Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter Seven – Say Cheese!

A short recap today – if only all the chapters in this droning borefest of a book were this short. Although obviously they’d be better if they contained a whole bunch of different words. And characters we could stand. And a plot.

Sadly we’re stuck with the ones we have here, but remember – Fifty Shades of Neigh is still only 0.99 in the Kindle store. You can get a whole bunch of different words (approximately 50,000 of them), sort of a plot and at least a couple of characters who don’t make you sick on sight. It wouldn’t be a faithful parody of Fifty Shades of Grey if I made the main characters too loveable, although I have to say I failed in creating a male lead who was even more repulsive than the original. Christian Grey sets the bar pretty high (or low).

Still, at least in my version there’s a hot Mexican transvestite to take the edge off. (‘hot Mexican transvestite’ – coming soon to weird search engine results for this blog)

In the final line of chapter six of Fifty Shades of Grey, our clueless heroine said that she felt as though she’d travelled back in time to the Spanish Inquisition. So it makes a whole lot of sense that chapter seven opens with these lines.

The first thing I notice is the smell: leather, wood, polish with a faint citrus scent. It’s very pleasant, and the lighting is soft, subtle.

Yeah, somehow I don’t think the people who spent a lot of time in Torquemada’s rec-room came away impressed by the mood-lighting and wondering if his cleaning lady used Mr. Sheen or Pledge. However, in her extensive descriptions of Christian’s happy little sex dungeon, Ana also reveals that she thinks late 19th Century = rococo, so we can add History to the subjects she probably flunked at school.

The room is basically full of a bunch of bondage implements that the author looked up the internet once – floggers, St. Andrew’s Cross, whips, paddles, canes etc. Ana’s not really into any of it but…

…all the wood, dark walls, moody lighting and oxblood leather makes the room soft and romantic…I know it’s anything but; this is Christian’s version of soft and romantic.

Remember, Ana. You can always leave. Just say the word and he’ll fly you home in his helicopter. And that’s the only way you’re getting out of here, by the way. If he agrees to fly you home – but it’s totally your choice.

…I’m in shock. What is the appropriate response to finding out a potential lover is a complete freaky sadist or masochist. Fear…yes…that seems to be the overriding feeling. I recognise it now.

For me the fear would have set in round about the time he turned up ‘coincidentally’ at my work and started buying murder supplies, but then I don’t sit around musing over my every emotion like a malfunctioning android.

But weirdly not [fear] of him – I don’t think he’d hurt me, well, not without my consent.

No. He probably would. Especially since he’s already scooped you up from a parking lot and put you in bed with him without your consent. Then there was the time he manhandled you in the elevator. What am I talking about? Probably? More like definitely.

“Say something,” Christian commands, his voice deceptively soft.

“Bye!”

She asks if he does ‘this’ to people or they do it to him and he reveals that he likes to beat the shit out of women – beg pardon ‘willing volunteers’.

He likes to hurt women. The thought depresses me.

As it should.

“You’re a sadist?”

“I’m a Dominant.” His eyes are a scorching grey, intense.

“What does that mean?” I whisper.

“It means I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things.”

“Why would I do that?”

“To please me,” he whispers as he cocks his head to one side, and I see the ghost of a smile.

Okay. Now I see exactly why kinky types hate this book. While I don’t know nearly as much about kinky sex as I should, I do know that the Dominant role in S&M is one that entails a huge amount of trust and responsibility. It’s not a role suited for an aggressive, bad-tempered sadist who moonlights as a kidnapper.

Please Christian Grey. And I realise, in that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.

I see why the back blurbs of these books say they’re ‘liberating’. Gosh, what an astonishingly feminist sentiment to encounter in the bestselling erotic novel of the twenty first fucking century. (Excuse me – I’m just going to go off and have a little cry.)

He explains to her that he wants her to submit to his every whim and when she fails to comply she will be caned.

“…I will gain a great deal of pleasure, joy even, in your submission. The more you submit, the greater my joy – it’s a very simple equation.”

“Okay, and what do I get out of this?”

He shrugs and looks almost apologetic.

“Me,” he says simply.

Well, this is depressing.

He shows her another room, a white bedroom that will be hers if she agrees to his terms and conditions. The idea is that she’ll be staying here Friday through til Sunday, because apparently Christian Grey has nothing better to do with his weekends and no friends (although that I can easily believe).

“I’ll sleep here?”

“Yes.”

“Not with you.”

“No, I told you, I don’t sleep with anyone, except you when you’re stupefied with drink.”

That wasn’t really sleeping though, was it? It was more kidnapping. And possible sexual molestation. Whatever it was, it wasn’t right. Not right at all.

This is what I cannot reconcile. Kind, caring Christian, who rescues me from inebriation and holds me gently while I’m throwing up into the azaleas, and the monster who possesses whips and chains in a special room.

Look, it wasn’t ‘rescue’ – it was a fucking kidna…oh, I’m too tired to do this any more. It’s hopeless.

He drags her into the kitchen and tells her she must eat and starts flapping his yap about ‘paperwork’, which is even more astonishingly boring than it sounds.

“What paperwork?”

“Well, apart from the NDA, a contract saying what we will and won’t do. I need to know your limits, and you need to know mine. This is consensual, Anastasia.”

“And if I don’t want to do this?”

“That’s fine,” he says carefully.

“But we won’t have any sort of relationship?” I ask.

“No.”

Is it really consensual if he’s cynically preying on her crippling lack of self-esteem and her desperate desire to have a boyfriend?

Anyway, she asks why and Christian answers with perhaps the greatest Freudian slip of all time.

“This is the only sort of relationship I’m interesting in.”

I have nothing to add to this. Gaze upon it. Marvel. I’ll wait.

Ana asks him how he ended up this way, because kink is a product of years of trauma and sexual abuse. It’s not something people get into because it’s fun or anything. Again, Christian’s reply is a thing of beauty.

“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? Mrs. Jones – my housekeeper – has left this for supper. He takes some large, white plates from a cupboard and places one in front of me.

We’re talking about cheese…Holy crap.

Wholly crap indeed.

He pours some more booze down her throat, because apparently she needs to be drunk to sign even more contracts that she hasn’t actually read. They blab on in cliches about how sexy they find one another – moths, flames, blah – and finds out that there were fifteen other submissives before her.

“Will you hurt me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Physically, will you hurt me?”

“I will punish you when you require it, and will be painful.”

I think I feel a little faint. I take another sip of wine. Alcohol – this will make me brave.

Alcohol – this will put me in a perfect frame of mind to make decisions about sexual acts I’m really not sure about! Don’t you just love how he’s no longer concerned about how much she’s drinking?

He takes her to his study to show her a contract. You will grow to hate this contract, believe me. I hated it on sight.

It goes on forever so I’ll summarise – in signing Ana will give consent to any sexual activity deemed pleasurable by Shitlord, excepting the hard limits in Appendix two. Appendix two is the bit that Jeremy Paxman read out on on Newsnight while E.L. James sat there blinking and looking not nearly as ashamed of herself as she should be, since the book doesn’t actually contain any of the depraved acts contained therein. Still, the fact that page one of the contract requires you to become a full time fuck receptacle for an emotionally arrested sex-bore should be enough to make a sensible woman run screaming.

It’s just as well for Christian that Ana’s a half-drunk idiot.

Blah blah blah. She has to get a certain number of hours sleep a night, is not allowed to eat between meals (fucking eat me, Christian Grey), has to wear the clothing he picks out for her, has to work out with a personal trainer, has to be waxed at a beauty salon he’s personally approved, isn’t allowed to drink to excess (except when he’s trying to get her drunk), isn’t allowed to see other people…

…look, isn’t it just easier for him to get one of those RealDolls? That way he doesn’t have to be bothered with the horrors of pubic hair, cellulite or personal autonomy. And it would save him a fortune in booze.

Ana worries that she doesn’t want to accept money for clothes, as this will make her a ‘ho’. Christian demurs.

“I want to lavish money on you, let me buy you some clothes. I may need you to accompany me to functions, and I want you dressed well. I’m sure your salary, when you get a job, won’t cover the kind of clothes I’d like you to wear.”

And knowing most men I know the kind of clothes he’d like her to wear won’t cover her ass. Christian, are you sure I can’t interest you in a RealDoll? I hear you can dress them up in anything you like and they won’t even mind that you’re a hideously broken individual with no charm and no conversation. In fact I hear it’s one of their greatest selling points.

Ana complains she doesn’t want to exercise, because she hates everything. She doesn’t want to wax her happy bits either, but too bad. Because this is what you have to do to get Christian Grey. It seems an awful lot, considering he doesn’t plan on changing himself in any way whatsoever. In fact it almost seems like a really fucking bad basis for a relationship. Or am I just being silly?

He hands her another piece of paper listing hard limits, which is pretty obvious – no setting fire to each other, no golden showers, no scat, no children or animals, no asphyxiation – auto-erotic or otherwise – and no hooking people’s nipples up to a car battery. Fair enough.

Then he asks her if there’s anything she’d like to add – anything she doesn’t like and won’t do. Sexually, I mean. All the other things she doesn’t like and doesn’t want to do, like yanking out her pubic hair at the roots and wearing the clothes he buys her, are fair game. And actually she’ll end up doing all the sexual things she’s doesn’t want to do either, but hey ho – did you read the marketing blah-blah about how these books are the most important feminist work since The Female Eunuch?

Then it emerges that Ana is a virgin! Shocker!

“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.

I don’t know, Christian. Maybe it just didn’t come up in the hardware store or over coffee, or when you kidnapped her. Maybe she needs some coaxing to reveal that kind of personal information. Maybe – in spite of your warm, forthcoming personality – she’s still kind of shy.

Or maybe it’s none of your fucking business. Creep.

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