Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let's Read Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 7!

When we last saw our intrepid heroes, they were entering Hack BlowFist's playroom, and she was playing "I'm too innocent to know anything about sex ever" while he was playing "I'm too domly to make any accommodations for that."
Content warnings for this chapter: disordered eating, plus coercion and emotional abuse all the hell over the place.  (And detailed BDSM talk, but I feel weird "warning" for that, lumping one of the happiest parts of my life in with all those terrible things.  Also, you're on a blog called "The Pervocracy" that has "BDSM" at the top of every page.  ...Anyway, there's detailed BDSM talk in here.)

There is a large wooden cross like an X fastened to the wall facing the door. It’s made of high-polished mahogany, and there are restraining cuffs on each corner. Above it is an expansive iron grid suspended from the ceiling, eight-foot square at least, and from it hang all manner of ropes, chains, and glinting shackles.
This is probably very impressive to people who aren't familiar with the "thousand dollar toybag, can't swing a flogger" type.  But it is a type, and it tends to overlap with the "thinks he's too important for the rules to apply to him" type. And we already know Mitt BuckMelt is one of those.
Why does he have all that shit hanging on the grid?  Is he just using it for storage?  Or does he never take his restraints off the dungeon furniture, and does all his scenes with unused chains and stuff hanging around the bottom?  That seems awfully sloppy, especially with the rope.
God, I hope he's not trying to suspend people from that thing.
By the door, two long, polished, ornately carved poles, like spindles from a banister but longer, hang like curtain rods across the wall. From them swing a startling assortment of paddles, whips, riding crops, and funny-looking feathery implements. [...] In the far corner is an oxblood leather padded bench, and fixed to the wall beside it is a wooden, polished rack that looks like a pool or billiard cue holder, but on closer inspection, it holds canes of varying lengths and widths.
I'm setting the odds that he actually knows how to use all those toys at... oh, zero percent. (Hell, I don't know how to use all those toys. Paddling, whipping, flogging, caning, rope bondage, and D/s are all different--pardon me--disciplines, and most kinksters don't know how to do all of them.)  It sure doesn't sound like he's ever been to a class or a munch or had anyone mentor him in the scene. I doubt he'd even deign to read a book or website--that would be like admitting he isn't already perfect!  I think he just bought all this shit online with no concept of technique besides "whap people with it, tell them they're bad submissives if they don't like how he does it."
But what dominates the room is a bed. It’s bigger than king-size, an ornately carved rococo four-poster with a flat top. It looks late nineteenth century. Under the canopy, I can see more gleaming chains and cuffs. There is no bedding... just a mattress covered in red leather and red satin cushions piled at one end.
Oh gross.  No bedding means nothing to change or wash... which means that mattress is an entire microbiological ecosystem by now. You can wipe down leather, but it's porous; if you've played with fifteen different people on it (as Man ThudCrack says he has) you're never going to get all the different bits of bacteria and viruses and general goo out of it.  It's all fun and games until the CDC declares your dungeon an outbreak zone, kids.
The feathery thing has me intrigued. I touch it hesitantly. It’s suede, like a small cat-of-nine-tails but bushier, and there are very small plastic beads on the end. “It’s called a flogger,” Christian’s voice is quiet and soft. A flogger… hmm. I think I’m in shock. My subconscious has emigrated or been struck dumb or simply keeled over and expired. I am numb. I can observe and absorb but not articulate my feelings about all this, because I’m in shock.
How many times can we sing the She Is So Not Ready For This song? Not because she didn't know what a flogger is, but because when she looks at one, she doesn't think "that might be hot"; she literally feels like her dreams are dying.
Also, beads on the end of a flogger is pretty damn intense, and might break skin. I hope he's not going to try and use that as a beginner toy. Especially because you know Bark DogChow is the kind of top who would pull a "I'm too domly to do anything but swing like a Major League batter, so if you can't handle my lack of self-restraint it's your problem" schtick.
“I’m a Dominant.” His eyes are a scorching gray, intense. “What does that mean?” I whisper. “It means I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things.”
I wonder how he pronounced the capital D.
And no, that's not what dominant means.  It means you enjoy, sexually or otherwise, having some degree of consensual control over other people.  It does not mean you have to jump right into total power exchange.
("Power exchange" might not be a good term for this, because Ana doesn't have much power to exchange in the first place. Submitting to a guy who's able to completely take over your life anyway--and is horrifyingly willing to--seems a whole lot less meaningful than giving your submission because you truly choose to.)
He’s dangerous to my health, because I know I’m going to say yes. And part of me doesn’t want to. Part of me wants to run screaming from this room and all it represents. I am so out of my depth here.
Yeah, you are.  Trust your gut, Ana.  This is the Gift of Fear.
We pass several doors until we reach the one at the end. Beyond it is a bedroom with a large double bed, all in white… everything, furniture, walls, bedding. It’s sterile and cold but with the most glorious view of Seattle through the glass wall.“This will be your room. You can decorate it how you like, have whatever you like in here.” 
“My room? You’re expecting me to move in?” I can’t hide the horror in my voice. “Not full time. Just say, Friday evening through Sunday. We have to talk about all that, negotiate. If you want to do this,” he adds, his voice quiet and hesitant.
WHOA WHOA WHOA COWBOY.  There's coming on too strong, and then there's setting up a bedroom for someone after the first date.  That's just... I can't even come up with a clever analogy for it, because that was going to be my analogy. "Like setting up a bedroom after the first date."  That's what it's like.
Also, just using the word "negotiate" doesn't mean you're actually doing it, not while you're standing there blatantly just telling her how it's going to be.
“How did you become this way?” “Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?"
I like cheese.  But I don't like sand.  It's rough.  Not like cheese. Cheese is generally smooth. Maybe not hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano. Those can be rough. But still not like sand.
“I’m really not hungry,” I whisper. “You will eat,” he says simply. Dominating Christian, it all becomes clear.
What's with the food thing?  I keep waiting for her to throw up from all the times he forces her to eat when she's not hungry. (There's been some speculation in the comments that her being named Ana and having power struggles over food is a subtle anorexia reference. I'm not sure why that would be, or how likely it is that E.L. James can do anything subtly, but the evidence is kind of unsettling.)
Also, there goes "but not until we negotiate and you consent," for the umpteenth time.  I guess it doesn't seem like such a big deal because it's not a sexual or painful thing, but this is still domination.  I think E.L. James is trying to do a "but it's just a part of who he is and he can't turn it off" thing here, but fuck that.  He can fucking control himself for the length of a conversation, and if he can't, he has no business in any kind of relationship, much less a D/s relationship.
“These are the rules. They may be subject to change. They form part of the contract, which you can also have. Read these rules and let’s discuss.”
Yet another thing that is Not Negotiation: presenting someone with a contract that you've already drawn up and saying "take it or leave it."  And he outright says he plans to alter the deal at his whim anyway.
Oh, and that contract.  Sadly, right now we only see a small section of that glorious contract.
Food: The Submissive will eat regularly to maintain her health and wellbeing from a prescribed list of foods (Appendix 4).
WHAT IS WITH THE GODDAMN FOOD THING?
Also, hee, a kink contract with appendices and cross-referencing.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Exercise: The Dominant shall provide the Submissive with a personal trainer four times a week in hour-long sessions at times to be mutually agreed between the personal trainer and the Submissive. The personal trainer will report to the Dominant on the Submissive’s progress.
I feel like even a kinky personal trainer would be really, really uncomfortable with this arrangement.  I mean, they're basically being asked to co-dom her, except that Punch HardBody will lose his shit if they ever admit that they're co-domming her, and their reports could make the difference in whether he beats her... it's all going nowhere good, fast.
“Hard limits?” I ask. “Yes. What you won’t do, what I won’t do, we need to specify in our agreement.” “I’m not sure about accepting money for clothes. It feels wrong.” [...]“I want to lavish money on you, let me buy you some clothes."
So yes, you can tell him your limits!  He's not going to fucking listen, but you can tell him. What a great dom.
“I don’t want to exercise four times a week.” “Anastasia, I need you supple, strong, and with stamina. Trust me, you need to exercise.”“But surely not four times a week, how about three?” “I want you to do four.” “I thought this was a negotiation?” 
He purses his lips at me. “Okay, Miss Steele, another point well made. How about an hour on three days and one day half an hour?” “Three days, three hours. I get the impression you’re going to keep me exercised when I’m here.” He smiles wickedly, and his eyes glow as if relieved. “Yes, I am. Okay, agreed. Are you sure you don’t want to intern at my company? You’re a good negotiator.”

It's not "negotiating" like you're buying a used car.  You're not in an adversarial relationship trying to drive a hard bargain.  In fact you're an abusive fuckwad if you drive a hard bargain.

The point of BDSM negotiation isn't to find a compromise between the dom's need to hurt and use and the submissive's sense of self-preservation. The point is to work out activities that will be enjoyable for both of them.
I've had people tell me this book wasn't really so bad, because it showed good kink, because they negotiate.  I am... unimpressed.  Yes, they do a thing they call "negotiation," but for god's sake.  Maybe we need to change the name to "collaborating on a mutual kink plan" or something.  Just to be clear to people like E.L. James.
“So, limits. These are mine.” He hands me another piece of paper. 
Hard Limits: No acts involving fire play
People outside Kinkland are really weird about fireplay.  I don't think they get it: it doesn't literally mean setting people on fire and eroticizing the third-degree burns.  Fireplay doesn't even have to hurt.  If the fire top knows what they're doing and smothers the flames smoothly as they go, being "on fire" (i.e., momentarily having alcohol burning on your skin) isn't just safe, it's completely painless.  It can hurt or cause damage, by design or accident, but so can any kind of play.
A lot of clubs and parties ban fireplay, but not because it's too extreme. They just ban it because it's a building fire hazard if they don't have a safe space for open flames.
No acts involving urination or defecation and the products thereof - No acts involving needles, knives, piercing, or blood - No acts involving gynecological medical instruments
If these are just his personal limits, fine (and actually kind of a positive thing to show that doms have limits too), but I think these are supposed to be the "obviously not, because that would be terrible" list, and... hey!  I've done like half of these!
No acts involving children or animals - No acts that will leave any permanent marks on the skin - No acts involving breath control 
Ugh. He has to write these down! Of course – they all look very sensible, and frankly, necessary… any sane person wouldn’t want to be involved in this sort of thing surely?
Well fuck you too, lady.
I can't believe I have to spell this out, but: the fact that I've bled during BDSM does not mean that I have to be specifically instructed not to molest children. BDSM is not analagous to child molestation, or on some sort of continuum between vanilla sex and child molestation, and for god's sake child molestation is not some kind of ultra-extreme BDSM activity.
“Well, when you’ve had sex, was there anything that you didn’t like doing?” For the first time in what seems to be ages, I blush. “You can tell me, Anastasia. We have to be honest with each other or this isn’t going to work.”  
[...] “You’re a virgin?” he breathes. I nod, flushing again. He closes his eyes and looks to be counting to ten. When he opens them again, he’s angry, glaring at me. “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?" he growls.
There is a special place in hell reserved for people who say "you can tell me anything," then lose their shit when you do.  And there is an extra-hot special place within that special place for people who also say "why didn't you tell me?" after you just told them.  And within that extra-hot place, in a place Satan himself finds a little bit uncomfortable, we've got the spot for people who do that because someone admitted to being a virgin.
I bet he would've also raged out if she told him she'd had sex with someone besides him.  Because rage-beasts gonna rage.  It's not something you can avoid by doing things right. People like Musk SlamFist don't want you to do things right; they want you to give them an excuse to flip out.



The really weird thing here is that he's supposed to be the ideal fantasy man. How exactly is a guy who's constantly snapping and pouting and getting pissy over all kinds of random shit a romantic fantasy? I can sort of see the appeal of "he's so passionate he hurts you" if I abandon all my morals and squint really hard, but what the hell is the appeal of "he's a garden-variety dickhead"?

113 comments:

  1. Spoiler alert: he did have a mentor, sorta. You find out about it later in this book.

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    1. Well, more like he had an abuser of his own. In addition to everything else horribly wrong about that relationship, I don't think she spent a lot of time coaching him on good technique.

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  2. OK. I had commented earlier in this series saying that it's just kinky erotica and what is the point of policing kinky erotica for best practices etc. But I totally, completely get your point now. Rage rage rage. Christ, if you're going to write about BDSM, here's a revolutionary idea: know something about BDSM! What complete drivel.

    Also, the "special place in hell" paragraph is hilarious and true.

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    1. Well, apart from that according to Dante's Inferno, the bottom of Hell is a lake of ice within which Lucifer is submerged up to his waist, and his wings beat in an attempt to escape, which only causes the lower regions to become colder.

      I am all for sticking Christian's head up Lucifer's anus... with Lucifer's permission, of course.

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    2. "ed elli avea del cul fatto trombetta" (Dante, Commedia, Inferno, canto XXI, v. 139) hahahaha you got that right Anonymous ^__^

      Pardon my English - it roughly translates to "and he had made a trumpet with his ass"

      Irene from Italy

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    3. Did I get that right - hell already *has* frozen over?! Partly, at least.

      Next you gonna tell me that the NSA tapped the Pope's telephone... oh wait... they DID. :-D

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  3. If anyone ever raged at me just for being a virgin, I certainly wouldn't feel like signing a contract that essentially takes all my free will and hands it over to them under the guise of 'kink'. But then again, I guess I'm no Anastasia Steele. Whoops.

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    1. I wonder when he expected her to work that into the conversation.

      "Hi, I'm Ana, I'm here to interview you for the school newspaper, and btw, I'm a virgin."

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    2. I think the only solution to this one is to carry around business cards with a potted sexual history, list of preferences and statement of genital configuration. Might not be much room for a phone number, though.

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  4. ...an ornately carved rococo four-poster with a flat top. It looks late nineteenth century.

    Nitpick: Rococo is late eighteenth century.

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    1. #ap art history class nostalgia moment

      Seriously thank you for this, and you're totally right :)

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    2. Yes! Although maybe Ana is observing that although it was rococo era, it looked like it was made 100 years later and was, in fact, a rococo imagining of the future that was breathtakingly accurate.

      Give her some credit.

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    3. I think late eighteenth century was neoclassical, replacing roccoco, but whichever, if it's a nineteenth century copy you can bet your leather knickers it's ghastly, overblown and tasteless.

      Which sounds just right for Sperm Thunderwhack.

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  5. No acts involving breath control.

    Really?

    Oh well. The fraction of a smidgen of a molecule of interest I had in actually reading the book just went out the window.

    This guy is not a dream Dom. He's more like a nightmare one. Fluff McBeefy is living up to every bad standard I was warned of about poser doms.

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  6. The Hero Rages To Learn His Love Is/Was A Virgin is a pretty common romance novel trope in my experience--usually deployed after rough sex between the couple. It shows The Hero's ~sensitivity~ (he would have been gentler! had he known!) in the most masculine way possible (!SHOUTING!)

    Here it seems to have been repeated without the usual context? Unless it's followed by a !shouting! [non]apology for giving Heroine a rough introduction to BDSM (because people who have had sex before should be now be expected to automatically understand anything sex-related????)

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    1. What, you didn't get your comprehensive sex guide in the mail after the first time you made it all the way around the diamond? Somebody at the ministry must have screwed up.

      :D

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    2. To be fair, if you're a virgin and we're sleeping together, I would rather know before than after the act. I wouldn't be angry, but I wouldn't be happy if someone told me afterwards. Either don't tell me or let me know beforehand. (Which she's totally doing. So...)

      But I wouldn't yell. I would probably just want to check in a little extra to check how they felt and give them a place to say anything they needed to.

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    3. Above Anon, I read your first sentence and was all "Totally, I prefer to know that kind of thing." But then, if they didn't tell you before you don't want them to tell you at all? Like ever? What is that about?

      Extra checking in is all good, but after all it's not an on-off switch, virgin who needs looking after straight to unvirgin with no feelings :) I am obvs exaggerating to make my point there, I know you weren't saying that, but that is the sort of stuff that worries me when people talk about virginity as this important status.

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    4. I actually get the 'don't tell me ever' thing. Because society treats virginity as ultra-super special, if you get to a point where you're actually a bit awkwardly old, and enjoying more of a fuck buddy relationship than a romance? It adds weird baggage.

      And this is sort of specific to being on the end where you can get away with it and not seem like you utterly suck in bed.

      Example: my boyfriend worked out that he's a bit bi quite late in life. I'm pretty sure none of the guys he rounded various bases with were aware that they were the first.

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  7. Also, after seeing this video, I can't help but picture Christian Grey as Tywin Lannister.

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  8. Reading this series make me kinda uncomfortable because I'm a lot like Ana: a naïve, inexperienced, socially awkward, 22 year old virgin. Creeps me out. But I love your notes on it : )

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    1. I hope that when and if you choose to have sexual and/or kinky relationships, they are with someone eminently communicative, caring, self-controlled, and awesome.

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    2. Anonymous, based on your comment alone, I can promise you that you are way more self-aware and mature than Ana. And your comment was three lines, and you are a stranger to me. XX

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    3. Take just one note from it: someone who can't respect boundaries and pushes them constantly (even in sneaky little "did that just happen?" ways) is a really bad partner. CaptainAwkward covers that all really well if you can't stomach the illustration in 50 Shades.

      I was a little naive and inexperienced, went on some bad dates, saw people who tested boundaries/got creepy for second dates but that was that. It took a second date to realize what was up sometimes, but I was stalked as a teenager and was too gunshy to take any chances The guy I'm marrying not only respects my boundaries, he anticipates and verifies them. Good egg, this guy.

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    4. I'm wondering if perhaps also taking time to research things that you might want to do at some point would also help? Pay attention to safety procedures, don't do things with people who don't seem to care about your safety, trust your gut, etc.

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  9. Dear god. I can't even read this stuff anymore. It hurts my brain.
    But I am glad something like the Administration series exists, which has a BDSM relationship that has 'real' people... ie, where consent and negotiation exists and my god they aren't dumb and don't cover up and make excuses and pretend everything is okay when the dominant psychopath is being a psychopath!

    I wish I could recommend the Administration series to my (thankfully few) demented family members who have read Fifty Shades of Grey and fucking liked it.

    Thanks to Cliff for the entertaining posts so far. This chapter reached my tolerance though. Silly books :(

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    1. That series sounds intriguing. Can I get some more information about it? Is it a book-series?

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    2. Might be this: http://www.mannazone.org/

      But I just googled, so can't say for sure.

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    3. That's the one. The majority of the stories written are published on that site, and if you like it you can buy the books/e-books and get some extra story content. As far as I know the author mentioned they wanted to write/publish some more (based from the LJ community) but that was two years ago and I haven't seen anything. I hope they are still able to write.

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    4. I actually didn't read 50 Shades of Grey because I had just gotten my copies of the Administration Series to reread and I couldn't bring myself to go from excellent stories with really sexy BDSM writing to this slop. And then enough people told me it was tripe that I gave up.

      Please bear in mind: The Administration Series is not not the pinnacle of healthy BDSM *either*. Val Toreth is an extremely fucked up and violent individual, and it is only the fact that Keir Warrick is such a strong personality in his own right that doesn't make it abusive as fuck.

      (Although that's really another plus for the story, that Warrick is a submissive but also so completely and utterly strong willed and independent and driven. There's a lot to like about this series, just don't go into it expecting perfect negotiation and people all acting right, cuz you wont get it xD)

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    5. Well, I've now spent my last week and a half reading that during any free time I end up having and just finished reading Gratuitous Kink. Their relationship does have some issues (well, okay, quite a few), but I like that there's no real denial of that...at least by the books themselves (some of the fans seem to feel differently, however). Also, I think my favorite thing is just the fact that, unlike Ana, Warrick actually has had some prior experience and is aware of what he's getting into. That doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, but it's just such a nice change.

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  10. my understanding was that Rock McHardSchlong's "you have to eat even though you dont want to" is actually the key to the success of the series, in that the ultimate fantasy for women (atleast, the target demographic of moderately illiterate bored housewives) is to be told that they can eat guilt free, or infact, are expected to do so.
    that in the current culture, a woman who eats is the last taboo

    of course, its still painfully awful in basically every aspect.

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    1. Hm. This makes some sense, although the forced exercise seems like it wouldn't be appealing if the idea is "a guy who frees you from obsessing about your body."

      I think one of the other appeals is that the guy is Richy McRicherson. I haven't copied over most of the stuff about that because it's boring to me, but the book goes on at extreme length about his ultra-exclusive penthouse, his many cars, his servants, him buying Ana new outfits on a whim, and so forth. To me it seems too blatantly contrived--and too connected to his manipulation and stalking--to be interesting, but I guess it's also a kind of fantasy.

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    2. I think the eating and exercise clauses were the exact point of this book when my skin went from creeping to crawling. I mean, he is literally demanding control over every single aspect of her lifestyle. ON THE FIRST DATE. The eating thing wouldn't be *so* bad if it weren't for the list of prescribed foods, but it's still...I...NO.

      (To be clear, some people do go in for that and I don't have a problem with it on principle. But this is the first time she's found out about this and he's basically just serving her her submissive papers. NO.)

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    3. It's interesting what goes into the Cinderella part of the fantasy, isn't it? I mean, the Cinderella fantasy is always covertly or overtly power-exchangey to me - someone can't whisk you off your feet and fix your life without meddling with pretty much your whole existence, I imagine - but it's interesting that in this case "I will sweep you off your feet and relieve your economic stresses" is also accompanied by "you will no longer have to make decisions about food or exercise".

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    4. could we not rag on the target demographic please, and could we especially not do so by insulting their intelligence?

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    5. amen anonymous #2.

      excuse but the things he wants her to do re: eating and exercise sound like things my mom would say -- my mom who drove 2 of my sisters to bulimia.

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    6. Ah, but I don't think the appeal is that he frees you from obsessing over your body; it's that he frees you from being responsible for your body. If your moral value is tied to how fat/skinny you are (which is incredibly fucked up, but seems to be a pretty common belief), then not having control over your body frees you from guilt over not being acceptably moral (ie. eating too much, not exercising when you really think you should...) The exercise component is important (especially the personal trainer part) because it reassures her (and the reader) that she's still going to stay skinny romance-heroine-esque, but it externalizes the control.

      In some ways, it seems similar to E.L. James' attitude towards BDSM. The kink in this book is messed up because Ana doesn't have any freedom, the 'negotiation' is all lip service. But I think that's supposed to be part of the appeal: the comfort of not having to make decisions.

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    7. You find out later that the Food Thing is his issues due to a lack of food as a child. Not saying it's ok, just that's what the reasoning is in the book.

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    8. Regarding what Minuteye said... I saw this really disturbing interview with James where she said that sex is shameful, but if someone ties you up then you're not responsible for what happens afterwards and don't need to be ashamed.

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    9. I saw, presumably, the same interview Dvärghundspossen mentioned. I don't think James meant exactly that, but it's been a while since I saw it. I think she said more that women have a tendency to feel that sex is shameful, and that that's what the allure is behind being tied up, as opposed to it actually being shameful and actually avoiding responsibility. Of course, that's still a rather questionable viewpoint, and I don't imagine that's the best reason for getting involved in BDSM. Either interpretation of the interview makes this whole series make a lot more sense though.

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    10. I worded that a bit badly... I didn't get the impression either that she thinks sex is intrinsically shameful, only that society has made it shameful or something like this. It's still a bit creepy if you think about actually engaging in bondage (rather than merely fantasizing about it, and this comment section already have loads of comments on how FSOF apparently tries to portray things realistically rather than creating a mere fantasy) because then you'll have no responsibility for what happens.

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    11. That whole idea kind of reminds me of all the Cosmocking's where they recommend that you do some kind of BSDM "light" totally without talking about anything first, where you try to subtly manipulate your boyfriend into spanking you rather than asking him to and so on.

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    12. Previous anon here. Ah, well then yeah I agree. It does seem a lot like that, which is...fitting? It's kind of strange, though, considering Cosmo has never really received the same amount of attention as this book. I do wonder if the people reading the books (and magazine) have similar thoughts about lack of responsibility. It would be nice if we could get a popular book of this sort, except where a female protagonist actually has some control over the situation, and it wasn't somehow shameful. I feel like that would be more freeing than imagining it isn't really your fault.

      Sorry if that's worded badly/doesn't make sense, I just got home from an all-weekend convention and I've been running on mainly sugar and fast food. Oddly enough, 50SOG came up there, too.

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    13. I think Kushiel's Dart was one such; I remember it being quite a hit. Not as big as Twilight, but few things are :)

      The book is set in a fantasy europe where there is some kind of magic or divine power associated with BDSM; the main character is both revered and used because of her talent for submission.

      I think she remains in control in most of the scenes, except for the ones the book calls out as dangerous. But I did read it ten years ago. I'd like to see a good critique of it actually :)

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    14. I started reading that book myself, but I need to start over because I stopped for too long and I don't remember all the political stuff anymore.
      So far, I do like how the world seems so sex-positive, and that sex is just kinda treated as a part of life, and that the main character really blatantly wanted to have sex when she was a young teenager, which was a nice change of pace. I also really like how the consent of prostitutes is very important, and it's heresy to disregard one's safeword.
      One thing I didn't like though was in her first sexual encounter, where the guy uses whore as an insult. I'm wondering if that's explained later in the book, as it kinda made the entire world fall apart at the seams for me. It's a shame, too, because it's really good so far.

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  11. i really must never read this book! I've met a fair amount if bdsm folks, and mostly they're really friendly and nice, even during a scene I've played with tender and kind doms. Christian doesn't seem like a dom, he just seems like the scariest kind of abuser...why would that be at all attractive? and it really really scares me that he's portrayed as a romantic ideal.

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  12. If we went through the book, replacing the word Dom (or similar) with "arsehole", it would make a lot more sense.
    I've found his-n-hers t-shirts for Guff McFlatpack and Ana...

    http://tinyurl.com/qf8xmgd
    http://tinyurl.com/pygzbsy

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    1. That suggestion is magical.

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  13. Unlurking to say that you're right - as a kinky personal trainer, I would NOT be ok with this. I actually compare being a personal trainer to being a service top quite a bit among my friends (most of my clients don't know that I'm kinky). There's a lot of overlap i.e. reading body language, encouraging good communication, pushing people to their limits, and having a fair amount of control over someone's body during a session, etc. But reporting back to someone's partner in a situation where they might be punished as a result would be a hard limit for me.

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    1. Reading your post the first thing I though was "what? kinky personal training is a thing? cool" then I realized I had misunderstood LOL

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    2. I read the same and was similarly disappointed. Not that there's anything wrong with a personal trainer who is kinky. I would just be amused if a kink-oriented personal trainer did exist.

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    3. I think a kinky personal trainer would be excellent, tbh. Justine Elyot has a lovely story about this - well, he's more of a life coach, really, but yeah. http://www.amazon.com/Very-Personal-Trainer-Justine-Elyot-ebook/dp/B005HXNDHW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383330680&sr=8-1&keywords=a+very+personal+trainer+justine+elyot

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  14. I have also heard people say that Fifty Shades isn't so bad because at least they talk about consent and negotiation. In my mind that makes it worse. If you read a kinky story without these elements there's usually an express implication that the things that are happening are only meant to be a fantasy and should generally not be acted out in real life. Fifty Shades gains the illusion of legitimacy because it includes the idea that consent and negotiation as serious things that should always be upheld. But, of course, it's only lip service because it throws (what little of them there actually was) out the window as soon as things get "passionate."

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    1. Yeah. Exactly this. Because it's set in the 'real world' it comes across as just abuse instead of a fantasy that omits the negotiation elements. Something like 'Exit to Eden', a clearly fantasy world erotica, is actually less damaging. (Also, plug here for Exit to Eden. It's awesome! And it has a female dom which I *never* see in published erotica/romance novels. Yay!) If something's supposed to be set in the real world it should *really* represent negotiation and boundary setting, not just half heartedly gesture in their direction. Jenny Trout's 'The Boss' series is a good example of how to actually show negotiation, and scenes not going to plan, and aftercare...

      And what's even creepier, at no time does Ana actually seem to get enthusiastic for kink - it doesn't even have the romance novel's convention of the heroine being silent but going 'yes, yes!' in her head. She doesn't get turned on by thinking about the power exchange stuff, she's worried about losing her autonomy. She literally says to herself that she's worried about Christian hitting her, and not in a sexy way. How can people not see how abusive their relationship ends up being? Do they really think BDSM is about that??

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    2. You know, I consider myself to be on the tame end of things, but... chances are, I'm going to do at least one of those things that they've declared are icky and wrong.
      I'm more glad by the day that I didn't let my mother borrow this book from me. Admittedly, the first reason I warned her off was because I very specifically remember her kink-shaming when I was in my early teens (specifically, telling me that if you're handcuffed with a guy, he's totally going to rape you! ...even though I knew it was bullshit, it still didn't help the self-loathing any.) But, now I guess I don't have to worry because she's back to seeming to hate bdsm again? My mother confuses me sometimes.
      Anyway, I think we need to crowdsource recs at some point as an alternative to things like this. That would be pretty awesome.

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    3. Oh dear, for some reason this didn't post as a seperate comment, so disregard that, please!

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  15. The reason I didn't tell my first sexual partner that I was a virgin at 24? Because I was afraid he would react just like Christian. Because I know some men do, and it's frightning. Because I was embarassed as hell even though intellectually I knew it was fine, that 24 wasn't that old and anyway it would've still been fine if I'd been 42. Because I was afraid he wouldn't want me. Because I didn't want all the fussing and the Virgin Sex Special the first time, I just wanted to have sex.

    It's one of my biggest regrets, not because there was anything wrong with the sex, but because it goes so strongly against all my principles about openness and honesty. That's how big society made this whole Virginity thing in my head, that's how much pressure I felt, that's how terrified I was that Everything Would Be Terrible Forever If [unspecified something that was never really clear]. So the phrase "Why didn't you tell me [you were a virgin]?" makes my blood boil. THINK for a second, will you?

    When I did tell my partner later, he was more gentle and understanding than I felt I had any right to, even though this was a REALLY big deal for him. And I was all "I'm so sorry I didn't tell you but I just wanted you so much and I'm so sorry and I was so afraid of being rejected-" and he just held me and kissed me and said "I know. It's ok. I love you." That part of the story has nothing whatsoever to do with 50 Shades, but it just makes my heart melt every time I remember it.

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    1. Awww.

      I think it's relevant info if you're asking whether or not someone has experience with something like suspension (where minor things like a little tingly in your fingers are actually an emergent NEED-TO-KNOW for the top, and this isn't always common knowledge).

      It's relevant what your exposure risk is for various diseases.

      Aside from pardoning your potential inexperience, or helping make it a special experience for you (or, declining to play that role), why do I need to know?

      I think the issue is that we assume the first time is ultra-special ALWAYS. And yes, tricking someone into doing a super-special thing for you IS a reasonable thing for them to be upset about. If it's just something that you're ready to cross off and not have the baggage anymore, and there is no safety concern, nor any foreseeable reason that this will be triggering for you? Then you're not tricking anyone.

      I wish we put less baggage on this one act though.

      Also, the virgin=tight thing? W.T.F? Okay, giving birth vaginally changes things, but other than that it's kegels. You want a tight, tight hole to stick your noodlely appendage in? Get me off with just one or two fingers to clamp down on first. Let me take a minute to calm down, and THEN go for it.

      Or, let me give you a hand job... I can adjust the diameter at will.

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  16. A LEATHER MATTRESS? Ewwwwww.

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    1. Someone has never had sex on a leather surface, methinks. Unless it's suede, you're likely to get a lot of embarrassing fart noises once you get two naked sweaty people squirming around on it.

      Also, you know, hygene. Ick.

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    2. I don't even own many leather things, and even I know that the material is damn hard to clean and get smells out of. I guess this means that randomly reading shit on the internet now counts as more research than was done to write this...

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    3. Yeah but sticky leather gives that car-seat first-time nostalgia :)
      Of course that wouldn't work for Ana...

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    4. I don't really understand the problems with the leather matress. Basicly all of the parties I've been to, including the one I organize (in a gay sex club), have beds/matresses/massage tables/andreas crosses covered in fake leather. Before and after the party we clean them with alcohol and during the party there are dettol napkins everywhere for people to use. Normal cotton bedsheets can be washed after the party but arent changed during. And all the juices go through them into the matress as well.

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    5. @previous Anon: I think FAKE might actually be key to that. Real leather is porous and with possible open skin means Hep C worries. Even WITHOUT that, I'd recommend making sure your decontamination procedures kill MRSA.

      I'm pretty sure alcohol isn't enough for several things, and also that good cleaners need to sit longer than most people leave them. Also, I wonder whether frequent wipe downs affect surface integrity?

      Leather just CAN'T be sanitized. It's SKIN and has holes!

      * You may have noticed I didn't say a thing about HIV. (I hear my mother screaming now about how bi men will give me HIV, but that's another can o prejudiced crap) That's because HIV doesn't survive outside the body very long. If your decontamination takes care of Hep C, HIV is long gone.

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  17. Cliff, not related to this post really, but I recently stumbled upon your blog – can’t even remember how now, and fell in love. The perfect combination of feminist, funny, and kinky – three of my favorite things! I have burst out laughing in public too many times recently while reading on my phone. Over a couple weeks in my spare time I read all the way through to the beginning, quite a task but I just couldn’t stop! Thanks for writing. I have started dipping my toes into the kink community and your blog has given me some really helpful insight into making the transition from years of fantasy to real life participation in the flesh and blood community. It has been so helpful to have realistic, down to earth perspective on kinky life from a feminist rather than relying on what I grew up learning from porn and erotic literature (not the best teachers, hahaha). I’m looking forward to continuing to follow your thoughts and adventures and have really enjoyed your deconstruction of 50 Shades so far. Keep it up, please!

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  18. Why should he respect her limits when he doesn't even listen to his own. And yeah spoilers...

    He sets her up with a GYN of his choosing and has the appointment at his house and I think he's even in the room so while he wasn't holding the speculum there goes that limit.

    Then there's what is supposed to be the oh so sexy tampon scene... last time I looked menstruation had blood involved.

    Then there's the "Don't pee and then come her for sex" order later on - which is still an act involving urination even though it's more "urination denial."

    I keep ending up at a loss as to how to deal with the people in my life fawning over these books and excitedly discussing casting options for what are going to have to be the three worst movies ever made. 2 hours of pained sitting in restaurants with voice overs from the inner goddess of stupidity and lots of vague references to food as sex metaphors with the actual sex scenes cut out for ratings reasons... Then the odd forced drama over all the people in Noxious McNauseating's path of destruction who have come back to haunt him like some kind of kinky Christmas Carol.

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    1. I thought the don't pee bit was just because it would make the g spot orgasm more intense. That's all he says, anyway, no?

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    2. TMI Alert

      There is no "just because it makes X more intense." Not everyone is wired to react that way. If I were told to hold it, I'd be choosing between not orgasming and urinating on my partner. I don't have a weak bladder, just one that gets confused easily by arousal. So "hold it to make the orgasm more intense" is still a form of urination play. Then there's the way he just orders her to hold it instead of having a talk about how her body works because true love means never needing to ask what your partner liked about previous performances. Blech.

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  19. Ohhhhh maaaaan. I've been reading your cosmocking since a mate linked it but I've just gorged on all these posts.

    I've managed to duck ALL of the 50 SoG commentary AND the book till now so I'm super glad this is my first encounter with it. Brill.

    Thank yooou.
    x

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  20. I wonder if his list of limits is another holdover from the book's vampiric origins. While some just look to be generic "extreme" things, several things seem to have vampire related connotations, especially the fact that no fire play was the very first rule, but others too. Like blood play might make him lose control, and since vampires don't eat ordrink normally, presumably he couldn't give anyone a golden shower even if he wanted to.

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  21. (Content note: second-person rant)

    "Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?"
    Well, why the fuck didn't you know? Seriously, what kind of stalker are you? Maybe you should fire your private investigators. Or better yet, actually read their report. I bet the "sexual history" section was even in boldface.

    But you DID know, didn't you? Let's look at that room you prepared for her again.
    "... all in white… everything, furniture, walls, bedding. It’s sterile and cold ..."
    So, right, you just happened to pick that decor for her, having no idea she was a virgin? You just figured you'd go with white for a change?

    So why pretend it's a surprise? Well, I can guess. It's to make her feel bad about it. To make her apologetic about having no experience. To make her feel she has to prove she's cool. To make her feel that saying "I'm not ready for this" would be a disappointment.

    *sigh* This is a bit like watching a horror movie. I want to shake her and shout "Nooo don't hide in the cellar!"

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    1. I have to say, I totally disagree. I think he's angry because he's been showing her his room of pain and babbling on about contracts and preferences, and then he finds out she's completely terrified and out of her depth because she hasn't even had sex yet - I think that's the reason for the outburst. No, it's not right, and no, he doesn't actually make up for his mistake much, so you're all right overall, but as to making her feel bad about it, meh.

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    2. I agree that your interpretation is reasonable if he actually didn't know. I just find it hard to believe that he didn't. He's supposed to be stalking her, he must have researched her life, and he did pick the "all white everywhere" theme for her room -- clear symbolism there. But yeah that's something I'm reading between the lines, it's not in the book.

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    3. I'm not really sure about that, though. Yeah, I can see where you're coming from with that, but considering the decor of his office building (rather monochrome) I'm wondering if this is simply his style?
      Then again, a completely white room is a bit overkill, but... perhaps it's like a blank sheet of paper. It's easier to decorate it how you wish when it's a blank slate, or at least that's how I tend to see things like this.

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    4. I just figured the white-on-white was E.L. James's idea of what fancy rich-people houses look like. Maybe it's just supposed to be all sleek and modern and purportedly stylish.

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    5. That makes sense. I kinda figured too, with the look of his office building and how MODERN it was.
      Maybe I don't connect virginal=white because I know the history of wedding dresses? White dresses started as a status thing, so maybe this extends to rooms as well? I read an excerpt of what I think is the ickiest part, so I know that he has maids, so he can obviously afford to keep everything white like that.

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    6. I assumed the room was all white because Ana is meant to decorate it in whatever way she chooses - so he's giving her a blank canvas.

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    7. I guess it IS typical for Mr. Grey to think that "all white" is not a design choice :)

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  22. The description of all that equipment makes me think of one of the entries in Douglas Adams' book The Meaning of Liff, which describes something along the lines of a person who has all the state-of-the-art golf equipment they could possibly need... and so far has had one golf lesson.

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  23. Once again... This guy doesn't seem to like the poor lady at all. He doesn't like the way she eats or takes care of herself. He doesn't like how she conducts herself in her social life. He doesn't like that she doesn't share his habit of working sexual history and preferences into conversations that don't call for those details... WTF is his problem?! The only thing he seems to enjoy is that she is confused and nervous the the point of anxiety attacks when she's in his presence.

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  24. Thank you so much for writing about Fifty Shades of Grey! A bunch of my friends really love the book and recommended it to me, and I was excited to read it since I'm into BDSM, but it was just such an abusive relationship! He keeps talking about negotiation but they never negotiate anything. I kept wanting to punch him and tell Ana to run far away. I'm especially glad that you mentioned his list of hard limits, because it did come off to me as a list of generally bad things rather than his personal limits. My boyfriend and I do breathplay all the time. How the hell do you put that on the same list as molesting children?

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  25. Something has just occurred to me - given that 50 Shades represents, by her own admission, E L James' deepest fantasies put down on paper, there's an unsung hero here: Her husband. Because if she hadn't met him and instead had actually ended up with her ultimate "dream lover", she'd probably be in pieces in somebody's basement freezer right now O_o

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    1. It's the same with Stephenie Meyer ... apparently, the man of her dreams would be an abusive vampire, but she settled for an ordinary guy.
      It puzzles me, though, how they can fall in love with nice, normal men and still have the delusion that they would have been even happier with an abusive asshole.Haven't they met any abusive assholes? Or are they rationalizing it by telling themselves that those abusive assholes they dated and didn't like just weren't handsome enough?

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    2. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be joke, but FYI: Sexual fantasies aren't necessarily something you want to come true. You know, like, even if your deepest fantasy is to be kidnapped to slavery by dark elves, it doesn't necessarily mean that's what you want from life.

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    3. I'm kind of uncomfortable with this comment thread. It seems like you're implying that (at least some) women end up with abusers because they secretly wanted it?

      Romanticizing abuse, while not-okay, is still not the same as asking for it.

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    4. @second Anonymous: Yeah, but it seems James doesn't know that. She didn't write SSoG as a sexual fantasy with dark elves, she wrote it like something that could happen in the real world. That's the disturbing thing about it: She doesn't seem to be aware that it's just a fantasy, and that she doesn't want it to come true. And neither, it seems, are many of her readers. Same with Meyer, who allegedly said she'd run away with Edward if he turned up on her doorstep in real life.

      @Cliff: I'm the first Anonymous here ... and I didn't mean to imply that. Clearly, no one wants to end up with an abuser. I just get the impression that the aforementioned authors (wrongly) believe they want abusers, because they confuse their sexual fantasies with what they want in a partner in real life. (Could be just marketing tricks, of course ... still creepy )

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    5. Okay, fair. I definitely agree that the fantasy-reality confusion here is far more worrisome than violent/coercive fantasies on their own.

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    6. Weirdly, Ann Rice had this kind of thing going on too! I think in one interview she talked about how hot she found Lestat and I'm like "... really? You pretty clearly made him the abuser in Interview With A Vampire".

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  26. I remember I gave up on trying to read that piece of shit around this part. Wondering what comes next.

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  27. Yaknow, if she'd just kept the vampires and set it in a supernatural world, and framed this all as an aspect of society instead of BDSM, it wouldn't be half as offensive or problematic.

    Innocent young virgin gets lured into dark underworld she totally doesn't understand and bad things happen to her? Totally hot fantasy.

    The problem is making it realistic and treating it like it's what BDSM is.

    Just sayin', I still wouldn't have read it as Twilight fanfic, but it would be a little less problematic.

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    1. Well it doesn't have to be Twilight fanfic to be set in a world of sexually abusive supernatural beings. The Anita Blake series has plenty of that :) And the Meredith Gentry series by the same author even more so. Both of them have protagonists that know what they want, though, so they might not be suitable for the same target market.

      That's one point I've been thinking about, by the way. E L James didn't make these books so popular. Something lifted them out of the regular pile of new romance books and made them a mega-hit. She hit a chord somewhere. What was that chord? What was it about these books that made them so successful?

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    2. Okay, I had a longer comment here, but I lost it, so I'm just going to summarize.
      I have three ideas for why this series is so popular. Basically, I think a lot of young women connect to Ana herself due to social awkwardness and lack of sexual experience (at least, statistically compared to previous generations), the isolated nature of the Twilight fandom (thus, less of a likelyhood that many of the readers have read other sexy and likely better fanfics) and the media egging it on and making it a thing. Also, it seems like most of the people who really like it haven't ever read sexy things before as well, which I suppose lends credence to my other point.
      And, well, probably also the rich dude thing helps. (A book I shelved at work today was about a single mother marrying a millionaire, and the back said "This could happen to you!" so that's totally a thing?)
      Also, I thought that that was (at least, historically speaking) most of the vampire's appeal? Besides the whole othering aspect, at least.

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    3. @Amtep, IIRC James works in the PR industry, so she probably had an easier time getting her books publicized and hyped.

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  28. ELJ clearly has no idea what she's talking about. Her characters are contrived, but at same time are flat and barely two dimensional (wait till Leroy McFistedson gets all sad and tries to character develop) the story is...none, essentially (wait till the second book 'thriller' experience) and on top of all of that Ana's inner goddess never ceases to dance in proportion to her organs never failing to stop on command. The books are (I stopped a fifth through the third because it was boring, but I'm sure Hissy DustStick and Ana get on just fine), are largely damaging and misrepresented, yes: apart from perpetuating that dream of "the one", that women can't make rational decisions and that BDSM is something extreme AND that hot sex in water is possible, what really got me was this.
    I was in a bookshop looking for books, and just for laughs I picked up one of the other books by 50 shades 'erotica' section table opened it midway and read the following "I was standing naked, shivering, on the stage holding my violin waiting for the request to play. I couldn't see, the red blindfold prevented that, but I could feel him watching me, his gaze travelling..." at which point I shut the book and decided to read some gay manga (comics) instead because at least that has soul. ELJ 'inspired' people to publish their personal, badly constructed wank fantasies but also clearly loosened up publishers opinions on publishing that extra drivel that nobody needs. I understand that there will always be copies of famous books and so on, but just to see what crawls out of the woodwork when something like 50S comes up when it inspires more unresearched drivel on real life, on something that exists was just...disheartening.

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  29. I have read all your 'reviews' with a mix of hilarity and horror. I have also read the 'hiding paedophilia in plain sight' article and I wanted to make a few comments about that and what you have said about it.

    I have never even read a line of these books (apart from quotes) but it was easy to pick up that though ELJ has made the characters of Ana and Grey 21 and 27 they are about 14 and 45. If we were to encounter people like this IRL they would be about those ages. I am not basing Ana's likely age on her lack of sexual experience, but on other aspects of naivety and immaturity.

    What is interesting about this, and many other aspects of these dreadful books, is WHY ELJ has presented such a scenario. I do not think that any of it is worth a great deal of analysis, but in the context of these books being extremely poorly written with no attention paid to any aspect of reality I have to conclude that ELJ did NOT intend many of the interpretations of the writing. Specifically, although I agree with many of the assertions of the article that claims that this book is a grooming and rape text book, I cannot seriously accept that ELJ meant to portray it as such.

    The uses of the names Ana and Mia are a little more intriguing. It seems too much of a coincidence, but again WHY would ELJ want to encode aspects of the book (relating to food and body image) to be particularly appealing to young women with eating disorders? If she did that deliberately it really does make me wonder what her agenda is, as one thing I am really unhappy with regarding the 'messages' in this book is that young women should seek this kind of relationship as an all consuming passionate ideal. If ELJ did this deliberately then I have to conclude that she is some kind of evil genius, indeed hiding in plain sight!

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  30. I like your cosmocking series, but this book seems to be so bad it is hard to write a funny review of it - it ends up more disturbing and off-putting, but your comments are certainly interesting.

    The exercise and food proscriptions make me think that the ultimate fantasy described in this book is to have someone have control of your life so that you don't have to be. You don't have to be responsible any more for your own success or failure in anything - appearance, money, sexual satisfaction, etc - because someone else is, and presumably they do a good job and you achieve the things you always wanted to achieve* - attractiveness, sexual satisfaction, nice clothes, pretty things - but without having to actually exercise your own motivation. You have no choice and you can't fail!
    It's like the fantasy of not having to deal with any of your (perceived) personal failings anymore.

    *assuming that one wanted to achieve these things

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  31. Wait... ELJ thinks that people even feel the need to MENTION child molestation when talking about hard limits? Seriously, there is "No blood play, I faint" (true story) and then there is "And please don't try and make me be a paedophile."

    There are no words.

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    1. Is it weird that this doesn't seem weird to me? Admittedly, my exposure to BDSM has be strictly online (which is probably true for E L James too, come to think of it), but just googling the phrase "my hard limits" I see children (and bestiality) mentioned several times. Is it sort of a corollary to the fact that almost no one would admit to being a pedophile IRL, but online some people do?

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    2. Well, I suppose I can see the need, but...as said about an earlier chapter, if it's something that you have to say, you should probably be asking about how you go there in the first place.
      I'm guessing it's a safeguard against bad doms or something, but children and animals can't legally consent anyway, so if you're doing this right it shouldn't even be a thing to worry about.
      On a related note, this is why I consider it a red flag if someone says that you should write down your limits, but considers EVERYTHING ELSE potentially on the table. Just...no.
      (Also, my captcha was "cumbeg 402" which is probably the best captcha.)

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    3. 402 is the http error code for "Payment Required" :)

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    4. I can see specifying no *age* play. But that's really quite a different matter.

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  32. What gets me squicked out about these books ultimately comes down to two things. (50 Shades, and to a lesser extent, Twilight)

    1) This is the modern day, and there's no implication that the world is so different that this ISN'T abusive behavior.

    2) They're written as an on-the-level thing.

    If Christian Grey was, say, a 16th Century Venetian Trader, or a Roman wineseller, or a post-apocalyptic warlord, the same stuff wouldn't bother me as much because of how obviously it's been marked out as fantasy. This is written in a way that we're supposed to think "Oh, this is romantic, and hot, and normal stuff in BDSM."

    Christian Grey comes off as a horribly abusive dom, but the author knows JUST ENOUGH about BDSM to portray a horribly abusive dom. And there's just enough there that if someone who reads this DOES try to get involved, they can end up in a truly terrible situation, and they're much worse off to start than someone who showed up from nowhere whose only knowledge of kink is "I wish someone would tie me down and beat me up." Since that person might be coming in with fantasies of being tossed around by old Western villains or Orcs or, hell, super-hot billionaires who kidnap them and force them to live in their mansion, they're not coming in knowing these terms and ideas, and thinking that that's the way things really ARE, and then seeing a world JUST SIMILAR enough to that, that they can get hurt.

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  33. This is a ridiculous amount of triggery to me (not blaming you, I chose to read and I'm enjoying the jokes and stuff as well) because, I love spanking/caning but it has taken me nearly two years to get to the point that I do not instinctively whimper and cower in fear when my fiance pulls his hand back. God it was frustrating. "I want to feel it so bad, but my now hypervigilant self-preservation drive won't let me!" And this was because of the fucking countless men who think "I like spanking" means "hit as hard as you can right off the bat, shame me if I ask you to stop/use the safeword, sulkily comment that that wasn't hard at all by *your* standards." I learned NOT to say "I like spanking" far too late.

    A while before I met my fiance, I was in a semi-serious relationship with a guy whom I came to trust enough to risk telling him that. He did the same. damn. thing. In fact, he chased me around the bed with a paddle while I did that laugh - a laugh I am now extremely familiar with - that I do when I'm trapped in an abusive situation and I don't know how to get out and heehee please stop please heeheehee. So. Many. Times.

    Two years of patience and sensitivity and actual 'negotiation' later, I am in a place where my whimper and cower and try to flee instinct is only triggered if he comes too close to my pain threshold, which is still annoying because I *like* things right on or somewhat over my pain threshold (you may know, that moment where "I don't think I can take any more of this" melts into awesomeness), but that intense fear instinct is still too strong because of previous fucking douchebags.

    So, yeah...whenever mildly kinky or non-kinky (or even professedly very kinky, although this is rarer) people say that Fifty Shades isn't *that bad* a representation of kink, I want to cry.

    Thanks for doing this Cliff, even though it's fucking harrowing, it is a morbid relief to see my intense objections be put right out there by someone who knows.

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    1. I call that the hyena laugh, because hyenas laugh when they're threatened. (I do the same thing, so I had to come up with a name, since nobody else seems to understand that not all laughter is good.)

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    2. I like spanking people and I really am appalled by how much of the information/writing on the internet makes it sound like if a person likes spanking you can just beat on them at any time in any way because "well they are submissive, if they don't like it that just means you need to be more capital D dominate."

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  34. Oh my God! When will you finally write Chapter 8? Can't wait for it ;)

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  35. I actually burst out laughing when I read that there was a content warning for disordered eating on this chapter, as if all the rest wasn't bad enough. It's like E L James has some sort of checklist of Extremely Fucked Up And Triggering Shit that she's carefully working through, item by item.

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  36. I read for a moment then blinked. I am a fire performer and we do fire 'fleshing' all the time. Fuel on skin and light then quickly wipe it away. Usually no pain. Spanking hurt way more! The more I read the more I feel sick to my stomach, but I must read on! Thank you Cliff for giving me this to refer people to when they said "I liked 50 shades of grey!"

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  37. Thank you for wading into this book to do this series. I'm going to send people here when they ask me for specifics about why 50 Shades fails on every level as a romance series. Remove the romance aspect, it would work beautifully as psychological horror. I'm wondering if E. L. James thought "The Gift of Fear" was a relationship guide, since she seemed to think Alec d'Urberville was a dreamboat or something. (Seriously did she even read "Tess of the d'Urbervilles"? Thomas Hardy wrote a creeper so accurate it gave me nightmares!)

    I've met guys who can pronounce the capitol D when they say "dominant". They all seem to come off like Slab BulkHead does here, entitled, scary, and completely lacking in boundaries or common sense. And they all seem to get really hostile when they meet a sub who doesn't roll over for their every command.

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  38. I have so many issues with 50 shades and I've never even looked at a copy. You are pretty much summing up all my woes chapter by chapter. It's an absolute disgrace and all it does is give the vanillas an unrealistic view on being Dominant and being submissive - both of which are far, far different to her interpretation!

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  39. Re: the food thing: at a guess (not having read this book before), I would say that it's supposed to be romantic because Christian Grey is proving he cares about Ana's health by forcing her to eat when otherwise she'd just go ahead and starve herself. Apparently. Of course, it doesn't actually work that way, but I can see where someone with a less sophisticated understanding of eating disorders and abusive behavior would look at this and go, 'Aww, he does care!' That doesn't make it less WRONG WRONG WRONG, but it fits within the bounds of my imagination. Barely.

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