I like this picture. It was originally illustrating a guy going "wow, I can never live up to this amazing Christian Grey fella, I'm just an ordinary man." But it is also, for very different reasons, the exact face I make when I read this book.
Content warnings for this chapter: The force-feeding thing, the child sexual abuse thing, the adult sexual abuse thing, the continuous rampant emotional abuse thing... boy has this book numbed me out. You know, the thing, with the horribleness.
It's the best sex scene in the book so far. Okay, the "coming from one slap on the clit" is a bit much, but he isn't passive-aggressively whining about what a manly domly man dom he is, and she's actually enjoying herself!
I’m panting, squirming, pulling against my restraints that are biting into my wrists and my ankles. He swirls the tip around my navel then continues to trail the leather tip south, through my pubic hair to my clitoris. He flicks the crop and it hits my sweet spot with a sharp slap, and I come, gloriously, shouting my release.
I sit bolt upright, shocked… wow. It’s morning. I glance at my alarm clock – eight o’clock. I put my head in my hands. I didn’t know I could dream sex. Was it something I ate? Perhaps the oysters and my Internet research manifesting itself in my first wet dream. It’s bewildering. I had no idea that I could orgasm in my sleep....And it's a dream sequence.
Not only that, it's a dream sequence inserted specifically to once again make the point that meeting Stomp FlashBang has completely rewired her sexuality without her having any say in it. Some people have their first wet dream because of hormones or discoveries or fantasies of their own. She has hers because of proximity to this preternaturally sexy guy who she doesn't actually like.
Anyway, then it's Ana's graduation day. Kate asks her some innocuous questions about her date, Ana responds with a bunch of nervous "nothing happened... nothing... oh no what if I get sued," and then Ana's dad comes and takes her to graduation. Her dad keeps observing that she seems nervous and asking if she's okay. It's just how you'd expect someone who was newly in a relationship to seem, assuming they were in a relationship with a poorly-fed tiger.
Christian. Christian stands out in his bespoke gray suit, copper highlights glinting in his hair under the auditorium lights. He looks so serious and self-contained. As he sits, he undoes his single-breasted jacket, and I glimpse his tie. Holy shit… that tie! I rub my wrists reflexively. I cannot take my eyes off him – his beauty as distracting as ever – and he’s wearing that tie, on purpose no doubt.What a miserable asshole. It's her goddamn graduation and he had to make it all about him with that little move. Let her have memories of her graduation, dude, let her think about what she's accomplished over the last four years and where her life is going from here. Don't show up wearing what amounts to a sign reading "HEY, REMEMBER MY DICK?"
As the Chancellor gets to his feet and kicks off the proceedings with his speech, I watch Christian subtly scanning the hall. I sink into my seat, hunching my shoulders, trying to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I fail miserably as a second later his gray eyes find mine. He stares at me, his face impassive, completely inscrutable. I squirm uncomfortably, hypnotized by his glare as I feel a slow flush spread across my face.Usually when lovers make eye contact in a public gathering, they'll seek out each other's gaze and smile or wink at each other. Maybe blow kisses. It's cute. Ana hunching down and hiding, and Chomp SharkWeek staring blankly at her... that's not cute.
[Crunch ButtCake's graduation speech:]"Over a billion people, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, live in abject poverty. Agricultural dysfunction is rife within these parts of the world and the result is ecological and social destruction. I have known what it’s like to be profoundly hungry. This is a very personal journey for me… ”
My jaw falls to the floor. What? Christian was hungry once. Holy crap. Well, that explains a great deal. And I recall the interview; he really does want to feed the world. I desperately rack my brains to remember what Kate had written in her article. Adopted at age four, I think. I can’t imagine that Grace starved him, so it must have been before then, as a little boy. I swallow, my heart constricting at the thought of a hungry, gray-eyed toddler.I'm mostly putting this in because it "explains" the forcing her to eat. I guess? With a heroine named "Ana" who's always being forced to eat, this book has some weird food issues I can't begin to address.
I’m seized by a sense of raw outrage, poor, fucked-up, kinky, philanthropic Christian – though I’m sure he wouldn’t see himself this way and would repel any thoughts of sympathy or pity.Oh. I see how it is. He's kinky because he had a troubled childhood, so her resolve to tolerate his kink is strengthened anew. How very, painfully self-sacrificing of her to put up with this thing that she hates because he can't help himself.
Meanwhile I'm over here just being kinky with my partner because we get off on that kind of stuff.
I make my way up to the stage between the two giggling girls. Christian gazes down at me, his gaze warm but guarded. “Congratulations, Miss Steele,” he says as he shakes my hand, squeezing it gently. I feel the charge of his flesh on mine. “Do you have a problem with your laptop?” I frown as he hands me my degree. “No.” “Then you are ignoring my emails?”WHAT. A. DICK. She's getting her diploma and he can't even make that one moment not about him. Christ, he can't even make it about himself in a nice way! She gets three whole words of congratulations and then he goes right back into pointless, aggressive whining while she's still up on the stage receiving her diploma. This guy just ruins everything.
You know, next time I'm trying to convince someone this book is terrible, this is what I'm going to quote. Not the rape scene. People are so conditioned to find any evidence the woman didn't perfectly live up to their standards of Ideal Rape Victim and take it as consent. But this scene isn't rape and if it were an isolated incident it might not even be abuse. It's just so thoroughly unpleasant I don't see how you can call it romantic.
Christian is talking to the Chancellor and two of the teaching staff. He looks up when he sees me. “Excuse me, gentlemen,” I hear him murmur. He comes toward me and smiles briefly at Kate. “Thank you,” he says, and before she can reply, he takes my elbow and steers me into what looks like a men’s locker room. He checks to see if it’s empty, and then he locks the door. Holy shit, what does he have in mind? I blink up at him as he turns on me.I wanted these posts to be funny. I didn't want them to be me holding my head and going "holy shit, this is a spot-on depiction of an abusive relationship down to every detail." But here we are.
And what place does this have in a romance? What exactly is the romantic fantasy of having your lover pull you into an empty room (at your goddamn graduation) and lock you in to yell at you? That's not quite like having Ryan Gosling bring you flowers in the rain.
“Why haven’t you emailed me? Or texted me back?” He glares. I’m nonplussed. “I haven’t looked at my computer today, or my phone.” Crap, has he been trying to call? I try my distraction technique that’s so effective on Kate. “That was a great speech.”Ana's gotten pretty good at handling this guy. She knows how to tell the right lies to save her ass and steer the conversation to turn the heat down. Like bailing out a leaky boat, it's a skill that can keep you from immediate disaster, but can also make you feel like it's your personal responsibility if you sink, instead of having something to do with the big goddamn hole in the boat.
“I’ve been worried about you.” “Worried, why?” “Because you went home in that deathtrap you call a car.” “What? It’s not a deathtrap. It’s fine. José regularly services it for me.” “José, the photographer?” Christian’s eyes narrow, his face frosting. Oh Crap.She is just constantly on eggshells around this guy. Like, I sort of see the appeal of "reforming the bad boy with the harsh exterior and tender heart," but this is missing the reformation and the tender heart. All that's left is asshole.
“No!” It’s my turn to sound exasperated. “Introduce you to my dad as what? ‘This is the man who deflowered me and wants us to start a BDSM relationship’. You’re not wearing running shoes.”I've introduced several people like that to my parents, but usually I just called them "my friend" or "my boyfriend." The rest can kind of go politely unsaid, y'know?
Ray raises his eyebrows and smiles – a rare, genuine, bona fide Ray Steele smile – and off they go, talking fish. In fact, I soon feel surplus to requirements. He’s charming the pants off my dad… like he did you, my subconscious snaps at me. His power knows no bounds.Okay, so there is a very good reason not to introduce your fuckbuddy to your dad--because said fuckbuddy is going to tell your dad that you're dating and thereby use your dad as yet another way to manipulate you to agreeing to a relationship you don't want.
And it works, too, because the next thing that happens is that Ana agrees to be in a relationship with Big McLargeHuge. Well, "agrees" is sort of strong. She says she doesn't want a relationship where she has to submit and there's no romance, he says he wants the exact opposite, and then he asks her to say yes and for some goddamn reason she does. What a great start, huh?
I mean, it'd be a bad basis for a relationship even if he hadn't raped her a couple days before.
Christ, I wish I was more able to make jokes here.
Why can't you hear a pterodactyl going to the bathroom?
Because the P is silent.