Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let's Read Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 6!

When we last left our intrepid heroes, he was committing sexual assault in an elevator, and her inner goddess was doing a samba about it.

Content warnings for this chapter: Stalking and emotional abuse, mostly.  The rape themes are still hanging around, too.


I touch my lips, swollen from his kiss.
Ow.
“What happened in the elevator - it won’t happen again, well, not unless it’s premeditated.”
That's not reassuring unless he means that she'd be part of the premeditation, and I'm not sure that he does.
I belatedly realize he’s not asked me where I live - yet he knows. But then he sent the books, of course he knows where I live. What able, cell-phone-tracking, helicopter owning, stalker wouldn’t.
~*SO ROMANTIC*~
“Is that a new blouse?” she asks, and I let her have all the unexciting details about my night.
"Yeah, so our friend tried to force a kiss on me and then I barfed a lot so then Stump Chunkman showed up and made me dance and then I passed out completely and woke up in this guy's bed with no  pants on and then he said weird cryptic things about how he likes to hurt people and was super bossy and then he forced a kiss on me but this time I didn't barf.  Pretty unexciting."
I have to convince Kate that this is what I want to do. For some strange reason, she doesn’t trust him, maybe because he’s so stiff and formal. She says she can’t put her finger on it, but I have promised to text her when I arrive in Seattle. I haven’t told her about the helicopter, she’d freak.
I am currently on Team Kate. I am extremely not on Team "If I told my closest friend the details about the relationship, I know she'd be upset, so I'm concealing things that she just wouldn't understand."  That's one of the classic warning signs.  It's the land war in Asia of relationships.
After all this time, am I ready for this? My inner goddess glares at me, tapping her small foot impatiently.
Oh no, is this going to keep going on?  When I first heard people make fun of the "inner goddess," I thought it was just one memorably cheesy line.  I didn't realize it was going to be a recurring theme.

But apparently the "inner goddess" is the part of her that wants kinky sex, because lord knows she can't ever say that she does.  So the author's awkward compromise between making her heroine look like the sort of wanton woman who has desires, versus making her completely unwilling, was to give her a feisty internal Tinkerbell who's willing.  ...It's an original tactic, you've gotta admit.
[In Whip Slagcheek's helicopter, because of fucking course he has a helicopter:] I sit down in my allotted seat, and he crouches beside me to strap me into the harness. It’s a four-point harness with all the straps connecting to one central buckle. [...] “I like this harness,” he whispers.
When I went to EMT school, there was another kinkster in my class.  He was open about it--way too open, wearing a triskelion necklace and loudly explaining to everyone what it meant, showing off the DeviantArt account where he had tons of bondage art, drawing furries in bondage during class time.

His low point came when we had to practice securing each other to the rigid backboards we use to immobilize people with suspected spinal injuries.  He told the whole group that he was really looking forward to this part of the class because he was so into bondage.

That's what I picture Trunk SlamChest being like.
“Okay, tower. PDX this is Charlie Tango Golf – Golf Echo Hotel, cleared for take-off. Please confirm, over.”
I doubt E.L. James did enough research to know this, but he's being a presumptuous asshole here too.  You don't say "I'm cleared for takeoff, right?  I am, right?" to air traffic control.  You request clearance for takeoff.  They know if a 747 is about to fly over your head, and you don't, so you really don't want to go making any assumptions about what they'll tell you.  (Also, you have to tell them where in the airport you are and which direction you're planning to go.)

I don't know anything about flying, by the way, but I had a hunch that if I looked this up it would be wrong, and my hunch did not disappoint.

And then he says "over and out."  Goddamnit Big McLargeHuge.  I did know this one because we made radio calls on the ambulance, and "over and out" is really bad form.

And then they fly by "Seattle International Airport," which does not exist.
“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You know that don’t you?”
Anything except be stalked. And forced to dance when she's nearly passed out. And wake up in his bed when she didn't expect it. And eat when she didn't want to.  And be kissed and groped without a chance to say no.  Yep, nothing is going to be forced on her except literally everything he's done so far.
As I sit, I’m struck by the fact that I feel like Tess Durbeyfield looking at the new house that belongs to the notorious Alec D’Urberville. The thought makes me smile.
Did she read the book?  Alec rapes Tess.  And it's not like "sexy ravishment" either.  (Not that "sexy ravishment" is an okay thing, but you sort of expect it in romance novels of this caliber.  You do not expect references to rape scenes where the victim is lost in the woods and crying and the rape ruins her life.)
He’s gone for a couple of minutes and returns with a document. “This is a non-disclosure agreement.” He shrugs and has the grace to look a little embarrassed. “My lawyer insists on it.” [...] “What does this agreement mean?” “It means you cannot disclose anything about us. Anything, to anyone.”
FUCKING WHAT.  An NDA for a relationship.  The fuck shit ass hell I can't even think in non-swear-words right now fuck.

Social isolation, secrecy, and silencing are typical features of abusive relationships, but it's a little unusual to get the terms drawn up by your lawyer.  That's one fucking sleazy lawyer who's willing to write, much less "insist on," an official Contract Of Let's Just Keep This Our Little Secret.
"I don’t make love. I fuck… hard." [...]My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so… hot.
Really? Because to me, it sounds like the kind of shit a guy says to cover the fact that he barely knows which end of you has the vagina parts. "Oh yeah, baby, I'm such a super hard fucker.  I'm totally going  to put my dick in your clitoris and then I'm going to fuck through your cervix into your uterus.  It's the hottest. All of the hundreds of women I've fucked have loved it. I fuck so hard."
"Come, I want to show you my playroom.” [...] Why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified. “You want to play on your Xbox?” I ask.
Okay, it's easy to laugh at her, but this poor girl.  She is just not ready for this.  She has no idea how sex or relationships work and she's barely capable of talking to the guy, much less standing up to him and drawing boundaries with him.  Asking her to negotiate BDSM right now is like dropping her off a boat at the midpoint of the English Channel when you know damn well she can't dogpaddle across the kiddy pool.

75 comments:

  1. Please prepare yourself to reading a lot more about Ana's inner godess. A LOT!

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    1. Second this; I read excerpts of the book and was annoyed by how much the inner goddess came up. I love your description of it as Tinkerbell! It also reminded me of something you'd see in a magazine like Cosmo or a bad self-help book, telling you how you have this wonderful better version of you inside you and they're going to help you find your inner goddess.

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    1. One of the most commonly used symbols of the BDSM community is a derivation of a triskelion shape within a circle. (Wikipedia)

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    2. The triskelion is--and I apologize for this, it wasn't my idea--known as the BDSMblem.

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    3. I can see why you wouldn't want something obvious, but... why a triskelion?????

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    4. It represents the three principles of "safe, sane and consensual", I believe. I've also heard the three components of the acronym, bondage, domination and submission, and sado-masochism.

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    5. Also tops/dom(me)s, bottoms/subs, and switches. I have a version of this as a tattoo done with black thorns and red roses.

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    6. Is that because of Story of O?

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  3. "Asking her to negotiate BDSM right now is like dropping her off a boat at the midpoint of the English Channel when you know damn well she can't dogpaddle across the kiddy pool." Still so very creepy and predatory.

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  4. Isn't it odd how Mr. Domlypants suddenly isn't in control anymore. I mean, it's not that HE wants her to sign a relationship NDA, because obviously that would be unreasonable. But he can't help it, his lawyer made him do it.

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  5. I heard some people defend the book by saying that she signed a contract in the beginning where she consented, on paper, to a 24/7 D/s relationship. But it appears that this claim is 100% false. Unless there's some subsection of the NDA or chapter 7 has the real contract. But even if chapter 7 has another contract that spells out what she's in for, Chapter 5 had a full blown rape scene. This is hardly the first 'romance' novel to have the guy straight up rape the girl. I only know what I've read from other feminist blogs, but apparently novels where the guy rapes a woman and then later (shotgun) marries her used to be very popular but are less common today. The theory goes that women feel guilty about consenting to sex, but still desire sex, so the answer is to make the sex non-consensual but still somehow romantic and pleasurable for the woman. I have to wonder if maybe that left a certain void over the last couple of decades, when romance writers moved away from rape scenes faster than the general public, then this thing suddenly appears to fill that void.

    Might be more relevant to the previous chapter, but it seems that this little inner goddess character is a fairly blatant invocation of the stereotype that a woman, deep down, secretly, on some level, wanted to be raped. Rapists and rape apologists make the claim constantly that a woman says no on one level and yes on another. Often implying that a woman doesn't really know what she wants, and that a real man is often better at reading her true desires than she is (or at least more honest about it). I guess at least here the heroine is technically aware of her inner goddess/true desires, except that they're irrelevant to the action of the plot because she never acts on them or announce them. Of course that seems to be the fantasy of these books, the woman doesn't need to consent, let alone assert herself, she can be perfectly passive, her inner life seemingly hidden from those around her, and yet she gets everything that she wants.

    If you feel conflicted between having intense sexual desire, and the certainty that sex is inherently exploitative, then the two choices would be avoiding it as in Twilight, or diving right in as in FSoG.

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    1. She never signs the agreement, IIRC. Just the NDA.

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    2. I'm only up to chapter 12, but at that point she definitely has not signed the agreement (and also had no hand in writing it; the one change she asked for isn't even made) when C.G. shows up at her house and has "would be rape except her inner goddess is happy about it" sex with her.

      So yeah, even if a contract made it defensible (and in my mind it does not), they don't actually have a contract at that point.

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    3. About the 24/7 contract, even a valid and enforceable contract doesn't mean anyone gets to force you to honor its terms. If you want to break it, you break it, and the other party can go sue you if they don't like it. And if you lose the court case you'd have to pay some kind of monetary damages or fees. It's POSSIBLE that the judge will require specific actions to honor the contract, but that's for things like "you shall return the plaintiff's car". It seems vanishingly unlikely for intimate services.

      So no, even aside from whether such a contract is valid, it wouldn't give a dom the right to ignore a sub's withdrawal of consent. That would still be assault of some sort. And such bad action from the dom would in itself open up several legal defenses for the sub.

      Compare with employment contracts: if you signed a contract that says you show up for work at 8:30, it doesn't mean that if you oversleep your boss has the right to drag you out of bed and chain you to a desk.

      I'm not a lawyer, but I followed a 10-year legal battle in detail :)

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    4. I am a lawyer, and you're basically right about how breach of contract works. Of course, in this case, he couldn't get even monetary damages for two reasons:

      1) I see no consideration in return for... whatever the hell she's agreeing to. In order to have a binding contract, there has to be value given (or a promise to give value) on both sides. Value can be money, goods, services, whatever, and it doesn't have to be much, but it has to be something. I see Ana making a promise and getting absolutely nothing in return. Doesn't matter if the paper she signed says "CONTRACT" in giant letters at the top or whatever; no contract was actually formed here.

      2) Even if there had been a contract, a contract for sexual services is void. Period. Not enforceable. Even if, say, he'd agreed to pay her/perform some service in return/something else I'd prefer not to think about because this whole scene makes me want to puke, he still can't get a court to enforce it.

      So yeah, if there is a lawyer here (in my mind, he's lying about there being a lawyer involved at all and just using this as yet another power play), that lawyer is not merely sleazy, but grossly incompetent. Seriously, this is basic, first semester stuff. We can safely add the law to the list of things the author knows nothing about and couldn't be bothered to research.

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    5. Lawyer anon: we get to read the contract in its (unbearable) entirety in chapter 11, and it specifies that the penalty for breach is that the contract becomes void. Since the contract doesn't obligate CG to do anything except play safely with Ana (not that he does, anyway), so even if the contract were valid she would have literally nothing to lose by just walking away from it.

      Which is a good thing, really, because a BDSM contract shouldn't obligate anyone to stay in it, but I don't think that implication was intentional.

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    6. "even if the contract were valid she would have literally nothing to lose by just walking away from it."

      Um, that also means he has literally nothing to lose by breaking it. A contract which automatically becomes void on being breached is entirely ineffective as a contract,as it plainly places no obligations on either party, and arguably fails to understand the entire *concept* of contracts.

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  6. I'm not a huge fan of gentle lovemaking, in fact it's my definition of unsatisfying sex (for me, not speaking for anyone else), and I still would run from a guy who said anything like "I don’t make love. I fuck… hard." It's just not the statement of someone who has any consideration for his partner.

    The NDA just made me laugh. IANAL but I'm pretty sure it would be entirely unenforceable.

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    1. Can we just call it gentle sex rather than lovemaking? Calling it lovemaking confuses it with love, and as Cliff notes (hur hur) it's entirely possible to love someone and want to consensually rough them up. For that matter, it's entirely possible to want soft gentle sex with lots of foreplay from a random hookup if that's the only way you can get off. It's not necessarily an expression of Twue Wuv.

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    2. "Sex is something to do while you're making love" :)

      I like the quote because it separates these concepts so clearly, but it has the unfortunate implication that that's the only role of sex. Any suggestions for how to tweak it?

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  7. Yeah.......Tess of the d'Urbervilles was one of the more disturbing books I've read. Why is it being referenced as some kind of sexy romp is...confusing.

    "Oh yeah, baby, I'm such a super hard fucker. I'm totally going to put my dick in your clitoris and then I'm going to fuck through your cervix into your uterus. It's the hottest. All of the hundreds of women I've fucked have loved it. I fuck so hard."

    This nearly killed me.

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    1. I wonder ... has she even read that book, or did she just read the first few pages, decided it was a romance about Tess and Alec, and used that "information"?

      The book was very, very clear on the fact that this was rape - Tess never fell in love with the rapist, too, and the happiest time in her life was when she was far, far away from him. I cannot understand how one could possibly ...

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    2. YOU GUISE. YOU GUISE. If you think horrible dirty talk is amusing, I have a thing that makes me laugh til I'm practically crying every time I read it: http://threewordphrase.com/where.htm

      Also, this: http://threewordphrase.com/theentirething.htm

      And this: http://threewordphrase.com/stuff.htm

      Dude is just really, really good at writing bad smut.

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    3. i seriously heart 3wordphrase... one of my favorite webcomics that i follow regularly (sadly, no updates for a while, author got a "real job"...)

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  8. Thank you for the humor. Love all the nicknames you devised. Can't wait to read your other chapter interpretations.

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  9. I'm going to nitpick here, but that radio call really bugged me. I'm a student pilot and radio geek, and man, did she manage to fit about a dozen fuckups into a single sentence there.

    1. Airports on the radio are addressed by their name, not their call letters. He should be calling "Portland tower."

    2. A pilot would only use the airport's FAA identifier during flight planning, and if he did use it, he'd spell it out in phonetics: Papa Delta X-Ray, not PDX.

    3. CTGGEH would be a Canadian registration number.

    4. General aviation flights include their type along with their registration number, eg. "Cessna 81715."

    5. You're spot-on about requesting (rather than "confirming") takeoff, but even better, he'd probably want to request to taxi first. But I guess Ridiculous Hero can take off straight from parking.

    This despite the fact that there are plenty of free resources around the web to either listen to ATC audio or to help student pilots learn how to make radio calls. It would have taken 10 minutes to get this right. It's nit-picking, but fuck, I put more research into a blog post than James put into her gajillion-copy-selling books. (Or comments-- I just checked Wikipedia to make sure I didn't misgender E.L. James.)

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    1. You're spot-on about requesting (rather than "confirming") takeoff, but even better, he'd probably want to request to taxi first. But I guess Ridiculous Hero can take off straight from parking.

      To be fair, he's in a helicopter.

      Not that that's going to save him if Portland Tower says "Charlie Tango Golf, negative, you are not cleared--" and then another aircraft plows into him.

      I'm increasingly convinced that the total lack of research in this book is intentional. Look at it this way: You're E. L. James. You want to indulge the fantasy of being Anastasia the lost lamb in this dark and mysterious world of darkness and mystery. So you don't go to a library and find Wiseman's Handbook of Erotic Bondage, because Ana wouldn't do that.* And more importantly, because it's not a dark and mysterious world if you can find books on it in the library.

      Big Brave Brick of Meat's conversation with traffic control makes no sense because it's Man Stuff, and to Ana it shouldn't make sense. It means she's brushing up against a world that's much bigger and more powerful and more dangerous than anything in her experience, with only Brick of Meat as her guide, the Virgil to her Dante, the Peter Pan to her Wendy, the Michael Jackson to her 13-year-old Jordan Chandler.


      * Nor do you already own a copy, which suggests another road not taken in researching this thing. But if James thinks BDSM involves getting drunk and passing out and waking up in her stalker's rape dungeon, I guess I see why she wouldn't want to try it for real.

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    2. I love this comment so much.

      (He's in a helicopter, so maybe he can take off from parking? But I'd think he'd at least need to hover taxi first.)

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  10. I look forward to these so much. There's something strangely satisfying about reading this trash through the lens of someone who can actually write. Thank you!

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  11. I've seen a lot of people make fun of Anastasia (I refuse to call her Ana, it's just weird) for the X-box line, but really, I can see that happening. I can see that happening to *me* and I'm not nearly as naive (I hope...) as Anastasia. There's just weird things going on, you're kept off-balance the whole time, BDSM is not the first thing (or in Anastasia's case, a thing at all) that comes to mind in many contexts... Of course, it's used here to show just how innocent she is and to set up the shock of how 'depraved' he is and it's just bad writing, in my opinion, but I don't think the character deserves all the scorn she gets over that line.

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    1. Fair point. Plus I don't know anyone besides age-players who calls it the "playroom"; all the people I know who have dedicated BDSM spaces call them "dungeons."

      (Although that would definitely terrify someone who had no idea what was going on, so it would probably be more considerate of him to say "the room where I keep my BDSM toys," or better yet, "the living room, so I can explain things to you in a comfortable environment instead of just dumping this all on you.")

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    2. One theory on the inclusion of Tess of the d'Urbervilles is that this story started as Twilight fanfic, and in Twilight I've heard there are a lot of references to Wuthering Heights (also mistaking it for a romantic story). It's possible the original fic references Wuthering Heights and the change was made to remove it from Twilight, or the original fic references Tess and was chosen as a similarly "romantic" piece of classic literature.

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    3. Oops, it looks like my comment went in the wrong place. I'm not used to this system!

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    4. in front of such a highly abusive man i would easily regress into mental stages, where i would ask questions and think as naively as Anastasia. My mind would do this for me to deal with the thrill. It's a program hard to stop and long to regret.

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    5. I can't tell you how much I wish his response had been "Yes Ana, I'm going to tie you up and you're going to play co-op Halo with me...with your toes."

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  12. a furry being gross and creepy and oversharing? imagine that.

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    1. No need to generalize. I know plenty of furs that are respectful, polite people that just happen to be into anthro stuff to varying degrees.

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    2. This^. Not a fur myself, but they seem to have become some kind of ubiquitous internet joke/scorn meme and it's pretty gross and kink-shamey. It would be one thing if the stuff about them hinged on "they tend to overshare" (not that they even do necessarily), but 90% of it is "lol look at these gross people with their gross kink" and that's just pretty terrible.

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    3. i used to know a lot of furries, i'm into some pretty out there stuff and it overlaps a lot with stuff popular on furry sites... a lot of my stuff is fantasy only, and it's easiest to find furries to erp with. my problem is that the fandom actively shelters a whole lot of scammers, rapists and animal abusers

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    4. I feel like it should also be mentioned that being a furry isn't necessarily a fetish activity. Some people just like the artwork (and plenty of it is non-erotic). While pretty much all of the furs I know have a fursona and may wear a collar, tail, or full suit very few of them actually include these things in their sex lives. Most just view it as a means of expressing their personality.

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    5. Animal abusers? That seems... odd. Are you talking about "sexual abuse" or the usual setting dogs on fire type of thing?

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    6. I have multiple friends/acquaintances who are furries (and if finding the artwork appealing makes one a furry, well... *raises hand*), and they're a pretty good crowd. Does the fandom have its creeps, drama, and whackjobs? Of course, every fandom does. But even if it's more prevalent, it's still not an excuse to generalize.

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    7. Also worth noting that if you make a habit of saying things like "a furry being gross and creepy and oversharing? imagine that." then most of your experiences of furries will be the gross, creepy, or oversharey ones, because the ones with more discretion will simply not reveal their preferences to you, and it'll be only those with less whom you'll be aware of encountering.

      Bias is a good way to fuck your data. Never fuck the data.

      (Lieutenant Commander Data, on the other hand, may be worth fucking.)

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  13. I had someone rip on me insisting that A does sign a "contract" but I wondered if she and I had read the same book. An NDA isn't a bdsm contract, and now I suspect this person saw them as one and the same. She also managed to berate me telling me some people like "dubious consent" fic, but this blows past that line by miles.

    ( of course then she adamantly stated she hates erotic novels and then I gave up on that discussion.)

    But she doesn't sign a "contract" at any point as far as I could tell. Not that it would be binding in any shape or form. They're just a platform for discussion between two people on what they need/want/don't want, right? Not that Hunky Beefballs would actually pay her needs any mind.

    And in book two in my opinion, it just gets worse. I skim-read the orig fanfic which still haunts the net, and the published books are in essence a straight to text version with naught more than a name change on the characters.

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    1. Well, to be fair, your friend does have a point about dubious consent.I think this does count as dub!con, since Ana had mixed feelings and may have consented if asked about the sexual contact. As she doesn't consider herself raped, I feel it falls firmly in the realm of dub!con.

      But here's the thing. Dub!con isn't "not rape" it's a type of rape. It's a type of rape in which things aren't asked about, or social and emotional pressure are used to coerce. It differentiates from rape(not otherwise specified) because an explicit "no" or fighting isn't ignored. That doesn't make it less rape, and doesn't make it more okay, but it does make it fit the definition of dubious consent, as far as I'm aware of it.

      If this was presented as an example of dubious consent fic, I would be all for it (well, except the terrible writing and all) but it's presented as an example of a healthy BDSM relationship and that is NOT an okay message to send. It's a scary, unhealthy type of relationship, and if it's going to be a dubious consent fic, people need to know it, not think that's just how BDSM relationships are.

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    2. no, she doesn't want to sign the sexual contract! she makes it really clear that she won't sign it.

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  14. The constant references to Tess of the d'Urbervilles bother me not only because she's completely misreading everything about Tess and Alec's relationship, but because in terms of social responsibility, the two books are total opposites. Thomas Hardy was challenging his culture's own version of rape culture. For his time he was pretty radical, and today he'd probably be on this site with us talking about what a douche Hunky McBeefSticks is. I know this is complaining about the paint job on the car wrapped around a telephone pole, but referencing him in this monstrosity is just a crime against literature.

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    1. Yes. As much as Tess of the d'Urbervilles makes me want to claw my own eyes out, it was a *very* astute and progressive book for its time. It's one of several works of literature in the late 1800s, very early 1900s that began to tackle the era's misogyny. (Madame Bovary & The Awakening also come to mind.) (And, at the time, it's my belief that the only way a writer could end those kinds of stories was through the death of the woman -- in all cases suicide or effective suicide. The one guaranteed "choice" a woman could make that no one could take away from her.)

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    2. I would say it was more than several -- there are a ton of works by the Brontes, Trollope and others that question the assumptions about what women could do & how they should be treated. Trollope's "Phineas Finn/Phineas Redux" series deals with abusive marriage, and has one character complain about how unfair it is that she's expected to get married and can't just go live on her own.

      it's my belief that the only way a writer could end those kinds of stories was through the death of the woman -- in all cases suicide or effective suicide." I can think of at least one exception to this -- in Wilkie Collins' "Man and Wife," the protagonist is an unmarried woman who's carrying her lover's child & is ruined unless she can persuade him to marry her. I fully expected her to die at the end, but no. After MANY plot twists, she ends up (spoiler alert) married to a really nice rich guy, & her boorish ex-lover dies instead. It's possible Collins only got away with this kind of thing because people expected his books to be just trashy melodrama. "Man and Wife" also has a really horrifying subplot about a woman with a drunk, abusive husband who steals all her money.

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  15. "That's one fucking sleazy lawyer who's willing to write, much less 'insist on,' an official Contract Of Let's Just Keep This Our Little Secret."

    That's another lack of research. There's no such thing as being forced by the law or a legal contract not to talk about your relationship (abusers would be all over that in real life too, don't you think?) NDAs are for things like companies working together without telling each other's trade secrets. And just because you sign a contract doesn't mean you can be forced to have sex against your will. A BDSM contract is a private agreement between two people - it's not legally enforceable. No lawyer would make an official contract saying basically "Here is the sexual stuff I get to do to you, and since you signed this I can't be charged with rape for it." That makes no sense. What if she changed her mind after signing it? You can't just declare consent once and for all for the rest of your life. The only way this makes sense is if Christian (and possibly his lawyer) are tricking Ana into thinking she is required by law to do whatever he wants sexually and not tell anyone about it, because he pressured her into signing a contract saying so. Contracts requiring illegal things like rape and preventing people from speaking out against abuse are not legally enforceable, no matter how awesome Christian's lawyers are.

    Somebody seriously needs to rewrite this as horror (or rather, intentional horror). I think that would get to a lot of people who currently see it as sexy.

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    1. To be fair, there is such a thing as a BDSM contract that isn't terrible. Two people can make an informal contract that's really just putting their relationship agreements in writing, obviously in a nonbinding way, and that's fine.

      But the ones in this book seem to be intended as actual legal documents.

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    2. Yes, and those contracts are a way to protect both of you, since it expresses your consent and understanding at the time. That way, if you have a nasty breakup, one of you can't backtrack and pretend your bruises come from a non-consensual beating because you've never heard of this bdsm thing before in your life. However, in Canada at least, the contract has very limited use because you can't contractually give away your rights. Technically speaking, an assault is an assault whether you agreed to it or not. Similarly, you couldn't sell yourself into slavery, or agree to sell your children. A private contract that contravenes your basic freedoms has no legitimacy in law, except that it limits the kind of story you can spin about the relationship. I've also heard that many US companies ask Canadian contractors to sign NDAs that are worthless here, though. The government won't uphold a biased contract that doesn't benefit both sides or is unreasonable.

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    3. " That way, if you have a nasty breakup, one of you can't backtrack and pretend your bruises come from a non-consensual beating because you've never heard of this bdsm thing before in your life."

      Not really. All a contract proves is that you consented to a beating at some point. It doesn't prove you were still consenting at the time of this particular beating.

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    4. (I'm Anon above...) True, and in my books, you can consent and change your mind mid-scene too. Really the only value is that if you show up with strange rope burns and said you'd been kidnapped, but the police found that you signed off on 'getting tied up and suspended' earlier that night, it could raise at least reasonable doubt that the events didn't happen the way you initially claimed. But, in Canada, the courts wouldn't care and the other party can still be charged with unlawful confinement, while you become a witness for the Crown.

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    5. Even if we had, say, contracts for prostitution the would just, say, require returning the money. This is ridiculous.

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    6. From conversations* I've had with a KAP attorney, in Massachusetts you cannot consent to being hit. Obviously varies depending on jurisdiction, but the reason to write stuff down is clear communication; it won't do much for legal ass-covering.

      *As in, several friends out for drinks shooting the shit, not Official Professional Advice.

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    7. If you cannot consent to being hit, how are martial arts schools legal? How is boxing legal? Are they just operating in some giant "we hope no one ever sues us" area?

      I mean, I can believe it's not legally possible to consent to being hit, but the implications of that are far, far broader than BDSM.

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    8. "Somebody seriously needs to rewrite this as horror (or rather, intentional horror). I think that would get to a lot of people who currently see it as sexy. "

      Ooh! Maybe by rewriting it from Christian Grey's perspective, and making it super clear that he's thinking like the stalker/rapist he is? Because whatever Ana's inner goddess is doing, so far it hasn't shown up on the outside, so from his perspective, he does not have consent. Using the abuser's perspective to show this might be a really effective way to make it clear how icky this is.

      There was a fanfic I read once where Ana's roommate finds the contract she signed and goes on the warpath. I don't remember what it was called, though.

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  16. Dunno if you've heard of Travis Frey, by the way, but this makes me think of him. TRIGGER WARNING for anyone googling him, by the way.

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    1. From a news story re Travis Frey: "A jury of 11 men and one woman found him guilty of third-degree sex abuse and domestic assault."

      Wow. How would you like to be the one woman on that jury.

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  17. Reading yours and Jenny Trout's recaps of these books gives me, like, secondhand feelings of being trapped. I bet you're supposed to see Christian as kind of scary yet secretly hot, but his constant hovering over Ana makes me feel frantic. If someone I knew was constantly showing up at places I was at and following me around, I'd be anxious because it would be like I was constantly being watched.

    In general, the books feel like this small, constricted space where all other females are madly jealous of our heroine (another trope I dislike) and her world revolves around this guy she can't get away from. After binging on recaps, I felt like I'd been stuck in a stuffy room.

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  18. I think I understand the stalking theme in this book. Every time Grey speaks about interacting "romantically", it's all very "I don't give a shit about what MY WOMEN want. I like MY WOMEN this way and I FUCK them this way and not that way because that's what I WANT. And they had bette behave THIS WAY because THAT WAY will end with them being IN PAIN!"

    Apparently stalking is the only way the author was able to convey that the scary rape-robot is interested in Ana specifically because nothing else he says gives any indication that he cares about her gives one flying fuck about her well being. Hell, most of the time he doesn't seem to even like her. I'd go as far to say that he is outright pissed off at her in the few moments when he is not just smugly condescending her.


    So at least the intense stalking clears that up and makes it romantic....

    *shiver of terror*

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  19. Can Rigid Backboard be a new name for Christian Grey?

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  20. I've been thinking, would it be reasonable to refuse to practice with the rigid backboard guy because he has just announced that for him it's a sexual act?

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    1. I would refuse on those grounds! (I worked for quite a lot of years as a practical nurse, although never come across that kind of guy.)

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    2. Oh, people did refuse. He ended up practicing with a mannequin.

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    3. This dude made me shudder more than anything else, probably because he wasn't fiction. That wasn't grounds for kicking him out of the program? I'm a WFR and I know asphalt's different but geez. We were always "okay, let's acknowledge this might be a little uncomfortable and then move on; there's no sex in first aid."

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  21. Please post a new chapter soon! I so enjoy being both appalled and amused by this book without actually having to read it. :)

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  22. "For some strange reason, she doesn’t trust him, maybe because he’s so stiff and formal."
    I had to keep myself from laughing out loud at that line. Maybe she doesn't trust him because he gives off creepy stalker vibes. Nah, that can't be it, must be because he's stiff and formal. What? Who distrusts people because they're too formal?
    "She says she can’t put her finger on it"
    Always trust your gut. And if you're gut's not working, always trust your friend's gut. Team Kate, indeed.

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    1. Somewhere in a vague and distant past, I took an undergrad psychology course on interpersonal relationships where we discussed some papers which showed that for a heterosexual relationship, the woman's female friends were best at A) predicting the duration of the relationship and B) predicting the cause of break-up. As in, they were better at it than the people involved in the relationship. Your friend's gut is an important source of information.

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  23. For a couple of chapters there I was getting more disturbed than entertained, but now it's become so absurd that even though the implications are more disturbing, the execution has me giggling and rolling my eyes. Your commentary rocks, BTW. Keep up the good work!

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  24. "...then I'm going to fuck through your cervix into your uterus."

    What's really sad is how much smut describes this EXACT thing. It's frightening how many people think the penis is supposed to (or at least can/should) enter the uterus. Why is this idea so commonplace? I know sex ed sucks or is non-existent in a lot of places but who keeps telling people this?

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  25. ...a feisty internal Tinkerbell who's willing.

    Kinkerbell?

    :relurks:

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