Sunday, March 24, 2013

50 Shades Freed chapter 11 recap, or "That chapter where there was nothing funny to say, because it's too fucking sad."

In case you missed it, this weekend is the The Boss read-a-long at That's What I'm Talking About. After this incredibly depressing recap, maybe stopping by there might lift your spirits a little.

I was in such a good mood when I started recapping this chapter. I was in the middle of a really bad day, pain-wise, so I was good and medicated (I know I have some new followers to the blog, so quick explanation: I'm disabled due to chronic illness and permitted by the state of Michigan to use marijuana as a pain relief method). I was pretty laid back, feeling chill, listening to the new Bowie album, thinking, "Right, I remember this chapter. This is the one where they went back into the Red Room of Pain." Because it's been a while since I've read this chapter, (and honestly, by the time I was finished reading all these books, it was like everything had blended together into this stew of horrible and sad and angry), I was thinking, "This isn't a very bad one, if I remember correctly."

I did not remember correctly.

So, Ana has just gotten home, and Christian is wearing "those" jeans, the all ripped up ones he only wears in the Red Room of Pain, and told Ana he'd been waiting for her. At the beginning of this chapter, Ana is all like, what's up with this, but mostly she's all, OMG HE'S SO HOT:
He looks hot - his jeans hanging that way from his hips. Oh no, I'm not going to be distracted by Mr. Sex-on-Legs.
Place your bets now as to whether or not she's going to be distracted from her conviction to talk about their earlier fight.

Ana realizes that Christian is still mad. If you've forgotten, allow me to rehash for you why Christian is mad: He made a spur-of-the-moment, cross-country flight to try and stop his wife from spending time with anyone but him, and she dared to call him on it. That's why he's mad.
"I understand you have issues, Mrs. Grey," he says silkily, and he pulls something from the back pocket of his jeans.
"Let's fuck about them," is not his next line, but it might as well have been. He's got her email, and his eyes "blaze bright with anger."

Remember, his eyes "blaze bright with anger," because his wife went out with a friend without his permission.
"Yes, I have issues," I whisper, feeling breathless. I need distance if we're going to discuss this. But before I can step back, he leans down and runs his nose along mine. My eyes flutter to a close as I welcome his unexpected, gentle touch.
Emphasis mine. "I need," followed by "but." She needs this, but he won't give it to her. And note how his "gentle touch" is "unexpected." Was she expecting an ungentle touch? Sounds a lot like she is.

We already know E.L. James does not consider this relationship abusive. So marvel at how fucking creepy it is that she managed to write such a incredibly realistic portrayal of abuse. By accident.

Christian says he has issues, too, and Ana says she's knows. Then:
Are we going to fight? I take a precautionary step back. I must physically distance myself from him - from his smell, his look, his distracting body in those hot jeans.
 E.L. writes that Ana has to step back because she's just so turned on by Christian. Even if we were to take this totally at face value - that her "precautionary step back" is out of a need to clear her head of desire, not fear that he's going to physically harm her - he's still being abusive. He's trying to distract her from their very real problems by coercing her to have sex and forget all about it. He's not respecting her needs at all, and he's being very forceful about denying her needs.
"Why did you fly back from New York?" I whisper. Let's get this over and done with.
"You know why." His tone carries a warning.
"Because I went out with Kate?"
"Because you went back on your word, and you defied me, putting yourself at unnecessary risk."
The unnecessary risk of going out with a friend, with an armed security detail.  Keep in mind, Michelle Obama, our president's wife, can shop at fucking Target if she wants to, but Ana is taking unnecessary risk by having drinks with a friend.

But Ana doesn't appeal to Christian's rational sense here:
"Christian, I changed my mind," I explain slowly, patiently, as if he's a child. "I'm a woman. We're renowned for it. That's what we do."
No, Ana. No, no, no. The situation is wrong because of his actions, not because he misunderstands a stereotype about female fickleness. And herein lies the problem: millions of women have read that line and thought, "Right on, girlfriend!" and believed this to be an example of feminism. It is not. Relying on misogynistic stereotypes to excuse female behavior isn't empowering. It's a cop out, a way to appeal to the misogynist while passively asking to be forgiven for our feminine natures. The problem isn't that Ana is just too weak and flighty by virtue of her gender to do as Christian expects. The problem is that Christian has unrealistic and abusive expectations.
"And you didn't think to call me?" He glares at me, incredulous, before continuing. "What's more, you left the security detail short here and put Ryan at risk."
If she had called him, he would have just come back, anyway. Probably not in time to stop her from going out, but in time to punish her when she got home. And since when is it Ana's responsibility to keep the security team safe? Aren't they there to keep their employers safe?
"I should have called, but I didn't want to worry you. If I had, I'm sure you would ahve forbidden me to go, and I've missed Kate. I wanted to see her. Besides, it kept me out of the way when Jack was here. Ryan shouldn't have let him in."
Sometimes when I read a book, I'll hit a line that reads like an editor's note. I can almost see this in a comment in the margin: "But if she had called him, wouldn't he have forbidden her from going out anyway? And shouldn't he be happy that she was out, when Jack was there? Wouldn't he be mad that Ryan let Jack in?" And then I imagine E.L. looking at that note, not wanting to do the work to fix the problem, and then just throwing in Ana's dialogue there, followed up by:
Christian's eyes gleam wildly, then shut, his face tightening as if in pain. Oh no.
Because the reader, as in love with the character as the author is, will obviously shift their focus from the logical inconsistencies in the plot to worry about Christian's hurt feelings. This is a common mistake for inexperienced writers. Almost all of us do it at some point in our writing. But here, it's just the worst, because we're looking at Ana putting aside her very real and legitimate concerns because the situation that Christian has made is hurting him so much more than it is hurting her. This is a manipulation abusers often rely on, the "yes, I hurt you, but you hurt me, too, and you hurt me worse," gambit that Christian has deployed more than once in this series.
"But it could have. I've died a thousand deaths today thinking about what might have happened.[...]"
Emphasis mine. Right there we see the bare bones of his manipulation. "What might have happened" is worse than "what I did." Imagining that she might have been hurt by Jack Hyde is supposed to appear, to Ana and to the reader, much, much worse than being imprisoned by your husband and kept away from your friends.
"I don't know how to deal with this anger. I don't think I want to hurt you," he says, his eyes wide and wary. "This morning, I wanted to punish you, badly, and - " He stops, lost for words I think, or too afraid to say them.
"You were worried you'd hurt me?" I finish his sentence for him, not believing  that he'd hurt me for a minute, but relieved, too. A small part of me feared it was because he didn't want me anymore.
Ana is relieved that he didn't reject her out of lack of sexual interest. It's better, in Ana's mind, that he's afraid of losing control out of anger and seriously hurting her.

Consider that.

The heroine of the best-selling "romance" of all time would prefer an abusive "hero" over one who wasn't "in the mood."

Women are buying this. Women are gleefully buying this and envying Ana.

We're doomed. The entire fucking human race is doomed. And we probably deserve to be.
"Christian, I know you'd never hurt me. Not physically, anyway."
No, you don't know that. There are numerous examples in this book alone, never mind the first two books, where you are afraid of him, of what he'll do, where you ask him if he's going to hurt you or if he wants to hurt you. I know my husband would never physically hurt me. He's never threatened to "beat the shit out of me." I've never had to ask him if he wanted to hurt me. You only have to ask the question if you don't know the answer, Ana.
"Yes. I knew what you said was an empty, idle threat. I know you're not going to beat the shit out of me."
"I wanted to."
"No, you didn't. You just thought you did."
Here, abuser. Have permission to express how much you want to cause me physical harm. I don't mind, and no sane woman ever would. Because you are the perfect hero, and I know in my heart of hearts that I love you so much you will change through the power of my denial.
"Think about it," I urge, wrapping my arms around him once more and nuzzling his chest through the black T-shirt. "About how you felt when I left. You've told me often enough what that did to you. How it altered your view of the world, of me. I know what you've given up for me. Think about how you felt about the cuff marks on our honeymoon."
Think about all the times you've abused me before, and how really, really bad you felt about them later. Even though I've just cited them as being recurring episodes, I fully believe you won't ever do it again. Even though I believed that after the first time, too. I'm sure this time, everything will be different.
Why do I have more faith in him than he has in himself?
Ana, have a sit-down with Tough Love Jen. The reason you have more faith in him than he has in himself is because you're willing to believe anything, so long as you don't have to confront the fact that you've married your abusive boyfriend and the wedding didn't fix anything, he's continuing to abuse. You thought that by giving in to his temper tantrum over wanting to marry you, he'd magically change into someone else. But he's never going to be satisfied, Ana. He's going to make more and more demands on you, and you'll keep capitulating, because you believe he's going to change. Every single time you give in to something he wants, he's just going to want more, until there's nothing left. You aren't changing him, he's changing you.

Sorry to be so brutal, guys. This chapter just has me incredibly down.

Then they laugh over the fact that they don't have a sex contract, so he can't hit her. Christian wants to go to bed, Ana wants to talk about the fact that he's been keeping her ignorant of -


I spilled a potsticker in the book.

And I really don't want to touch this thing with my mouth.

Ana wants to talk about the fact that Christian has been keeping her ignorant of the stuff going on with Jack Hyde. One might make the case that had she known the severity of the stuff happening, she might have chosen to stay home. But then she would have been present for the big fight, and in these books, all action must happen off screen, because it is more interesting that way. He tells Ana that the added security is necessary because Jack had all this stuff on his computer about every member of the Grey family, especially Carrick.
"I didn't know he was going to attempt to burn down my building, or - " He stops.
When Ana asks him about that "or" later on down the page, Christian responds by changing the subject to whether or not she's eaten:
"Did you eat today?" His voice is sterner and his eyes frost.
I'm betrayed by my flush.
I don't know how, because she is constantly flushed.
"As I thought." His voice is clipped. "You know how I feel about you not eating. Come," he says. He stands and holds out his hand. "Let me feed you." And he shifts again... this time his voice full of sensual promise.
Rather than answer her question - and rather than admit he was in the wrong for hiding details that concern her personal safety - Christian turns the conversation to something he's perceived as Ana doing wrong.
I open one eye and see him take a plum-colored silk scarf out of the back pocket of his jeans. It matches my dress. Holy cow. I look quizzically at him. When did he get that?
He probably stole it from Kate, just like the dress.
"Christian - " He places a finger upon my lips, silencing me. I want to talk.
"We'll talk later. I want you to eat now. You said you were hungry." He lightly kisses my lips. The silk scarf is soft against my eyelids as he ties it securely at the back of my head.
You're doing marriage wrong. You cannot fuck your relationship problems away, Christian. No matter how elaborately you tie her up, no matter what music you play, you are still using D/s power games to avoid confronting the real issues in your marriage.
"Can you see?" he asks.
"No," I mutter, figuratively rolling my eyes. He chuckles softly.
"I can tell when you're rolling your eyes... and you know how that makes me feel."
First of all, how does one figuratively roll ones eyes? And how can Christian tell she's done something figuratively? You can roll your eyes behind a blindfold, E.L. That doesn't make it "figurative." I'm at the point where I don't think the author knows what literally half of the words in her manuscript mean.

Then Ana points out she wants to talk, and Christian teases her about it:
"Such impatience, Mrs. Grey. So eager to talk." His tone is playful.
"I must feed you first," he says and brushes his lips over my temple, calming me instantly.
Okay, maybe there was one funny thing that happened in this chapter. When I read him saying, "I must feed you first," I immediately heard it in the voice of Antonio Banderas as the Nasonex Bee.

I must feed you... some delicious Nasonex.

The next paragraphs describe the sounds of Christian microwaving something and putting stuff in the toaster, while Christian tells Ana to stay still and behave. So, in other words, don't talk, even if we're in the middle of a fight, because I'm hoping to avoid working on any of our problems together.

Here, I will diverge from the abusive relationship to bitch about something else:
A loud twang of a guitar begins a song I don't know. Christian turns the volume down to background level. A man starts to sing, his voice deep, low and sexy.
Ana never knows the names or artists of the songs, unless she's holding the iPod in her hand (like when they were in the car on the way to go gliding in Georgia, and... wait, there's some more of Christian Grey's god complex, she can't go drinking with her friends because it's too dangerous, but an engineless light aircraft is fine because she's with him). Remember this, I'm going to bring it up again in a few pages.
Cool crisp wine flows into my mouth. I swallow reflexively. Oh my. Memories flood back of not so long ago - me trussed up on my bed in Vancouver before I graduated with a hot, angry Christian not appreciating my e-mail. Hmm... have times changed? Not much. Except now I recognize the wine, Christian's favorite - a Sancerre.
That's really the important thing here, isn't it? That she now can recognize wine while blindfolded? Not the fact that times have literally not changed, because they haven't been together long enough for Daylight Savings Time to affect the clocks. Their entire dating and married life has taken place in a span of months, despite the fact that he's emotionally fucked up and Ana is continually unhappy in the relationship. He pushed her to go really fast, and now he's pushing her to get drunk so they won't talk about their problems. But as long as it's written real sexy-like, that makes it okay and something to aspire to.
His wedding ring clinks against the glass as he takes another sip of wine. Now that is a sexy sound.
Yes, your disempowerment is sure getting  me wet, Ana.
The troubadour on the iPod is singing about wicked games.
First of all, troubadour? Second, how does she not recognize "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaac? It's been in how many movies, tv shows, commercials? It's a fairly famous song and she doesn't recognize it? Again, keep this in mind, because I'm going to bring it up later.

Christian burns himself getting something out of the microwave, then asks Ana to "suck it better," and she does, because they don't know shit about first aid. "Another person's mouth full of foreign bacteria is the perfect place for my vulnerable wound! Very sexy!" Good thing Christian isn't a doctor, or every one of his patients would have staph infections.
After the anxiety and tension of today, and the nightmare of last night with Jack, this is a welcome diversion.
But it's not. We know that it's not because for the past two pages you've been telling Christian that you want to talk, not play sex games. I guess a person's perception shifts when she knows she doesn't have any choice in the matter, anyway. If you can't beat them, join them?
"How mercurial you are."
He stills beside me. "Fifty Shades, baby," he says eventually and plants a tender kiss at the corner of my mouth.
"My Fifty Shades," I whisper.

Christian feeds her, threatens to spank her if she's not good, blah blah blah:
This time it's pita bread and hummus. I realize Mrs. Jones - or maybe even Christian - has been shopping at the delicatessen I discovered about five weeks ago only two blocks from Escala.
I highly doubt that Mrs. Jones, the housekeeper who does all the grocery shopping, did not notice a deli two blocks away.
"Open wide, then bite," he murmurs. I follow his command. Hmm - one of my favorites, stuffed vine leaves. Even cold they are delicious, though I prefer them heated up, but I don't want to risk Christian burning himself again.
She doesn't trust him to use the microwave without burning himself, but she trusts him to tie her up and beat her. Smart!

After she's full, Christian picks her up and carries her off, still blindfolded:
"Playroom," he murmurs.
Oh - I don't know if that's a good idea.
"You up for the challenge?" he asks. And because he's used the word challenge, I can't say no.
Bullshit. I call bullshit on this one. Ana has backed down from numerous challenges in this series. In the rare event that the plot doesn't just twist so she can avoid oncoming conflict, she backs down. For example, in this chapter, when she wants to talk to Christian, but he wants to play sex games, she just blindly goes along with what he wants. She doesn't even think about it, she just does it. Now, she's going to be all Marty McFly and act like being called a chicken is her fucking kryptonite? That is utter bullshit. It hasn't been a part of her characterization up until this point.

Because he's carrying her, Christian comments on her weight:
"I think you've lost weight," he mutters disapprovingly. I have? Good. I remember his comment when we arrived back from our honeymoon, and how much it smarted. Jeez - was that just a week ago? 
I know. It feels like a fucking lifetime.

I hate the weight thing. He disapproved when she had gained a little weight, he disapproves now that she's lost some. And it's only been a week, so it was probably just water weight. Ana isn't even allowed to bloat without shattering Christian's fragile expectations.

They go into the playroom, and Ana thinks:
I want this - whatever he has planned. I want to connect the way we know how.
But you're not connecting, Ana. You're avoiding.

He strips her naked and shackles her to the wooden St. Andrew's cross. There's talk about the citrus and polish smell of the room, and how he's going to drive her wild. But he never explicitly tells her what is going to happen. He tells her they're going to use "some music and some toys," but he doesn't tell her what he has planned. Sometimes, surprise is good, and I'm not saying you have to sit down and plan every scene out to every last detail - "Then I will put my hand on your hip, and then I will pick up the flogger," - but when it's something like what he's about to do to her, yes, the Dom needs to let the sub know what to expect.
The speakers spring to life, and after a moment the strains of a single piano playing a soft, lilting melody fill the room. It's familiar - Bach, I think - but I don't know what piece it is.
This is something that just infuriates me to no end. Ana couldn't recognize a super famous, often heard pop song. Not the singer, nor the title of the song even when the title was part of the lyrics that she specifically referenced. But from a few notes, she recognizes that a piano piece is Bach. I hate the perpetuation of the stereotype that smart people are smart because they don't know anything about pop culture. Not knowing something doesn't make you intelligent. That's the opposite of intelligence. But so many people who shape our entertainment media seem to think that if you don't know who Britney Spears is, but you do know who Beethoven is, it's a mark of great intelligence. It's not. It's a mark of ignorance, and no one should pride themselves on their lack of knowledge. That's asinine.

Also, it makes liking the character very difficult, because it makes them seem not terribly real.

Christian gets Ana all hot and bothered, until she's right on the brink of orgasm, then he takes out a vibrating wand, and then this happens:
He plants soft wet kisses on my shoulder as he withdraws his fingers from me, and moves the wand down. It oscillates over my stomach, my belly, onto my sex, against my clitoris. Fuck, it's intense.
"Ah!" I cry out, pulling hard on the restraints.
My body is so sensitized I feel I am going to explode, and just as I am, Christian stops again.
Okay, so at this point, he's made her almost come, then stopped, three times. The vibrator in question is described as feeling like "a large ball-like object." So we're talking about a Hitachi magic wand.


Seriously? She would come like THAT. She has never used a vibrator before, this is the fucking Cadillac of vibrators, and she's so close to popping off that she feels like she's on the very edge. Bullshit, she just came.

He keeps doing the near-orgasm back off thing (referred to by many orgasm denial aficionados as "edging"), telling Ana that this is how frustrated she makes him:
The buzzing stops and Christian kisses me. He runs his nose down mine. "You are the most frustrating woman I have ever met."
No, No, No.
"Christian, I never promised to obey you. Please, please - "
She isn't enjoying this. At all. And not in a "I'm not enjoying this in the moment but in a few here, I'll be so fucking hot," way:
I can't help but feel I'm being punished. I'm helpless and he's ruthless. Tears spring to my eyes. I don't know how far he's going to take this.
She doesn't trust him. How hot does that get you, reader? She's shackled up and being tortured in a way she couldn't have consented to, because he never asked her if she was open to orgasm denial as a form of play. He has initiated a sexual act without her consent. Basically, this is a rape scene.
He's just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game? No. No. No - I can't do this. I know he's not going to stop. He's going to continue to torture me. His hand travels down my body once more. No... And the dam bursts - all the apprehension, the anxiety, and the fear from the last couple of days overwhelming me anew as tears spring to my eyes. I turn away from him. This is not love. It's revenge.
Sexy, right? You totally want to be with this guy, don't you, reader?

Ana safewords, and Christian stops immediately, unshackling her and taking her to the bed while she sobs uncontrollably. He tells her he's sorry and asks her to forgive him... before asking if she's okay. Because he is his first and foremost concern in this situation.

Christian Grey should not be a Dom. To anyone. Ever.

Because the author is so in love with the "romantic hero" she has created, she has to shift the blame off his shitty actions an onto something else, so the reader can still love him as much as she does:
So much has happened over the last few days - fires in computer rooms, car chases, careers planned out for me, slutty architects, armed lunatics in the apartment, arguments, his anger - and Christian has been away. I hate Christian going away... 
HE NEVER GOES AWAY. He was away for one night, and you two are never fucking apart. Leaving aside the blatant misogyny of "slutty architect," Ana doesn't blame Christian at all for his role in her breakdown. She never does. Thinking back, how many times have we seen Ana use the "so much has happened" line as an excuse to blame everything but Christian's actions for making her cry or get angry or frustrated? And if she does blame Christian, "So much has happened" is used to lump his bad actions in with other, seemingly more serious stuff. Because E.L. can't make this relationship work the way she wants it to work if Ana has too many negative thoughts about Christian. So, rather than alter the hero she's created so that he can become a better man for Ana, she clumsily tries to show the reader that it's everything else in Ana's world that's the problem. Christian is the only good and perfect thing she has, even if it's his behavior and Ana's involvement with him that's causing her so much misery. The whole series is like one long descent down a shit-covered water slide of Ana's sorrow and pain as she loses her entire identity in this man who really deserves to be force-fed into a wood chipper.

Ana asks Christian to turn off the music, and his response is:
"Not a fan of Bach's Goldberg Variations?"
Yes, Christian. That's the problem. Not the fact that she used the safeword on page 248, it is now the second half of page 249 and you have yet to ask her if she is okay. He's not even talking to her at all, except to ask forgiveness for himself, because his emotions are the most important.
"Why did you do that?" My voice is barely audible as I try to process my scrambled thoughts and feelings.
He shakes his head sadly and closes his eyes. "I got lost in the moment," he says unconvincingly.
So... he's lying? That's what that means. He just lied about why he did it.
I frown at him, and he sighs. "Ana, orgasm denial is a standard tool in - You never - " He stops.
Orgasm denial is totally normal and widely used in D/s play. He's absolutely correct. But guess what? A responsible Dom lets his sub know what to expect. He doesn't just spring it on the sub during a moment of heightened emotional turmoil, ie, IMMEDIATELY AFTER FIGHTING ALL GODDAMNED DAY LONG.

Page 250, and Christian still hasn't asked Ana if she's okay. He's still only concerned with making excuses for his bad behavior and asking her not to cry. Because again, the most important person in this relationship is Christian Grey, and Christian Grey will not be held accountable for his actions. I'm sure that if Ana keeps crying, he'll just fire her, like he fires everyone for situations he gets himself into.
What am I going to do with this controlling man? Learn to be controlled? I don't think so...
I do. Because you already are. But again, I'm 100% certain someone is out there thinking about what a great feminist character Ana is, since she thinks internally that she's not going to be controlled while outwardly surrendering all control over herself and completely changing every facet of her life and personality to please a man.
"I never what?" I ask.
"Do as you're told. You changed your mind; you didn't tell me where you were. Ana, I was in New York, powerless and livid. If I'd been in Seattle I'd have brought you home."
I can't. I literally cannot even.
"You have to stop doing this," I murmur.
His brow furrows.
"For a start, you only end up feeling shittier about yourself."
He snorts. "That's true," he mutters. "I don't like to see you like this."
This is Ana's rationale? That he should stop abusing her because it makes him feel bad?
"And I don't like feeling like this. You said on the Fair Lady that you hadn't married a submissive."
"I know. I know." His voice is soft and raw.
"Well stop treating me like one. I'm sorry I didn't call you. I won't be so selfish again. I know you worry about me."
First of all, he's not treating you like a sub, Ana. Submissives generally get treated better by their Dom/Dommes than you do. And you just rewarded him for sexually abusing you. You gave in.

Page 251, and Christian has still not inquired as to how Ana feels or if there's anything he can do to make her feel better. But he does say:
"Your lips are always so soft when you've been crying," he murmurs.
At this point, I feel like this book is victimizing me. I'm sure there are a lot of readers who have had bad situations in their past who feel the same way.
"Deal with it, please. For both our sakes. And I will try to be more considerate of your... controlling tendencies."
So, there we have Ana telling him to not control her, but if he does, she'll just roll with it.
He looks lost and vulnerable, completely at sea.
I feel real fucking bad for him, let me tell you.
This is what this is really about - his fear... his irrational fear for my safety. An image of Jack Hyde slumped on the floor in the apartment with a Glock comes to mind... well, maybe not so irrational, which reminds me...
In which our heroine explains why it's okay for our hero to abuse the fuck out of her, both physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually. Christian Grey has basically EGOTed every abuse category. Well, except religious. I assume that will happen in a later series, when he finds Jesus. Or appoints himself Jesus in the cult he creates and forces Ana to join.

Ana asks Christian about his earlier "or" with regards to Jack Hyde's attempts at malicious property destruction, but first she has to point out that she's talked to his mother about Mrs. Robinson. Christian isn't down with that, but Ana tells him that Grace blames herself for his involvement with Elena. Which is weird, because I distinctly remember Grace blaming Christian for his molestation in the last book. But here I am, looking for consistency in a book that has never once displayed any at all. Ana tells Christian that she didn't talk about it with his dad, and thinks about how she doesn't have "that kind of relationship with Carrick," because of the prenup conversation. So, Ana doesn't like Christian's dad because he tried to suggest a prenup to protect his son? That's mature.

Ana is incapable of forgiving anyone for imagined slights against her (Kate asking too many questions, Mia being overly friendly, strangers looking at her husband, a father giving his son good practical advice) but she can totally forgive Christian for all the shit he's done to her. That's a symptom of abuse, in case you're keeping score at home.

Christian tells Ana about the "or":
"The cops found... things in the van." He stops again and tightens his hold around me.
"What things?"
He's quiet for several moments, and I open my mouth to prompt him, but he speaks. "A mattress, enough horse tranquilizers to take down a dozen horses, and a note." His voice has softened to barely a whisper while horror and revulsion roll off him.
So, basically, Jack Hyde's plan was to drug Ana and rape her. It never says it explicitly, but I'm reading the incredibly unsubtle space between the lines. This is unacceptable to the reader, because only Christian is allowed to rape Ana.

Christian tells Ana that the connection between him and Jack Hyde is that they're both from Detroit. Christian is from Detroit, so is Jack Hyde.

Why, E.L.? Why did you have to bring Detroit into this? Hasn't Detroit suffered enough? With the economic downturn, Kwame Kilpatrick, and the 2003 Detroit Tigers? Why are you dragging your shitty fucking book into the mix? Jerk.


  1. *clears throat* *sings*

    "I have died everyday
    waiting for you
    Darlin' don't be afraid
    I have loved you for a
    Thousand years
    I'll love you for a
    Thousand more"


    Also if you say "Wicked Games" to me, I'm probably gonna go with the song by the Weeknd... I'm not sure I know the other one, actually. *coughs*

    1. I know the Chris Issak 'Wicked Game' song, but The Weeknd track is so so much more appropriate ;P I love that song.

    2. That song is in Twilight?! WHY DO SHITTY VAMPIRES TAKE EVERYTHING I LOVE??

    3. Serenity: It was written for it, dude :P Say what you want, but the soundtracks for the movies are pretty darn awesome.

  2. Ugh. Just... ugh. She is literally crying and scared and thinking/saying "no, no, no please" during sex. I'm trying to imagine this as the movie they are making... how will this NOT translate into marital rape?

    1. Presumably they'll tone it down. Make it sexy struggling with soft light on her lace-covered curves rather than the clear sense of torment we get while reading Ana's thought process. And yes, I just threw up in my mouth a little typing that, but let's face it, placing the emphasis on the visual sexiness of the scene is all that's going to save this tripe.

    2. sadly we probably won't get her actual thoughts on screen. well, not so sadly as the vast majority of the time i want to stab her. but i imagine her inner goddess and inner whateverthefuckelseshe'sgotinthere would be in a room with a rounded top from draped fabric (to look like a BRAIN) and soft focus so you know that it's not real life. so all these thoughts she has that shows how BAD this is will be gone, and it will seem like she's tearing up from lack of pleasure completion and not from feeling tortured, literally.

  3. Now she has to bring Wicked Games into this shitstorm?

    Fuck you, ELJames! Quit fucking ruining music!!!

    1. I feel the same way. That's been my No. 1 sexy song since it came out.

    2. I have adored Spem in Alium for well over 20 years and it makes me cry and that bitch James took it and turned it into something ugly.I hate her for that.

    3. but the idea that it's the Goldberg Variations in this scene is kind of hilarious, since it's Hannibal Lecter's favourite. So this makes me think of the scene in Silence of the Lambs when he's ripping up the two cops. Which might not be the effect EL was going for.

      but I *hate* the way she thinks having Christian say it like that is acceptable. It sounds like a show off namedrop. Not like anything anyone would say.

      and this is Christian of the "eclectic" taste that is basically some really mainstream pop and some really well-known classical pieces EL James heard used in advertisements. I hate that she thinks she can call his taste 'esoteric'. it is not the biggest of her crimes, but it is fucking annoying.

    4. I'm big into classical music, and know a few people who are as well, and we rarely ever say a composer name with the piece unless two pieces have the same name. "Not a fan of Bach?" or "Not a fan of the Goldberg Variations?" would make more sense. We just presume our classical-loving friends know the rest.

      I'm so sad about the soundtrack. My most favorite classical pieces ever will be associated with 50 Shades when the movie is released.

    5. So I actually thought Wicked Games was written by HIM before now . . .

      Incidentally out of the versions I've listened to since then I think Stone Sour's is the best one.

  4. So I like kink negotiation/aftercare/sex-that-doesn't-play-out-as-it-should. In the right hands, it can make for a good plot.

    EL James doesn't have the right hands. That scene should have ended with Ana and Christian having a serious conversation about what they want and what they don't want out of their sex life. NOT about Christian's FEELINGS. He fucked up. Own it, apologize, make sure your partner is okay and fix it.

    God, this book just gets more depressing by the chapter.

    1. It's funny how this recap lined up with next week's chapter of The Boss, because it's about pretty much the same thing.

    2. Ooh, that is exciting news! I just got caught up on the latest chapter. It's a breath of fresh air after the claustrophobia of the 50shades recaps. I went from smacking my forehead against the keyboard to grinning madly. So thanks for that :D

    3. No, this chapter shouldn't have happened. Talking about what they each want out of their sex life should have happened in the very first book. The time to have a bad aftercare scene would have been the first time she needed it. He should have realized then that he hurt her and resolved to correct his behavior. Under no circumstances should this particular chapter have happened.

      I just realized it sounds like I'm mad at you. I'm not. I'm mad at how these books have helped increase the willingness to overlook abuse.

    4. I... think that's what I said? They've been talking, just not communicating. Christian is focused on convincing Ana, Ana hedges and plays at being passive-aggressive (partly because she seems to associate sexual assertiveness with being slutty) and then they end up doing whatever Christian wants, often with disastrous consequences. As in this chapter.

      That said, I really do think there is merit to showing a romantic scene (even a BDSM scene) go wrong for one or the other partner... if the focus is on fixing it. Misunderstandings or hurt/comfort scenarios can and do add tension to a story. The can help show or strengthen the bond between the characters. (Conflict is better for character development than sunshine and roses.) The idea of this chapter in itself? Not terrible. The execution (and you're right, the placement in the narrative)? Don't get me started.

      You're absolutely right that by now they're so entrenched in their roles (Christian's mommy issues are a blank check for him to do whatever he wants and Ana always makes excuses for him) that they couldn't break out if they tried. And also, because the plot and Ana never put their foot down, there's no incentive.

      I read a fanfic ages ago that focused on the idea of two characters entering a sexual relationship expecting different things -- literally, the whole first chapter was bad sex -- and being hugely disappointed. The overarching plot, on the other hand, showed that even after a month of confusion and struggling to communicate, they could still learn to listen to each other because they had the willingness to do it. (Granted, there was no abuse involved and both characters were acting in good faith. None of this 'rawr I want to punish you for disobeying' patriarchal nonsense.)

      How cool would it have been if instead of taking Ana into the Red Room of Pain without any explanation, Christian asked her if she was in the mood, offered her a choice of what they could do together and gained Ana's enthusiastic consent (hell, even incorporated some of her ideas) before they actually started anything? And then show that even though Ana initially consented, something happens halfway through and she starts to panic... at which point, Christian is actually attentive and stops and they wind down together, with him a) telling her that she did nothing wrong, b) making sure she understands they don't have to do any of it again (and that it's okay) and c) ensuring that she's calming down? End with them having a talk about what happened that focuses on what Ana was feeling (since she's the one vulnerable here) and I'd be a puddle of goo (and FEELS, as they say on tumblr.) A romantic hero would care for the heroine we're supposed to identify with. An abuser makes it all about him and how he can't control himself/wants her too much to care about her state of mind/was still angry because of something that happened 24 hours earlier.

      TL;DR I think we're largely in agreement, I just want to underline that I deplore the execution rather than the idea in itself.

  5. This chapter turned me into a squid of rage. I can't believe how terribly written it was. The abuse is strong. Not sure how all these people keep telling me Christian becomes a better person in book three. WHERE?! One of my oldest and closest friends keeps saying this to me. I now worry for her.

    1. Yup, this was the chapter where I actually threw the book across the living room while yelling "OH SWEET JESUS THE MAN NEEDS A RESTRAINING ORDER". The friend who loaned me these books said much the same thing to me and I'm still baffled.

    2. I nearly threw my computer across the room during this chapter. I can imagine myself setting fire to these books if I actually read them. He really needs a restraining order. Lock him up far away and never let him out!

    3. "Squid of rage" is possibly the best thing to come out of this chapter.

      If it didn't mean EL would get even more money off of this bullshit I would love to buy about a dozen copies of each of these books, pile them up and burn them.

  6. I... can't think of a thing to say, so here's a link to a very cute dog.

  7. Badwordbadwordbadwordbadword....

    I LOVE orgasm control/denial and was going to ask for some today and now I can't because this abusive nitwit won't be out of my head before the kids wake up and ARGH.

    Grumph. I know I'm supposed to be annoyed at the terrible relationship and society and all - and I am - but at the moment I'm more annoyed about the derailment of my afternoon plans. Oh well.

  8. Christian Grey should not be a Dom. To anyone. Ever.

    You go Jen! This dude shouldn't even be allowed to roam free in civil society. Frankly, in real life he would be on death row!

    A really spot on review. The sad thing is that so many people love this waste of paper.

    The publishing people could care less about good realistic writing. This book seems to prove it.

  9. "Ana never knows the names or artists of the songs, unless she's holding the iPod in her hand . . . ."

    I believe I can explain this with two words: shitty editing.

    In the Masters of the Universe fanfiction, it's not that Ana/Bella doesn't recognize the song, it's simply that the Wicked Game lyrics are sprinkled in between lines of dialogue as if the song were playing in the background.

    Including even a single line of song lyrics in a work of fiction without the express (and oftentimes wildly expensive) permission of the copyright-holder is a ginormous no-no. Therefore, E.L. James's editor took the lazy (and cheap) route and exchanged the song lyrics with the line you quoted, which is a line that makes Ana seem like a huge dumbass for not recognizing a hugely popular song.

    So, yeah. Shitty editing.

    1. I doubt her editor took the lines out, they probably suggested it to her during revisions. I think it would be odd for an editor to remove that many lines on their own without consulting the author first. But you're right, a single line of lyrics from a song can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the song. The fact that "Wicked Game" is so heavily commercially licensed, it would be pretty expensive to quote. Describing song titles, however, isn't verbotten, so I don't know why they wouldn't just have Ana think of the title of the song.

    2. I think it may get more complicated than that - I know The Maddleman has a character who only speaks in song quotes, and when they adapted it for TV they mentioned having to trim or tweak a lot of his lines to get them within the limits of what was allowed without spending tons of money.

      Whatever the legalities, navigating them would have required certain things, such as "research" and "thinking," which James is clearly allergic to.

      So yeah, lazy editing

    3. C'mon, now, we all know no editor worked on this. Whoever was hired couldn't handle it after the first few pages, and so tossed it bad saying it was fine. Self-preservation and all.

    4. I always laugh at the idea her husband 'proofread' it. Imagine being him, or the editor she names in the acknowledgements. Janet or Janice I think, and knowing that out there is this text making people go 'I do not think that means what you think it means' about eight times a page, and that you have been publicly named as having 'checked' it.

    5. If she paid an editor, that person should never again work near books.

      Also, about licensing, fair use allows short pieces of songs to be used, like single lines, and they have to meet certain criteria. If several lines were sprinkled in, then that won't fly. Sounds like someone caught that.

      I have a pdf of the original crap and couldn't stop laughing at the first couple pages of bad collage work to actually read any of it.

    6. Your post made me think of "The Princess Bride".

      "I do not think you know what that word means."

      Now everything I read is in Manny Patenkin's Inego Montoya acccent. I love that movie. I think I'll watch it now to happy me up.

    7. Actually if you want it from the editor's POV she has a chapter in that 50 Authors on 50 Shades book Jen contributed to. Basically, she washes her hands of it; A)Not much time, B) Instructed to baby the author C)James had final say so whatever revisions she felt she could make delicately probably not hugely headed. The impression is that she did what she could within the limits she was allowed and probably went home to a bottle of wine.

    8. Hasty, shoddy CYA regarding copyright would also explain why Ana recognizes and names Bach, but nothing contemporary. Bach is bound to be in the public domain. Anything recent, you'd actually have to do the research to figure out what and how much is safe to name/quote, so it's easier to just go wholesale vague on anyone who hasn't been dead for a long time.

      Though yes, the resulting effect is one of pretentious "I am so cultured, I only recognize classical composers and not pop culture!"

    9. Now I must go buy that book. So someone was hired as an editor, and basically told not to really do anything. WTF? Why was the publisher kowtowing to Erica already?

    10. And she's writing a 'how to be a writer' book too.

      Let that one sink in.

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  10. "... she loses her entire identity in this man who really deserves to be force-fed into a wood chipper."

    I was wishing for Fifty Shades of Dead, before googling the phrase. Disappointed to learn it was about zombies rather than all the myriad ways you could off Chedward.

    1. Maybe you could call it "Fifty Ways to Get Grey"?

    2. i see "Fifty Ways to Get Grey" as a "how-to get a man like Grey!" type thing.

    3. Fifty Ways to Gank Grey? It keeps the nice alliteration :P

      (Is my Supernatural love coming out too much? I don't know if I've ever head that term used outside of the show...)

    4. I'm familiar with the word "gank" from playing World of Warcraft. It's pretty common in gaming circles/communities/groups.

  11. The more Christian acts like "Sex on Legs" (which I imagine as a gigantic erect penis with two legs sprouting from the testicles, no face, no arms... just a fuckin' dick) the more I scream, "KILL IT WITH FIRE!"

    Seriously. Fire is the best antibacterial for this crap.

    1. Bleach would work too. I wonder if it would dissolve a person if you left them in it for long enough.

      (This book is making me feel positively homicidal.)

    2. HA! I imagined a huge penis with legs too! It seems like E.L. is trying to make this way cool never heard of NICKNAME/METAPHOR for Chedward-only it turns out to be too funny for words!

    3. I hear the expression "sex on legs" a lot. Maybe it's a UK expression? Also we don't usually use the word "sex" for genitals, so it doesn't seem weird to me.

      There was a previous chapter (in book 1 I think) where Jen made fun of E.L. for using the word "bottom", because it's childish. Again in the UK it's not childish, it's just the word for that thing, like "neck" or "breast".

      In conclusion they should just have got an American proof-reader and been done with it.

    4. Chedward should go for a walk through a Mountain Dew factory. I read that it'll take about a week for a mouse to be mostly dissolved when completely submerged.

      If, say, Taylor happened to accidently nudge Chedward toward certain doom over a vat of ready-to-bottle Dew, well, I'd so totally offer a high five and pre-embargo Cuban cigar.

    5. "sex on legs" is common is the US too. i've used it tbh. haha.

    6. Sex on legs is kinda old in the Uk. You're more likely to hear fit, buff or peng to describe someone as attractive.

  12. I have never heard of that "wicked games" song : / I just looked it up on youtube and I still don't recognise it. (maybe because I'm from a different country, idk). And Bach is pretty distinctive. But I do find it odd she NEVER recognises the popular songs, given she's supposed to have been through college...

    1. She also never used a computer, e-mail, the internet, or cell phones. I think by "going through college," she really just walked across the campus a few times.

    2. I'm not trying to WK for this book or anything, but Kate let Ana borrow her (Kate's) laptop whenever she wanted (when Ana receives the laptop in the mail, Kate says something like "you know you can borrow mine whenever you want, right?"). That's the only explanation I could come up with for why Ana could have an iPod but not a computer. I'm still working on a convincing headcannon for why Ana doesn't have her own email address... especially since every university everywhere gives people a *.edu email address once they're accepted.

      Kind of on a tangential but related note... I've had an idea bouncing around in my head for an anti-fic (based around the idea "what if it had been Kate who went to interview Christian?" -- since Chedward is constantly telling Ana how glad he is that she interviewed him instead of Kate.) But when I started writing, it hit me: Ana says that Kate's family is extremely wealthy, and that Kate has been to all the best private schools in Washington state. So then why is Kate going to a regional campus of a state school that doesn't even offer a degree in journalism?? (I looked it up: WSU has the Edward R. Murrow School of Journalism, which according to a press release is ranked in the top 25 journalism programs in the country. But the journalism major is only offered at the main campus in Pullman. WSU Vancouver does have a student newspaper, but no journalism major, and only offers a minor in communication.) I've concocted a backstory in which Kate wasn't accepted to the WSU journalism program and wasn't offered a spot on a wait list, which made her sink into a deep depression. She went to WSU Vancouver to stay close to home, and also so that her credits would transfer easily. She ended up taking a major role in WSUV's student newspaper and stuck around rather than transferring. What do you guys think ...?

    3. How much funnier would that graduation scene have been if they skipped her name during the ceremony and she never received a diploma? We then find out she was never actually enrolled...

    4. Anon 10:51: I would read your ff! Write it! Sounds fun! And shows one more time how EL James didn't think the characters through!

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.


  13. "He's just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game? No. No. No - I can't do this. I know he's not going to stop. He's going to continue to torture me. His hand travels down my body once more. No... And the damn bursts -"


    I really hope that mistake was in the text. Typos are sometimes what keep me going in badfic.

  14. I am so angry I feel like I'm going to have an aneurysm. I hate this book. I hate it so much. I need to re-read chapters 5 and 6 of The Boss to clear my mind.

  15. As a woman who grew up not far from Detroit, I am also sick of it being an excuse for a character to have a 'troubled/terrible' background. Yep, it's been bad, and yep, terrible stuff has happened hear but not everyone who is from that city has a 'troubled' background. Some of us are normal (Or Abby Normal, but whose counting.) It's not even the city with the highest crime rate anymore, I think Flint is higher than Detroit at this point! Now that's a story I want to read.

    1. Sidenote - I'll be going to a library conference in Detroit next year. If I want to see the sights, where should I go, and where should I avoid?

      And now I return you to your regularly scheduled 50 Shades of Fury at EL and her loathsome characters...

    2. Christian/Jack are from Detroit because Edward was from Chicago. To the untraveled Brit, Detroit and Chicago are the only large cities they are familiar with in the US Midwest.

  16. "I hate the weight thing. He disapproved when she had gained a little weight, he disapproves now that she's lost some."

    I'm pretty sure Christian said that he liked that Ana gained weight. And to be fair, he has always encouraged her TO eat and his insistence on the personal training/working out was so that she had enough stamina for his sexual games, not because he wanted her to look a certain way.

    Trust me, I hate these books as much as anyone, for many reasons. But criticism should be about things actually in them because otherwise, the book's defenders just have more ammunition in their "you're all just jealous" campaign. :-)

    Anyway, I think I pinpointed the thing in these books that bothers me the most. It's really the isolation. I've been in my share of relationships. I've experienced the all-encompassing, can't-think-past-the-next-five-minutes kind of passion and love. The result was always that I wanted to include the man in my entire life and be included in his. I wanted to know his friends and family and vice versa. I wanted to go out and be social. I don't get this isolation stuff.

    Well, obviously from Christian's side, it's the abuse. But Ana does it, too. And if she had the power, we'd all be telling Christian to run the other way because she would do what he's doing. And I guess I think they're both abusive. He has the money so he has more power.
    But they're both narcissistic creeps. I hate them both. Really, really, really hate them both.

    And I REALLY hate E.L. James.

    1. It was Ana who was upset at the idea of gaining a couple of pounds. She tells us somewhere she loves being very slim. Another great message to feed to women everywhere.

    2. Yes. It was Ana. I'm not saying her 'tude is OK. Just that it wasn't because of anything Christian said or did, in this case. The one thing he has going for him is that he really never criticizes her appearance at all. For some reason, a lot of people seem to think he does. I heard that a lot before I actually "read" the books myself and realized that doesn't happen.

    3. Yes, he only gets pissed off when she wears clothes that are too revealing for other people to see her in - but that's different. Otherwise he's fine with her wearing the same dress every day and he does praise her 'beauty' a lot (in a vague generic way, so we can self-insert, of course.)

    4. Oh, you know what? I know where I got confused, because looking back, all he says is that she's gained some weight, and she makes it this huge deal that Christian called her fat. You're right, he never once implies that it's a problem, Ana just internalizes it that way.

    5. Well, you know, her beauty is for him and only him, after all.

    6. (Quick Foreword: If I seem noticeably angry in this post, it's not at you guys, it's at these books.)

      The thing that bugs me about that, though, is how Christian KNOWS that Ana feels self-conscious about her weight. Plus, isn't it generally socially unacceptable to criticize someone's weight. In U.S. culture at least, going "Hey, you've put on some weight," is considered rude. So 1) It was just rude to say anyway and 2) Christian knows that pointing out to Ana that she's gained weight is going to make her feel worse about herself. Pointing out someone's weight, particularly to someone with an Eating Disorder, is extremely insensitive and, for people with an ED, dangerous.

      Also, it bugs me in general when he's all "You need to eat more. You've lost weight" disapprovingly, because guess what douchebag? It's her body. Yes, she has an ED and yes her habits are unhealthy (because we've seen her starving herself and know she won't eat when she's hungry,) but him telling her what she should and shouldn't do is still wrong. Even from the beginning when we didn't know about her ED, he's all "You need to eat more." Which, you know what, screw you Christian. You have no right.

      Side note, you ever notice how Ed is a nickname for Edward? It's probably nothing but my brain noticed it (because ED...Ed?) and I thought I'd toss that out there in case it means something to somebody.

    7. Yeah, taken out of context (and imagining a radically different book around it), Chedward's behavior in that scene could have been quite positive and progressive. His wife tries to disparage herself by calling herself fat, and instead of engaging with that either by worrying about her weight gain or by going "oh no, honey, you're not fat!" (thus buying into the idea that being fat is a terrible thing), he just expresses that he loves her and finds her extremely attractive, even if she's fat.

      Okay, so Ana was almost certainly not fat by almost anyone's definition even after gaining a few pounds (given how skinny she was before), but apparently she felt fat (because she clearly has an eating disorder), and instead of arguing with her about how she felt, he chose to take power away from the word "fat" and say "sure, honey, you're fat, and you are totally hot and I find you intensely attractive". Dissociating "fat" from "ugly" and "unattractive" (when so many people still use those as if they are somehow synonyms) is really refreshing.

      Sure, it would have been even more impressive if it had happened with Ana at a weight that would in fact be considered "fat" by most of our society (wherever we want to draw that artificial line). But under the existing circumstances, it wouldn't have been half bad!

      ...except for the fact that this is Chedward, and he's only happy with her weight gain because it reflects her changing her body the way he ordered her to, because he wants to totally control what she eats. Which is just exchanging one form of disordered eating for another.

    8. @ Neurite, Exactly.
      Although I would like to say, that if you're ever engaging with a person with an Eating Disorder, while it's a nice sentiment and well intentioned to say "Sure honey, you're fat, and you are totally hot and I find you intensely attractive," it's something you should never, ever, ever do. Ever. At all. Under any circumstances.

      Eating disorders aren't just about the desire to be skinny. I don't understand all the psychology behind them, but starving yourself, binging and throwing up, or overeating are all coping mechanisms. And people with anorexia, like Ana, are uncomfortable with themselves and constantly think they're too big. Regardless of what the people around them say. It's not about Christian or what Christian wants, it's about Ana's perception of herself and what she wants. It's a flaw in HER thinking that's led to an Eating Disorder and only therapy and a desire to get better will ever help her come to terms with it. Christian telling her he still finds her attractive, while nice, doesn't really amount to much. And if he, in anyway, confirms or agrees that she is, in fact, fat (even if it's just to put a positive spin on it,) she'll just fall into a cycle of starving and punishing herself.

      Note too future story tellers - If you want to put a positive spin on being "fat," have a character fall for a person who's already curvy. Don't have them tell their skinny soulmate that it's okay if they gain weight, because yeah, you're supposed to be in love forever, if a few pounds offset that then it wouldn't be destiny would it.

    9. Absolutely a good point. I was worried about that when I wrote my comment, but it was already so long... but yes, my comment that saying "sure, you are fat, and also totally hot" can be great and empowering is, in reality, only recommended for people without EDs. For someone with an ED, no matter how positive you phrase it, there's a high risk that all they will be able to hear is the word "fat" and it will trigger bad stuff.

      And actually I think that a story where someone's originally skinny love interest gains weight after they start dating and it doesn't change their love/attraction can be positive too - making the point that attraction can span a wider range of body types, and defusing one of the major fears that gets indoctrinated into skinnier women ("if I gain any weight, I will no longer be worthy of love" - because our society's fatphobia doesn't just punish big women, it has to mess with all other women's heads too).

      But indeed, future story tellers, more stories featuring someone falling for a bigger love interest would be excellent. (And just simply books featuring big women as protagonists! Unskinny women exist, and not just as funny sidekicks!) And yes, people (men and women) who think chubby/fat women can be hot as hell exist (including yours truly).

    10. I remember reading a romance book years ago (sorry, can't remember the title) where the heroine had poor self-confidence because she was so "big". The first chapter was all about the problems in her life because she was "big". I actually believed I had finally found a romance novel about someone who was overweight. No such luck. In chapter two, we find out that she's nearly six feet tall and rake thin and all her problems were because she was "too tall". Sigh.

    11. I read a book recently that started out with a "curvy" heroine, and I was really excited about it because you just don't see it that much. As a curvy girl myself (5'9" and around 200 lbs), I appreciate seeing a heroine in a love story being chased by a desireable man.

      Unfortunately, I got to the end of the story and realized that her "happily ever after" included losing the extra weight and being "normal-sized" by the end of the book. I've seen this happen before and it totally throws me for a loop. What is it saying about the heroine? She can't be happy if she's got a few extra pounds on her? The romantic hero can't love her at her heavier size? The American audience can't buy a love story where the heroine is a big girl? I don't get it. There are millions of us big girls all over the world who have our own love stories all the time in real life. My husband is sexy and wonderful and educated and loving and faithful and I'm terribly in love with him. So yeah, it can happen. Big girls need love too, and we get it all the time.

    12. There was (is) a teen book called "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things," where the main character was "curvy" - and though the main plot dealt with her family problems, she did at the end find a guy who loved her for her. So those books do exist. Just few and far in-between. ...But she wasn't happy with her weight at all...

    13. There's a Jennifer Crusie book where the heroine is fat and it doesn't really end with her losing weight or anything.

      Also I should probably go get revising now... XD

    14. "Note too future story tellers - If you want to put a positive spin on being "fat," have a character fall for a person who's already curvy. Don't have them tell their skinny soulmate that it's okay if they gain weight, because yeah, you're supposed to be in love forever, if a few pounds offset that then it wouldn't be destiny would it."

      I agreed with everything you were saying until I got to this bit! I actually think it's important to promote the message that people's bodies change (usually in an embiggening kind of way) over the course of their lives and that gaining weight doesn't instantly unsex you and make your husband think you're hideous. The skinny soulmate might be skinny forever, but she might not, and she certainly won't look exactly the same forever (unless she's Bella Swan...oops). Affirming that she will still be attractive and loveable even as her body changes is a positive message, and one I wish more romance fiction included.

      That said, I *also* like romance with properly fat heroines and/or heroes who stay fat and don't have a problem with it, and I'd like to read more of those *as well*. Kerry Greenwood's Corinna Chapman mysteries, while not romance, have a love story involving an unapologetically fat woman and her spectacularly gorgeous boyfriend and it's wonderful. But I don't think fiction writers should stay away from stories where a character gains weight and is still considered sexy by their partner, not at all. My weight has almost doubled during my relationship with my partner, so I appreciate that he finds me sexy and beautiful at multiple different weights!

  17. Ana comeswhen Christian twiddles her nipples or hits her 'down there' with a riding whip. But not with a giant vibrator? I have a horrible suspicion this is meant to be about how she always comes WHEN HE TELLS HER TO and the super romantic and realistic idea that HIS SPOKEN COMMAND is the crucial factor.

    aaaaaaararrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh (as Ana would say, during sex)

    1. YAY, one more thing Christian gets to control about her life! I would find this totally hot if he didn't also control what she eats (and how much), what she wears, where she goes, if she goes out and who with, what friends she keeps, what facial expressions she makes, whether she works or doesn't work, etc etc...

  18. I am really struggling to figure out why so many women like this book. This isn't sexy, it's horrible. I'm a domme, I've done orgasm denial, and this is not how that is meant to go. Even if you took this scene out of context it would be horrible, but when it's a guy who beat the shit out of her while she was crying earlier...

    It scares me that people use this as porn. I want to drag them all to a therapist.

    1. I was watching actual D/s porn this weekend. The production value was pretty high, so I think it was largely scripted. Right in the middle of a scene the Dom recognized his sub was crying, not a lot because I did not even notice. Everything stopped. I don't believe that was scripted. There were a good five minutes of him making sure she was OK and asking if she wanted to continue. It did not feel like it was the characters, but more like the actor caring about his partner.

      And you know what? It was hot. It did not distract from the sex in any way. It made it real. Maybe ELJ should have watched a bit of this before she "attempted" to write.

    2. Anon2, would you please post a link to that? This is the sort of thing people should see.

    3. I would be happy to, if I was any good at that. But it was on It is called "The Piano Instructor". The bit I mentioned happens maybe 2/3 in. But the whole thing is pretty good. The Dom is very communicative and explains things to his sub through the whole thing.
      I have done some light bondage and my partner and I have taken a few forrays into role play. Our problem is a language barrrier. His English is spotty and mostly technical (he's a chemist) and oddly my German does not extend to sexual terms. So we have been searching a way to communicate our dos and don'ts. The visual aspect of movies seemed the best way to go. This movie was really helpful.

    4. Anon2 STOP. The male actor in that is James Deen (I have an inappropriate crush on him), and he's probably one of the most incredible porn actors in the business right now, especially in his work for He's that way in all of his BDSM work with women, and I highly recommend anything he's been in for (specifically sex and submission). I find that the parts where he breaks scene to check in on his sub are the hottest.

    5. THANK YOU for his name. Stupid xhamster only gave the female actor. I love that guy and I had a feeling that was just how he is in his movies. Now I can look for more of his work.
      I love you knew that from the title!

    6. Like I said, I have an inappropriate crush on him. I don't watch porn frequently, but when I do, it's exclusively James Deen work. You should be able to easily search for him through kink's website and then find the videos on xhamster/xvideo based on his scene partner (they rarely list the male actor on tube sites)

    7. Riley Reid? That one? That guy...HOT. I don't really watch much porn (makes me jealous of my lack of getting any), but I think I could stare at him for a while.

      Did you see one of the comments on 3/14? "50 shades of jism" Made me laugh.

    8. Riley Reid...that's the one. And James Deen...indeed HOT! Someone posted (might have been here, might have been another Fifty Shades of Hate site) that he should play Christian in the movie. Somehow that would upset me more that if some main stream actor I like did it. The idea of a real Dom (and a good one) playing that

  19. Speaking as an actual professional classical musician who knows a lot of Bach, I can say with absolute certainty that I would recognize "Wicked Game" much, much faster than any of the Goldberg Variations - and that's as someone who specifically knows the Goldberg Variations, and not just "stuff that sounds like Bach." Amazingly, being a classical musician does not mean I live in a magical ivory tower in which there is no pop music. I associate with a large number of other classical musicians in the course of my work, and I'm about 99% certain all of them would also have no difficulty in recognizing "Wicked Game." Ana is just a fucking moron.

    Also, I want to punch Chedward for being transparently pretentious enough to say "Bach's Goldberg Variations" in casual conversation, instead of just "the Goldberg Variations" like someone who actually knows music. Not only is Chedward an enormous asshole, he's a *poser* asshole who thinks "while my wife is crying because I just abused her like the pathetic sack of shit I am" is the moment to try to wow her with, "So, did I ever tell you that I'm soooooo swanky and erudite that one time I took a basic freshman music appreciation class, and remember the name of at least one famous composer? I am basically the smartest ever! Next, let's go see a production of Shakespeare's Othello and read a copy of Bronte's Wuthering Heights, because that is totally a way in which people regularly speak!"

    (I can't even deal with the abusive part, so I am focusing on "Chedward is a pretentious moron" because if I focus on "Chedward is an abusive sack of shit and I hope Jack Hyde gets out of jail and sets him on fire and then everyone dances around the Chedward-bonfire and sings Kumbaya, but that won't happen because these books are terrible in every possible way" I'll just be too depressed.)

    1. I think I just unintentionally proved your point (I'm the next comment down). It didn't even occur to me to put "Bach's Goldberg Variations" in my comment. It's not like there's a Beethoven or Liszt Goldberg Variations that you have to differentiate from. I also agree with you completely about how quickly I would recognize the Goldberg Variations. There are 30 of them, for god's sake, and they're insanely complex from a technical standpoint. This isn't Taylor Swift.

      Help me out, here: I wanted to call bullshit on the use of "lyrical" to describe them. I haven't listened to them in a few years, though. Is "lyrical" a term you would use for the Goldberg Variations, or even for Bach in general? Tiny detail, yes, but it's the kind of thing I notice, and the kind of thing REAL authors try to get right. Can I call E.L. James out for that, too, or have I forgotten a variation? I can always settle for calling her out on EVERY OTHER ASPECT of these horrible books.

    2. yes! I crossposted with you. I hate that that's the only way EL can think of to confirm Ana's super-special sensitive ears that can recognise Bach were correct.

      I know a lot of classical musicians too, and they all like and listen to pop.

    3. I wouldn't call them "lyrical" at all, but if E.L. James were a better writer I'd probably let that one pass as "Ana isn't actually a music nerd or anything, and I guess she COULD theoretically interpret them as being particularly emotionally expressive for her, personally, even if that seems weird to me."

      Given the overall quality of E.L. James's writing, though, I'm inclined to believe that she (a) has never actually heard the Goldberg Variations, and just thinks they're a thing rich people probably listen to, and (b) has no fucking idea what the word "lyrical" means in the first place. (Maybe they're just figuratively lyrical, like Ana's figuratively rolled eyes?)

    4. Just the fact that in the first book she was completely familiar with Brittney Spears but doesn't know Wicked Game is enough for me to think she's an idiot. But it COULD be an age thing. She's 22 and I'm 36, so I don't think she was even born yet when that song came out and it isn't as widely played these days ...

      Even so, between the two, one is definitely far superior.

    5. I suppose it depends what you mean by lyrical. Expressive, emotional? Does Bach's precision interfere with his expression? I'm not sure. I am sure that EL has absolutely no clue, and wouldn't know lyrical if it stood up in her soup.

    6. the other explanation for Chedward saying 'Bach's' is that he assumes Ana won't know it. Which is equally repulsive.

    7. She actually thinks of it as being lyrical, but later refers to it as being "clinical." So, E.L. doesn't know what at least one of those words mean.

    8. @ Renee, yeah, it's definitely an age thing. I'm 20 and I would probably recognize Britney Spears before Wicked Game. Granted, I would still recognize Wicked Game and, as far as I know, so too would my peers. I wouldn't recognize a Bach song to save my life though - it's all Beethoven to me.

    9. Chedward bonfire!

      Christian's burning Lord. Kumbaya
      Chedward' frying Lord. Kumbaya.
      He smells like hot dogs Lord. Kumbaya
      Let's make s'mores! Kumbaya.

    10. Love the kumbaya!

      neither my husband nor i (we're both 28, i'm not musical but he is) is familiar with wicked game, so I dunno. i'd never in a million years recognize bach, though.

    11. Maybe she's too young to have heard "Wicked Games" when it first came out, but she recognized Roberta Flack's voice and name dropped her. I call "Bullshit".

    12. Thank you for mentioning Wuthering Heights. I've always hated both Heathcliff and Catherine (loathsome, abusive selfish, horrible creatures who thoroughly deserved each other).

      And now I've just realized that 50 Shades is basically the same thing.

      I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or worse.

    13. Funny you should say that, I've always felt the same way about Wuthering Heights. IIRC, it was difficult to read, with the complex interrelationships and the shifting of time perspective. And I couldn't work out where this 'so romantic' relationship I'd heard about was.

      Reminds me of another novel...

      Some of these comments are cracking me up. WAY better than the horrible chapter.

      At least my copy of American Vampire has arrived now, so I have something decent to read, and also I'm a chapter behind on The Boss... the perfect antidote for FSOFU. Cheers Jen, you rock! Feel better soon. :)

    14. My choices of other works Christian might approve of were not entirely coincidental.

      (And I actually like Wuthering Heights a lot, but that's because I never got the impression Bronte was trying to present Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship as anything other than wildly dysfunctional and destructive both to themselves and to everyone around them. The problem with 50 Shades is that it takes an even more destructive and terrible relationship between even more loathsome characters and then presents it not as a giant horror-show that ruins everybody's lives but as a super-fun happy thing to aspire to.)

    15. "The problem with 50 Shades is that it takes an even more destructive and terrible relationship between even more loathsome characters and then presents it not as a giant horror-show that ruins everybody's lives but as a super-fun happy thing to aspire to."

      THIS. I personally have no problem with authors or any creators of a story writing about godawful people in terrible relationships that toxify the very ground they walk on. As long as, you know, they do so without trying to glamourize the negative aspects and make them seem desirable. Call a spade a spade. It's more the marketing as an instruction manual and EL's attitude that piss me off than the content of the book itself. The fact that James gets her dandruff up whenever someone points out the abuse and gives references for their points... ugh. Just, no. EL James, acknowledge what you've created* for what it is. You can still get freaky in the bathtub with it if that's what floats your boat, but don't deny the hard truth that millions of women (and men) have had partners with personalities like Grey's and are called "domestic violence survivors." Or quit humanity. We're all fine with that too.

      *plagiarized. She jumped off one sensationalized abusive dynamic and added sexual and physical violence to it. I honestly never thought a book series could make me RAGE as bad as Twilight. Fuck you very much world for proving me wrong.

    16. YES! The only time I would ever mention a piece of music as "Composer's Blah" in conversation would be if it's like a requiem or something where everyone's version has the same title. I might say "Oh, I was listening to the Mozart Requiem" but I wouldn't say "Oh, I was listening to Carl Orff's Carmina Burana" I'd just say "I was listening to Carmina Burana" (actually, possibly even just "Carmina" because most choristers will assume I mean Carmina Burana even though the word "Carmina" is in other titles as well!). People who don't know the pieces are probably not going to know what you're talking about even if you don't mention the composer, and people who do know them will know who wrote them anyway.

      It's such awkward dialogue. I cannot stand writers who write unrealistic dialogue like this. Do they not actually talk or hear other people talk in their own lives? Do they not read their own dialogue writing aloud and think "huh, that doesn't sound very natural"?

  20. Usually these recaps leave me laughing, or angry, or exasperated at how terrible these books are. This one just left me feeling sick and scared. I'm really starting to wonder about E.L. James, and if this portrayal of abuse IS accidental. It's too real.

    And FUCK her for dragging the Goldberg Variations into this. I love that music, and it deserves better. Although it is specifically referenced as being one of Hannibal Lecter's favorites--they're playing when he kills two people and escapes from prison in The Silence of the Lambs, which seems . . . apt. From now on I think I'll just imagine Chedward as movie!Hannibal. It'll keep things nice and straightforward.

    1. haha crosspost. I just wonder if EL was actually going for this effect.

  21. Also, because I think we all need brain bleach after that, here are two pictures of my dog, who had to wear the Cone of Shame last week thanks to an abscess behind her ear.

    (She's all better now, hooray!)

    1. Oh god the crossed front paws! It just kills me when dogs do that. What a cutie pie! I'm glad she's all better.

  22. ""You know why." His tone carries a warning."

    That creeps me out.

    ""I'm a woman. We're renowned for it. That's what we do.""

    I'm a woman, and I rarely go back on my word to people, as in I've got to get very, very sick or have a car problem that makes getting 30 miles south unsafe at night. So does this make me a man by the standards of 50 Shades?

    "But then she would have been present for the big fight, and in these books, all action must happen off screen, because it is more interesting that way."

    Let's see. In Twilight, Bella passed out at the start of a fight and woke up in a hospital, even though being passed out more than a few seconds usually causes extreme brain damage. In New Moon (that's the second, right?), there's no fighting, just standing around talking. The movie added in a fight to keep it from being too anticlimactic. Eclipse had a fight, but Bella was in a tent, and the small scuffle she witnessed she mostly had her eyes closed through and we were treated to repeated sounds of metal scraping. Breaking Dawn had the largest cop-out I've ever read. Prancing around by the bad guys, deciding they made a mistake, and going home.

    Oh, Jenny, Jenny, Jenny, why would you expect action in these books when Erica's idol won't write fight scenes because they're "too hard"? Duh, they're hard. Practice. I did. Don't wuss out.

    "He tells Ana that the added security is necessary because Jack had all this stuff on his computer about every member of the Grey family, especially Carrick."

    Child sex ring? International drug-running? They're really the ones who shot JKF? What's so bad that all this panic is necessary?

    Detroit? Oh, Honey, I live in Vancouver, and this town is already dumped on enough. The rest of Washington consider this place to be a part of Oregon (and even Craigslist lumps us in with Portland), and Oregon calls Vancouver "Vantucky," as if this place is redneck central. My own friends in Portland tell me I need to move out of "Vantucky" to somewhere "respectable." I can afford where I live and don't feel like worrying about how to buy groceries so I can live somewhere trendy. I pay no income taxes (because Washington has none), and can drive a few miles to do my shopping and pay no sales tax. In Vancouver I can legally smoke all the recreational weed I want, and same-sex marriage is legal here.

    We didn't just get a mention that two characters are from this town. Oh no, some of them lived here for a while and they keep coming back to this place. Number of 50 Shades fans I know who live in this town: 0 Number of 50 Shades fans I know who live in Seattle: 1 Number of people I know who've admitted to reading 50 Shades who live in one of these towns: >30

    1. Thank you, yes! That not-fight in Breaking Dawn is what put me out of Twilight for good. Not the baby-imprinting shit, not the anti-abortion propaganda, the fucking not-fight!

      I remember thinking "Could any writer be worse than this?"

      I didn't mean it as a challenge, E. L. James.

    2. To be fair you can pass out, regain consciousness, and still not remember anything during a traumatic experience (I haven't read Twilight so I don't know if that interpretation would make sense with how it's written). A horrible way to avoid writing a fight scene but at least plausible.

    3. Bella's leg was broken and she was tossed against a wall with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and passed out. By the time she regained consciousness at all, enough time had passed for her to be in the hospital all fixed up and the building she had been in had burned to the ground, something that takes time to do. Toss in a, "Oh, we were wondering when you'd wake up," and you know she didn't pass out for a moment, come to, and just not remember.

    4. it bad I could rationalize the unconciousness in Twilight? 'Cause wasn't there also blood loss and stuff going on? Plus with vampires you can say something like, "Oh, vampire venom is sedating" or something because... vampires.

      I'm much more critical when it's supposed to be "real".

  23. "It oscillates over my stomach, my belly, onto my sex, against my clitoris."

    I'm just shocked she used the word clitoris.

    1. Someone must have told her what one of the bits "down there" was called, and she proudly included the evidence of her newfound knowledge.

    2. Maybe clitoris was on her word-of-the-day calendar.

    3. Maybe she still has no idea what a clitoris is, but read it in one of the twilight fanfics she plagerised and thought it sounded smart.

      My money's on this theory.

  24. 'He stills beside me. "Fifty Shades, baby," he says eventually and plants a tender kiss at the corner of my mouth.

    "My Fifty Shades," I whisper.'

    I'm really confused by this exchange. I thought Ana just called him Fifty Shades in her head? How does he know about this nickname? Not to mention it's the least flattering pet name ever. "No baby, you're /my/ passive-aggressive abuser."

    1. He called himself 50 Shades of fucked up when they first met. He's fairly proud of it at this point so I wouldn't put it past him to use that as his pet name.

    2. Thanks, I have only read the recaps not the books so I forget a lot of stuff... I give people weird in-jokey pet names but at least they're usually complimentary!

    3. In their mind, they are being complimentary. And so so sexy.

    4. They are the least sexy characters I've ever met. I'm so ashamed that people I know and love just can't get enough of these books and think they're fabulous. I have a hard time dealing with this.

  25. This book series angers me so much. I hope Ana's next period happens in a shark tank.

    I must congratulate you on your perseverance Jen :)

    I couldn't even read the third book for fear of heightened blood pressure!!

    These recaps are just too entertaining!

    1. May I please, please start using, "I hope you have your next period in a shark tank" in both conversation and my writing? It's one of the most brilliant things I've heard in a long while.

    2. BRYN!!! Sorry, it always makes me happy to know when my friends are reading the same stuff I am.

      And, yeah, that phrase is awesome.

  26. "Memories flood back of not so long ago - me trussed up on my bed in Vancouver before I graduated with a hot, angry Christian not appreciating my e-mail."

    A hot, angry Christian who didn't appreciate Ana's e-mail also graduated from WSU in 2012? That's not the way I remember it. Oh, E.L., you and your poor grammatical agreement skills.

    If this seems nitpicky, it's because my head would probably fly off my neck if I tried to deconstruct any of the other bullshit that happened in this chapter. Jen, you're doing the Lord's work.

    1. This "not so long ago" moment was barely 10 days after they met for the very first time. Uncomfortable how often it's pointed out that even these characters know they haven't known each other that long.

  27. i'm still in shock that cops were involved in any way...

  28. EL is also missing so many opportunities for comedy here. Imagine if Ana retorted, 'No, not a fan of HANNIBAL LECTER'. Or if Jack's murder supplies were rope, cable ties and coveralls, or whatever it was Ched bought from her all those weeks ago when they first met.

    1. Love the cross-posting, and love that we're on the same wavelenth. Now I want to spend some quality time with Photoshop making Hannibal/Chedward pictures.

      OH MY GOD I just had the best idea. I want to write a crossover fanfic. It ends with Hannibal eating Ana and Clarice shooting Chedward. Or vice versa, I'm not picky. Hell, let's get Hannibal stoned and let him eat them both to satisfy the munchies.

  29. The sad thing is, Christian and Ana's relationship has been textbook abusive so far, but this chapter - I don't know, something feels different. Is it just in my mind or did something in this chapter change everything? And make it worse. Maybe it's because I'm sick and have had a busy and exhausting week, so I'm feeling a bit bleaker than usual, but this chapter just - I feel wrong-dirty-sad.

    Seriously, the fact that this book isn't a psychological thriller makes me feel like I'm trapped in a psychological thriller.

    1. Ana acknowledged not trusting him to stop. It's at this point we know for sure she knows she's being abused, and won't do anything about it. Worse, she's going to try to accomodate his abuse.

      Combine that with how incredibly angry he is she wasn't there when Jack was. He was angry she disobeyed him by going out with a friend, and his anger is "what could have happened" with her in public and that one security guy was left along and in danger. He hasn't acknowledged the danger to her life if she had stayed. The closest is being upset over the mattress in the back of that van. It's clear Ana is nothing more than property.

      Put these together and we have a new severity of the problems.

    2. You're right. And her acknowledging the whole thing makes it worse too. Instead of urging her to realize this relationship's abusive we know she realizes the relationship's abusive and now she's not just going "La la la, this is everything I want." She's in actual distress, being raped and abused by Christian, and we're along for the ride. It's pretty terrifying and depressing, doubly so when you realize there are people out there, especially women, reading this and thinking it's romantic. Or that E.L. James wrote this and thought it was romantic.

  30. So she's basically crying and saying "no" (even if it's only in her head, she's clearly not actively consenting) whilst he's doing the whole orgasm denial thing and she actually thinks "this isn't love, it's revenge," yet women are STILL defending this steaming pile of fresh shit and labelling it romance, rather than abuse?!


    Seriously. So much hate.

    1. "He's just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game? No. No. No - I can't do this. I know he's not going to stop. He's going to continue to torture me. ... I turn away from him. This is not love. It's revenge."

      There's no way this sounds sexy. She knows he won't respect her. It's not role-play, it's not BDSM, it's not love. He is getting his revenge because she went out with a friend, and she knows he won't stop.


    2. i decided to just put that whole thought quote as a "sexy or scary?" question on my facebook. i mentioned that it was a part of a sex scene, and i'm curious as to the reaction.

    3. zionastar, please tell us how it goes! I'm interested.

    4. This 100%. You don't play angry, you just don't. This is a really big no-no in BDSM. People who use physical punishment for disobeying in their D/s relationships always stress to never dish out the punishment if you're angry. I would never play with someone angry even someone I trusted completely, I do a lot of stuff not "safe" (RACK vs SSC, yay for BDSM's love of acronyms) but that's beyond risky and dangerous.

    5. @ zionastar, omg! That is an excellent idea, and I'm going to do it.

    6. Zion, I did that before I posted this, and one person was intrigued in the "wanting to know what happens" kind of way, not he turned on way, and all but one of the rest were creeped out. The remaining one keeps defending 50 Shades and asked why I keep talking about the abuse. I finally got fed up and played the trump card and told her it's so that hopefully her own daughter won't grow up thinking this kind of relationship is normal and good because, while she herself is an adult who recognizes the abuse and still fantasizes about it, pre-teens and teenagers can't so easily identify it. Oh, and she might want to see of her precocious 13-year-old is secretly reading these books yet.

  31. I was going to comment on your post but then I decided that we all need something to make us feel better. Cute cat video!

    1. Thanks, I definitely needed that! :)

      What gets me about this whole series is this: how on earth can *anyone* with even half a brain miss the blatant abuse in these books??? How does the author get away with the 'no, no, it's sexy and fun, and something all women should aspire to' denials???

      I give up, it's beyond me.

      I do know I *have* told my guy I love him many times after reading one of these recaps. There's no way he'd ever behave like Chedward, it wouldn't even occur to him. And I'm not averse to a little D/S play. But those games are based entirely on trust. Ana does not trust Christian, and nor should she. He's just dangerous.

    2. You know how you sometimes praise something you don't really like that much just to be polite and encouraging? I think that this is what happened a lot when she posted her fanfiction on the internet.
      And after somehow somebody decided it could be published the marketing campaign was that it IS bestseller even before it actually was and people swallowed the bait.

  32. I'm not sure what a step above "flames on the side of my face" would be, but that's how furious these books make me.

    1. I went for "Hate. On the inside of my veins." several times, but it just doesn't flow as well.

    2. "Flames engulfing my head"?

    3. "The blazing fury of a million fiery supernovas", perhaps? Or is that too much of an increase in scale?

  33. "He's just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game? No. No. No - I can't do this. I know he's not going to stop. He's going to continue to torture me."

    See, I could even imagine a book in which this sentence could be from a hot BDSM scene. A book which would make it clear, from the beginning, that everything in it is strictly a fantasy. One that, preferably, is set in an entirely alternate world (maybe some dragons thrown in?). After all, one of the fun things about fiction is that it is fiction, and you don't always have to stick to the things that are absolutely necessary in the real world.

    In the real world, yes, safety is super-important, and cannot be skipped. Good Dom behavior, of the kind Jenny describes, is crucial. And of course anything but utterly clear consent is unthinkable.

    But a lot of the fun of, at least, the roleplaying subset of BDSM can be creating the illusion, in a safe environment, of "unsafe" behavior. And fiction allows us to fantasize about unsafe situations, with no condoms, safewords, negotiation, aftercare... I don't necessarily have a problem with that.

    However, I am not going to fall into the "it's just fiction, so it could never do harm!" trap. Fiction can reflect and reinforce very important messages, either beneficial or harmful ones, and has to especially careful about toxic messages that are already ingrained in our society.

    And this is not a book in an alternate universe with dragons. It clearly takes pains to establish itself in this world, taking place in real cities, using lots of what the author thinks are realistic details, even setting itself in an existing apartment building. Which could still be okay, though it would put a lot more pressure on the author to make it very clear that this is only a fantasy, nobody try this at home, please. Instead, this is also a book that the author touts as a way to help troubled marriages, that fans say describes their ideal man, that has spawned sex toy lines and workshops ffs. Everything about this book screams "by all means try this at home".

    Which is what makes the above excerpt part of a creepy scene of abuse and rape, not of a hot BDSM scene. Alas.

    1. I agree. Instead this trilogy is being peddled as a manual on how to steam up your love-life and have a great romantic relationship. The line between fiction and reality is obliterated entirely when a book is considered a how-to for real life.

  34. This chapter and one before it remind me of Sleeping With the Enemy. It's so uncomfortable to read. I can't believe this is a thing.

    1. *Shiver* I watched that movie when I was freshly out out an abusive relationship. This chapter (and the last) took me back to that emotional dark place.

      I honestly don't know whether to cry, scream, or refuse to face the horror of living in a world where this is an acclaimed book.

      (On the plus side, I get to read a new Boss chapter after this!)

  35. Out of curiosity, what is the deal with Christian always running his nose down Ana's and WHY does E.L.consider this in any way erotic? All I can picture is Christian's nose is running (as in he has a cold) but does not wipe it! I am sorry for grossing people out, but E.L. uses all these images that seen either hilarious (Mr. Sex-on-Legs) or flat out strange! She wants this romantic erotic image (the nose running stuff) but the image we see in our heads in exactly the opposite of what she WANTS us to see! If that is not good writing I don't know what is at this point!

    1. My partner and I do the nose rubbing thing a lot. Picture him stroking the length of her nose with the tip of his nose. I think of it as cute and cuddly-intimate rather than erotic, but I do like it.

  36. I call the religious abuse bit. He acts like he's freaking God, and she worships at the alter of 50. Grace didn't even give birth to him, y'know. Totally came from the angels or some shit.

    Also, when you said how it read like you were being victimised? Totally how I felt reading these books, took me about a month not to feel like he's played those head games with me. Never wanted to throw my kindle so bad as when I was reading 50.

    1. There was also that creepy hymn playing during their previous session in the Red Room of Pain. He's totally got the EGOT of abuse.

    2. Yeah, I think they were Gregorian chants.

      Plus, he has a freaking cross. I know it's meant to be symbolic of Carlisle's cross which is the symbol for how he became a vampire, but for Christian, how the fuck does the cross work? Does he stick a spear in her to see if she's done? Wait ... he pretty much does, right?

    3. Gregorian chant WOULD be really hot for a BDSM scene, it's both beautiful and really eerie sounding music. That's probably the only decent idea in this entire series except that I'm almost certain she picked it for the same reason she picked Bach and Wuthering Heights: because she thinks it's something rich educated people like and not because it would actually be a good choice for a scene. Though even then if I remember that bit right it doesn't fit the scene it's used for, it's the one with the belt so something dark and industrial would have been better. And this is why I generally don't play with music on, I over-think it.

    4. It's not a hymn (bloody EL uses the word 'hymnal', which means a hymn BOOK ffs) really, although it is a religious choral piece so I guess it's along the same lines. technically it's a motet, composed in the late 16th century, basically music for a choir/choirs arranged in several parts (in this case 40). So it's kind of a descendant of plainchant I suppose (I am not exactly a musicologist so someone may wish to correct me).

      It's not creepy imho, it's beautiful. I agree that EL will just have thought it sounded 'cultured' and 'eclectic' rather than actually thinking it suitable for her scene. (This piece is so beautiful it makes me cry, but I can't say I think it's sexy in any way. I have to not let this fucking book spoil one of my favourite pieces of music.)

  37. At this point, I feel like this book is victimizing me.

    You have captured my feelings perfectly. Like, just completely and absolutely. I feel victimised just by reading those tiny excerpts and knowing that this book series is so popular.

    This is large-scale emotional abuse. And it's sold as an idealised romance, which is exactly how an abuser would describe themselves. But I'm being too meta.

  38. Funny thing, I think I may have only consciously(besides just now) heard Wicked Game. And I didn't even know that's what it was called. Sounds vaguely familiar though.

    I don't even know why I, myself am working on my youtube channel of dissecting this trilogy chapter by chapter because this chapter will be one of my hardest with the abuse I suffered from my last ex. This part of it hits so close to it.
    guy goes and does something(in my case it was movie night with a bunch of people I didn't care to hang out with)-girl does something else(my case, one of my good friends I hadn't seen in like a year was in town so we went into the bedroom even left the door open and played a few rounds of magic then left to go get food)-girl comes back, guy gets pissed issue never resolved because sex.
    Definitely a sure sign of abuse......I still don't understand how women find this asshole attractive?!?

    1. Conditioning. Because guys are all assholes and to demand to have a guy who is not an asshole will leave you wanting, alone and surrounded by cats.

    2. Yeah, I don't know Wicked Game. I just don't listen to a lot of modern music, not because I think it makes me cool but because I forget to listen to the radio :) I do hear songs in TV, movies, at bars and parties and when I specifically seek out new stuff, but I only hear things that are either recommended to me or that are popular enough to get a lot of coverage. Not that Wicked Game ISN'T such a song, I just don't know it (although I have probably heard it)

  39. I just finished reading/listening to the Story of O, which is I believe a base in a lot of BDSM fiction (at least the vast majority of BDSM fictions I've read mention they are in the style of or inspired by the Story of O. Tales from Subspace will be my favorite). I also have a...70-80's porn based off the story.

    Story of O- unlike 50, was never marketed as a "how to" book and it was always treated as a dirty, dark guilty pleasure. It is an unapologetic rape and abuse story. Taking the fact that in fiction you can do everything you can not do in reality. It's disturbing, it's problematic, it is clearly a female's version of a white man's fantasy, it's not for everyone- and it is everything 50 is not.

    The men in O are not romantic heroes. There was one or two that might have been, but they were quickly silenced. O is not a romantic heroin looking for anyone to save her or making any indication that she wants the torment to stop. There are a few times she herself becomes the tormentor of some one weaker than her. She is a skin for the reader to put on to experience various extremes with out worry for real world consequences (that being the real world risks and the spirals of abuse this book dabbles in).

    The story's use of language is far superior to 50- and that's even with the resent English translation (I always feel that a story looses something in translation. Hence why I've put off getting a copy of O for so long).

    No needless repeating of words, half ass using a dictionary or thesaurus to sound 'smart' and the dialog can actually be pretty hot. Because the men are not poorly written abused little boys looking for someone to take their mommy issues on in some lame ass attempt at plot that never gets address or has any development. The men are there to use and abuse O and she is there to take it.

    So yeah- dislike the Story of O or enjoy it, there are reasons for both.

    I personally like the idea of doing a BDSM seen with a guy (that has one of those voices that just makes you orgasm) having me blind folded, tied up suspension walking around me reading from the Story of O and he runs ice cubs, feathers and other various tactile things over my exposed skin. Now THAT is hot.

  40. I kept trying ti imagine being handed a script of this scene... and figuring out how to act it out in a way that doesnt read rape. It would be impossible. How will this be a movie? This scene acted out would probably trigger a lot of sexual assault survivors. She is scared and crying and thinking "no no no". My mind is blown

    1. Maybe you could turn it into Oscar bait about the horrors of spousal abuse?

    2. Thinking the scene will either be cut or extremely edited.

  41. I kept trying ti imagine being handed a script of this scene... and figuring out how to act it out in a way that doesnt read rape. It would be impossible. How will this be a movie? This scene acted out would probably trigger a lot of sexual assault survivors. She is scared and crying and thinking "no no no". My mind is blown

    1. I've been thinking about this too... I think they'd have to cut the entire part in the red room of pain, and cut to the sex scene directly afterwards, where they have sex but she doesn't come and goes to bed unsatisfied. And it will probably be played for laughs: "men, always orgasming then falling asleep, ladies amirite winknudge?"

  42. like i commented above in a reply, i put "He's just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game? No. No. No - I can't do this. I know he's not going to stop. He's going to continue to torture me. ... I turn away from him. This is not love. It's revenge." as a question of SEXY or SCARY with only the context of a sex scene. "both" is what i got as an answer until i added "and if the thinker was sobbing or crying?" then there was horrified people saying that it was creepy and scary.

    but once i said it was from 50 shades, i was told that it wasn't meant to be sexy that time, that the important part was when he "took care of her" afterwards. i then asked why he never asked her if she was ok and only mentioned himself in that scene, and people stopped answering me.

    1. They probably went to get their copies of the book to check wether Christian did ask Ana if she was okay, and when they dicovered he hadn't, they decided to shut up in order to stop making fools of themselves while realizing how horrible this book is.

      At least that's what I choose to believe. I know, I'm overly optimistic.

    2. I'm not surprised, people play extra ridiculously obtuse when it comes to this book. I refuse to believe all the fans of this book are truly so oblivious and dumb.

    3. Herd mentality, I think. Lemmings. It's human nature to want to fit in for survival. We aren't biologically programmed to go against the stream. People like those of us reading these recaps and commenting are the minority.

      Most people want to fit in, and if you work a book up enough and it hits you out of the blue that "everyone" likes it, more people will go along to not be the odd one out who's picked on. As teens, we're called stupid if we don't like what everyone else does. As adults, it's implied. Easier to convince yourself you like it than to have the courage to speak up.

      I've made a bit of headway asking some people how they'd feel if their own young daughters grew up to marry someone like Christian and their daughter came to them after a night like that one above and told them she was crying and didn't want to continue and knew he wouldn't stop. Would they excuse it because at least there was something that could pass for aftercare? Taking care of the UNDESIRED physical and emotional injuries you cause doesn't give you the right to cause them in the first place.

      There's not a chance in hell anyone who has any business parenting would be okay with someone hurting their child without their daughter or son's consent just because the abuser bandaged the injuries in some way afterward.

  43. Hey, did I tell you my dog had puppies? Look at them, aren't they cute?

    Sorry, I just think there are not enough cute dogs pictures for how horrible this chapter is.

  44. I feel so much rage about this chapter, but in an effort to not get too worked up, I am going to focus on a couple lesser things.

    1. "Christian, I changed my mind," I explain slowly, patiently, as if he's a child. "I'm a woman. We're renowned for it. That's what we do."
    omfg - women change their minds so much they are "renowed" for it? Also, she wouldn't have had to change her mind and be all sneaky about it if Christian wasn't such a tool in the first place and just said "have fun!" when she first told him she was going out with Kate. Ugh. eff you E.L.

    2. I hate the perpetuation of the stereotype that smart people are smart because they don't know anything about pop culture.

    This annoys me SO much. I think it was a few chapters ago with the scene where they talk about having the huge fancy entertainment room and yet NEVER watch TV, as if that makes them BETTER than everyone else. As a lover of TV and pop music this is just so irritating.

    And because I think we all need it, here is a page full of cute puppies:

  45. This chapter. I can't even. This whole book is the worst one, right? It's on a new level of abuse?

    Can we just talk about The Walking Dead instead? There was actually action on it last night. A character got many lines and progressed the plot so of course died.

  46. I just watched the movie "Karla" on netflix about the Canadian serial killers Karla Holmolka and her husband Paul Bernardo. After reading this recap I can't stop thinking about what they have in common. I mean besides the killing, but I feel like if Christian asked Ana to, she would probably do whatever was necessary to keep Christian happy.. I can't help, but find it disturbing and creepy..

    1. *Canadian here* I haven't seen the movie Karla, but from what a friend has told me, they sort of whitewashed her. Karla was all into it from the start, even helped him drug and rape her own cousin. It's a shame she got off as easily as she did; she was no victim.

    2. Her own younger sister, actually. Who was 14 the first time they drugged and raped her and 15 when the drugging and rape that resulted in her death occurred.

      The lenient sentencing for her was based on the original impression that she'd been abused and intimidated into reluctant compliance. (Well, that and the plea deal to get her to testify.) This was later undermined by video evidence of her actively participating in the rapes and killings, showing signs of enthusiasm.

      Now, it is pretty clear that she herself was also abused by Bernardo. How much of her behavior was influenced by fear, effects of abuse, Stockholm syndrome, and a wish for self-protection, vs. plain sociopathy and sadism, I cannot begin to guess. Certainly being abused must have affected her. But I would like to believe that even a very abusive relationship wouldn't suffice to make someone actively participate repeatedly in brutal rapes and murders of minors.

      So it might be more accurate to say that she was a victim, but she was also a horrifying perpetrator, and having also been a victim does not exonerate her from that.

    3. That is a better way of saying that, I agree, Neurite.

  47. I also just noticed that Ana names "slutty architects" in one breath with an armed intruder entering her apartment with lethal intent (as well as being menaced by arson and pursued by that same murderous stalker in a car). Because an attractive female existing at her husband is an equivalent calamity to these horrible things. Ugh.

    She also lists Chedward dictating her career in the same breath. So she perceives that as definitely a negative experience, one that is adding turmoil and unhappiness to her life - what a sweet, loving gift, Mr. Grey! And because it's Chedward doing it, it's the only item on the list that does not end up getting safely defused, and will (I suspect) be seen through to whatever conclusion Chedward chooses for her. But note that she weasels out by phrasing it in the passive voice: "careers planned out for me". Planned out by whom, Ana? It's like this is some sort of upsetting event that just sorta happened to her, by itself, and not something intentionally inflicted on her by her husband. It's like the "mistakes were made" of the 50 Shades world.

    1. I noticed that also! (after I stopped puking for the rape scene). "slutty"?! That woman barely touched Chedward's arm! She freaking works for these two people and they even liked what she did!!! I don't even...

      And the "career planned out for me". It's like she's saying "and all the rain we got", like it's a thing that can happen and it's really nobody's fault, nor you can do anything about it. Seriously, Ana?! Think about it, dammit!

    2. The "slutty architect"/"sexual predator" (ugh, even worse) thing is so stupid. I'm not real big on casual touching, so I could see why it would make Chedward uncomfortable (on top of his other issues). Some people are more touchy-feely than others, and what seems totally innocuous to them can feel totally inappropriate to others. It would've been great if Ana had correctly identified that Gia's arm touching was not flirtatious yet made Christian uncomfortable (she only realized the latter) and asked her to back off for those same reasons. But because Ana is completely insecure, she couches it in terms of "my husband isn't interested in you". It's the same crap she pulled when she found out about Mrs. Robinson: she correctly identified Mrs. Robinson as a pedophile, but instead of telling Christian "I don't want you to see your abuser because I think she messes with your head," she tells him "I don't want you to see your abuser because you might fuck her."

  48. H.I.M put out a version of Wicked Game a few years ago so it's not outside the realm of possibility that someone who is in their 20's would have heard it. Then again, as mentioned before, this is a woman who managed to get through high school and college without a laptop so perhaps she's just a closet Luddite and only heard Britney Spears because Kate played it the last time she danced in her plum dress before Ana stole it.

    1. Oh, and I'm going to say that she knows who Roberta Flack because she wants people to see that she is down with soul/jazz music and thus people of color.

    2. Yeah, the H.I.M version came out when I was in middle school (I think, maybe later) and it was pretty popular (given that emo/goth was the trend, so H.I.M was pretty well known.) That's how I stumbled across the Chris Isaacs one, so yeah, people my age would pretty definitely have at least a passing familiarity with the song. Granted, Ana's supposedly never used a computer (yet somehow has an Ipod) or a cell phone (yet seems to be pretty capable when it comes to using it) know what, screw it, Ana's a shit character. She doesn't deserve good music. Fuck her and fuck her ipod.

  49. Puppy therapy..its the only thing keeping me from going out and paper cutting to death the next person who praises 50 shades of shyte

    And if that dosent work... Just picture giving C*** Grey to my Mastiff....

  50. *There will be spoilers in this comment*

    Oh fuck...and here I thought this whole bullshit was limited to one chapter, but apparently not, which means next chapter is the one where he ends up fucking her (which itself seems like not a good idea in this situation) and again doesn't bother to let her come. He falls asleep, he wakes up, finally decides to get her off, and how does he do it? Not by going down on her (which, heaven forbid, would mean him not getting his dick wet), but by PIV sex because of course it's totally fine to fucking spring orgasm denial on her, and then fuck her without getting her off after the fact, but damned if he can ever let her get off in a way where he won't come to. This and the next chapter are the climax of terrible that is this trilogy, with the coming pregnancy the anti-climax.

    "This man who really deserves to be force-fed into a wood chipper" is right.

  51. This fucking agitated me so bad I haven't been able to sleep. I don't own the books and I never wish to, but maybe if I had spare cash I would buy it JUST to set it on fire. I just. I can't even. It used to be so amusing--hey, look at this shitty writing, my goodness Ana is awful, this is the worst plot ever--but now I just feel sick thinking about it. I actually had a nightmare that my loving and kind boyfriend adopted the mannerisms of Christian Grey and it was beyond horrifying. Far be it from me to tell women what they want, but... Christian Grey? Really? HE'S the dream guy?

    Also, it makes no sense that this series is known for BDSM but in the end there's little of it and what little there is was written to demonstrate that Chedward is emotionally fucked up.

    1. The worst part is that the people who think he's the greatest thing ever claim that it's book 3 that really makes people love him. Gross. I can't stand this series.

  52. How can someone write a scene this abusive, but this detailed, and NOT mean for it to be abuse without having been through something like this and not thinking it was abusive?
    Especially as shirty a writer as E.L.?
    This seems very The Feminist and The Cowboy-esque.

  53. Okay, is anyone else starting to get a little worried about the author? I mean, given that the whole series is one giant self-insert fantasy, and the spot-on accuracy of the portrayal of an abusive, unhealthy relationship... I really have to wonder how much of this is a portrayal of her real-life personal experiences.

    1. That's exactly what I mean. I made the anonymous comment directly above yours. How could she write something like this without having experienced it, considering how poor her writing is otherwise.

      The Author of the Feminist in the Cowboys wrote what she considered to be a book praising a very abusive relationship, because she did not realize the relationship with abusive until after she had written and published the book.

      After the book was published, she came to the realization that the relationship was abusive, and admitted it but she got blowback and then rescinded her admission that the affair with nothing but abuse.

  54. I am so distressed by this chapter I don't know where to begin, so instead I shall ignore everything real about it and say this:

    Who eats warmed dolmades? I have never encountered warmed dolmades in my life.

  55. I saw a pin on Pinterest, "That sad feeling you get when you realize Christian isn't real" No. Just no. Stop the planet, I want to get off.

  56. I saw a pin on Pinterest, "That sad feeling you get when you realize Christian isn't real" No. Just no. Stop the planet, I want to get off.

  57. Wow... I've recently binge-read your past recaps of the 50 shades series and now I consider myself very fortunate to have opted out from reading the last book. The series has always discomfited me in ways I couldn't verbalize--but the recaps explain it so clearly. It's so sad. The more I read, the sadder it gets. I'm all for mocking the book, but even mocking it is painful now. The world just sucks.

    I can't imagine how you're able to even write about this crap, but thanks for doing it anyways. :)


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