Saturday, December 14, 2013

Let's Read Fifty Shades of Grey! Chapter 11!

It's a double post day!  Because I decided to, that's why!  And because nothing happens in either chapter, so really it's like getting zero chapters for the price of two!

(And because I really want to do more original writing, and I'm hoping getting more FSoG out of the way will motivate me to do that.)

I hope you like fakey, blatantly illegal legal documents, because most of this chapter is one of them!  In its entirety!  Right down to the signature page and appendices!  Because EROTICA!

Content warnings for this chapter: A legal document that somehow still manages to incorporate emotional and physical abuse and total disregard for consent.  Also forced exercise.


CONTRACT Made this day_________ of 2011 (“The Commencement Date”) BETWEEN MR. BIG McLARGEHUGE of 301 Escala, Seattle, WA 98889 (“The Dominant”) MISS ANASTASIA STEELE of 1114 SW Green Street, Apartment 7, Haven Heights, Vancouver, WA 98888 (“The Submissive”)
98889 and 98888 aren't real zip codes.  I'd cut E.L. James some slack and say "well, it's like putting 555 in a phone number," except that Escala is a real building in Seattle.  It's in zip code 98101.  So it's sort of weird to make one up.  (Vancouver zip codes are in the 986XX range.)  This isn't really bad, just... unnecessarily inexplicable.

Oh, I'm just stalling. Let's get into this beast.
THE PARTIES AGREE AS FOLLOWS 1 The following are the terms of a binding contract between the Dominant and the Submissive.
Did I mention this thing goes on for fifteen pages?  There's sub-clauses and cross-references.  Never mind D/s; I think Bark DangerStomp has a full-blown lawyer-play fetish going here.
2 The fundamental purpose of this contract is to allow the Submissive to explore her sensuality and her limits safely, with due respect and regard for her needs, her limits and her wellbeing.
If you care so much about her needs and limits, maybe you should've consulted her at some point in the process of writing this monstrosity?  Handing someone a fully-written contract and going "of course you have a choice! you can sign, or not sign!" isn't exactly negotiation.
3 The Dominant and the Submissive agree and acknowledge that all that occurs under the terms of this contract will be consensual, confidential, and subject to the agreed limits and safety procedures set out in this contract.
"Consensual" isn't a magic word.  You can't just declare something consensual.  The other person would have to actually consent to it.
5 Adherence to the above warranties, agreements and undertakings (and any additional limits and safety procedures agreed under clause 3 above) are fundamental to this contract. Any breach shall render it void with immediate effect and each party agrees to be fully responsible to the other for the consequence of any breach.
You'd think someone who was so into playing lawyer wouldn't write a clause this garbled.  "The consequence of any breach" is that the contract is void; i.e., Ana doesn't have to follow orders, and Buff ChunderStorm doesn't have to... well, he doesn't really have to do anything under the contract anyway, so he's free to continue not doing anything for her.  That's all. There's nothing else to be responsible for.

I think the idea here is that Clam ThudBlast could make shit up and say "I decided you have to get one thousand lashes and give me twelve blowjobs as the consequence of your breach," but the contract as written does not allow for that.
8 If at any time the Dominant should fail to keep to the agreed terms, limitations and safety procedures set out in this contract or agreed additionally under clause 3 above the Submissive is entitled to terminate this contract forthwith and to leave the service of the Dominant without notice.
Or, you know, any time she goddamn feels like it.
13 The Dominant reserves the right to dismiss the Submissive from his service at any time and for any reason. The Submissive may request her release at any time, such request to be granted at the discretion of the Dominant subject only to the Submissive’s rights under clauses 2-5 and 8 above.
OH BABY CROSS-REFERENCE ME HARDER.

The second sentence is not just wildly illegal and immoral, but inconsistent with the contract itself.  If she breaches the contract, it's void; therefore, if she breaches by leaving the relationship, her penalty is... not being in the relationship.  Obviously this is a good thing, but it's fucking unsettling that it's a loophole in a "you can't leave" clause instead of directly granted in a "you're free to leave" clause.
15 The following service provisions have been discussed and agreed and will be ad-hered to by both parties during the Term. Both parties accept that certain matters may arise which are not covered by the terms of this contract or the service provisions, or that certain matters may be renegotiated. In such circumstance further clauses may be proposed by way of amendment. Any further clauses or amendments must be agreed, documented and signed by both parties and shall be subject to the fundamental terms set out at clauses 2-5 above.
This chapter makes me feel like scrolling to the bottom and clicking "okay" so I can just get my goddamn iTunes update already.
15.22 The Submissive shall not look directly into the eyes of the Dominant except when specifically instructed to do so. The Submissive shall keep her eyes cast down and maintain a quiet and respectful bearing in the presence of the Dominant.
This is just one of many clauses detailing how she's supposed to take beatings without complaint, obey orders without question, etc., but for some reason this is the one that pushed me over the "oh, FUCK YOU" line.

The weird thing is, I've done eye contact restrictions in real life and it's been hot.  (Albeit for the length of a scene. If I had to go around Rowdy's house all the time with my eyes demurely downcast I'd probably bump into things a lot, and "hey honey, do you need anything from Home Depot?"-type conversations would become really weird.)  But seeing it here makes me want to death-glare straight in Dash BugZap's eyes while yelling "nyahh! you can't stop me!  nyahh!"
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.
Remember when they specifically negotiated that she wouldn't do this?  And it was like the one concession Butt DampCrack was actually willing to make?  He never actually edited the contract to reflect that.  Raise your hand if you're shocked.
No activity that involves the direct contact of electric current (whether alternating or direct),
"I'm willing to experiment with DC, but AC is a hard limit."
"Why is that?"
"It hertz."
Is Bondage acceptable to the Submissive? • Hands in front • Hands behind back • Ankles • Knees • Elbows • Wrists to ankles
You have to work out which positions are okay by communicating while you actually set up the bondage.  Having her check off "ankles are okay, no knees please, elbows are okay..." is not going to give you the necessary insight into her body mechanics and preferences.
What is the Submissive’s general attitude about receiving pain? Where 1 is likes intensely and 5 is dislikes intensely: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 How much pain does the submissive want to receive? Where 1 is none and 5 is severe: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5
So... if she circles 5 and then 1, does that actually change anything?
My head is buzzing. How can I possibly agree to all this?
Well, you don't have to if you don't want to.  That's actually the whole point of this.
I shudder at the thought of being flogged or whipped. Spanking probably wouldn’t be so bad, humiliating though. And tied up? Well he did tie my hands together. That was… well it was hot, really hot, so perhaps that won’t be so bad.
Flogging, whipping, and spanking are all things I do.  And I do them because I want to.  Because I've dreamed about them since before I even dreamed about sex.  Because when I do them, I'm flying, and when I don't do them, I crave them.  If my feelings about them were "they don't sound so bad, I think I can cope if I have to," I wouldn't fucking do them.
I can’t look him in the eye. How weird is that? The only way I ever have any chance to see what he’s thinking. Actually, whom am I kidding, I never know what he’s thinking, but I like looking into his eyes. He has beautiful eyes – captivating, intelligent, deep and dark, dark with dominant secrets. I recall his burning smoky gaze and press my thighs together, squirming. And I can’t touch him. Well, no surprise there. And these silly rules… No, no I can’t do this. I put my head in my hands. This is no way to have a relationship.
It's okay to think that, Ana!  It sounds like this is wrong for you!  Which is fine!  You don't have to if you don't want to!
My subconscious sounds sane and rational, not her usual snarky self. My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old. Please, let’s do this… otherwise we’ll end up alone with lots of cats and your classic novels to keep you company.
So that's why she agrees to this.  Because she thinks her only choices in life are to be owned and beaten or to be alone forever.  God that's sad.  Nothing about this is fucking okay.

You know, cats and classic novels can be very pleasant. Sounds downright cozy to me.
Maybe if I just sign up for the sex… would he go with that? I suspect not.
This is so incredibly not the voice of someone who is enthusiastically consenting to BDSM.

Does E.L. James think all submissives and bottoms are like this?  That we just put up with the domination and pain so we can be in a relationship at all? This is getting unbearably sad.
“There’s a man here with a delivery for you. You have to sign for it.” [...] “It’s a MacBook Pro.” “Of course it is.” I roll my eyes . “These aren’t available in the shops yet, ma’am, the very latest from Apple.”
Growl PreenCock somehow manages to be creepy and controlling even when he's giving presents.  The message isn't "you should have nice things!", it's "I have money and power and you are indebted to me!"
“Well, this has full wireless N, and I’ve set it up with your Me account details. This baby is all ready to go, practically anywhere on the planet.” He looks longingly at it.
Ooh, wireless N!  I love that stuff. (Is she trying to say 802.11n? That's the closest I've got to that making sense.)

And practically anywhere on the planet!  That's really nice.  I can only take my laptop some places.  It disintegrates in Australia and most EU countries.
“Me account?” “Your new email address. ” I have an email address? He points to an icon on the screen and continues to talk at me but it’s like white noise. I haven’t got a clue what he’s saying, and in all honestly, I’m not interested. Just tell me how to switch it on and off – I’ll figure out the rest.
Most of Ana's dialogue makes her sound younger than her age, so it's jarring to have her suddenly acting like my 86-year-old grandmother asking how to rewind a DVD.
[after some emails between Dog ThrashBait and Ana that are too painfully inane to relate, except that she says she didn't want the computer and he of course completely fucking disregards that] He emailed me. I’m like a small, giddy child. And all the contract angst fades. As I wash my hair, I try and think what I could possibly ask him via email. Surely it’s better to talk these things through. Suppose someone hacked into his account? I flush at the thought.
She's in the bathroom at this point, so I'm not sure what kind of "flush" she means.

(I did a search, and this book uses the word "flush" exactly 100 times. I haven't checked on "blush" and "turn red" and so forth, but basically it would be more efficient if Ana told us all the times she wasn't going tomato-faced.)

I don't know if all this weirdness around email is unintentionally revealing E.L. James's attitude toward technology, or if it's yet another thing for Ana to be naive and helpless about.
José is punctual. He comes bounding into the shop like a gamboling dark-eyed puppy. “Ana,” he smiles his dazzling toothy all-Hispanic-American smile, and I can’t be angry with him anymore.
*cringes*

(I can't believe it took me this long to figure out that Jose is Jacob.  The "puppy" line gave it away.)
[Big McLargeHuge to Ana]: I do hope you had a good day at work. [I'm sparing you the way the emails are written out in the book, which includes the date and time stamps, subject lines,  salutations, and Christian Grey's fucking email signature. Every time.  And there's like twenty emails in this chapter.] 
[Ana to McLargeHuge]: Sir… I had a very good day at work. Thank you. 
[McLargeHuge to Ana]: Delighted you had a good day. While you are emailing, you are not researching.
God what a dick.  It's like, he's an abuser, but on another level, he's also just a dick.
I type Submissive into Wikipedia. Half an hour later, I feel slight queasy and frankly shocked to my core. Do I really want this stuff in my head? Jeez – is this what he gets up to in the Red Room of Pain?
If you actually type "Submissive" into Wikipedia, it redirects to "Deference", which mostly discusses the term in sociological contexts.  But at the end it does mention BDSM:
"In interpersonal relationships, some people prefer or are willing to adopt a submissive role in sexual activities or personal matters. The level and type of submission can vary from person to person, and from one context to another; and also is dependent on the other partner being willing to assume control in those situations. Some people can include occasional acts of submission in an otherwise conventional sex life, or adopt a submissive lifestyle."
I don't know about you, but I'm shocked to my core.

134 comments:

  1. I snorted at the AC/DC joke. Please write these forever. Twilight next.

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    1. I couldn't do Twilight now. After the writing in these, I've come to realize that Stephanie Meyer is a consummate professional. And Edward doesn't beat or rape Bella even once! I never before realized how much those books modeled near-adequacy in writing and relationships.

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    2. Cliff, did you read the last Twilight book? [spoilers] Edward does beat Bella during their wedding night, because he can't hold back all his vampire-ly urges to kill her.

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    3. I don't like defending Twilight or Wardo, but if I remember correctly, he doesn't beat her. He holds on her too tight and bruises her, and she doesn't even notice.

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    4. Yeah. I mean, Edwad's a creepy, controlling douche, but he never actually beats or rapes Bella (Bella tries to coerce him into sex at one point, which is... ugh) and he does seem rather upset when he realises he's hurt Bella during sex.

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    5. I know this is going entirely against the general opinion of the internet, but I like a lot of things about the Twilight books. The main problems is that the prose gets a bit faulty sometimes and the two main leads are very bland and don't make sense as people. But all the background characters are hella interesting and some parts of it are actually really well done.

      And Edward definitely never hurts Bella on purpose. Every time he even thinks that he's hurt her or put her in danger he goes to frantic self-hatred. This includes the time he accidentally left some bruises during sex that Bella honestly didn't care about at all.

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    6. I've often felt Twilight has the potential to be a very interesting female-demographic YA series that was left in the hands of the wrong author. In the hands of a better and more aware one it could be a very good tale.

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    7. I think it's also interesting to mention that Twilight is in a lot of ways a lot more moral than Fifty Shades could ever hope to be. For all its faults, Bella is overjoyed that Edward is a vampire, and desperately wants to become part of the world that vampirism represents. Ana, on the other hand, thinks that Christian is a monster. I suppose to be fair he IS, but that's because of the sexual assault and stalking and whatnot. I also don't remember hearing anything about Bella trying to change anything about Edward.
      So, yeah. It's quite a trick to make Edward Cullen look like the good guy here, and somehow Christian, Jose and Jacob have done it.

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    8. Actually, I'd be very interested in a Twilight take analyzing Bella. I've heard that the biggest problem of the book isn't how Edward treats Bella, but how her constant attempts to coerce him into a relationship he's uncomfortable with are a passive aggressive form of emotional abuse. Not having read the books myself, I can't verify this, but I'd love to hear an in depth perspective from someone I trust to recognize this kind of thing.

      What do you say, Cliff? Pleeeease?

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    9. Before we get all "at least Twilight isn't 50 Shades!", let's remember a few things. Christian Grey is an abuser and a stalker and an all-around creep. Edward is those things as well - he breaks into Bella's house to watch her sleep, for hell's sake. Someone's about to pipe up that he isn't physically abusive, and I have to disagree: there are a number of occasions on which he manhandles Bella against her will, carrying her, pushing her, pulling her, and so on. But even if we balance that against Christian and find him in favour, we're left with the fact that Edward is an actual, straight-up, (literally) cold-blooded murderer who repeatedly states that he risks murdering Bella. He is so selfish in his desire for her that he will hang around when she's unconscious (see above) and unable to defend herself, even though he could lose control at any second.
      Again, Christian Grey: abusive butthole, and yes, part of the fear of being with an abuser is that the abuse could escalate into killing...but Twilight took that subtext, made it text, and called it romantic. I'm not seeing that as better.

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    10. To be fair to Twilight, its mountains of other shit (sparkles, fursplosions, Bella's disdain for the universe, the little demonspawn, the anitclimaxes, the horrible treatment of Leah Clearwater, poor Charlie and Billy, the obnoxious behaviour with the Cullen finances) do serve as a form of brain bleach. With 50 Shades it's like, all rape and abuse, all the time.

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    11. Don't get me wrong, I think Edward is a HUUUUGE creep and the things he does are NOT OKAY. But I think his wrongness still isn't on the same scale as CG's.

      Like, in Twilight Edward breaks into Bella's house to watch her sleep, and that's incredibly fucked-up and wrong... but in FSoG Christian breaks into Ana's house and rapes her.

      I'm not keen on defending Twilight, but in the "a hangnail is better than a broken finger" sense, it is better than Fifty Shades.

      (Also, I do think the "murder" thing in Twilight has to be taken with a grain of "he's a vampire." If Edward had been shooting people and threatened to shoot Bella, that would be different, because that's something that happens in reality. But since it's supernatural blood-drinking, it's... not okay, but not quite the same situation.)

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    12. Well - there *are* people who say "I can barely control myself around you, you drive me so wild", and eventually injure or kill their partners with that as their excuse. But I can see where you're coming from on the grounds that vampires not being real is a partial hint that it's a fantasy.
      I suppose it's additionally creepy to me that Twilight is specifically directed at teenagers, and 50 Shades, as fucked up as it is, is at least intended for adults who (should) know better than to think stalking = love. But we all know how that shakes out.
      A fresh aside: how does the gay male community feel about Christian Grey?

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    13. RE: Indigo

      Well, I'm not The Community, but I'm a gay man and I think Christian Grey is scum. Why would I think anything else? I'm gay, not stupid.

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    14. Not the community either, but this bi dude has spent some time coming up with some quite creative responses to Christian Grey. Sometimes they involve shoggoths. The shoggoths considered him a tasty entree.

      Other such things involve his staff gathering evidence to have him arrested, former subs banding up and getting revenge, and Ana pushing him off the boat they have for their honeymoon.

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    15. Fair enough, asking for The Community's response was the wrong thing to say.
      I guess I'm already puzzled by how many straight women seem to find this jackass to be so hot that their panties spontaneously combust. I wondered if any of that carried over to other groups attracted to men, or whether it could be explained purely by the "good news, ladies, you're now allowed to have a sex drive!" marketing phenomenon.
      And I will happily join you in thinking Christian Grey should be a treat for eldritch horrors. Crossover hatefic, anybody?

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    16. Oooh. I may need to write that!

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    17. What excuses Edward for the most part from most of what he does, apart from being a vampire, is that for the most part Bella is not only entirely receptive towards Edward but Bella outright forces him back into the relationship whenever he tries to break it off for her safety and not because Bella has some sort of mental problem (she is just crazy). When we add the fact that he is a vampire Edward comes off as a bit more of a victim. If Bella at anytime asked to break it off with Edward it would have happened, heck most of the time Edward is trying to break up with Bella.
      -Also for the person who mentioned how Bella got hurt during sex: Edward spelled it out to her, he didn't pressure her into it, and she practically tries to jump him for sex CONSTANTLY! I think we can excuse Edward for what was fully consensual non-coerced sex (sort of... Edward was coerced)

      Christian Grey however outright abuses her for his own needs and unlike Bella who was fine with EVERYTHING Edward was warts and all... our protagonist of this story actually seems to outright dislike Christian Grey's cold mistreatment of her in every single way and only stays around because she is in love with him and is so destroyed mentally by his abuse that she cannot imagine her life without him. If she ever asked to break it off with him, we know Grey would probably find some way to make her pay.

      It is basically comparing Edward who would just be a damaged human being who wants to be in a relationship but knows he is damaged goods...

      With Christian Grey who is also equally damaged but unlike Edward, Grey is just a total monster who delights in the pain and misery of others because it makes him feel better while giving gifts to alleviate his own guilt.

      I can root for Edward, he at least tries to be a good person even if he sucks at it, heck really the second Bella becomes a vampire fixes all his issues. Christian Grey is basically a unsympathetic villain with a sympathetic back story, but I am sorry no back story no matter how tragic excuses his actions.

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  2. I was expecting "the joke", but I still laughed like I can only imagine a golden retriever would laugh.
    Love you forever, Cliff.

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  3. it hertz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Oh god, it hertz <3

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  5. 'It hertz' was good, but 'I flush at the thought' made me laugh out loud. Zero chapters for the price of two was so totally worth it.

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    1. I'm still laughing at "Butt DampCrack "!

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    2. @poison-iva, I loled too!

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  6. This is really funny to me because i used to think dominants are all just regretfully going along with it so they're not alone since being a sub is the perfect life. Obviously i grew up and realized people are different. i still think being a 24/7 sub would be the best possible life though.

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    1. Ha, yeah it seems to me that all that 'Men are from Mars, women are from Venus' crap totally isn't true when applied to men and women, but kind of is when it comes to doms and subs. A boy I play with always says he can't think of anything worse than tying up a woman and beating her up, and I'm totally nonplussed by the fact he actually likes experiencing pain. It's kind of like 'Well I'm sure as hell glad you people exist but why the fuck do you want to do this' on both sides.

      Anywho, I once picked up this book to see what all the fuss was about, opened it to a random page, read a few sentences and put it down because the writing was so bad. And now it turns out it romanticises abuse in a way that makes me sick to my stomach! I seriously didn't realise how many things could be wrong with a book before I started reading these posts, God bless you Cliff for putting yourself through this so the rest of us can point and laugh.

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    2. Ahahaha, yeah, I remember wondering what dominant people get out of the deal, and then after I while it hit me that it's rather obvious to most people.

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    3. And people who like both domming and subbing fit into this "doms from Mars, subs from Venus" dichotomy...where?

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    4. Planet Earth? Probably Earth.
      You guys get the nice planet.

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    5. Different strokes for different folks.
      Take as you will.

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  7. Two in one day! It's like Santa came early.

    Why the fuck did E.L. James ever think it was a good idea to devote half a chapter to his fucking contract? Why not just let us assume what the minor shit is and bring up the major shit when appropriate? aaaaaaaa

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    1. I always figured she'd started it as a NaNoWriMo project and pasted in some contract she found online to pad the word count.

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  8. My boyfriend thinks full-blown lawyer-play fetish sounds fucking awesome btw.

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    1. Mmm...oh yes, rewrite that clause, baby.

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    2. Yeah... not totally sure how this will work. Suggestions welcome. (I am NOT a lawyer, but I can follow the logic)

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    3. Just curious: how does he feel about Roberts Rules of Order and parliamentary procedure play?

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    4. Sometimes he feels it's sexy but then he has to wait for a 2/3s majority to make sure.

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    5. @Anonymous 12:52 - bahahahahahahahaha

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    6. @Anonymous 12:52 - Original Anon here: I also lol'd, then messaged my boyfriend to ask if he'd found this and answered it.

      @Andrew Farrell - Answer: 'That's actually kinda hot'. Again, no clue how this would work. While the political theater stuff might be hot (don't judge our kink), it requires a hell of a lot of talking for a good dungeon scene. Maybe works if we could get a good crowd participating right at the beginning of the night, but functionally it takes up a lot of space and gets kinda invasive w/r/t other people's scenes... most people can't tune it out the way they can the neighbor's moaning.

      Also, this question resulted in speculation on how Iowa caucus procedures could be turned into a kink scene: "Okay, all of you people in the Kucinich faction have to jerk off because THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE DOING ANYWAY"

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  9. Is your boyfriend's name Phoenix Wright?

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    1. Lol. Pretty sure the idea would be that I'd play lawyer. 'Course, I saw that line and told him he had to read this one.

      He did say the logical inconsistencies here would totally ruin it too.

      Of course, I was playing back oral arguments in our friends' federal appeal earlier that night so while I had no idea exactly what acts might be involved, I was pretty sure he'd read that and think it was hot.

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  10. "If you actually type "Submissive" into Wikipedia, it redirects to "Deference", which mostly discusses the term in sociological contexts."

    Sooo.... James didn't even bother to do THAT level of research on BDSM before writing this dreck? Why am I not surprised.

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  11. that joke made my day
    still got tears in my eyes from laughing

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  12. I cannot believe the complete lack of research that James did in regard to this novel. I'm disgusted at her blatant disregard for the community in general - She must know how wrong she got it yet she doesn't appear to give a damn as she rolls around in all the money she has made from this inaccurate, illiterate and often illegal piece of crap!

    *Anger*

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    1. You know how Stephenie Meyer says that she never did research on vampire mythology when writing Twilight because she was creating her own world? Same principle applies here, me thinks.

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    2. Except that vampires are fictional, and BDSM is not.

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    3. Maybe E.L. James doesn't know that...

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  13. That electricity joke was perfect. (Also the flushing one and everything else).
    Seriously though, if your getting sick of how uneventful this book is you can just lump a bunch of chapters together and get it over with sooner, even though we'll miss it (but all your other posts are awesome too!)
    A.

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  14. If you type "BDSM" into wikipedia you get a pretty good article
    When I came out to my family about BDSM, I directed my sister to that article.
    Then later I had to explain that I don't do everything it describes :)

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  15. I can't believe it took me this long to realise that her "inner goddess" is her sex drive. Even in a book about sex, womens sexuality has to be wrapped up in euphemisms like "My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old" rather than "I got so horney I needed to change my nickers".

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    1. Yeah, I just figured that out this chapter too. Good point... It sort of goes along with the fact that she basically had no sexuality at all before she met him. This is the shitty attitude about female sexuality that made me feel disgusting and perverted and worthless through my whole childhood.

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    2. Oh dam... now that makes sense... why didn't i figure that out myself.

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    3. It's weird that her inner goddess's reactions are so sexless in themselves. It's never "my inner goddess is writhing, lost in pleasure"; she's always waving pom-poms and jumping and dancing and stuff.

      Also, I think the "inner goddess" is the part of her that wants to have sex, and the "subconscious" is the part that shames her for having sex? Except when it doesn't. Ah well. The important thing here is that her actual consciousness remain as passive and helpless as possible.

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    4. Her id is telling her to fuck, and her superego is telling her that she should feel bad about that, and her ego went out for a smoke break at some point and never came back. Freud.

      Also, the part of her that wants to fuck is her inner goddess. Jung.

      The solution to the conflict is to find someone who seems to know what he's doing and do whatever he tells her. Milgram.

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    5. You win the comment thread. Congratulations.

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  16. I brushed over this stuff when I read it first, but yes, this is all unresearched and ridiculous. Your last para nails it impressively.

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  17. Is it creepy that I get the urge to send Ana a gift of a bullet vibe, a Hitachi and a little note with the URL of this blog on it?

    (Seriously, Cliff, I found this through Cosmocking but you actually do really good intros to 'how to have fun sex without the societal bullshit' so...)

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  18. Am I a complete freak for wanting to have a relationship, a submissive AND some cats and classic novels?

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    1. I read that line and looked around my living room. I've got a cozy orange blanket over me, one cat on the armchair next to me, the other one a few feet away, a mug of hot coffee, and a copy of Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" within arms reach. It's a pretty freaking sweet life.

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    2. Well, there are my aspirations written out in black and white. :)

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  19. He gets her a laptop? Sure hope he hasn't gotten spyware installed on it. (I haven't read the book so I don't know if he has or hasn't, but that's what immediately came to mind.)

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    1. I don't know either--I'm doing this in realtime--but my guess is that it doesn't, simply because E.L. "Wireless N" James doesn't know enough about technology to understand that such at thing is possible. Although I'm sure if you explained it to her she'd agree that it's very romantic and domly.

      Delete
    2. Twu Wub don't need secrets! What, she asked something about him? Turn the glower power to the max!

      Delete
    3. Hey, seems this MacBook-giving while being emotionally abusive is a SOP for idiots:
      http://captainawkward.com/2013/11/15/519-my-stalker-has-a-first-name-its-b-a-r-r-y/

      Delete
  20. I thought that too, that computer HAS to have a keylogger. Maybe next he can get her a phone so he can secretly read all of her text messages and monitor her phone calls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He already claims to track her phone -- that's how he found her in the dance club, if I remember right. If he has access to that kind of information from her phone operator, it's not a big step to also having access to her messages and calls. So he probably doesn't need to give her a phone.

      Delete
    2. I'd been wondering how he got access to her phone before. Not that anything in this book makes me expect any kind of proficiency with tech, but we're supposed to believe "wireless N" McDampcrack can do this kind of spying? :P

      Delete
    3. He says you can just look up online how to trace phones and it's super easy for anyone to do.

      Which isn't true, but... that's the explanation the book gives.

      Delete
  21. And because nothing happens in either chapter, so really it's like getting zero chapters for the price of two!

    LOLOLOLOLOLOL

    ReplyDelete
  22. "I type Submissive into Wikipedia. Half an hour later, I feel slight queasy and frankly shocked to my core."

    Well it's a short article so it probably didn't take her half an hour to read it. Maybe she followed some links and ended up on 4chan? She's new to the Internet after all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha, that's true. Maybe the implication is supposed to be that she followed a link chain and ended up at something hardcore.

      Delete
    2. I don't think so. I think we're supposed to thing that either Wikipedia has an absolutely scandalous article on "Submissive," or Ana is such a delicate soul that "some people prefer or are willing to adopt a submissive role" is like super hardcore porn to her.

      Delete
    3. Well she does call her vagina "there". This book is totes the hottest thing in having woman characters who are cool with their sexuality!

      Delete
    4. The "half an hour later" does make me think that there was probably a link chain involved. Unless she read the article, went and did something else, and suddenly felt queasy and shocked as a delayed reaction to the article. We all know the lure of Wikipedia and the "just one more..." process. Half an hour is getting away easy, really.

      Delete
    5. Yes, it does tend to be far too easy to take a wrong turn on Wikipedia...
      And here's where I give the author way too much of the benefit of the doubt and say that...maybe the article was changed in the meantime? ...or, she could have meant submissive (bdsm) since I'm pretty sure that's the correct Wiki article, haven't checked it in a long time.
      Or, yeah, maybe she's an extremely slow reader and the bottom part was for some reason extremely shocking, I don't really know.

      Delete
  23. Ummmm maybe Cliff skipped this because it was dull, but is there even discussion of some kind of safe word in that contract? I admit to being a vanilla girl, but I was under the impression that safe words were BDSM 101. Something generally required by any responsible practitioner...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the contract mentions safewords :
      "SAFEWORDS
      18 The Dominant and the Submissive recognize that the Dominant may make demands of the Submissive that cannot be met without incurring physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or other harm at the time the demands are made to the Submissive. In such circumstances related to this, the Submissive may make use of a safeword (“The Safe-word (s)”). Two Safewords will be invoked depending on the severity of the demands.
      19 The Safeword “Yellow” will be used to bring to the attention of the Dominant that the Submissive is close to her limit of endurance.
      20 The Safeword “Red” will be used to bring to the attention of the Dominant that the Submissive cannot tolerate any further demands. When this word is said the Dominant’s action will cease completely with immediate effect."

      (I'm sorry for posting so much about FSoG, I feel bad for knowing so much about it. ._.)

      Delete
    2. And then he yells at her for asking him to stop, so she doesn't use safewords and he yells at her fro that.
      I thought this was important to mention.

      Delete
    3. Actually, I do BDSM without formally defined safewords a lot; the rule I usually play by is that "stop" and "no" and any other plain-English request to stop is a safeword unless we've specifically agreed that it isn't.

      It's still fine to have safewords, since they may be a more explicit signal of "EVERYTHING STOPS NOW SERIOUSLY FOR REAL," but they don't replace "stop" unless you've actually said "please don't stop if I say stop, only stop if I give the safeword."

      Delete
    4. With my lovely Domly man I was in the process of negotiating a safe word early on. He replied "How about ow?", I pressed further, "Well, stop could also work. And no.". So, more than 2years later and still lacking a "proper" safe word. We seem to get on just fine though.

      Delete
    5. My partner and I communicate in English, which for both of us is a second language. We had to decide on a formal safeword because we needed something that would stop us from, uh, having to stop every two minutes when we get so into it our English gets garbled and we aren't sure if the other person just asked to stop or not.

      Delete
    6. I'm generally a sub, the bf's a switch so I've been experimenting with doming more (which I do enjoy and find really hot, just in a different way from subbing) and I'm always really nervous. I'm afraid I won't be able to tell the difference between "don't stop" and "stop" so we use the red-yellow-green system in addition to things like "ow means not so hard". I also regularly check in with him to make sure he's okay. The constant nervous questions definitely break up the mood of the scene and are obviously not ideal, but I much prefer this to accidentally going too far.

      Which is all to say that I think redundant systems - safewords for "NO SERIOUSLY STOP" and also respect for "no" and "stop" and "ow" and "a little more to the left" and "that tickles" - are a good way to go when starting out.

      Delete
    7. Yeah I hear you on the problem of checking in without breaking the mood. One thing that might help is to set up a kind of reverse safeword, where you give a command and he has to respond in a certain way. For example you tell him "Beg for more!". Then if he can't or won't do that, then you know it's time to check in.

      It depends on how much humiliation he likes with his pain, though :)

      Delete
  24. If you don't jump into a relationship with the first guy you find attractive in your early 20s, you will die alone and be eaten by your 17 cats. Fact.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *thinks about 1st man I was attracted to in my 20s*

      BRING ON THE CATS! D:

      Delete
    2. *thinks about 1st man I was attracted to*

      *wait, he HAD a cat*

      *just confused now*

      Delete
    3. The first man I found attractive was Sean Connery, but I didn't go for it and now I have a cat.

      Delete
  25. "(...) activities and relationships within a BDSM context are often characterized by the participants' taking on complementary, but unequal roles; thus, the idea of informed consent of both the partners becomes essential." (Wikipedia BDSM article)

    Does Ana - English degree graduate - understand what these words mean? Maybe she's 'shocked to her core' because she realises that Hardhead Mcslamchunk has done less research into proper BDSM than she now has. It's interesting that he bullies her into researching it since, if she'd done it properly, she'd have realised that what he was doing wasn't 'sexy sexy domliness' but 'creepy creepy abuser-ness'. You'd think he'd want to keep her as in the dark as possible. Isn't that what most abusers do? Maybe it's a way for James to show that she's entering into this knowing what she's getting into and that he wants her to be informed? But then, she flat out says she doesn't want to do it.
    So confused.

    ReplyDelete
  26. He gets how many pages to lay out his exact wants, and she gets a 1-5 scale? Even if she wasn't constantly expressing how much she isn't actually turned on by the idea of pain, and even if he gave the slightest impression he'd care what she liked, wouldn't you want, maybe, a short answer section in addition to the multiple choice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heck, the whole "limits" section is pretty much him laying out what limits he'll allow her to have.

      Part of the problem is that she doesn't understand what's going on here--that she's supposed to be using the contract to define things she wants, not things she can possibly tolerate--but I don't want to put too much blame on her because he's given absolutely no indication that he cares what she wants anyway.

      Delete
    2. It makes me sad that she also doesn't understand how much power she has in this relationship. He's clearly smitten with her, even to the extent of letting her sleep in a bed and showing her to his mom. If she crosses out half the contract before signing it, what's he going to do, walk away?

      Delete
    3. Sounds like a win-win scenario to me...

      Delete
    4. This also brings up the point: Why on earth does he want someone so inexperienced for such a demanding role? (demanding here meaning that there aren't any convenient social scripts to follow a la "vanilla sex") Yes we all know he's a giant abusive wad of mood swings and carved marble, but imagine that he wasn't for just an instant and that it was a real discussion of sexual preferences between consenting adults. He's a business man. He must be aware of how under qualified she is for the job. In what other instance is lack of experience considered a good thing? and furthermore the entire time she is "applying" for the job she is essentialy silent. We are able to at leat hear her inner monologue but look at what happens when you mute that and disregard all the adverbs. Imagine you were the dom in this scene! I'd be all like "Hey baby I had fuun flying you around in my sweet helicopter!" Silence "let's go to my fancy condo!" Silence "Making out in the elevator?" Silence. "I like spanking people, here's my playroom! " Silence "uhhhh, yes, no? give me something to go on here."

      It's ridiculous! She doesn't use her words at all (granted he is a giant abusive ass who flips out on the few occasions when she does, so there's that red flag) But if you aren't an abusive ass being around people who don't communicate is maddening!

      Delete
  27. I have been so thankful to read this because I was interested in why it was so popular with the masses, I am so glad I never bothered to get this because I would have probably wanted to destroy the book in the first few pages. I have taken to just scrolling past the actual book text and just reading your comments. I think I enjoy the jokes and the things I learn than anything.

    ReplyDelete
  28. She doesn't have access to the internet, doesn't own a computer and is somehow confused about having an email account. Where did she come from?

    When I read "all-Hispanic-American smile" it translates to "Is this ethnic enough??"

    Cliff, I'm so thankful that you are reading these so I don't have to. It is painful enough to read just fragments but your comments make it worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, "All-American" calls to mind a specific look -tanned, athletic, bright smile, pretty/handsome but not drop-dead gorgeous, generally blue-eyed, blonde, tanned - which is why it's used. "all Hispanic-American" does not have a similar association so using it seems - pointless. It doesn't call up any particular look.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, take this a step back and forget that this girl just *finished college*. Even if somehow, despite being able to support herself and seeming to have at least some financial support from her parents, Anna never bought a goddamn laptop to write papers/research stuff for school, she would HAVE to do that anyway because it's set in 2011 and her college is, in all probability, stocked with computers in the library/student center. She's seriously never had to email any of her professors, download papers from JSTOR, or anything like that?

      Delete
    3. Given that the author is British (at least if I remember correctly) I keep wondering if that's a really awkward Brit-trying-to-sound-American-and-failing-ism. There seem to be a fair bit of those in this book.

      Delete
    4. I'm a Brit & I think it's just E.L. James being ... E. L. James. I don't generally try to sound American, but were I to try I certainly wouldn't use a phrase like that, nor would anyone else I've ever met I'm sure.

      Delete
  29. Oh sweet merciful god the emails. I listened to the audiobook of 50 Shades in lieu of reading it last year and those emails are just mind-numbing to listen to because the girl reading it does indeed, read all of the asinine time stamps, signatures, subject lines, and what not. Somehow, for as hate-able as Pound SteakBeast is, having to listen to those two chuckle-fucks send each other such banal emails back and forth made me almost hate them equally.

    But then Stern BenchSpank does some stuff that I won't spoil and I was able to regain an appropriate perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm shocked to my core that she may have possibly read that Wikipedia article and still did not understand what's wrong with Mr. Big.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Having entered into a few written agreements - since when is submissive spelt with a capital "S" on such documents?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, best guess is because it has a pretense of being a legal document as opposed to an informal agreement, and most "official" contracts capitalize terms that are standing in for the name of a person or organization. E.g. "Joe Schmo, ('the Client')..." For the rest of the contract they'd say "the Client" instead of "Joe" because that way they only have to insert his name into the boilerplate once. It's probably the same concept here.

      Delete
    2. Maybe the D/s capitalization convention was too silly even for Beef Hardcake.

      Delete
    3. I'm kind of glad E. L. James was apparently too clueless to include the capitalization convention. I'll bet that if she had heard of it Chunky MeatStick would insist on it even though it made Ana feel dehumanized. Unless of course her particular proclivities lead her to decide she didn't like it, in which case a big deal would be made of how he doesn't do it because he's better than all those other Doms. The idea that it might be a subtle form of ongoing play that both parties keep up because it's enjoyable for them... hahaha don't be silly this is FSoG and all BDSM is abuse remember?

      Delete
  32. Somehow, what really annoys me is that James didn't even check the 'I type in submissive in Wikipedia' thing. I mean - you're at your computer, writing that your character is checking something on Wikipedia and you don't... check Wikipedia to see what your character would be seeing? How lazy can you get?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, since it started out as fanfiction, I can...sort of see this? The expectations are pretty lax. Maybe she just wanted to show how innocent Ana was, and just figured people would play along and pretend it was really so bad, or else that they had no clue (though, really, how many people do you think looked it up right after reading that and were severely disappointed?).

      I'd say it would make sense to change it before publishing, but...it looks like she changed nothing.

      Delete
    2. If we're going to list all the things that would've made sense to change before publishing, we're going to be here a long time ;)

      Delete
    3. How about not publishing it at all? Now THAT would have made sense...smh.

      Delete
    4. Most people I know who write fanfiction put more effort into research than this, sadly.

      Delete
    5. Exactly. I've done more research for 3000 word stories. (But then, I like research. :D)

      -Fishgoat

      Delete
    6. I once did research for a Victorian AU fanfic. Then I realised that to be accurate I would have to use olive oil as butt lube.

      This is the point at which I abandoned the fanfic and ate cheesy chips instead.

      Delete
    7. @ 4:23 Anon: In one de Sade novel (can't remember which) someone mentions using butter as butt lube.

      Delete
  33. This is kind of off topic, but the more I think of this as fanfiction, the more I wonder...what were her author's notes like? I think I have to try to go find this.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This was one of the things that jumped out at me when I skimmed a few pages: she blushed about five times within two pages! That's not bashfulness, that's rosacea.

    ReplyDelete
  35. To be fair to E.L. James, I do remember hearing somewhere "N-standard" being used to describe something that works with 802.11n.
    Also, I have been to a lot of the Wickypedia pages about BDSM practices and sex (for, umm... research purposes) and I don't remember which ones redirect where.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it might be another case of her being lazy about converting her British English to US English. I've heard Wireless-N used a fair bit over here.

      Delete
    2. But name aside, it was still a bizarre thing to mention. If I was giving someone a computer and crass enough to talk it up like that, I would highlight one of the stats people care about, like CPU speed or how much RAM it had.
      And sure forgetting which wiki article redirects where is fine, but not checking is lazy. Heck you can even check what *used* to be in a certain article. For instance I see "submissive" has been a redirect to deference ever since December of 2010.

      Delete
    3. But if she'll mostly use it for browing and email, then the network speed is actually the most important aspect :)

      After all we wouldn't want her to have to wait for all those pictures of Grey's dick to load.

      Delete
  36. Oh lord, I remember this chapter. Luckily for me, I have a very law-oriented friend who works in the patent office who was also a former member of the MSTers club I created! :D He came out of retirement JUST to help me MST that contract, bless his heart.

    I also kept meters running for how many times she blushed. IT NEVER ENDED.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The Dominant will not undertake or permit to be undertaken any action which could cause serious injury or any risk to the Submissive’s life."

      No more crossing the street I guess. It's the padded room for Ana!

      Delete
    2. Thank you. Very much. Will form. Complete sentences. Once I stop. Laughing my ass off. At work. That was wonderful!

      Delete
  37. I think the 1-5 scales actually make sense - not really as part of a contract, but as a way to understand someone's preferences. You could intensely enjoy minimal to moderate pain, moderately enjoy severe pain, etc. It would be clearer to communicate it verbally but it could still be a nice place to start.

    ReplyDelete
  38. "These aren’t available in the shops yet, ma’am, the very latest from Apple"

    I tried to hold my peace, but this line continues to bug me. What's Grey doing with a mdoel that's not available in the shops? Usually the time window between "ready for sale" and "available in shops" is kept as small as possible, because companies kinda enjoy selling stuff. So where'd this one come from? Is it a prototype? Is he beta testing? Grey doesn't seem like a beta tester. He'd want his shit to work. I can just imagine him staring coldly at the laptop with his burning, smouldering grey eyes, his lips tightening as the thing continues to defy him.

    "and I’ve set it up with your Me account details ..."
    ... and here's how you change the password ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously tech is like fashion, in that you can sell a small number of a high-end model grossly overpriced (even compared to normal overpricing) if you delay/refuse general sales and hand-pick "exclusive" customers. Also, products are season-specific and you can design them in advance.

      Also, LOL at the image of Christian Grey and buggy software.

      Delete
    2. I've actually seen that kind of high priced fashion tech -- smartphones made of gold, that sort of thing -- but nobody asks about the specs :) Except nerds like me, of course. But really, that's a faux pas. You're supposed to admire the diamond-cut monogramming, not ask what kind of GPU it has.

      Delete
  39. Ack this contract thing is so icky! I mean, if we look at real-world examples, this is EXACTLY the type of thing an abuser would use to get away with assaulting someone. I mean, semi-recently (last 5 years) there was that guy who had some sort of BDSM relationship with his girlfriend (don't remember details from press) and then proceeded to horribly abuse her and burn her with cigarets etc. When she tried to send him to jail for it, the entire discussion was on how she must have just decided after the fact she didn't like it, because she was in a BDSM relationship and hey! everything goes in those. And this guy didn't even have a contract. I can just imagine- Anna signs contract. Christian rapes/beats/does something awful - Ann tries to get help - Christian brings up contract and goes "hey! You can't complain! We've got a contract" Christian goes free and Anna's life is ruined as the press publicly humiliate her for being the weird BDSM girl who "cried rape".

    On a happier note....the comments on these posts are amazing! You people are evil geniuses.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm not so sure it would work out that way. I've seen a couple of news stories where these documents became the key piece of evidence in abuse or divorce cases. And in both cases the spin was "Look at all this horrible stuff he made me agree to!" It's all in how it's presented to the court. (And I don't mean to imply that was an unfair representation. Obviously I have no idea.)

    Here's one example:
    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/wife-forced-sex-slave-agreement

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Anonymous 12:52 - Original Anon here: I also lol'd, then messaged my boyfriend to ask if he'd found this and answered it.

      @Andrew Farrell - Answer: 'That's actually kinda hot'. Again, no clue how this would work. While the political theater stuff might be hot (don't judge our kink), it requires a hell of a lot of talking for a good dungeon scene. Maybe works if we could get a good crowd participating right at the beginning of the night, but functionally it takes up a lot of space and gets kinda invasive w/r/t other people's scenes... most people can't tune it out the way they can the neighbor's moaning.

      Also, this question resulted in speculation on how Iowa caucus procedures could be turned into a kink scene: "Okay, all of you people in the Kucinich faction have to jerk off because THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE DOING ANYWAY"

      Delete
    2. Huh - that went in the wrong spot.

      Delete
  41. Those MST3K-inspired generic names (Space Mutiny) made this post. :D

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  42. Cliff, you are amazing! I'm shocked to my core at how much fun I'm having reading your recaps, even though I hate this book.

    I really feel so bad about the actors who are going to have to play Sleaze Hairback and his stupid girlfriend. Their carreers are basically over before they've started. (Unless the person/ people in charge of the screenplay completely neglects everything in this book, and just uses the names to write a completely new story.)

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    Replies
    1. The actor playing Christian Grey has played a serial murderer and rapist before. It's pretty much all I'll be able to think about when I see the FSoG promo material.

      Delete