is nothing I like more than inexperienced people flying around on jet skis. That is the best.
This rocks! No wonder Christian never lets me drive.
"Wow, this is really fun! I totally understand why the guy who is supposed to love me would want to prevent me from having this kind of fun!" Congratulations, your new husband is even more of a selfish dick than you thought.
Rather than head for the shore and curtail the fun, I veer around to do a circuit of the stately Fair Lady. Wow - this is so much fun. I ignore Taylor and the crew behind me and speed around the yacht for a second time. As I complete the circuit, I spot Christian on deck. I think he's gaping at me, though it's difficult to tell. Bravely, I lift one hand from the handlebars and wave enthusiastically at him.
Bravely, guys. She bravely waves at her husband, knowing that he's angry because she's riding a jet ski. She's practically Norma Rae here.


Ana rides the jet ski to the dock. Gaston and Taylor arrive behind her:
His expression is bleak, and my heart sinks, though Gaston looks vaguely amused. I wonder briefly if something has happened to chill Gallic-American relations, but deep down I suspect the problem is probably me.
Are you sure it's something you did, Ana? Because you just made your brave aquatic stand, I'm thinking yeah, that might have something to do with the mood. Sure enough:
"Mrs. Grey," Taylor says nervously, his cheeks pink once more. "Mr. Grey is not entirely comfortable with you riding on the Jet Ski." He's practically squirming with embarrassment, and I realize he's had an irate call from Christian.
Is Taylor a bodyguard, or a babysitter? Because I think Christian is getting those two roles mixed up.

Hey, um, you might want to do a shot of something or take a handful of pills before this next excerpt. A cuddly kitten will be provided to help control your rage, afterward, but I just want you to be prepared.
I cannot believe how fond I am of Taylor, but I really don't appreciate being scolded by him - he's not my father or my husband.

Are we feeling calm again? Good. Because I'm about to lose my shit in an epic way.


I know for a fucking FACT that there is some dumbass out there going, "OMG ANA IS SUCH A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER BECAUSE SHE WON'T LET SOME MAN BOSS HER AROUND UNLESS IT'S HER DAD OR HER HUSBAND WHO, BY RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP, AR THE ONLY MEN ALLOWED TO DO THAT! WHOO FEMINISM!" And when I find that woman, I will scream "NO!" into her face as loudly as I can, until I burst every vessel in my face and blood boils from ruined eyes in my blinding rage.

Newsflash, Ana, EVEN YOUR FATHER AND YOUR HUSBAND DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONTROL YOU.

Newsflash E.L. WOMEN ARE NOT FUCKING PROPERTY AND I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU THAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS.

But wait! There's more!
I sigh. Christian's mad - and he has enough to worry about at the moment. What was I thinking? As I stand on the dock waiting for Taylor to climb up, I feel my BlackBerry vibrate in my purse and fish it out. Sade's, "Your Love Is King" is my ringtone for Christian - only for Christian.
FUCK YOU.  Christian is obviously not that busy with work, or else he wouldn't have come up on deck to spy on you, allegedly for your own good. "Your Love Is King?" That doesn't mean that he's literally your lord and sovereign. The fact that you want him to be? Means you're a fucking idiot, and I hope you drown. Also, the "I sigh" part was italicized. Meaning Ana's internal thought included, "I sigh?" What? How is this even happening? Why are other writers not committing suicide in droves after having read this piece of shit? This book is like proof that world is bad and people are too stupid to know what's good for them.

At this point, I accidentally spilled coffee on the book, and I swear to Christ, I felt bad for the spilled coffee, that it now has to be a part of this mess.

Ana verbally prostrates herself before Chedward via phone, telling him that she won't ride the jet ski again, even though it was fun.
He sighs. "Well, far be it from me to curtail your fun, Mrs. Grey. Just be careful. Please."
Oh my! Permission to have fun!
I wish both of you were dead. Also, the phrase "curtail your/the fun" was used just a page ago. I guess there was a gas leak in the copy editor's office, then?

Ana gets in the car and sets out to go shopping. At no point in this whole "riding a jet ski" thing did her shoes or clothes get wet? I'm sorry, but I've been on my fair share of jet skis. It's not a dry activity. I mean, you can avoid getting totally soaked, but her shoes at the very least would be sopping. At least that will account for all the icy stares the evil!blonde shop assistants will be giving her.

Hey, ever notice how the evil!blondes looking askance at her in businesses are always like, the shop assistants? Not managers or owners? Probably because they've got vaginas, amirite?

Once she's out shopping, Ana remembers that she hates shopping, and refuses to go to all the fancy stores, opting instead for some place touristy, where she buys a five euro bracelet.
This is me - this is what I like. Immediately I feel more comfortable. I don't want to lose touch with the girl who likes this, ever. Deep down I know that I'm not only overwhelmed by Christian himself but also by his wealth. Will I ever get used to it?
Boy, I hope this entire fucking book is about how hard it is to be rich and what a terrible burden that is to bear. I mean, I'm struggling to keep food in the cupboards, but tell me, fictional character, how you don't ever want to lose touch with the simplistic side of yourself that drove your rich roommate's Mercedes and never had to pay rent a day in your life. I can see why  your integrity and fiscal humility are so important to you.

Ana thinks she needs to get Christian something to take his mind off the fire at his office. Here's a souvenir keychain, sorry your job burned? Yeah, that should work.
When I spy an electronics store, our visit to the gallery earlier today and our visit to the Louvre come back to me. We were looking at the Venus de Milo at the time... Christian's words echo in my head, "We can all appreciate the female form. We love to look whether in marble or oils or satin or film."
It gives me an idea, a daring idea. I just need help choosing the right one, and there's only one person who can help me. I wrestle my BlackBerry out of my purse and call Jose.
"Who...?" he mumbles sleepily.
"Jose, it's Ana."
"Ana, hi! Where are you? You okay?" he sounds more alert now, concerned.
"I'm in Cannes in the South of France, and I'm fine."
"South of France, huh? You in some fancy hotel?"
"Um... no. We're staying on a boat."
"A boat?"
"A big boat," I clarify, sighing.
"I see." His tone chills... Shit I should not have called him. I don't need this right now.
Further evidence that Ana is a shitty, selfish friend (as if we needed more): upon ignoring time zones and calling her friend on the west coast of the United States, a full TEN HOURS behind, wakes him up, and sighs at his confusion when she said "boat" instead of "yacht," she's mad at HIM for the way he reacts to her doing all this. But she still asks for his advice. I'm relieved it was just advice, I was worried she would call him and be like, "Get on a plane and get here immediately to take naked photos of me so my husband can have you murdered."

After a paragraph break, Ana is back on the boat, wrapping Christian's present. Raise your hand if you've ever taken wrapping paper, tape, and scissors on vacation with you. That's what I thought.
"You were gone some time." Christian startles me just as I am applying the last piece of tape. I turn to find him standing in the doorway to the cabin, watching me intently. Am I still in trouble over the Jet Ski? Or is it the fire at his office?
Why, did you set the fire at his office? I would like you better if you did, Ana. You can tell me, you are among friends.

Ana gives Christian the gift, which is a camera. It is also the emblem of all of Ana's insecurities:
"Today in the gallery you liked the Florence D'elle photographs. And I remember what you said in the Louvre. And, of course, there were those other photographs." I swallow, trying my best not to recall the images I found in his closet.
So, this is less about hot erotic sexy times, and more about trying to erase Christian's sexual past. That's healthy. Christian asks Ana why she thinks he'd want to take naked pictures of her, which, let's be honest, isn't the most reassuring thing a dude could ask you when you've just offered to let him take naked pictures of you. But at least Chedward has a good reason for asking:
"For me, photos like those have usually been an insurance policy, Ana. I know I've objectified women for so long," he says and pauses awkwardly.
Leaving aside how stupid it is to have such an insurance policy - "How dare you tell people I like kinky sex! I have no choice but to release these photos of us having kinky sex to defend myself from such spurious allegations!" - he's not really owning up to the objectifying being bad here. He just doesn't want to objectify Ana, because she's his wife, and the theme of this book seems to be, "it doesn't matter what the man you love did to all those other whores, he's not going to do it to you because you're pure and virginal and good, and the power of love makes you special and not a whore." So, Genevieve's Taylor Swift comparison is starting to make more sense all the time.
"I am so confused," he whispers. When he opens his eyes again, they are wide and wary, full of some raw emotion.
Shit. Is it me? My questions earlier about his birth mom? The fire at his office?
OH WAS THERE A FIRE AT HIS OFFICE I HADN'T HEARD UNTIL JUST RIGHT NOW ABOUT THE FIRE THAT HAPPENED AT HIS OFFICE WHEN HIS OFFICE WAS ON FIRE DURING THE FIRE AT HIS OFFICE WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
"Why do you say that?" I whisper, panic rising in my throat. I thought he was happy. I thought we were happy. I thought I made him happy. I don't want to confuse him. Do I? My mind starts racing. He hasn't seen Flynn in nearly three weeks. Is that it? Is that the reason he's unraveling? Shit, should I call Flynn? And in a possibly unique moment of extraordinary depth and clarity, it comes to me - the fire, Charlie Tango, the Jet Ski... He's scared, he's scared for me, and seeing these marks on my skin must bring that home. He's been fussing about them all day, confusing himself because he's not used to feeling uncomfortable about inflicting pain. The thought chills me.
Damnit, I still have to finish this book, and now it's going to smell like a goddamn campfire.

Ana. You don't realize this, because you're the victim of abuse, but CHRISTIAN SHOULD FEEL BAD ABOUT YOUR BRUISES BECAUSE HE'S THE ONE WHO PUT THE BRUISES ON YOU. REMEMBER HOW MAD YOU WERE ABOUT THEM?!
"Christian, these don't matter." I hold up my wrist, revealing the fading welt. "You gave me a safeword. Shit - yesterday was fun. I enjoyed it. Stop brooding about it - I like rough sex, I've told you that before."
Oh. So. No, you don't remember.

Here's the thing. Safewords only work if you know what's going on in the situation. She didn't know he was leaving bruises. It isn't unreasonable to ask that a partner not leave marks on you during a BDSM encounter, okay? Some people bruise more easily than others, and sometimes shit happens by accident, but what he did to Ana was on purpose, specifically to disfigure her so she couldn't display her body/his property, and she did not want him to do it. That's not a part of BDSM or rough sex. That's a part of fucking abuse. Mark up your sub all you want, so long as it's clear that s/he isn't going to mind it. That shouldn't be difficult for the guy who wanted all their sexual activity documented in triplicate before they could even vanilla bang.

Ana decides that if he won't objectify her, she'll objectify him, so she starts taking silly pictures of him:
"Well, it was supposed to be fun, but apparently it's a symbol of women's oppression." I snap away, taking more pictures of him, and watch the amusement grow on his face in super close-up. Then his eyes darken, and his expression changes to predatory.
"You want to be oppressed?" he murmurs silkily.
"Not oppressed. No," I murmur back, snapping again.
"I could oppress you big-time, Mrs. Grey," he threatens, his voice husky.
You mean besides using her sexual inexperience to exploit her, rushing her through all the pesky steps of a normal relationship so she's legally bound to you before she has a chance to think things through, and physically abusing her to keep her in line with your control freak behavior? Is there anything left to oppress her with? Do you want to sabotage her birth control, too?

So, because joking about how silly feminism is gets them hot, Christian starts tickling Ana, and then it turns into sex. Because everything turns into sex with these idiots:
I stare up at his dear, dear face bathed in the intensity of his gaze, and it's as if he's seeing me for the first time.
Then Christian kisses her, and he's all, "'Oh, what you do to me,'" because he hasn't said that in this book yet. He gets them quickly bottomless, and then:
He holds my head and with no preamble whatsoever he thrusts himself inside me, making me cry out - more in surprise than anything else - but I can still hear the hiss of his breath forced through his clenched teeth.
I was about to say, "That would hurt both of them," but then I remembered that Ana has an ever ready, autolube vagina. And then she has the biggest orgasm ever, blah blah blah, we've read this before. Then Ana asks him what's wrong, and when he won't talk, she starts reciting their wedding vows to make the point that he needs to communicate with her. Then, he starts reciting their wedding vows back at her:
"I promise to love you faithfully, forsaking all others, through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, regardless of where life takes us. I will protect you, trust you, and respect you.[...]"
There's more to those vows, but I just want to point out that already, on their honeymoon, he's broken the protect, trust, and respect part. He didn't even make it a full month before breaking his vows.

Christian tells Ana that the fire at his company was arson, and he's afraid that if they're trying to get him, they'll come after Ana. I like how the first thought isn't, "I bet it's some pissed off ex-employee who was trying to cause trouble after being let go." No, it's, "Someone set fire to the server room while Christian Grey was out of the country, they must be trying to kill him."

Okay, because this book is shitty and stupid, we know that's exactly what's going on, but Jack Hyde needs to get better at murdering. He sat outside Christian's parent's house all night at the end of the last book, he couldn't just, I don't know, top of my head here, bring a gun and shoot him when he left? Instead, he waits for Christian to get married, go out of the country on vacation, and then he sets fire to the server room? How many CEO's spend time in the server room of their company? How many CEOs actually work in the same building as their company's servers? I'm a better assassin than Jack Hyde. I bet I could kill Christian and Ana in a day, day and a half, tops. For starters, my attempt would happen in the place where my targets actually, you know. WERE.

Then they talk about how Christian wasn't tickled as a child or something, and Christian asks where she wants to go eat, and she says she wants to go wherever he does, and I guess they go across the country, because after the section break it says this:
We wander through the opulent, gilt splendor of the eighteenth-century Palace of Versailles. Once a humble hunting lodge, it was transformed by the Roi Soleil into a magnificent, lavish seat of power, but even before the eighteenth century ended it saw the last of those absolute monarchs.
First of all, Versailles and the building Louis XIV did on it dates to the seventeenth century, you ignorant twat. Second, I didn't realize they served fucking lunch there, and it's no where near Cannes, so I guess this is a flashback? Thanks for cluing the reader in, E.L.

It should really speak to the quality of my character that I'm more pissed off about the botched French history in this paragraph than I have been about all of the misrepresentation of BDSM, the glorification of abuse, and the anti-feminism of the entire series combined.
The most stunning room by far is the Hall of Mirrors.
Built during the third building campaign and begun in 1678, completed before the eighteenth century, just a heads up, E.L. and also HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN THE FUCKING CHAPEL? THE MOST STUNNING BY FAR IS THE HALL OF MIRRORS? HAVE YOU NO EEEEEEEEEYYYYYEEEES?!
"Interesting to see what becomes of a despotic megalomaniac who isolates himself in such splendor," I murmur to Christian as he stands at my side.
He dies of gangrene after a long and prosperous reign in which France sees sweeping technological and industrial reform? BECAUSE YOU'RE THINKING OF THE WRONG KING ANA.
"I would build this for you," he whispers. "Just to see the way the light burnishes your hair, right here, right now." He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "You look like an angel."
And then he buys Versailles for her.

Totally kidding. But couldn't you see it going down that way? Nothing else in this book is believable or correct, why shouldn't he just write a check and give Ana Versailles?

There's another section break, and then they're actually at lunch. Christian asks Ana what she's thinking about, and she says she's thinking about Versailles, so I guess that was a flashback. For no reason, by the way, except to set up a "nightmare" Ana has later. Seriously. Nothing earth shattering happened at Versailles (well, to Ana and Christian, at least), but because it's a cool setting for a nightmare, we had to endure that flashback full of historical misinformation about one of my absolute favorite monarchies in European history. It's like this book was written as a direct slap in my beautiful, beautiful face.

Ana decides to catch up on her emails:
There are e-mails from my mom and from Kate, giving me the latest gossip from home and asking how the honeymoon is going. Well, great, until someone decided to burn down GEH, Inc....
I love that the abbreviation for Christian's company is phonetically the exact sound I make every time I turn a page of this POS.

Kate has sent her an email asking about the fire:
Kate is online! I jump onto my newfound toy - Skype messaging - and see that she's available.
I will never understand people who use Skype to instant message. I know you're probably out there reading this right now, going, "What's wrong with Skype messager?" but listen. Skype is the technology that has been peddled to us since The Jetsons, and we're using it to IM people? Why not just open up Skype and make a video call? It's not like you can't afford it, Ana.

Kate asks Ana about the fire, and rather than using this conversation to further the plot in any way, we just read about how about no one knows anything still. No new information is revealed, it's just the same shit we already know, but instead of Christian telling it to Ana, it's Ana telling it to Kate. We do learn, however, that Kate knows about the whole D/s aspect to the relationship, because she asks how the "ex-dom" is:
Trust Kate to be on the trail of this story. I roll my eyes and shut Skype down before Christian sees the chat. He wouldn't appreciate the ex-Dom comment, and I'm not sure he's entirely ex...
I sigh loudly. Kate knows everything, since our tipsy evening three weeks before the wedding when I finally succumbed to the Kavanagh inquisition. It was a relief to finally talk to someone.
Ana, you're a shitty friend. Kate expresses concern over the fact that your new husband's business was on fire, and you think she's just out to gossip. You spill the beans about your relationship to her and you acknowledge the fact that you're glad you did, but you blame her for finding out? Fuck you, Ana. You're the worst friend ever and I hope Kate won't participate in the 48 Hours episode they're going to make after Chedward kills you.

There's a section break before Ana's "scary" "nightmare" that we had to get wrong information about Versailles for:
I am in the Hall of Mirrors and Christian is standing beside me, smiling down at me with love and affection. You look like an angel. I beam back at him, but when I glance into the looking glass, I'm standing on my own and the room is gray and drab. No! My head whips back to his face, to find his smile is sad and wistful. He tucks my hair behind my ear. Then he turns wordlessly and walks away slowly, the sound of his footsteps echoing off the mirrors as he paces the enormous room to the ornate double doors at the end... a man on his own, a man with no reflection... and I wake, gasping for air, as panic seizes me.
Jesus Christ, even her nightmares are boring.

Blah blah blah, he's there for her, he soothes her, blah blah, chapter is over.

4 comments:

  1. This review is just so many levels of great. I just sat here laughing the entire time--you are awesome!

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  2. I absolutely love that he has no reflection but THIS BOOK TOTALLY ISN'T A FANFIC ABOUT VAMPIRES.

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  3. I halfway thought he was going to buy Versailles.

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  4. Well, since Twilight turned Biology inside out and let its entrails to feed the crows, of course Fifty Shades had to do it with History. You see, they're similar even in the parts that E.L. James didn't consciously copy.

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