Now, everybody who’s been around these parts knows that Christian Grey is a creepy rapist. That’s not in dispute. But I’m still going to give you guys the heads up here with a CW: Rape, not because this is a rape scene, but because so many things he says/thinks in this chapter sound exactly like something a rapist would say/think. So there’s your heads up.
EDIT: I just woke up and read this amazing post on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It is so super relevant to this recap, I had to edit to include it.
Yes, we’re still on the same, massive chapter. If you want to read this recap in tandem with the original recap, you’re going to want chapter eight.
This day in history: Anabella Steeleswan lost her virginity and turned into a pirate.
Chedward has just realized that the woman he’s mistaken for a potential fucktoy is actually a worthless virgin, and he’s super angry:
“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” I growl, and start pacing my study. What do I want with a virgin? She shrugs apologetically, at a loss for words.
“I don’t understand why you didn’t tell me.” The exasperation is clear in my voice.
Okay, so, a few things. One, underlines indicate italics. Two, exasperation is a pretty big back step from where we were just a paragraph above (in the last recap), where you “glare at her as fury surges through” your body. Now it’s exasperation, and there hasn’t even been a section break?
Ana points out that it’s not like he ever asked, and she doesn’t generally blurt out that she’s a virgin to people she just met. You know, unlike some people, who decide they can meet a person and then days later ask them to sign a sex contract and barf out all of the details of their sex lives whether another person wants to hear them or not.
Which, by the way, is what Chedward is so angry about: he showed her his sex room, talked about hard limits, and revealed all this stuff about himself, and she has the nerve to not be exactly what he expected. He responds with ludicrously dramatic dialogue:
“May God forgive me,” I mutter under my breath.
He’s worried that she’s never been kissed, either. She answers:
“Of course I have.” She looks offended. Yeah, she’s been kissed, but not often. And for some reason the thought is…pleasing.
Ana is doomed here. She can either be a chaste virgin whose chasteness and virginity disgust Chedward, or she can be sexually experienced and disappoint him. And this is going to be the theme of their entire relationship from here out.
Why hasn’t some guy taken her to bed?
Because some guys understand the word “no”? I mean, not many, but some.
Shit, maybe she’s religious.
Hypothesizes the guy who just begged God’s forgiveness for talking about sex to another adult.
She gazes down at her fingers, and I think she’s smiling. She thinks this is funny? I could kick myself. “And you’re seriously discussing what I want to do, when you have no experience.”
I’m loving this scene from his point of view, because it’s explicitly laying out the thing that makes me stop reading a romance the second it comes up, and it still comes up with disturbing frequency even now. Here we have a romance novel hero internally boggling at the idea that a heroine’s sexual agency needs to be unlocked by a man, like a video game achievement. It’s amazing to him that she’s making decisions about her own sexuality without having the prior permission that only sexual penetration can grant. From this perspective, Ana appears to be a far more empowered character than she came off in her own head.
“How have you avoided sex? Tell me, please.” Because I don’t get it. She’s in college–and from what I remember of college all the kids were fucking like rabbits.
All of them. Except Me.
Wait, hasn’t your mom’s best friend been boning you since you were fifteen? I suppose the distance between Boston and Seattle probably put a crimp in that.
How has she avoided sex. I love it. It’s an inevitability that she’s going to have sex with someone. As a beautiful young woman, she owes it to the world to have sex, to the point that she’s apparently dodging dick like a runner jumping hurdles.
Ana tells him that nobody has ever taken an interest in her.
No one has what? Seen how attractive you are? No one’s lived up to your expectations–and I do?
There seems to be a real push in the narrative for the reader to see Christian has having the same low self-esteem Ana has in her point of view. But it’s totally incongruous with any of the characterization that’s going on inside of Christian’s actual head. We see no evidence that he actually has this much self doubt in his actions, or even in most of his thoughts. It’s basically just, “Everybody wants to fuck me all the time, I’m the greatest” with a side of “wait, what? Why would ANYONE be interested in ME?” which completely contradict each other. And there’s no acknowledgement of how contradictory this is. He’s not going, “Wow, I’m so mercurial” (to borrow the word-of-the-day from the original series) or examining these reactions at all. We’re meant to take them as written and not question the sharp contrast.
Chedward wonders how she’s going to be a submissive if she’s never had sex before.
This is not going to fly…and all the groundwork I’ve done has been for nothing. I can’t close this deal.
In case you forgot that our romantic hero literally views women as property.
“Why are you so angry with me?” she whispers.
Of course she would think that. Make this right, Grey.
Yes. Of course she would think that. Because you’ve glared and yelled and acted demonstrably, you know, angry.
Why the hell would I be angry with you?
But…you just…you sounded like you kind of understood why she…. Never mind.
So, how does he figure he’s going to “make this right”? By giving her the gift of his wang, of course!
And I want to fuck her, and spank her, and watch her alabaster skin pink beneath my hands. That’s out of the question now–isn’t it? Perhaps not the fucking…perhaps I could. The thought is a revelation. I could take her to bed. Break her in.
Tear the mattress tag off her. Void her warranty. Charge through the tape at her finish line. Drive your car into a canyon and take her with you. Shatter her into a thousand theoretical shards. Take it to the limit, one more time.
Would she want to?
Does it matter?
You know who Christian Grey reminds me of? Christopher Walken as “The Continental” on SNL.
Anyway, Ana bites her lip again, and she apologizes:
“Don’t apologize. It’s just that I want to bite it, too, hard.”
Her breath hitches.
Oh. Maybe she’s interested. Yes. Let’s do this. My decision is made.
“Come,” I offer, holding out my hand.
“We’re going to rectify this situation right now.”
I love how this reads like he’s going to rectify the fact that he wants to bite her lip. It’s like he’s saying, “Come on, I’m going to go bite your lip.” Also, “‘Come,’ I offer”? He offers? When I tell my dog, “come!” I’m not offering that they come inside. I’m telling them to. If it’s an offer, there needs to be a question mark. But that’s just my opinion.
“What do you mean? What situation?”
“Your situation, Ana, I’m going to make love to you, now.”
Again, not really an offer. But it’s okay, because then he backs off a little:
“That’s if you want to. I mean, I don’t want to push my luck.”
Let’s talk about something infuriating to me, dear reader. After Ana reminds Christian that he doesn’t make love, he fucks hard, he says:
“I can make an exception, or maybe combine the two, we’ll see. I really want to make love to you. Please, come to bed with me. I want our arrangement to work, but you really need to have some idea what you’re getting yourself into. We can start your training tonight–with the basics. This doesn’t mean I’ve come over all hearts and flowers–it’s a means to an end, but one that I want, and hopefully you do, too.”
In my recap of Fifty Shades of Grey, I pointed out how offensive it was for Chedward to tell Ana that having sex with her is a “means to an end.” What he’s actually stating is that he’s only going to have sex with her in an effort to make her acceptable for his use. But since that first recap, and since a boom of BDSM Billionaire erotic romance spawned from this book (my series included), I’ve noticed something that really frustrates me. I have seen countless reviews from Fifty Shades of Grey fans on other books wherein the reader will state that they found the hero wasn’t as “alpha” as Christian Grey, and therefore not believable or sexy as a Dom. I’ve seen this on my own series, but I’ll be the first to admit that my hero is not an alpha hero and therefore deserves that criticism. But I’ve also seen it on other books, several in particular featuring heroes that turned me off because they were such giant assholes (or “alpholes” to borrow a popular romance reader phrase). “Not alpha enough” is a fair reader criticism; if someone is reading a book for an alpha male hero and they don’t think they’re getting it, that makes sense to include it in a review. But it’s the comparison to Christian Grey that I don’t understand.
Christian Grey doesn’t come across as particularly alpha. He tries, bless him. He tells Ana “come” (like a dog, and they’re doing a scene) and “I’m going to make love to you, now.” Which, to me, as a reader, are huge, boundary pushing turn-offs; like I said, I’m not a fan of those heroes. But some people are reading for that trope. So, here’s Christian, saying these things that could be interpreted as alpha, but it’s followed up with please, and only if you want to, and I hope you want to. This is not the behavior of a trope-true alpha, whose actions are sometimes borderline rape: “I’m going to to fuck you, now. And you’re going to like it.” While I maintain that Christian Grey is a rapist, he’s not an alpha hero, so I’m not sure what definition of “alpha hero” these readers are going by. It’s one thing to see books where a non-alpha hero is being fairly labeled “not alpha enough for me”, but it’s perplexing when books with actual alpha heroes are labeled as “not as as alpha as Christian Grey.”
Ana reminds Chedward that she hasn’t agreed to all of his rules, and he tells her that’s okay, he knows she wants this as much as he does. He’s amazed that she hasn’t run away from him, now that she knows his deepest, darkest secret. Which he’s still convinced is super dark and unusual, despite it being super common.
If you’ve made it through my other recaps, then brace yourself, dear reader, for a wave of nostalgia that’s about to crash over you like a glowing, brown, Lake Eerie tidal wave:
“You are one brave young woman,” I breathe. “I am in awe of you.”
This is not the first time the reader will be told directly that Ana is brave/awe-inspiring, in total contradiction to her actions or characterization.
Chedward wonders if he can actually have “vanilla” sex. Since I first read these books, I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate the term “vanilla” sex. I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to refer to it as “sex without kink.” I’m trying to train myself into differentiating with the terms sex with kink, sex without kink, and kink without sex (which is absolutely possible, and if you want to discuss it in the comments, let’s all do that). It just seems to me that “vanilla” is kind of a snarky term that suggests sex without paddles and nipple clamps is somehow lacking, and, by extension, people who don’t involve kinky elements in their sex lives are also somehow lacking. It’s pretty insulting.
They go to Chedward’s bedroom, where we cruise by some conveniently placed slut-shaming:
Shit. Contraception. I’m sure she’s not on the pill…Fortunately, I have condoms for backup. At least I don’t have to worry about every dick she’s slept with.
No, you’re right. There’s only one dick she’s going to sleep with. Unfortunately, she’s going to fall in love with him and marry him, too.
Christian thinks about how his first time was embarrassing, lending further credence to my “Elena Lincoln is a child molester” position. Then it’s time to describe Ana like she’s some kind of untamed woodland creature:
I stalk toward her like she’s my prey. Oh, baby, I want to bury myself in you. Her breathing is shallow and quick. Her cheeks are rosy…she’s wary, but excited.
It’s also time for him to sound like a serial killer:
She’s at my mercy, and knowing that makes me feel powerful. She has no idea what I’m going to do to her.
That’s nothing at all like something that could come directly out of a Thomas Harris book.
Then he says:
“Let’s get this jacket off, shall we?”
And I realize that at this point, she has seen his sex room, talked about what he wants to do to her sexually, is about to have sex with him, and she hasn’t even taken her coat off yet. If this is the pace we’re moving at, how the goddamn Christ is this chapter so assing long?
There’s kissing, and he takes her shirt off:
“Oh, Ana. You have the most beautiful skin, pale and flawless.
“A perfect addition to the suit of human skin I’m constructing in my basement workshop.”
I want to kiss every single inch of it.” There’s not a mark on her. The thought is unsettling. I want to see her marked…pink…with tiny, thin welts from a crop, maybe.
You know, the emphasis on the unblemished whiteness of her skin is a lot more aggressive in this book than in the last one.
If I do nothing else, I will teach her not to be shy of her body.
Okay, but you leave your shirt on when you’re banging, so…
Also, he teaches her to not be shy of her body, then he handcuffs her and leaves unwanted marks all over her body when she dares to sunbathe topless on a mediterranean beach on their honeymoon. But if I point out all the double standards he holds for Ana, we’ll never get off of this conference call.
She tastes luscious. Wine, grapes, and innocence–a potent, heady mix of flavors.
WTF does innocence taste like? And aren’t wine and grapes basically the same thing? I’m no sommelier, but I’m pretty sure they’re related. And don’t get me started on “luscious” because that word was already ridiculous and now I’m going to laugh whenever I see it in print. Actually, I’ll never get to reread the Harry Potter series again, because I’ll see Lucius Malfoy and all I’ll think about is how he must taste like wine, grapes, and innocence. Also, 40 volume lightener and the tears of many house elves.
There’s some more kissing and she touches him, but he likes it, and Edward–I’m sorry, Christian–thinks about how she smells like an orchard in springtime. Since Bella Swan smelled like lavender and freesia, E.L. James has created a safe distance. But we, the haters, remain constantly vigilant.
Christian asks Ana to show him how she “pleasures” herself, and of course, we already know that this is a thing Ana has never done. Because, like any good and virtuous heroine worthy of love, her body has never been awakened to arousal before the first touch of the hero’s hand. The idea that she’s never had an orgasm blows Chedward’s mind, and he thinks:
I’m going to make you come like a freight train, baby.
He tells her to keep still. You know. Like how freight trains are known for not moving. Not moving is their primary function. So Ana can’t move. Because trains.
How, exactly, does a train come?
I’m done thinking about this, and to be perfectly frank, I wish I never had. I’m not going to be able to come back from this a whole person.
Anyway, he li-li-li-licks her from her toes to her head, to paraphrase Ludacris, and marvels the whole time about the fact she actually wants to fuck him.
She doesn’t stop me…she trusts me. Can I extend her trust to letting me have complete dominion over her body…over her?
“She doesn’t mind me licking her and cupping her breasts, so she probably wants me to have complete control over everything she does in life.” Sounds legit.
Dipping my finger into her bra cup, I jerk it down, freeing her breast. The nipple is small, rose pink, and it’s already hard. I drag the cup down so that the fabric and underwire rest under her breast, forcing it upward. I repeat the process with the other cup and watch, fascinated, as her nipples grow under my steady gaze.
I…I don’t think nipples work like that.
But it’s still fun to imagine Ana’s nipples getting bigger and bigger, filling the room, destroying Seattle.
There’s more nipple play, while Chedward keeps thinking she should just hold still while she orgasms. I remember people making necrophilia jokes about this during the last recaps. I was like, “Yeah, ha ha,” but now I’m kind of like, “Damn. They were right.” I’m surprised he didn’t ask her lay in a bathtub full of ice first.
Next up, we learn why nobody should ever want to get finger blasted by Christian Grey:
I thrust my finger inside her, and she cries out. She’s hot and tight and wet, and I want her. I thrust into her again, taking her cries into my mouth. I press my palm to her clitoris…pushing down…pushing around. She cries out and writhes beneath me.
No shit! It’s because you’re grinding her clit into her pubic bone. Do you even know what you’re doing down there? I mean, at least you used the word “clitoris” and earlier, “vulva,” instead of just “down there,” but goddamn, Grey. You’re just jabbing and smashing around like you’re trying to reach something that slipped down the back of the sofa.
He takes his boxers off and thinks about how she’s probably never seen an erect penis before. Ana’s never masturbated or even thought about sex or anything sexual before, apparently, so it’s unlikely that she’s ever been curious enough to hop on the internet and look for one. But holy shit, isn’t that a bummer of a thought? That this heroine is actually appealing to readers because of her entire lack of sexuality or sexual desire prior to getting wet panties over Chedward Grullen?
Now it’s time for the penetration:
I position myself so I can take her at my whim. Her eyes are open wide, imploring me. She really wants this…as much as I do. Should I be gentle and prolong the agony, or do I go for it?
I’m not sure what he means by prolong the agony. The agony of anticipation, or the agony of her hymen breaking? Because why, if she’s one of the people who do experience pain the first time, would you want to prolong that?
I go for it. I need to possess her.
“I’m going to fuck you now, Miss Steele. Hard.”
One thrust and I’m inside her.
What kind of fanfic bullshittery is this?! “F.U.C.K.”? This isn’t even a grammar issue. It just looks unpleasant and silly. Well, I mean, it is a grammar issue, and usually I don’t think bending the rules for stylistic reasons is really so bad, but this… this is an assault on my eyeballs and I would like to press charges in What Kind Of Drunken Editor Allowed This To Happen district court.
Note, though, that immediately after worrying he might hurt her (if that’s indeed what the ambiguous “prolong the agony” was about), he’s like, ah, never mind, it doesn’t matter, because this is about what I need.
She’s so fucking tight. She cries out.
No, no, no, no, no. No. She does not “cry out”. That is not what happens in this scene. We all know what actually happens. She says “Aargh!” like a fucking pirate. You can’t hide from us, E.L. We all read it with our own eyes in the first book.
Okay, so remember how fans of the series said that throughout the whole thing, Ana is really in control of Christian instead of the other way around? And literally nothing in the books ever proved that? Well, we have definitive proof now:
I want to smuch from her: her trust, her obedience, her submission. I want her to be mine, but right now…I’m hers.
Well, don’t I have egg on my face for not believing everyone when they said that. And this was such an efficient way to get that point across, too. Why does it need to be explicitly stated in the actual events of the story, when a main character can just think it and make it so? We have to see the brilliance in this theme, now.
I push into her again and claim her, knowing no one has before.
It’s really important to remember, guys: Ana is a good girl, and that makes her special. The rest of us are all useless sluts.
Her trust in me–it’s suddenly overwhelming, and I start to move, really move.
Look who knows how to use the copy/paste function in Microsoft Word. It’s almost like that description is word-for-word from Ana’s POV in every single sex scene in the entire series.
I want her to come. I will not stop until she comes. I want to own this woman, body and soul.
If a dude makes you come, he owns you. It’s in the Constitution, look it up.
“Come for me, Ana,” I demand, and she cries out as she’s consumed, tipping her head back, her mouth open, her eyes closed…and just the sight of her ecstasy is enough. I explode in her, losing all sense and reason, as I call out her name and come violently inside her.
This book is making me lose all sense and reason.
Fuck. I’m undone.
Why? Did she take a break from writing the Declaration of Independence to play the fiddle for you? Are your strings unstrung?
That’s for my musical theatre crowd.
But seriously, half the things Chedward thinks in his head sound like an 18th century aristocrat is saying them. “I’m undone” is some Sir Percy Blakeney dialogue.
“Did I hurt you?” I ask, and I tuck her hair behind her ear, because I don’t want to stop touching her.
Ana beams with incredulity. “you are asking me if you hurt me?”
Does not compute, apparently.
While I’m waiting for her reply I remove the condom. Lord, I hate these things. I discard it discreetly on the floor.
No, you throw your nasty used jizz bag on the floor like a pleb, is what you do.
Ana says she wants to have sex again.
My cock stirs with approval.
My cock dances the meringue with some salsa moves.
Chedward decides he’s going to fuck her from behind with literally no refractory period coming into play at all. Seriously it’s been seconds. Most guys would still be cringing up into a little ball and pleading, “Don’t touch it! Don’t touch it!”, but not our virile stud of young CEO.
Her breath catches and I hope it’s with anticipation. She stills beneath me.
He doesn’t check if it’s anticipation or if she’s just not into it, though. See, he’s already fucked her once, so she’s basically just an object now. She’s not a virgin anymore, so he can treat her like the rest of the women he’s slept with.
Her sweet fragrance lingers over the scent of our coupling.
So remember the other recaps, and how I made so much fun of “down there” and kept saying they should use real words? The word vagina is used over and over. He strokes “the front wall of her vagina” and he withdraws his thumb “from her vagina” and at no other point in this entire sex scene does he refer to her genitals in anything other than clinical terms. Now, I don’t have a problem with clinical terms. I use them myself. But like, literally nothing but clinical terms? Come on, mix it up a little, otherwise this feels like health class.
He puts his thumb in Ana’s mouth and tells her to taste him, and she responds by biting him. He thinks about how he could punish her if she were his sub.
My cock expands to bursting at the thought.
The only thing that makes any of this readable is that last line, and the image it conjures of Chedward’s penis blowing out at the tip like the end of an overcooked hot dog.
He starts fucking her again, and thinking about how she should stay still, and suddenly I realize exactly what’s going on here: E.L. James has confused submission with a coma. In nearly every scene of submission, Ana just lays there like a dead fish. And that might be part of the appeal to some people: a fantasy of near total non-participation, in which they just lay there while someone does stuff to them. I guess I personally don’t understand why that kind of submission would be fun.
“You feel so good,” I tell her, and repeat the move again, circling my hips as I go. Slowly. In. Out. In. Out.
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the mechanics of thrusting in human coupling.
“I want you sore, baby,” I pull out and sink into her again. “Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.”
Look, I don’t want a relationship, okay? This is totally casual. But I own you now, and don’t forget it.
Ah, young love.
So, Ana has another orgasm and falls alseep, and that’s where the chapter that would never end finally meets its merciful demise.