Here we are again, and it’s another horrible chapter, I’m afraid. If you are disturbed by graphic depictions of violence and sexual assault then you might want to skip this one.
Chapter sixteen begins with Ana coming back to what little sense she had in the first place, following yet another one of those multiple, voice-activated orgasms we’ve all come to know and love so much. She attempts to touch Christian’s chest and he promptly titledrops all over her by telling her he doesn’t like to be touched because he’s ‘fifty shades of fucked up, Anastasia.’
“I had a very tough introduction to life. I don’t want to burden you with the details. Just don’t.” He strokes his nose against mine, and then he pulls out me and sits up.
You know, a lot of people have said that men should read this book because they’ll learn things that will enable them to spice up their stale relationships. Guys, take note – you should always mention your post-traumatic past when you are actually inside someone. God, that gets us so hot – you have no idea.
Ana spends about half a paragraph ‘reeling from the “tough introduction to life” comment’ and then launches into the kind of oh-so-witty back and forth that makes me want to stab myself repeatedly in the head with a dinner fork.
By the way, he let her ride cowgirl last time, just for context. But don’t get excited. It wasn’t.
“If you imagine for one minute that I think you ceded control to me, well you haven’t taken into account my GPA.” I smile shyly at him.
I think this is Ana’s way of saying she’s smart. It’s nice to see she finally has an opinion of herself that doesn’t automatically devolve to her sporadic clumsiness and awful, ghastly ugliness. Sadly her boast rings kind of hollow because…well, see the previous fifteen chapters.
“Miss Steele, you are not just a pretty face. You’ve had six orgasms so far and all of them belong to me,” he boasts, playful again.
I flush and blink at the same time, and he stares down at me. He’s keeping count!
By the way, it’s much more fun if you imagine him doing so in the voice of The Count from Sesame Street. And only slightly less creepy.
Ana decides to tell him about the sex dream she had this morning (two looooong chapters ago, because who needs pacing?) just in case he was jealous of her brain for making her spaff in her sleep or something. I don’t know. I’ve given up trying to fathom how these people’s horrible, horrible minds work.
In case the previous chapter didn’t leave you convinced that Christian Grey is one of the worst human beings to ever waste oxygen, he dumps the used condom on her bedroom floor and complains that he hates using them, so she’ll have to ‘sort out some contraception’. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to see why so many women find this man so incredibly alluring.
“Do you have a doctor?”
I shake my head. We are back to mergers and acquisitions – another 180-degree mood swing.
“I can have mine come and see you at your apartment – Sunday morning before you come and see me. Or he can see you at my place. Which would you prefer?”
So romantic – Sunday, by the way, will be a whole eight days to the day she first fucked him. And already he’s calling Dr. Coathanger to come round and shoot her full of hormones, for his convenience.
Ana is not remotely disturbed by the knowledge that her new boyfriend has his own private gynecologist on standby, and in fact starts yearning for him to spend the night.
Just in case he wasn’t looking like enough of a winner, Christian then threatens to rape and kidnap her. No, really – he does.
“You’d kidnap me?”
“Oh yes,” he grins.
“Hold me against my will?” Jeez, this is hot.
“Oh yes,” he nods. “And then we’re talking TPE 24/7.”
“You’ve lost me,” I breathe, my heart is pounding…is he serious?
You’d better believe it, dingbat. He’s kidnapped you once – you just failed to notice. TPE 24/7 apparently stands for ‘Total Power Exchange – round the clock,’ which sounds awfully non-consensual from where I’m sitting. And yes, I know this is supposed to be a joke between them, but it isn’t funny when you know he would totally do these things and in the case of kidnapping, has already done so.
And holding women against their will is apparently ‘hot’ now. Good to know.
Then she rolls her eyes at him and reminds her that he warned her he’d spank her if she did that again. If you’re disturbed by graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault, you might want to look away now.
“I haven’t signed,” I whisper.
“I told you what I’d do. I’m a man of my word. I’m going to spank you, and then I’m going to fuck you very quick and very hard. Looks like we’ll need that condom after all.”
You know what she didn’t say? Yes. It’s a small word, but in these cases it’s generally held to be important.
Should I run? This is it; our relationship hangs in the balance, right here, right now. Do I let him do this or do I say no, and then that’s it? Because I know it will be over if I say no.
This, right here, is the essence of why all the people who have defended this book are wrong. They say the relationship is mutually consensual, but right here is proof that it’s not. He’s demanding all or nothing from a girl who is clearly not experienced enough to give informed consent to what he’s demanding of her. And don’t say he’s trying to give her all the information she needs in order to give good consent – because he’s not. (If anything the contract was set up to bamboozle her from the beginning.) Right now the only words on his lips should be ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ and how and when she is supposed to use them.
He doesn’t mention safewords. Instead he holds her down tells her to put her hands up on either side of her head.
Very slowly, he pulls down my sweatpants. Oh, how demeaning is this? Demeaning and scary and hot. He’s making such a meal of this. My heart is in mouth. I can barely breathe. Shit, is this going to hurt?
Demeaning and scary is also the new ‘hot’. Apparently.
…and he hits me – hard. Ow! My eyes spring open in response to the pain, and I try to rise, but his hand moves between my shoulder blades keeping me down.
This isn’t actually BDSM, by the way. Without proper consent and safewords, this is just violence. No wonder BDSM practitioners hate this book.
He hits me again…this is getting harder to take. My face hurts it’s screwed up so tight. He strokes me gently and then the blow comes. I cry out again.
“No one to hear you, baby, just me.”
I hate even quoting this stuff, but this is what I took on in recapping it. She’s actively crying out in pain and he still hasn’t reminded her that she could use a safeword. This guy should be behind bars.
After he’s done hitting her he pokes two fingers up her ‘taking me completely by surprise. I gasp, this new assault breaking through the numbness around my brain.’
I didn’t think anything could top chapter fifteen for awfulness, but well done, E.L. – you’ve managed it.
“Feel this. See how much your body likes this, Anastasia. You’re soaking just for me.”
They had sex about half an hour ago. Besides which, it’s not uncommon for rape victims to experience physiological arousal.
My senses are ravaged, disconnected, solely concentrating on what he’s doing to me. How he’s making me feel, that familiar pull deep in my belly, tightening, quickening. NO…and my traitorous body explodes in an intense, body-shattering orgasm.
I feel like I should be handing out teddy bears and mugs of hot cocoa at this point.
“Well done, baby,” he whispers, quiet joy in his voice. His words curl around me like a soft, fluffy towel from the Heathman Hotel, and I’m so pleased that he’s happy.
He says he has to leave – nothing like fleeing the scene of a crime – and she wanders around feeling confused and like she can’t look him in the eye. Because he’s just hit her. It bears repeating because it’s true – this is not BDSM. This is domestic violence. There were no mentions of safewords (and she needs reminding, as a total virgin to the whole scene) and she had no way of knowing that this could stop as soon as she couldn’t take any more. These things are vital to all responsible BDSM practitioners. It doesn’t matter how weird or wild the scene – the sub could be tied hand and foot to a St. Andrew’s cross while a dominatrix works on his dick with a cheese grater – as soon as he says ‘buttercup’, or ‘astroglide’ or whatever the safeword is, it stops.
I close the door and stand helpless in the living room of an apartment that I shall only spend another two nights in. A place I have lived happily for almost four years…yet today, for the first time ever, I feel lonely and uncomfortable here, unhappy with my own company.
I know Ana’s a black-hole of a girl with less common sense and compassion than the average bathroom sponge, but sometimes I do feel desperately sorry for her.
Have I strayed so far from who I am? I know that lurking, not very far under my rather numb exterior, is a well of tears. What am I doing? The irony is I can’t even sit down and enjoy a good cry. I’ll have to stand. I know it’s late, but I decide to call my mom.
This is one of those times. A man hits her and she wants to cry and call her mother – every now and again she behaves like a normal human being. Then I remember I’m supposed to be masturbating to this book and that thought will never, ever stop being fucked up.
I have cried so often in the last few days.
“Please, Ana,” she says, and her anguish reflects mine.
“Oh, Mom, it’s a man.”
“What’s he done to you?” Her alarm is palpable.
“It’s not like that.” Although it is…Oh crap. I don’t want to worry her. I just want someone else to be strong for me at the moment.
“Ana, please, you’re worrying me.”
As she should be.
Ana’s mother introduces her to the startling concepts that three weeks (it’s actually less than that) is no time to get to know someone, and that also she needs to ask herself if Christian is worthy of her.
Is he worthy of me? That’s an interesting concept. I always wonder whether I am worthy of him.
Ana, you are the dumbest, most self-centred, most unpleasant and dullest female protagonist of any novel I have ever read. And yet you still don’t deserve Christian Grey.
At this point Kate comes in, sees Ana’s been crying, and once again guesses that Christian is responsible. This is a love story, by the way, in case you were confused. Ana thinks about sitting down and realises she can’t, prompting Kate to ask if she is okay.
“I fell over and landed on my behind.”
She doesn’t think to question my explanation, because I am one of the most uncoordinated people in Washington State. I never thought I’d see that as a blessing.
Still a love story. We may have wandered into The Woman Who Walked Into Doors territory, but this is still a timeless romance. Just so you know.
After a brief and pointless conversation with Kate, and a further half bottle of wine, Ana wanders off to e-mail Christian, only to find he’s already done so.
Dear Miss Steele
You are quite simply exquisite. The most beautiful, intelligent, witty and brave woman I have ever met.
Aw, you charmer. I bet you say that to all the girls who don’t call the police.
He tells her to take some Advil (to deal with the pain of the beating he gave her) and that she must not drive her VW again, because he will know. Then there’s a lengthy and moronic back and forth about selling the car and he tells her not to drink too much – because alcohol is bad. Except when he’s feeding it to her, obviously. She complains that he never stays with her, closes the computer down and gets into bed.
It’s been one long day, one emotional wrench after another.
One short ice age after another, more like. Do you think maybe you could learn something about pacing, Ms. James? No, actually – I take that back. Do you think maybe you could think about never writing anything ever again? Because after these couple of chapters, I would be so okay with that. I think a lot of victims of domestic violence might be quite happy too.
And then this evening, he actually hit me. I’ve never been hit in my life. What have I gotten myself into?
Ana, will you listen to yourself? You didn’t use the word ‘spank’, or ‘play’ or ‘scene’ in relation to what just happened. You said he hit you.
In a further revealing moment, she starts to cry hopelessly, but she thinks it’s because she’s in love with ‘someone by who is own admission is completely fucked up.’ She thinks about him as a toddler and speculates about what unspeakable cruelty warped him, which is all very well but probably best left to trained professionals to deal with. Or, alternatively, he’s simply an asshole. Those also exist in nature.
I am momentarially distracted from my dark night of the soul by Kate shouting.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?”
“Well you can’t!”
“What the fuck have you done to her now?”
“Since she’s met you she cries all the time.”
Of course, Christian has come back, alerted by her e-mail about wanting him to spend the night. Because he’s sensitive. Or he was worried she might realise that what just happened was completely and utterly dicked the fuck up and be thinking about calling the police. I’m guessing it’s more of option B, personally.
She asks him why he’s here.
“Part of my role is to look after your needs. You said you wanted me to stay, so here I am. And yet I find you like this.” He blinks at me, truly bewildered. “I’m sure I’m responsible, but I have no idea why. Is it because I hit you?”
Remember, ladies, we’re supposed to be masturbating frantically to the very thought of this dreamy, empathy-free goddamn fucking psychopath. The word you’re looking for is ‘sorry’, you abject and disgusting piece of shit.
“Talk to me,” he whispers. “You told me you were okay. I’d never have left you if I thought you were like this.”
…because you might call the cops. Feed this guy a stray-cat already.
I stare down at my hands. What can I say that I haven’t said already? I want more. I want him to stay because he wants to stay with me, not because I’m a blubbering mess, and I don’t want him to beat me, is that so unreasonable?
‘I don’t want him to beat me, is that so unreasonable?’ I feel like this should be blown up billboard sized and plastered all over every advertisement for this wretched, regressive bumrag of a book and all of its associated marketing.
“I thought I was fine.”
“Anastasia, you can’t tell me what you think I want to hear. That’s not very honest,” he admonishes me. “How can I trust anything you’ve said to me?”
Did you get that? He should be grovelling on his fucking knees right now, but he’s turned it around and suddenly it’s all her fault for not being honest about how she felt – ie. hurt, humiliated and debased.
“How did you feel while I was hitting you and after?”
“I didn’t like it. I’d rather you didn’t do it again.”
“You weren’t meant to like it.”
Aaaand I’m gonna stop you right there, Christian. Because you have once again failed Kink 101. Subs like subbing, doms like domming. Some people like getting shrink-wrapped in black PVC and spun around on big-ass medieval torture wheels while having clothespins attached to their inner labia. Some people like crawling around after women in very high heels and being used as ashtrays. But almost all of these people do what they do because on some level, they like it. It floats their boat, it butters their muffin, it tickles their pickle – however you want to put it. Seeing the difference here?
“Are you going to hit me again?” I challenge.
“No, not tonight.”
Phew…my subconscious and I both breathe a silent sigh of relief.
At this point I let out a not-so-silent scream of rage and contemplated an actual fucking book burning. Luckily I didn’t, because I have the Kindle edition. But seriously – another quote for the billboards, don’t you think? Ah, romance.
He says he needs to control her, and that he likes to watch her ‘beautiful alabaster skin pink and warm up under my hands. It turns me on.’ I want this book to go back to being ridiculous again, because these last two chapters have made me honestly queasy.
She asks him if it’s all about the pain, and he says…
“A bit, to see if you can take it, but that’s not the whole reason. It’s the fact that you are mine to do with as I see fit – ultimate control over someone else. And it turns me on. Big time, Anastasia…”
You don’t have to be a psychopath to treat other people like objects, but it helps.
He reminds her she was sexually aroused by his hitting her, which is hardly fair, since from chapter one onwards Ana has existed in a humid state of gushing lust every time they occupy the same space. Once again he turns it around on her – that she’s not being fair by not telling him how she felt when he was hitting her. Apparently the screaming in pain wasn’t a clue.
Then he tells her she’s ‘bewitched’ him and her stupid inner goddess probably does some kind of idiotic gymnastic routine, but who cares?
“If you are going to cry, cry in front of me. I need to know.”
“Do you want me to cry?”
“Not particularly. I just want to know how you’re feeling. I don’t want you slipping through my fingers.”
Or calling the police.
But she’s thrilled because he’s agreed to stay with her for the night, because everyone in this book is terrifyingly out of touch with reality.
Holy cow. Christian Grey is sleeping with me, and in the comfort and solace of his arms, I drift into a peaceful sleep.
See what I mean?
All of these websites provide instructions as to how to cover your tracks, should someone be checking up on your internet history.