Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter Thirteen – Point To Schlong

Quick book plug before we get started – get your freebie on! This week only.

By the way, I have just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey (again) and I only have five more chapters to recap! Excitement. I can honestly say it gets worse with every re-read. You know how some books are so good that you see different levels of brilliance each time you read them? Like they’re so good you can’t manage to appreciate the writing, the pacing, the plotting and the twists all in one reading? Well, Fifty Shades is like that. Except instead of brilliance it’s all crap. All the way to the centre. It’s like a crap onion. Every layer is crap and the deeper you go, the more it will make you cry.

Or something like that. I don’t know. I’m kind of tired. Let’s get going, shall we?

At the beginning of chapter thirteen, Ana calls her mother, who apparently loves her but can’t be bothered to attend her only child’s graduation because her husband has popped a ligament and can’t walk.

In other words, the author couldn’t be bothered to write Mom into this part of the book.

Having dismissed mother and four expensive (and some might say pointless) years of college, La James then gets back to what’s really important – e-mailing Christian Grey.

Having performed a ‘more thorough examination of your issues’, he facetiously e-mails her a dictionary definition of the word ‘submissive’. Bearing in mind that Ana’s ‘issues’ in this case were a long and careful trawl through her reasonable misgivings about his revolting sex contract, this isn’t so much funny as it is dismissive.

Typically, Ana breathes a sigh of relief because she thinks he’s still willing to discuss her concerns with the sex contract, even though this is the second time he’s blown them off. She e-mails him back with the dictionary definition of the word ‘compromise’ and then they get into an e-mail fight about whether he’s going to pick her up for dinner or she’s going to drive herself.

These are not very interesting people.

Ana wants to drive because;

…I may need to make a quick getaway…Not that my Beetle is quick…but still – I need a means of escape.

You know you’re in for a great night out when you’re planning your date like a bank heist.

Then Ana calls Ray, who is her stepdad and nothing like Charlie from Twilight. Then she falls asleep in time for a section break and then she goes to work and Paul Clayton asks her for a date and she says no and he pressures her and she says she’s going out with Christian Grey and Paul is surprised.

…a very small part of me resents that [Paul] should find this a surprise. My inner goddess does, too. She makes a very vulgar and unattractive gesture at him with her fingers.

Paul ‘ignores’ her after that, having allegedly harassed her for a date every working day for the past four years. I think we’re supposed to imagine that the mention of Christian Grey’s magical name has crushed all hopes he ever had of getting into Ana’s twitchy little pants, but it kind of comes across more like she accidentally talked to one of her imaginary friends in front of him and Paul realised she was actually completely fucking mental.

Ana then goes home to mope about how she’s so bad at clothes and make-up and traditionally feminine things like that, because she’s not like other girls.

I rarely wear makeup – it intimidates me. None of my literary heroines had to deal with makeup – maybe I’d know more about it if they had.

No, you see – she’s not like those other girls. She was reading nineteenth century novels while we ignorant sluts were doing the Cosmo sex quiz and learning to apply eyeliner. She’s deep, you see.

Kate tells Ana she looks great and Ana sourly sniffs off her compliments – as usual – and then drives to the Heathman in her rickety VW Beetle that is nothing like Bella’s rickety Chevrolet truck in Twilight. She has to drive barefoot because;

…I, Anastasia Steele of Clumsyville, am in high stilettos.

Considering she hasn’t fallen over for about twelve chapters, wasn’t it nice of the author to remind us that she’s supposed to be an adorable klutz? Yet another mess of contradictions – Ana’s supposed to be a tomboyish bookworm who five minutes ago was sweating at the sight of a mascara wand and now she’s attempting to walk across a crowded bar in standard issue stripper shoes.

He immediately offers her a glass of wine, which is a super idea considering she’s about 90lbs wet, has very little tolerance and is supposed to be fucking driving. Knowing him it’s probably some nefarious plan to tuck her back up in his hotel bed after she ralphs all over the parking lot. Again.

Then there’s a whole lot of smirking and quirking and murmuring and Miss Steeleing and Mr. Greying and we all die a little more inside, then Ana – surprisingly – cuts to the chase.

“You know this contract is legally unenforceable.”

“I am fully aware of that, Miss Steele.”

“Were you going to tell me that at any point?”

Oh snap. Ana’s inner pod person is back.

He frowns. “You’d think I’d coerce you into doing something you don’t want to do, and then pretend that I have a legal hold over you?”

“Well, yes.”

Who are you? And what have you done with the real Ana Steele?

He complains that she ‘doesn’t think very highly’ of him if she’s prepared to believe he would do such a thing, even though the weight of evidence (like his writing ‘this is a binding contract’ at the start of the thing) suggests he absolutely bloody well would, and then some.

You would think this was Ana’s cue to muse that he’s complicated and beautiful and that he may well have had a dark past that she can heal with the magical power of her all-singing, all-dancing, all-healing romance novel heroine love. You’d think. But Ana’s inner pod person is still very much in charge and instead gives us this;

“You haven’t answered my question.”

I love you, pod person. Finally someone is talking sense.

Christian once more evades.

“Anastasia, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. It represents an arrangement that I would like to make with you – what I would like from you and what you can expect from me…”

Then why don’t you talk to her about it? Or – and this is a really weird and outré suggestion, I know – the two of you could maybe spend time together in some kind of series of informal settings and maybe somehow get to know one another and find out what you like and expect from a relationship?

“…if you don’t like it then don’t sign. If you do sign, and then decide you don’t like it, there are enough get-out clauses so you can walk away…”

Actually there was one. And it specifically said she’d have to be released from the agreement at your discretion. So that doesn’t really count.

“…even if it were legally binding, do you think I’d drag you through the courts if you did decide to run?”

No. No I don’t. Because you and I know you both committed a big old major fucking felony the night you ‘rescued’ her from the bar. And that would probably come up at some point, should anyone subject your twisted traincrash of a so-called relationship to actual legal scrutiny.

I would just like to remind any readers who aren’t clear – we’re supposed to all be frantically buttering our muffins to this man. This lying, slimy, creepy, humourless dogturd of a man. And he’s not even done.

“Relationships like this are built on honesty and trust,” he continues. “If you don’t trust me – trust me to know how I’m affecting you, how far I can go with you, how far I can take you – if you can’t be honest with me, then we really can’t do this.”

Did you get that? If you don’t trust me to know how hard I can hit you or how extensively I can manipulate you, we can’t go any further.

He turns offence into defence and puts her on the spot, asking him if she trusts him. She doesn’t answer but asks if he had the same conversation with his previous fifteen submissives. He says no because they were experienced subs.

I swallow. Do I trust him? Is that what this all comes down to – trust? Surely that should be a two-way thing. I remember his snit when I phoned José.

Actually José phoned you. Expect similar tantrums every time another male under the age of fifty either looks at you, telephones you or talks to you.

Luckily the subject shifts to that perennial topic of continued fascination – What Has Ana Eaten Today? She hasn’t eaten a thing, apparently, which makes that glass of wine an even better idea than it previously appeared. He asks her if she wants to eat upstairs in his suite and she says she would rather ‘eat in public, on neutral ground.’

He smiles sardonically.

“Do you think that would stop me?” he says softly, a sensual warning.

One would hope, yes. Did you just threaten to rape her in the middle of a restaurant?

Pod-person Ana has vanished, by the way. When he announces – directly after the rape threat – that he has a private dining room booked, she follows, lamblike. I’m not sure why. You would think that little Miss Nineteenth Century novels here would have learned something from the likes of Isabella Linton, Gwendolen Harleth and Tess Durbeyfield, particularly about avoiding sociopathic men who will ruin your life. But obviously not. Maybe she was just staring blankly at the pages and wondering why she was learning nothing about lipliner.

Bring your wine,” he murmurs.

And a funnel.

He starts to go through the bullet pointed list she made the other night (bullet points – truly the sign of a breathless, all-consuming romance) and remains more or less completely full of shit.

“You can walk away any time, Anastasia. I won’t stop you…”

So this time if she calls it quits you definitely won’t sneak up on her in her bedroom and coerce her into having sex with you so that she’ll change her mind? Good to know.

“…if you go, however – that’s it. Just so you know.”

“Okay,” I answer softly. If I go, that’s it. The thought is surprisingly painful.

Ah, there we go. I was wondering why that last steaming great lie wasn’t garnished with a spot of emotional manipulation. You have to admit he’s consistent, which is more than can be said for Ana.

He orders oysters, in case anybody wasn’t clear they were in a bad erotic novel. Ana asks him if he chose them because they’re ‘known for their aphrodisiac qualities’ and he says he doesn’t need an aphrodisiac around her, mainly because he’s slipped GHB into her wine.

She says she’s worried he’ll hurt her and asks him about the time he hurt someone before. He explains that he suspended someone from his playroom ceiling and one of the ropes was tied too tight. Ana says she doesn’t want to be suspended and he says they can make it a ‘hard limit’. It’s always a good start in a relationship, knowing that you’ve no chance of dying in a similar way to Michael Hutchence or David Carradine.

He says that he wants her to sign up for the full three months of the contract rather than the month she wanted and says he finds it difficult to stay away from her already, which makes her silly little heart flip, flutter and fly just as he knew it would.

“The ownership thing, that’s just terminology and goes back to the principle of obeying. It’s to get you into the right frame of mine, to understand where I’m coming from…”

Georgia, circa 1863.

“…I will do what I like to you. You have to accept that and willingly. That’s why you have to trust me. I will fuck you, any time, any way I want – anywhere I want. I will discipline you, because you will screw up. I will train you to please me. But I know you’ve not done this before. Initially we’ll take it slowly, and I will help you…”

…by tricking you into signing non-legally binding contracts couched in boring legalese. You know what’s missing from this conversation? A full and frank discussion about the use and meaning of safewords.

On discovering that she has come to a world named Gor, Ana is…well…enraptured, actually.

He’s so passionate, mesmerising. This is obviously his obsession, the way he is…

A broken, charmless manchild who would be better off with an unsettlingly realistic sex doll?

“There’s a very fine line between pleasure and pain, Anastasia. They are two sides of the same coin, one not existing without the other. I can show you how pleasurable pain can be. You don’t believe me now, but this is what I mean about trust. There will be pain, but nothing that you can’t handle. Again, it comes down to trust. Do you trust me, Ana?”

Ana!

And it’s that simple, apparently. He calls her Ana – just like he asked her to do at the start of the book and he ignored her – and boom, instant trust!

“Yes, I do.” I respond spontaneously, not thinking…because it’s true. I do trust him.

“Well then,” he looks relieved. “The rest of this stuff is just details.”

‘Just details’ – you may find yourself hanging by the neck from his playroom ceiling, but let’s not sweat the small stuff. How about safewords? Can we talk about safewords?

They don’t. Instead they talk about fish. (They’re eating cod for dinner.) Ana complains that she will not eat three meals a day, because she has some kind of undiagnosed eating disorder. The conversation rolls around to Mrs. Robinson and Ana is once more jealous and insecure. And speaking of insecure…

Ah yes, the no masturbation clause.

“Out of curiosity…why?”

“Because I want all your pleasure,” his voice is husky, but determined. [God, the dialogue tags in this section. Ouch.]

I’m sure we can all agree that there is nothing so arousing as a man who is so secure and well-adjusted about his sexuality that he gets jealous of his wife’s vibrator.

The big fucking baby.

They wrangle for several pages about how many bites of her meal Ana has to eat before he’ll let her up from the table, because both of them have now apparently regressed to infancy. He smarms about how he’d like to have her for dessert and Ana is once again possessed by her inner pod person.

“Christian. You use sex as a weapon. It really isn’t fair,” I whisper, staring down at my hands and then looking directly at him. He raises his eyebrows, surprised, and I see he’s considering my words. He strokes his chin thoughtfully.

“You’re right. I do. In life you use what you know, Anastasia. Doesn’t change how much I want you. Here. Now.”

You call him out on his bullshit and he does it again a heartbeat later. This man is hopeless; I’ve owned socks with more self-awareness.

“If you were my sub, you wouldn’t have to think about this. It would be easy.” His voice is soft, seductive. “All those decisions – all the wearying thought processes behind them. The – ‘is this the right thing to do? Should this happen here? Can it happen now?’ You wouldn’t have to worry about any of that detail. That’s what I’d do as your Dom. And right now, I know you want me, Anastasia.”

For the last time, Christian – get a fucking sex doll. Three ever-ready orifices and no brain – she’d be the girl of your dreams.

I get that this is supposed to be some kind of sexual fantasy about total surrender, but come on. He’s basically saying ‘don’t you worry your pretty little head about things like consent’. This paragraph may be the rapeiest thing I’ve heard since the last time I got Blurred Lines stuck in my head.

He then tells her he knows she’s hot for him because of the way she’s twitching and flushing, which would be a reasonable assumption if Ana’s default state wasn’t ‘twitchy and flushed’.

She complains that she’s blind-sided in this ‘game of seduction’ because all her references are fictional.

Elizabeth Bennet would be outraged, Jane Eyre too frightened, and Tess would succumb, just as I have.

She reads nineteenth century novels, you see. Not well, but she does. Judging by the mess she’s made of the D’Urbervilles she’d have done better learning to apply mascara. If you can’t be smart, you may as well try to look pretty.

Ana complains he doesn’t fight fair and he says he never has, which is pretty much a blatant admission that he likes to kick downwards, backed up throughout all three books by his appalling rudeness to waiters, drivers, architects and anyone who isn’t a billionaire.

The fact that Ana doesn’t find this behaviour immediately repellent casts an ugly reflection on her own moral character. In fact all three of her ‘literary heroines’ cited above would probably be repulsed in their own ways, but it’s enough for Ana to namedrop and move on to what’s really important – talking to her stupid inner goddess.

My inner goddess frowns at me. You can do this, she coaxes – play this sex god at his own game. Can I? Okay. What to do? My inexperience is an albatross around my neck. Picking up a spear of asparagus, I gaze at him and bite my lip. Then very slowly put the tip of my cold asparagus in my mouth and suck it.

Christian’s eyes widen infinitesimally, but I notice.

“Anastasia. What are you doing?”

She’s making her pee smell funny. I hear that’s sexy around these parts. Like albatrosses. And unlikely adjectives like ‘infinitesimally.’

The waiter comes by to clear their plates and get glared at by Christian for doing so and Ana ‘grasp[s] this precious moment of clarity’. No, I don’t know, either.

Our meeting will only end one way if I stay, and I need some boundaries after such an intense conversation. As much as my body craves his touch, my mind is rebelling. I need some distance to think about all he’s said. I still haven’t made a decision, and his sexual allure and prowess doesn’t make it any easier…If I stay here in this room with him, he will fuck me.

Ana, if you have no part of the decision to have sex, that’s called rape. And it is a very, very serious crime. Even if you had signed his ridiculous and non-legally binding contract, it still wouldn’t give him carte blanche to stick his dick in you whenever he felt like it. Not if you didn’t want him to. Even a legally binding marriage contract would mean he still requires your continued and explicit consent. Because you are a person. Not property.

Why isn’t this obvious to you? It’s a mercy there’s a blurb copy to point out that these books are ‘liberating’ and feminist, isn’t it? Otherwise they’d be really creepy and depressing.

You know how further back I suspected that Christian thought all his Christmases had come at once when she fell into his office and displayed no signs of personal autonomy, self-esteem or brain activity? Well, check this out.

“You know, when you fell into my office to interview me, you were all ‘yes, sir’, ‘no, sir’. I thought you were a natural born submissive. But quite frankly, Anastasia, I’m not sure you have a submissive bone in your delectable body.”

See?

He insists they try to have a BDSM relationship anyway because;

“I don’t know any other way, Anastasia. This is who I am.”

Well, why don’t you try to learn? She has to, after all. You’ve handed her what’s not so much a learning curve as a learning vertical ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, but apparently she – and her whole four functioning brain cells – are supposed to suck it up with nothing but the aid of a high spec laptop and a ten page pseudo-legal document.

Wow, Christian – if I didn’t know any better I’d say you were trying to take advantage of a naive and incredibly stupid girl and trap her into some sinister form of white slavery…oh wait, that’s exactly what you’re doing, isn’t it?

Liberating. Remember. Liberating.

Ana has a pod-person moment and tells him she needs to think and that she still doesn’t know if she can have the kind of relationship that he wants to have with her.

As I peer up at him, I commit his beautiful profile to memory. The idea that I might not see him again haunts me, unwelcome and too painful to contemplate.

You’ll miss him because he’s pretty, in other words? Ana, you’re as deep as he is charming.

He turns suddenly, staring down at me, his expression intense. “You’re moving this weekend to Seattle. If you make the right decision, can I see you on Sunday?”

Thanks for the infoshit there, Christian. And the ‘right’ decision. Yeah, you’re not manipulative at all, are you? He’s like one of those Pick Up Artists – those nerds-turned-gym-rats who wear silly hats and try to pick up women using ‘Neuro-Linguistic programming’, even though they’re consumed with such a fathomless hatred of all women that they – like Christian Grey – would be better off with a sex doll.

The valet brings Ana’s car round and Christian promptly throws a shitfit at the sight of her old VW, like he wasn’t pouring wine down her throat on an empty stomach about two hours ago.

She realises he’s planning to buy her a new car and she tells him categorically no. He is not buying her a car and that’s that. He says ‘we’ll see’, which means he’s going to whether she likes it or not.

Ana drives off and starts to cry, because Christian makes her so blissfully happy, you see. Also confused. And upset.

He wants me, but the truth is I need more. I need him to want me like I want and need him, and deep down I know that’s not possible. I am just overwhelmed.

I don’t even know how to categorise him. If I do this thing…will he be my boyfriend? Will I be able to introduce him to my friends? Go out to bars, the cinema, bowling even, with him? The truth is I don’t think he will.

There are times in this book where, as dreadful as Ana is, I still feel like I should be handing her a tub of heartbreak icecream, a large spoon and a sound-file of Gloria Gaynor. This is one of them.

As soon as she gets home, there’s an e-mail from Christian, so all that stuff he said about giving her time and space to think was clearly bullshit.

I don’t understand why you ran this evening. I sincerely hope I answered all your questions to your satisfaction. I know I have given you a great deal to contemplate, and I fervently hope that you will give my proposal your serious consideration.

Asshole.

His e-mail makes me weep more. I am not a merger. I am not an acquisition. Reading this, I might as well be. I don’t reply.

Now you’re getting it. Ana, you know that gut feeling you have that this relationship is doomed because you both want completely different things? Go with that.

I think of all the times he warned me to stay away.

“Anastasia, you should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you.”

“I don’t do the girlfriend thing.”

“I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of guy.”

“I don’t make love.”

“This is all I know.”

As I weep into my pillow silently, it’s this last idea I cling to. This is all I know, too. Perhaps together we can chart a new course.

Oh dear. Swing and a miss. We’re not even halfway through the book yet? Did I mention that? And it’s a trilogy.

2 responses to “Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter Thirteen – Point To Schlong

  1. Though I’m no expert in World History of Femininity Practices and could be very wrong: didn’t eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women wear some types of makeup? Clearly they didn’t have MAC eyeshadows and fifteen different shades of NARS Three-In-One, nor the social expectation to wear it (in fact I seem to recall that “painted lady” was antique slang for “hooker”) — but they had powders and such for certain occasions.
    Ana gets even wronger with every rereading.

    • I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but it just struck me as yet another way for Ana to demonstrate that she’s smarter than other people. I’m just making notes on the chapter where she goes for a job interview and manages to imply that there were no classic American novels written after 1950.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s