Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Sunday, May 22, 2011 or “I’m not sure this whole day-by-day instead of chapter numbers thing is practical PART THREE”

Just in case this franchise hasn’t ripped of Twilight enough, there are now rumors swirling that Jamie Dornan is cheating on his wife with Dakota Johnson. I’m not including any links, because there aren’t even half-way interesting sources carrying the “story”, but it certainly reminds me of that time Bella and Edward fell in love off-screen, then infidelity became involved. Except whereas Kristen Steward actually dated Robert Pattinson and cheated on him with someone else, where as Dornan is allegedly cheating on his wife with Johnson. And there’s very little proof that’s actually happening. Once again, Fifty Shades proves itself a grasping, lukewarm imitation of a superior franchise.

So, let’s just get through this.

When we last left Ana, she wasn’t hungry, because the sole purpose of Ana’s mouth is to bite her lip. All the dead skin flakes and chapstick she consumes on a daily basis is probably enough to sustain her. But that doesn’t really matter to Christian, who takes her out to eat anyway.

“Two glasses of pinot grigio,” I order from the waitress, who’s making eyes at me from beneath blond bangs. It’s annoying.

Perhaps the greatest suspension of disbelief this series begs of the reader is accepting that a twenty-seven year old billionaire with an ego taller than the Space Needle is put-off by sexual attention from women. Of course, the problem might be that she doesn’t look exactly like his mother, as per his totally normal and healthy sexual fixation.

Because you’re supposed to say one nice thing for every three mean things you say about a book (or so a recent ridiculous email whined at me), I do want to genuinely praise the use of “blond” instead of “blonde.” In the last year or so, I’ve come to dislike the gendering of words loaned to English. We don’t gender our words with suffixes generally, and blond/blonde has really started to grate on me. It is disquieting to find that this book actually has more than one element which I find commendable (the other being the removal of menstruation taboo, and fuck this book for having a feminist element, even accidentally).

Ana scowls.

“What?” I ask, wondering if the waitress is annoying her, too.

“Say the word, my darling, and I shall have the strumpet whipped naked in the town square!”

“I wanted a Diet Coke.”

Why didn’t you say so?

Because you didn’t ask, dick.

Underlines = Italics.

Now, Christian could easily change her order. The waitress would be happy to bring a Diet Coke once she finishes wringing her drenched panties out in the slop sink. But he doesn’t get Ana the soda. He tells her that the wine will be fine:

“The pinot grigio here is a decent wine. It will go well with the meal, whatever we get.”

Okay, but she didn’t ask about the wine. She asked for a Diet Coke. Also, it’s not true that pinot grigio will go well with any meal they get. Earlier, he remarks that the menu is a single option prix fixe, so it seems like there would be a wine pairing already chosen. And on top of that, the restaurant actually is a cuisine sauvage restaurant: only wild stuff. If they’re not served fish, but wild game like venison or duck, then no, pinot grigio isn’t the right pairing, sorry. My play house as a child was a fucking rusted out car on cinderblocks in the tall grass, and I knew that, Mr. Expert-On-Classy-Junk.

And I give her my megawatt smile to make amends for not letting her order her own drink. I’m just not used to asking…

  1.  Because you’re a dick.
  2. There is still a way to rectify this situation, and you’re choosing not to because you’re a dick.

At the same time, why the fuck can’t Ana just ask for it her damn self? As the series goes on, Ana is brainwashed and manipulated into not speaking up or making choices for herself, but this early in their relationship she is unable to resist even something as minor as his control over her drink choices? I know we’re supposed to view this through the romantic lens of being so caught up in new love that she can’t think for herself, but it just makes her look weak and pathetic at this point.

“My mother liked you,” I add, hoping this will please her and remembering Grace’s reaction to Ana.

“Really?” she says, looking flattered.

“Oh yes. She always thought I was gay.”

Just in case there was still doubt about Christian Grey’s overpowering manliness, he is definitely not gay. Gosh, I hope this point is reiterated in every single chapter, just so no one gets the accidental impression that Christian Grey might be into icky icky man sex.

Chedward tells Ana that his mother has never seen him with a woman, and she’s like, not even one of the fifteen:

Yes…only you, baby. The thought is unsettling.

Every thought is unsettling. Unsettling is a good word. Most writers use it. The reason it sticks out so much here is that it’s always used in the same context, sometimes with the same exact phrasing. In the ten times “unsettling” is used in this book, all ten are in regard to some unexpected feeling he has toward Ana. In the four times it’s been used already, it’s always in the same phrase: “The thought is unsettling.” I’m not generally a huge stickler for word/phrase rep (sometimes a certain word or phrase has to be reused because it’s the only way to make sentence work or convey things properly to the reader, i.e., there are few synonyms for lips/mouth, hand/fingers), but I have  really hard time letting this one slide, especially considering how often “the thought is” gets used in this book, too.

Christian reiterates that he’s never flown anyone in his helicopter, never introduced anyone to his mother, never had sex with someone in his bed, etc., I guess in case the point hasn’t been driven home by the five or thirty odd times he mentioned it while those things were actually happening.

Ana asks Christian what vanilla sex is, and he tells her, and she asks him if he’s always done the kinky stuff, and he tells her about Mrs. Robinson. But obviously he doesn’t call her Mrs. Robinson, because that was in Ana’s head the whole time, not his. Ana asked him if he ever dated anyone in college:

“I didn’t want to. She was all I wanted, needed. And besides, she’d have beaten the shit out of me.”

So, this doesn’t in any way excuse Christian Grey’s actions. He’s a bastard. But if he’s really as super private about his sex life as he says he is, and Elena was his only introduction to sex and kink, is it any wonder that he believes this is how a Dom is supposed to act? He was submissive to a woman who would apparently beat him for making personal choices, so obviously he’s going to think that’s how the game works.

That doesn’t excuse his abuse, it just supports my position that Elena is an abuser and a child predator who groomed him to specifically accept her abuse as normal and healthy.

The waitress returns with the main entrée: venison. Ana takes a long sip of her wine.

Which is pinot grigio, and therefore not a good pairing, as Chedward suggested. In case you’re not from deer eating country, pinot noir, port, or sherry is what you drink with venison. Christian thinks she’s “ignoring” her food, and he commands her to eat.

“I’m not really hungry, Christian,” she says.

I narrow my eyes. “Eat.” I keep my voice low, as I try to check my temper.

“Give me a moment,” she says, her tone as quiet as mine.

What’s her problem? Elena?

You’re visibly agitated and ordering her to eat when she’s not hungry, by yeah, the problem is probably your child molester ex, not anything you did.

“Is this what our, um…relationship will be like?” she asks. “You ordering me around?” She scrutinizes the plate of food in front of her.


“I see.” She tosses her ponytail over her shoulder.

“And what’s more, you’ll want me to.”

Let’s put that, “you’ll want me to” into some real harsh context here. He’s already forced her to eat (even though she told him she wasn’t hungry before he brought her to the restaurant), denied her the agency to choose what she wanted to drink, and now he’s telling her that she will accept the contract he’s given her. None of this is for her own good or because he just never thought to ask someone else what they might want. This is all because if she gets used to going along with his demands over small things, he’ll be able to demand bigger and bigger things. Which is exactly what happens as the series goes on.

 “Anastasia, you have to go with your gut. Do the research, read the contract. I’m happy to discuss any aspect. I’ll be in Portland until Friday if you want to talk about it before then. Call me–maybe we can have dinner–say, Wednesday? I really want to make this work. In fact, I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this.”

So, he trusts her to make this decision, over something important to him, but not over whether or not she eats or what she drinks? Way to give her the illusion of control. Also, way to put a big decision on a time limit by specifying that you want to talk about it on Wednesday, and way to manipulate her by implying that if she says no, she’s denying you a hugely important thing.

“What happened to the fifteen?” she asks.

They’re all dead now, Ana. Seriously, what a weird question to ask. If he’s not with them anymore, you’d assume they broke up, right? At the same time, since we’re not in Ana’s head at the moment and we don’t realize that her every thought is, “Oh by gosh golly gee, is this man who handed me a sex contract really into little old super skinny and you-don’t-know-you’re-beautiful-that’s-what-makes-you-beautiful me?”, I can just amuse myself by assuming that Ana is asking if the other fifteen are dead.

“So, you’re not seeing any of them anymore?”

“No, Anastasia, I’m not. I am monogamous in my relationships.”

“I see.”

“Do the research, Ana.”

Without any internal thought to switch tracks, it sounds like he’s telling her to research his past relationships. Instead, he’s once again telling her to research BDSM. Of course, she’s signed an NDA, so she can’t actually ask anyone any questions.

She puts her knife and fork down, signaling that she’s finished her meal.

“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to eat?”

She nods, placing her hands in her lap, and her mouth sets in the mulish way she has…and I know it will be a fight to persuade her to clean her plate.

Alternately, you could just trust that she would eat if she was hungry.

No wonder she’s so slim. Her eating issues will be something to work on, if she agrees to be mine.

In the last chapter, all we heard was how beautiful and gorgeous and perfect Ana’s body is. Now she’s too skinny and she needs to eat more. What gives.

The way this book is written, Christian Grey constantly contradicts himself. Now, I could sit here and go, “Well, that’s what abusers do, they outwardly express displeasure with their partner’s appearance/mannerisms/personality/etc. to keep them a prison of self-doubt, when in reality if those flaws truly bothered the abuser so much, they just wouldn’t be with that partner in the first place.” But I honestly think E.L. James heard some of the criticisms people were making of the original series and thought that if she just changed his internal thoughts to a complete 180 from his actions, that would make him less abusive. It doesn’t work. Now he just seems abusive and bewildered.

As I continue to eat, her eyes dart to me every few seconds and a slow flush stains her cheeks.

Oh, what’s this?

“I’d give anything to know what you’re thinking right at this moment.” She’s thinking about sex.”

She might be red in the face because she’s offended by your constant comments about her eating habits. But nope, it’s probably because she’s in a constant state of arousal around you.

“I’m glad you can’t read my mind.”

If I’d read this before I read Fifty Shades Of Grey, I would have assumed she was trying to let him know that she was pissed at him without actually saying she’s pissed at him.

“Your mind, no, Anastasia, but your body–that I’ve gotten to know quite well since yesterday.” I give her a wolfish grin and ask for the check.

So, first we’ve got mulish and now we have wolfish, and the whole thing has become a hellish discarded scene from Zootopia in my mind.

I hate when guys say shit like that. I absolutely hate it. No, looking at our faces and seeing that they’re a little pink does mean we’re turned on. It could mean that, but chances are, if you were just criticizing our eating habits, we’re just annoyed. We might also be holding in a cough, or it’s just really warm in here. I assume he’s the same kind of guy who thinks the women he works with are super turned on whenever he’s around, but they’re all just really cold and that’s why they have erect nipples.

Christian drives Ana home. She asks him if he wants to come in, and he declines.

I know that if I accept her invitation I’ll be crossing a line I’m not prepared to cross. I’m not boyfriend material–and I don’t want to give her any false expectations of the kind of relationship she’ll have with me.

You know, false expectations like, “You’re the only woman I’ve ever introduced to my mother,” and “I really want to make this work” and “In fact, I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this,” for example. If he’d said stuff like that, she could have gotten the wrong idea.

He thanks her for spending the weekend with him.

She turns shining eyes to me.

Oh my god, is she crying because he doesn’t want to come into her apartment?

A gif of Jenna Marbles saying, "Stop it. You're fucking embarrassing."

“Wednesday?” I continue. “I’ll pick you up from work, from wherever?”

“Wednesday,” she says, and the hope in her voice is disconcerting.

Shit. It’s not a date.

And why would it be? You’ve made it very clear that you are not dating, nor are you interested in dating. See above, where you did literally everything people do while dating, in a single weekend. But whatever.

I kiss her hand again and climb out of the car to open her door.

I’m going to air a personal opinion here that will probably make some people argue with me, but here it is: I hate it when women wait for men to open their doors for them.

Look, I get it. If you’re on a date and your partner is offering to do it, if they’re trying to be gallant and romantic because it’s a special occasion, sure. That’s not a big deal. I don’t mind reading, hell, I wouldn’t even mind writing that, if it was cute enough. But Chedward is dropping Ana off at her apartment. Once she’s out of the car, he’s just going to drive away. Why didn’t she just get out, rather than wait for him to let her out (assuming he hasn’t disabled the locks to keep his victims from escaping)?

Granted this is influenced by a woman I used to know (who I later came to absolutely despise for other reasons, but this was one that bothered me even when we were on good terms) who would sit in her seat and wait for her husband to come open her door. And if he forgot, she would just sit there expectantly, and then he’d jog back to the car and she would be like, “tee hee, you forgot something,” or some similar bullshit “look how cute and helpless I am” nonsense because apparently her damn fingers were broken. If it were pouring rain, he had to run around and open her door. If he forgot to open the door for her when they were getting in, and he got into his seat, he had to get out and open it for her, too. That’s what Ana is doing right now. She should have just said, “I can get it myself,” and got out before he could argue, because that would be the polite thing to do.

Then again, Ana should do a lot of stuff in these books and does, so why the hell wouldn’t she just sit there like a piece of furniture instead of getting off her ass and going into her own damn house like an adult and not a five-year-old in the backseat with the child locks on.

Ana shows Christian that she’s wearing his underwear, then goes inside. It’s a wonder she doesn’t stand on the doorstep like a Sim awaiting instruction until he comes over and opens that, too.

Shaking my head, I climb back into the car, and as I start the engine I cannot help my shit-eating grin.

Oh gross! It’s back! Shit-eating grin is back! I remember how unpleasant that was in the first three books, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away! Ugh, if I could strike that phrase from the English language like Zeus with a mighty thunderbolt, I would.

After a section break, we get this:

I finish my work and take a sip of the fine Sancerre, delivered from room service by the woman with dark, dark eyes.

There is so much here we don’t need or care about. I don’t care about where the wine came from. I don’t care about who brought it. This kind of needless detail will very easily creep into your writing if you don’t watch out. Also, Chedward drinks more wine than a Facebook mom.

Christian notes that he’s tired, possibly from the FIVE HOURS OF WORK he’s done. Seriously. Mr. Billionaire runs a huge empire and does nothing but work calls it a day at FIVE HOURS because he’s exhausted. You know what moguls do when they’re tired, Chedward? Cocaine. Just piles and piles of cocaine. Get on it.

Christian can’t get his mind off Ana:

And to think it all started here on Friday…and now she’s considering my proposal.

To anyone reading this it feels like it started a thousand years ago, so the reminder that this has all happened in a single weekend is necessary.

Has she read the contract? Is she doing her homework?

I check my phone once again for a text or a missed call but, of course, there’s nothing.

Will she agree?

Five hours, guys. He’s antsy to get her answer in five hours. And actually, less than that, since he’s checking his phone once again. He’s checked it before, impatient for another person to agree to total sexual submission for three days a week, after spending a single weekend with him. And really, he’s been this impatient since they met, what, a week ago? Ten days? Something like that. He honestly thinks she should have gone home, learned a little bit about BDSM from the internet, and agreed to sub for him full time in FIVE. FUCKING. HOURS.

This fucking guy.

Because Christian has sent Ana a laptop, he’s hand one of his employees set up an email address for her. Because remember, this is 2011 and a college student has managed to make it all the way to graduation without an email address. She didn’t get on Twitter, she didn’t get on Facebook, she didn’t have a Tumblr, because you have to have an email address for all of that. I’m sorry, it still boggles my mind that this never occurred to someone writing a character in their early twenties.

And like, here’s another thing: Christian told Ana to do her research online. He even mentions it in the email he sends her. But he also says that Ana won’t receive the computer until the next day. So after five hours he’s expected her to have researched BDSM on a computer she doesn’t get until tomorrow, and to have texted him with an enthusiastic yes.


Picking up my latest read, I settle onto the sofa. It’s a book by two renown economists who examine why the poor think and behave the way they do.

A photo of Mitt Romney with the words "Why don't poor people just buy more money?"

He really has to research poor people? Like, this is what he does in his down time? He tries to figure out what makes poors do their poor things?

An image of a young woman brushing out her long, dark hair comes to mind; her hair shines in the light from the cracked, yellowed window, and the air is filled with dancing dust motes. She’s singing softly, like a child.

Oh my god. It’s not just Ana. He infantilizes the mother he wants to fuck, too. How does that even work? How do you have an Oedipus complex AND pedophilia at the same time?

I shudder.

Me too, man. Me too.

126 thoughts on “Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Sunday, May 22, 2011 or “I’m not sure this whole day-by-day instead of chapter numbers thing is practical PART THREE”

  1. renowned economists wouldnt write a book about why ‘the poor’ behave how they do though? they’re too busy doing high level mathematical models and statistical analysis. the kind of stuck up pseudoeconomic bullshit Christian is probably reading would be written by rubbish pseudo intellectual pop ‘economists’. he obv doesn’t know anything about economics or academia in general… EL yet again manages to inadvertently characterise him in an astute and unflattering way.

    1. OMG no kidding. This line was the most angering in this chapter. First of all, he reads books about why poor people are poor? K. And secondly, it can’t be any old economists. They have to be WORLD RENOWNED economists. And thirdly, you’re right. A book about why poor people behave like poor people would be written, at best, by a socialogist. Or a behavioralist.

      1. Or a poor person. Like me. I’m poor. I literally have thirty-seven dollar to my name right at this moment. I can tell you right now why poor people behave like they’re poor without the benefit of a sociology degree.


        1. I think “by a poor person” was why Scalzi’s blog post on the topic was so successful. (Or a formerly poor person and many hundreds of currently-poor people in the comments, in that case.) But then, we don’t need to look too hard to find millions of examples of people thinking that “experts” understand the experiences of whatever marginalized group better than the people in that group do.

  2. “Ugh, if I could strike that phrase from the English language like Zeus with a mighty thunderbolt, I would.”


    1. I dislike the phrase too but, perhaps due to my dislike, I’ve always thought it was so nasty for a reason. I may be wrong but I always thought it should only be used to describe characters who the reader isn’t supposed to like. An annoying antagonist gloating over the hero’s struggles? A shit-eating grin totally works. I would never ever use it the way E. L. James uses it to describe the romantic hero though! Then again, Chedward is more of a villain, isn’t he?

      1. Exactly this! You use ‘shit-eating grin’ when you want to make upsetting associations to a BAD character. Here EL used it at a time when they’re winding down what’s supposed to be a sexy date. It just THROWS the reader out of the situation…so..SO bad.

    2. Quite. Because consider the logistics here. If one were to eat shit, why on earth would they be grinning about it? I can’t imagine it would be a terribly pleasant experience. Wincing? Maybe. Projectile vomiting? Very possibly. Grinning?
      I seriously want to punch E.L James. Then make her eat my shit and see if she grins while doing it.

  3. i’m dying. you deserve some sort of prize or reward for powering through these recaps, I would’ve given up long ago.

    This guy is like one video tape return away from american psychoing his way across the pacific northwest, I cannot understand what makes him so attractive to people.

    1. I know, right?!!!! That’s what I’ve been saying since I had the misfortune of reading the original FSoG. Aside from Patrick Bateman, Christian Grey has got to be the most repulsive fictional character I’ve ever come across.

  4. You know what I know about wine? Nothing.

    You know what I do know? That I don’t drink. Take me out on a drink and order me wine, I’m speaking up and saying something else because, lol, no. Actually honestly I’d probably leave. I’m way too aro for that noise.

    Oh, look, also relevant. Not a fan of venison, really. I do know that, too.

    Yup, I’ve walked out of this date already. LEAVE ANA, YOU CAN STILL LEAVE.

    I turn red at the drop of the hat. Being this pale just kinda makes that a thing. Still ace. I hate this guy.

  5. “That doesn’t excuse his abuse, it just supports my position that Elena is an abuser and a child predator who groomed him to specifically accept her abuse as normal and healthy.”

    And the fans/apologists for this book think its sexy.

    And all of this, seriously, and the movie, all reads like a thriller and not a romance. But they have sex instead of killing people. I just don’t get it.

    And I still hate all these characters. And the EEL. She’s a terrible, terrible, terrible writer. Terrible. How is she this terrible and still this successful? How does this happen? How does this exist in the world?

    1. Good question.

      Okay, the sort of people I know whom have read the book and actually liked it are those whom have exactly one book in their entire house apart from FSoG. It is a hardcover, it is the size of a photo album and sits on their coffee table. It probably has a picture of Humphrey Bogart or Marilyn Monroe on the cover. They’re not big readers. So they have no way of knowing if FSoG is actually written, researched or edited properly. They also don’t recognize the red flags of an abusive relationship. Perhaps they’ve been in one and think its normal; or they’ve always been treated like the princess in their relationships, in which case, good for them I guess. But the fact that FSoG arose from Twilight fanfiction and was allowed to be published is just proof to me that the publishing business is getting very, very lazy.

    2. Because EL did research on why poor people behave the way they do and then she realized if she can write fan fiction on a popular novel and add some ‘oh crap’ in it and make it as national best seller, then she will never have to be poor in her life, like ever.

  6. I 100% agree on the opening the door thing. I have been told I should let guys do that a couple of times, and I can’t at all imagine why I would outside of a time I might need a hand getting out of the car like when I was coming home from minor surgery and still groggy from the sedation. And even then I tend to try and do it myself anyway… because I’m stubborn like that.

    I don’t know anything about wine. Like, at all. I don’t drink, so why bother learning anything about the finer points of expensive wines I have no interest in? If a guy ordered me a drink with my meal I’d speak up and ask the waiter to at least also bring me some water. I’d probably still let them bring the wine and just not drink it. Primarily so the guy who ordered for me without asking what I wanted would get financially punished for it -_- I have no patience for people making assumptions about me or thinking they know what I want/need. It’s so presumptuous! You don’t know this girl! Maybe she hates Pinot Grigio! Maybe she just doesn’t want alcohol right now! And clearly she didn’t!

    He does stuff like that to her a couple of times with absolutely no concern for even health things like if she has any allergies or sensitivities. I know a couple of people who have minor sensitivities that they don’t bring up they just avoid those foods without saying anything because it’s not serious enough to worry about but it’s still enough of a problem that if someone ordered them something on that list they would end up feeling like crap if they ate it, and then they’ve got to deal with the awkward situation of stopping the waiter and correcting the order and having everyone feel uncomfortable or eat the food and feel sick. That’s a really shitty situation to put someone in. This irritates me probably more than it should XD But a shy person with a food sensitivity that just makes them feel kinda nauseous/tired/bleh put in that situation would probably just eat the food and feel like crap afterwards and that’s just a terrible situation to be put in.

    1. I let the hubs open the door when I’m holding the casserole, especially because his car is kind of high up and awkward to get out of anyway. Sometimes an uber driver will jump out and open the door for me, but I let them because I know they’re trying to create a feeling of elevated service. But unless I’m somehow burdened or incapacitated, it’s not necessary. So weird and old fashioned for someone to insist upon it!

    2. I hear all the time about how feminists are too sensitive, yet I’ve had more than one guy lose his actual shit at me for opening/holding a door for him. Dude, I got there first, and it’s a DOOR, not a grand piano. I can shift it.

  7. Sometimes I’ll ASK my husband to order wine for me if I don’t recognize any of the brands, or I’m feeling indecisive, because he used to work at bevmo and knows things (as well as my tastes. It has been 10 years or so after all). Sometimes we break the rules and don’t worry about pairings, but we’re not running around pretending to be fancy billionaires. And I’m with you on the door thing.

    It’s almost like EL wrote this whole franchise in a fever dream and never looked up anything or edited. Weird. Did she forget the second part of the whole “write drunk, edit sober” deal?

  8. But I thought Jamie D. and Dakota hate each other? Weren’t there rumblings they couldn’t get along on the set, and every night, Jamie would have to go home and take a shower, because he was so repulsed by what he was doing?

    Also, my most favorite thing to come out of your critique of E.L. James’s work is “Chedward.”

    1. My uncle spent one family dinner repeatedly complaining about how much he couldn’t stand a particular work-colleage who was ruining their project and completely awful to work with. And then the very next week, he ran off with her.

      There can be such a thing as protesting too much, sometimes. Especially when people feel guilty about their temptation to cheat on their partners.

      So, it’s possible that Jamie and Dakota hate working together, but also want to fuck each other. I have no idea what their motivations are.

    2. I think the “shower” comment Jamie Dornan made was in regards to visiting a BDSM club and wanting to shower before seeing his family–which, dude, way to kink-shame and alienate your fanbase. He could have just said, “it wasn’t my cup of tea” or whatever, but no.
      I kind of suspect the cheating rumor is a publicity thing. There was so much coverage of the 50 Shades’ actors apparent dislike and lack of chemistry last time around, and buzz on the new movie is… not great. It’s in everyone’s interest to distract from the fact that Dakota Johnson looks like she’d rather eat a live spider than kiss Jamie Dornan again.

  9. On a general note; have you noticed that this book becomes much more entertaining if you imagine Christian always loudly stating his thoughts about his manhood out loud?

    Ana smiles at Christian, and rolls over onto her stomach.
    “MY COCK STIRS WITH APPROVAL,” he comments.

    1. Damn… gonna have to do that with the next excerpt! (because no way I’m actually getting the book and reading it – I’d much rather find out about it via Jenny’s reviews.

  10. I hate Christian Grey so much, and I hate that your takedown of him/Elena actually made me sympathize with him briefly even more. Because yeah, in no way was that a healthy relationship, including Elena being a HORRIBLE example of “how to be a Dominant”.

    (I now want the AU where Christian got into kink-friendly therapy with a GOOD therapist post-Elena and actually did the emotional labor to be able to stay on the right side of the Dom/asshole line possibly with some assistance from Taylor, but I literally cannot imagine canon Christian doing that. Entirely too much effort when he can just use the looks and money instead.)

    Also, yeah, you’d think a US prix fixe would come with a recommended wine (or a list of good choices.). And I’m just shaking my head at the “cuisine sauvage” thing, because even a lot of people who’ll eat meat won’t necessarily eat *game* so unless his stalking turned up “hells yeah, she blew the food budget on venison once and goose another time” or something I think that’s a really poor choice. And yeah, food allergies are a thing that he should have thought about too–I have a friend who’s REALLY shrimp/seafood allergic and her dad is allergic to goose, and plenty of people have peanut allergies.

    (Of course, he picked that to show off being rich and try to get Ana drunk/give her shit about her eating habits, not so much because he actually thought she might enjoy the experience.

    FIVE HOURS to do contract research with no home computer yet and not being able to talk to anybody about the situation is classic Christian assholery. Especially since Ana is starting from scratch about “what *am* I into?” (I assume an *ethical* Dom with a completely inexperienced possible sub might very well take them to munches/demonstrations/etc. to expand their knowledge before even really getting into scene negotiation/limits, and might suggest some reading and watching visual material as well, but that is SO not Christian.)


    Protip: NEVER do the “are you *sure* you don’t want booze?” thing once your date(s) have expressed a preference for something else (including pressing for WHY). You are basically going to come across as an asshole about 98% of the time, especially if you’re a guy and your date is a woman. You are also likely to come across as predatory, because this is a consent and boundary issue.

    I like it when people hold the door for me, but I hold doors for other people all the time and I definitely don’t wait for somebody to open the car door for me under normal circumstances.

    1. Ooh, good point about the food allergies. One way to turn your romantic dinner into a shitshow is to have your date’s body react badly to the food.

      Also an interesting point about not everyone liking non-standard meats. I tend to think, “Ooh, venison, what a treat!” but my husband doesn’t care for “gamy” flavours.

    2. I totally agree about the food allergies. I had a coworker that was allergic to peanuts (and made it well known, because that can be deadly). For Christmas I gave my coworkers little candies/snacks, and I made sure that none of them had peanuts/peanut oil in it. She was actually surprised that I “went out of my way” to look at the labels and buy things that wouldn’t kill her. I guess some people around her, including her family, don’t really pay attention to the labels, and it made me feel bad for her, because she’s surrounded by Chedwards.

      1. I think respect for allergies is more common in fannish circles. A friend of mine from high school just put up a long blog post about how no one around her including her parents who she lives with is particularly careful about labels or trying to remember her long list, and her roommate in college apparently put Febreze (which she is allergic to) all over her stuff and lied about it. It just… boggled me, because I’ve lost count of all the little ways people around me make accommodations for food issues, and then I realized that I’ve pretty much left the not-fannish world behind except for work, and she was never in fandom.

  11. Is it just me or does it feel like these people drink alcohol all the time? What is wrong with sparkling water? And for the love of God Chedward let her order her own damn food and drink, you little fucknugget. Didn’t anyone in your family take some time to teach you some manners? You spend so much time complaining about her body, that she should eat more, or less or work out more but you keep pouring down whine in her throat as if she was dying of thirst. Is there a word similar to “feeder” but for alcohol? Because that’s what he is.

    1. “you little fucknugget.”, that makes me giggle. And maybe they were too busy spoiling him, to make up for his “oh-so-tortured-past”, to do anything useful like teach him to be even slightly decent. Or maybe his birthfather’s a complete piece of shit and those genes got passed on to him. That kind of thing can be genetic, right?

    2. You’re not wrong. There isn’t a second in any of these character’s days that they aren’t drinking alcohol. And even though Ana thinks about how she’s never been drunk before (on the night she throws up at the bar), she’s quite the heavyweight less than a week later.

      And LOL about telling her to work out more while plying her with liquor. Nothing kills Gainz quite like alcohol.

    3. Totally agree about the alcohol. When I read the original book I kept thinking “How are these people able to function when they’re drunk all the time?” At least I would be with the amount of alcohol they consume. The whole ordering for her thing is really annoying to me, because I would freak out. I don’t drink, simply because I don’t like the taste of alcohol and I’m very picky about food. I hate having to explain that, because as an adult I guess the only reason to decline alcohol is because you’re an alcoholic, at least that’s how people seem to think.

      1. If you ever need a lie because people won’t back off, saying you take a medication that doesn’t react well with it can work. You shouldn’t drink even taking antibiotics, and medication is a private thing that people shouldn’t pry into.

  12. Right on with the prix fixe menu bits. I would think there would at least be a wine pairing *recommendation* that would include reds – and I’m generally a fan of ordering what you like, “ideal pairing” be damned, but pinot grigio? With venison? It’s not going to stand up to a strong red meat like that. Maybe if you want wine but you ONLY like pinot grigio, fine, order that. But Chedward is supposed to be this sophisticated man-of-the-world who knows his fancy rich-person bullshit. Though it would be JUST like him to order something that doesn’t work and INSIST that it’s appropriate because he’s an humorless idiot with enough arrogance and money/power that people won’t call him out on his shit taste.

    “You know what moguls do when they’re tired, Chedward? Cocaine. Just piles and piles of cocaine. Get on it.” Haha! I almost spat out part of my lunch reading that.

  13. As someone who used to work in food services, this whole thing makes me cringe. Venison and Pinot Grigio just full on makes my stomach turn. So now I’m imagining the waitress in the back gossiping to her coworkers.

    ‘And then he said that Pinot Grigio will go with whatever they order!’ and there is laughter all around.

    Speaking of wine, do you know what some people do when they’ve had alcohol? They blush. It’s a physiological thing and has diddly to do with emotions. So, you just pressed alcohol onto someone against their will, then took something that is potentially a reaction to said alcohol as proof that she wants to have sex with you?

    There are only three words I can use to react to that.

    This. Fucking. Guy.

    1. Came here to say the exact same thing. Not only does alcohol make me blush on its own, but I also blush when I’m angry. And I definitely would be in Ana’s place, so sorry, Chedward, but you’re (as proven numerous times before) completely out of touch with reality.

    2. Pinot Grigio with venison is like the radio station in “Apolonia” and trying to change the frequency and directionality from a broadcast-band dipole to a microwave-directional signal– it just doesn’t work, folks.

      I mean, yeesh, with venison you can go with a full-on heavy Burgundy, but my personal preference would be a Côtes du Rhône or a Saint-Emillion like Chateau Figeac, or as a third choice I’d go with a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But WHITE Pinot Grigio?!?!?!?!!? What a maroon.

      I remember the first time my wife had a good glass of wine. My parents, just having moved to Baltimore (from Brussels) got a lead on two cases of 1975 Chateau Figeac in New York, so they drove up to specifically buy them (It was a good year for the Figeac, even when it was practically nouveau). But by 1998 when it had aged well and my wife first tried anything remotely like it along with the chateaubriand her face lit up as the wine bought out and enhanced BOTH the flavors of the beef and the wine. I spoiled her on wine ever since–she can’t stand two-buck Chuck.

      And at $300 a bottle (about what it was worth at the time) Chedward could have afforded something like that. Moron.

      1. Sorry, Mom & Dad bought the wine in 1979 & kept it for good occasions, of which the 1998 event was one of them as I introduced my soon-to-be Spousal Unit to the family.

      2. Or a nice amarone di valpolicello, or just something that will actually not taste like dishwater when paired with venison.

        The whole restaurant scene to me reads like a very British idea of true upper-class behavior, aka the rich douchebro cliche, when you have NO knowledge of it.

        I did date one insanely rich guy once, so here’s what I learned:

        If you want to take your date to a prix fixe restaurant (which is a very gauche thing to do when you have unlimited funds, according to the old money Europeans over here), you make sure you know their preferences, and that the chef does, too. Who cares what the day’s menu would’ve been.

        More common would be to take your date to a high class a la carte place that has menus with no prices on them (my personal nightmare as I later learned I had had a close to $1k meal which sent me into a tailspin of trying to repay the guy and so on). Then you don’t ply them with alcohol without their consent, because even an email-less college student should have some survival instincts.

        Finally, if this IS a high class restaurant, there should be a few more courses, even with a prix fixe. Plus, I think Chedward should be able to afford the corresponding drinks option. And surprise! More and more restaurants offer those in non-alcoholic as well.

        In trying to portray Chedward’s “class”, all EL James has done is produce a caricature of a nouveau riche douchebro.

        1. EDIT: I immediately inferred from the descriptions that this restaurant was no Alinea or Per Se. But those are prix fixe restaurants you choose beforehand to go to according to your preference (and for which you need a reservation even if you’re a very rich person unless you get lucky and one of the plebs with a reservation just happened to up and die), and the staff there will make very sure each diner is given their preferred food/drink at the preferred time. There is no pinot grigio-ing the sommelier at such a place.

  14. “The waitress returns with the main entrée: venison.”

    Is Christian so bored with fancy food that he can’t muster up a better description? I swear, Locke Lamora had better chemistry with his dinner than Christian and Ana do on their dinner date.

    1. I noticed that too! I don’t usually like endless descriptions of food, but it seems like much of the point of this scene is wealth porn and food porn. I would have at least expected her to google a couple menus and mention a sauce and a couple sides.

  15. Why are you entertaining such rubbish rumors of an affair with the two main stars? Dakota has a boyfriend, Jamie has his wife. What the hell you all reading into shitty fanfic???!!!

    1. Obviously to get more buzz and to dispel the Jamie-hates-Dakota rumor which could affect ticket sales for the next movie installments. It’s all about the tickets, baby.


    2. I’m not entertaining the rumors, which was why I said I wasn’t including a source. There are absolutely none.

      1. Oh yeah, it’s a very transparent way to get more attention back to the franchise.

        I’m actually in violent agreement with you on this one even though I realize my snarky comment may have been interpreted otherwise.

  16. ‘This is all because if she gets used to going along with his demands over small things, he’ll be able to demand bigger and bigger things. Which is exactly what happens as the series goes on.’

    I applauded at this. I was in my room alone and I still clapped. Yes! I’ve had shitty exes do this EXACT stuff to me. I had a male friend come down on me after he witnessed an abusive ex SCREAM at me in public. I got so many questions about why I didn’t break up with that guy sooner. He just didn’t understand that abuse starts SMALL. Manipulative people groom you. You don’t get to the screaming/threatening/hitting until someone has completely worn you down with seemingly normal fights about 1000 different things. And EL is writing this without a clue! Either she’s guilty of doing this to partners, or she’s had it done to her. Either way she obviously never realized how WRONG it is.

    ‘I’m sorry, it still boggles my mind that this never occurred to someone writing a character in their early twenties.’

    I’ve seen a lot of her tween fans make the excuse that EL is older and that’s why she ‘forgot’ about email. I mean, that’s ridiculous on it’s own because I know plenty over-40s with email. But even following that ridiculous reasoning – still no. EL was huge in the fan fiction community. and livejournal – both require at least email. She knew better. She’s not some sweet technologically-inept old person. It’s just shitty writing.

    1. The lack of email/facebook/twitter thing was something I was thinking about the other day – after all, instead of looking for Ana on Facebook, Christian immediately jumps to getting info on paper. Very strange for a businessman who works in telecommunications to not be using electronic means to get his creepy fix on.

      It reminds me of the strange time warp in Twilight. Twilight was set in the early 2000s, but the lack of technology etc gave the impression in took place in the nineties. Likewise, Ana and Christian seem to live in a weird modern/nineties timewarp – there are laptops, mobile phones, and iPods, but Ana appears to have limited knowledge of them, compared to the hugely wealthy Kate and Christian. She gets her information on paper, and considers the internet to be a seriously big deal.

      I dunno, just some weird theory I was contemplating. As someone who was a uni student at the time this was set, I didn’t know a single person without laptop/email/twitter/facebook/old abandoned fanfiction accounts. It’s unrealistic that someone of Ana’s age and background – who grew up in the rise of the internet and social media – would be so ignorant.

      1. I wonder if it’s just Twilight peeking through. Edward was old and Bella was described as having an “old soul” or whatever. Maybe that’s why they’re not so much with the technology.

        1. I’m sure that’s exactly what it is. And the thing is, that’s not at all a bad thing from the point of view of it being an AU fanfic. In an AU, it’s hopefully one of the many threads linking back to the original that readers will notice and appreciate, and are part of what makes it an enjoyable AU. Once that background is gone, though, it’s just a bit weird.

          1. ALL these books suffer from this problem, like the police thing and solving things by your own. Edward and his family solved everything themselves and never called the cops on the scene of whatever was happening. ELJ has written an AU and forgot(as sometimes people do when translating) that when you’re doing this you have to modify things to fit with the AU. Like ex. technology or not calling police. In Twilight it worked because both culprits and Cullens were vampires and in a distinctive way, and if authorities would get involved they all would have been discovered. It does fit the general Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genere. The world of supernatural creatures is supposed to be a secret. But once you remove vampires and make them all human then there is no real deal to it, and Chedward comes off as stupid and creepy. Same with technology and Ana saying that things were “before her time”. Edward was like 100 in the books and ALL the Cullens were either beyond or around that age, so when they remembered something esp from their human lives, then it WOULD BE WAY before Bella’s time. Ana and Chedward are however both born before 1991. They both are young people and Ana saying that thing like X files was before her time is ridiculous because it was EXACTLY her time. Ok, she’d be a child for some part of the series, but she’d be on this world and quite aware..I mean if she’s 21 in 2011 then she was born in 1990 or 1989 or something. and I refuse to believe she wouldn’t at least HEARD of the stuff. Like I was born in 1991 so I was on this world when they started, granted I haven’t watched them as they originally aired at least not for the large part, since I was a wee child but I do remember watching some episodes when they aired it in my country in 2000′s when I was in middles school, people in my class talked about it… and I even rented a book from library one of those YA novel things they did for the series, and I think it covered the episode with those creepy sisters and satanic cult and some cosmic energy or whatever. I remember seeing Arkadia bits in some TV store on a screen…and I don’t live in the US, these series are known world wide. I cannot buy that a girl who’d be growing up in those times wouldn’t have heard of them or caught a glimpse, at least. This is all because this is Twilight fanfiction and heck, Twiligt DID have technology. Bella had internet and computer at her house in Forks, that’s how she contacted her mom! She literally contacted her mom via e-mail, and she did research on vampires on google first. Maybe the tech wasn’t shown off quite so because of her and Edward being “old” and not feeling the vibe but they were sure as hell using it. So even the argument of “twilight ff” doesn’t stand for a long time. ELJ is just a shitty writer.

          2. To add to JaneEyre’s comment – Twilight was also published in 2005. Say 2 years for writing and selling it, that’s like 2003 it was probably written. 2003-2005 are over a decade ago now. That’s a lot of time for technology to march on!

            I mean, I didn’t get a computer til 2008 or 2009 myself.

      2. It’s unrealistic that someone of Ana’s age and background – who grew up in the rise of the internet and social media – would be so ignorant.
        I’d say it’s impossible. I started university in 2004, and almost all official correspondence with said university happened through my email account. I registered for classes online, and that was not by choice: there was literally no other way. Even if Ana is an “old soul” who doesn’t go in for Facebook and Twitter, if she has a bachelor’s degree, she has an email address.

        1. Well, I actually went to school at WSU Vancouver from 2010-14 and I can guarantee to you that she would have had a university email account. Not only that, even classes that weren’t primarily online classes required you to submit assignments and papers through the school’s online system. Very few professors even accepted paper copies of anything. Quite frankly, I’m kind of offended that my school was written as completely backwards. The whole thing is ridiculous and E.L. only wrote it this way so she could portray Ana as being totally naive and virginal.

      3. Bella was from a working-class background (her dad’s a sheriff and her mom’s, what, a fitness instructor?) so the fact that she didn’t have a laptop didn’t seem as glaring to me. She still had a frakkin’ email address, though.

        1. Well I googled that because I was curious.

          So apparently after Bella’s parents divorced, they moved in with her grandmother, and Renee went back to college and got a degree in education, and taught kindergarten until Bella’s grandmother died and they moved to Phoenix.

          So, single mother with student loans, probably, who is a teacher. Eventually minor leagues baseball step-father, but probably not until Bella is at least around 16, and I would assume that does not pay terribly well. Also, the thing say that Renee is bad with technology and is always losing her cellphone charger.

          Wow, context that makes things make sense. But again. 2005. That’s 11 years ago. OH hey context for the time period. Buffy! Buffy doesn’t get her cellphone til like 2002.

          Okay, reading a thing, because google… yeah, she wrote Twilight in 2003. So. 2003 was not an unreasonable time to not have a cellphone. 2011 was, for most people. (Except me, apparently.)

          Also, the movie adds in cellphones in stuff. Bela

          1. The end of THAT comment was a mess, wow. Okay, let’s try again.

            Okay, reading a thing, because google… yeah, she wrote Twilight in 2003. So. 2003 was not an unreasonable time to not have a cellphone. 2011 was, for most people. (Except me, apparently.) And I feel like laptops were a lot more expensive in 2003, for a working class family.

            Also, the movie adds in cellphones and laptops and stuff. Bella totally has an iPod and laptop in the movie. In the book she had a CD player, an old desktop computer, and uses “free dial-up”. When dial-up is mentioned, maybe we can forgive a lack of laptops, lol.

    2. “She knew better. She’s not some sweet technologically-inept old person. It’s just shitty writing.”

      That, combined with shitty research. And that leads us to:

      “Either she’s guilty of doing this to partners, or she’s had it done to her. Either way she obviously never realized how WRONG it is. ”

      El writes only what she knows. It’s the sign of a true newbie writer. Based on what happened on the set for the first movie, she was controlling and manipulative to Sam Taylor-Johnson. So, yeah, she’s an expert at this behavior. The sad thing is how it resonated with the readers who went and bought it. That’s the truly discouraging aspect of it all . . . .

    3. EL is not really old enough not to be into computers at all. I mean she is about 50 – my father is 72 and spends a lot of time on Facebook. So that is a bit silly excuse of her fans.

    4. Ana not knowing computers are a thing isn’t even necessary for the plot. Fine, he gives her a laptop and that, but you could easily write it without that. What was she even doing.

    5. I hate the assumption that because you’re over forty you’re obviously a complete technophobe and need help changing the TV channel. I also don’t know how on earth someone could get through college (or university, as its called in Australia and the UK) without at least one email. I’m doing a BA in Professional and Creative Writing and we submit ALL of our assessments online. Not only that but most of our second year lectures are online. How the hell did E.L James think Ana got through college, not only without an email but without a computer?! Completely unrealistic!!! Just one of the many, many things that I HATE about this franchise. Please, someone, introduce me to E.L James in the flesh so I can high-five her. In the face. With a brick.

    6. ok i read a male friend “go down on me after he witnessed an abusive ex scream at me in public” instead of “come down on me” and i was REALLY confused about that anecdote hahah

  17. Okay, the only way this heap could be any more like Twilight is if there were a group of shady businessmen waiting to have some sort of full-out shares war with Christain’s company or something, or if Mia was psychic or whatever like Alice is supposed to be. I’m actually surprised EEL didn’t try to fit those things in…

  18. I was so happy to see “This fucking guy.” is back! Haha.
    Favorite part of this recap:
    “The waitress would be happy to bring a Diet Coke once she finishes wringing her drenched panties out in the slop sink. ”
    Oh man, I was laughing so hard at my desk at work! Thank you!

    1. It’s Bouquet.

      Though Hyacinth wouldn’t be teasing about it, she’d just sit there primly like doors being opened was her due. :)

    1. STEM major, started in 1992 and graduated in 1997. I don’t remember how far along in my college career I was but at some point I automatically got a college email through my department for group projects and such. So yeah, I call shenanigans that Ana doesn’t have email.

      1. Totally. But there MIGHT be room to let this slide for the following reason: when I graduated Uni, my college email was disabled fairly shortly afterwards. So maybe Ana only ever used her school email, and never had a personal one?

        1. Even then I call shenanigans because, at least in the UK (which James is from), when you apply for university you have to have a personal email address so they can inform you that you’ve got a place alongside sending out an official letter. I dunno if it’s the same in America but James doesn’t seem to care about transatlantic differences anyway so.

          1. Yeah, I agree with calling shenanigans. Don’t know why I was trying to make sense of E.L James anyway.

          2. Also, I’d like to meet the university student who only has a school email. I think I had 3 email addresses in addition to my university email that I used for different purposes.

          3. I graduated high school in 1995. My friends and I went to college all across the US and we all got assigned email addresses from our respective colleges and universities then. They weren’t required forms of communication, but we had them.

            My daughter is a college student now and graduated high school in 2012, so I’m pretty familiar with “the youngins” these days, too. And I’m not a whole lot younger than EEL.

            She isn’t technologically illiterate. She’s just, as we all know, a crappy writer who sacrificed characterization and realistic anything to make her characters fit her mold. She should have just set the story 15 years earlier and she could have gotten away with it.

      2. I graduated high school in 2011, and even in high school, you needed a lot of computer literacy back then. Freshmen were required to take a technology class. Most school papers were turned in through Turn It In or some other anti-plagiarism software which required an email to log in.

        Top that off, all the seniors were required to at least apply to the local community college. You needed email to apply to any major university, and as soon as you were accepted, the schools would assign at least one, sometimes two different email accounts.

    2. That’s the question I continually asked myself during reading FSoG. Even if by some strange turn of fate she didn’t actually own her own computer she would have had a student email address to use on campus. And I find the idea that she never had her own computer both weird and unlikely too, considering she was living at her ‘rich’ friend Kate’s apartment. My BFF gave me one of her own mobile phones back when they were bricks. Surely Kate wouldn’t have gifted Ana with an old laptop at some point?!

  19. Heh. I was raised in a white-collar household — not rich, but comfortably middle-class. My dad would, for special dinners, do the whole “good host” procedure of opening the bottle, sniffing the cork, and carefully tasting a bit before pouring glasses for everyone else.

    You know what my parents said about looking sophisticated at a fine restaurant? “Ask the waitstaff to choose a wine for you.”

  20. It’s not just *unrealistic* that a college student in 2011 wouldn’t have an email address…I think it’s actually impossible. I graduated in 2006, and by that point most US universities ASSIGNED a university email address to every student. At this point, I think all of them do, since it’s easier for the college to generate an email that they then *know* is your email, than to try and get it from the student (it’s also tied in with portal access, course signups, etc). So like…she’s had a university email for four years and just entirely failed to notice it?

    1. I went to college in the late 90′s and email addresses were “optional.” However, many of the schools/majors were starting to make new technology courses mandatory, so by my senior year most everyone had an email. Of course, it wasn’t as “evolved” back then, and we didn’t need email/internet as a basic requirement to be a student. I do think that EL would have been in University around the same time as me (80′s or 90′s), and it may have been possible for her to have no need for an email at that time. Since Ana is a self insert, EL must have been stuck in the notion that University and technology hasn’t changed in 20-30 years.

      1. Or, plot twist: Ana has email. And Facebook. And Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram. The whole bit. But everything is set to private and she doesn’t want him knowing any of it.

        I mean, we know from 50 that it’s not true, but it could be plausible in this book that she’s lying because she doesn’t want him to contact her. Her body language would agree to that.

        Also, off-topic but the red-faced bit … I’m blessed with a face that would blush if I tucked my hair back and brushed against the skin. Or any kind of contact. It bugs me when people immediately associate red faces with anything romantic or sexual. Besides, why is it ‘embarrassing’ to like someone who clearly likes you back?

        1. Well Ana was an unreliable narrator, so it could have been possible for her to have all forms of social media, but she wants everyone to think she is above all that plebian nonsense.

          Yup, I’m convinced, she had a secret tumblr account dedicated to Benedict Cumberbatch’s eyebrows.

    2. That and the fact that these days just about every assignment is submitted via a dropbox online. Not sure about back in 2011 but I can’t imagine it was that different.

      1. I was in uni 2012, can confirm. Nowadays we get a special, glitchy ass program called turnitin that we have to use.

  21. I like your point about gendered words. It used to really, REALLY annoy me when people used “fiancee” when they meant a (definitely male) fiance, or vice versa. Now it annoys me that there’s even a distinction.

    The thing that really pushed my Oh Hell No button was the whole door-opening thing though. My FIL does this and it makes me grit my teeth because I know he’s just being kind but I am perfectly capable of opening a car door myself and furthermore will do so *when I am ready.* I don’t want it left hanging open while I’m still getting my stuff together or whatever. Same goes for other doors. If I’m walking through a door and someone (gender is totally irrelevant) happens to be walking ahead of me, I appreciate them holding the door as I would do the same for anyone who happened to be behind me. But several people, and the have ALL been men so far, have insisted on opening doors for me to go through first when I am actually walking behind them, and this is awkward as fuck because I have to do a stupid little dance to get past them where they are standing in the way of the fucking door and why don’t they just go through first and hold the door? I get both annoyed and embarrassed (I guess because i feel infantilised? Like they’re implying I’m not strong enough to hold the door?) when this shit happens. Never seen anyone do it to a man.

    1. Maybe in other countries is different but where I live (Italy) it’s totally a normal act of courtesy to open the door (not the car door, though) for a person. So it’s not strange if a man open a door for another man. No doing this it’s really rude! It’s like letting a door closing on another person’s face!

      1. Yes, it is where I live too, hence me saying I like it when people hold doors in front of me, as I would for them. The bit that annoys me is people going out of their way to open a car door before I’m ready to get out, or making me go through a door before them when they’re standing in front of me.

  22. Opening car doors:

    I translate Harlequin romances, and all the heroes do this ALL the time. (Along with other stuff that would make me dislike the guy if I was on a date: placing his hand on her back and sort of “guiding” her inside the restaurant as if she can’t walk by herself or see where she’s going. Ordering food or drink for her. And of course: insisting that she will want to kiss him eventually, even if she’s saying no right now. There’s also my favourite: backing her up against a wall and placing his hands on either side of her head, so she’s trapped (when there’s a sexual tension and she’s resisting it, and he’s thinking, “her words are saying no, but I know she wants it.” Seriously, this happens in way too many books. So creepy.)

    The car door thing annoys the crap out of me.
    And because I have to edit the text down when I translate (HQ Desire needs to be 5000- 10 000 words shorter in Norwegian than in English), this is often one of the things I’ll just delete, to make the guy seem less douchy (to a Norwegian audience.)

    I’ve never had someone open a car door for me (why would they? I don’t get it!), and I’ve always assumed that it’s viewed as more romantic/courteous in the US than here. A cultural thing.

    1. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the romances I translate (and I write romance myself), but the men just do so many little things that irritate me – most of which are probably due to cultural differences, and are meant to be romantic, but to me come across as annoying and condescending.

    2. Interesting comment about cutting the translation- I guess it’s good you are allowed to cut a few words!

      I agree about the car door opening being a cultural thing. I mean, I know EL is British (sadly) but I have never in my life seen a British man offer to open someone’s car door – I mean, maybe if they were walking past the door anyway and the girl was being slow getting out? But I’ve never come across it as anything that was a regular occurrence or issue. So maybe it is more a US thing?

    3. I hold open doors for people at the op shop where I volunteer but that’s only when they have both hands full or are otherwise incapacitated (like in a wheelchair or pushing a pram or walker). The only time I find a man holding a car door open for a woman courteous instead of condescending is if she is wearing a wedding dress and needs helping getting out of the car!
      And please, don’t even get me started on Christian ordering food and drink for Ana, much less forcing her to eat it. He treats her like a child not an equal partner. It’s a huge turn-off for me, quite frankly.

  23. I feel like the whole lack of computer and email thing just adds to the creepy pseudo-Pygmalion feel that these books have. Like…Ana barely even existed before she met Christian. She’d never had sex, never masturbated, never even owned a computer. It’s like she doesn’t even become a person until he shows up. Ultra, ultra creepy.

    And like someone upthread, I graduated from college in 2006. I had a few friends who didn’t have computers my freshman year, but it was a huge pain for them to get anything done, and they were constantly borrowing other people’s so they didn’t have to trek to the computer lab. And by my senior year, a lot of assignments got handed in entirely electronically in English classes I was taking.

    1. Yeah same here. All our assignments are submitted electronically. Basically if you don’t at least have a desktop at home you’re at a serious disadvantage.

  24. I have so many reasons to be offended by these books, but somehow the wine thing drives me really crazy. Maybe it’s because I’m Italian, and drinking Pinot Grigio with venison would cost you a night in jail here (well, not really, but people would be definitely judging you).

    Venison (and game in general) needs a strong, still red wine, since the taste of the meat would suffocate any other drink; Pinot Nero, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino or a Cabernet Sauvignon would be therefore the most suitable choices. Red wines are perfect with meat, but these are particularly good for their meal.

    I’m not a fancy woman. I am an English major (we’re not all like Anastasia, I swear) born from a family of peasants, and Christian Grey, with his snobby know-it-all attitude, requires a good bitch-slapping session. EL James created the trashiest trainwreck I’ve ever witnessed: I was offended as a woman, as a student, as a sexual human being, as a pedophilia victim… and now I’m also offended as a foodie. What the hell, James. Ah, and your sex scenes remind me of that page from The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

    Keep up the good work, Jenny! You’re awesome.

  25. I bet E.L. James wrote Pinot Grigio because discovered that “grigio” in Italian means “grey”. Way to be witty.

  26. “If they’re not served fish, but wild game like venison or duck, then no, pinot grigio isn’t the right pairing, sorry. My play house as a child was a fucking rusted out car on cinderblocks in the tall grass, and I knew that, Mr. Expert-On-Classy-Junk.”

    I laughed so hard the cat got freaked out. I’m not from fancy folk either, but I thought “white wine with fish, red wine with red meat” was deeply basic food-pairing knowledge. Like, maybe I wouldn’t know the exact red wine offhand, but if I was writing a book, I would bestir myself to Google that shit.

    I sprained my ankle recently, and my sweetie would open the car door for me, but that’s because I legit needed help getting out. Your acquaintance sounds like the most annoying woman on Earth.

    1. Yes, I’m actually really surprised EL James apparently doesn’t know about red wine with red meat. I thought everyone knew that. And I mean she wasn’t poor even before she wrote this, so you would think she’d have eaten out often enough.

  27. I completely agree with the opening doors thing. This is actually an ongoing argument I have with my mother. She also does the thing where she will wait for her boyfriend to open doors for her and it’s completely ridiculous. She’s even gone so far as to scold me for not waiting for a dude to open a door for me. Or for not waiting around for her boyfriend to open my car door as well as hers. And always I shout, “LOOK! THUMBS! I HAVE THUMBS! SEE HOW THEY ALLOW ME TO OPEN DOORS FOR MYSELF! AMAZING!”

    They say chivalry is dead? Well it can fucking stay dead. Its gendered bullshit. Just be polite and leave gender out of it.

    1. Like honestly, I don’t even understand the desire to let someone open doors for you. I’d rather just get it myself and go about my business. It sounds like a hassle to wait for someone else to do something I can easily do myself, especially when I can be out of the car and ready to go before they even get to my side of the vehicle.

  28. RE: Doors/Chivalry

    While I don’t argue that Christian opening Ana’s door was unnecessary, to say the least, I’m not quite sure where the argument that it’s patronising comes from. I don’t typically open the doors for people, but I do for my grandmother every time we ride together. I do it out of respect; not for any machismo sake or because I don’t think she’s capable (she certainly gets around), but because it’s the polite thing to do. I also offer my arm so she doesn’t slip as we walk, for the same reasons.

    I don’t think I’d do the same for a younger woman every time, but if conditions are rainy or icy, then yes, I would offer my assistance, even if she could handle herself. I don’t really consider that patronising, just respectful. And no, I wouldn’t do this for just any man, but I do for my husband. Though, as I struggle with a lot of chronic pains (don’t care to be specific atm) he typically helps me even when I don’t necessarily “need” it.

    Again, never really a machismo thing, or patronising. It doesn’t really question a person’s capabilities, just offers a little help to be polite.

    1. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with what you’re saying (or doing, in the case of your grandmother) but I have had a lot of guys using the “it’s polite/respectful! I’m being nice, not patronising!” arguments to shut me down when I politely tell them I’m not comfortable with them doing stuff that frankly infantilising, patronising or getting in my personal space. Just because they don’t THINK they are being patronising does not magically prevent me from FEELING that way.

      In other words, it’s only polite or respectful if you already know it’s what she wants. It isn’t polite or respectful to force your help on someone who prefers to do things for herself.

      I totally believe your grandma appreciates your help though. It sounds very sweet of you to do that :-)

  29. I’ve never understood why specific wines are supposed to go w/ specific things (wine all tastes the same to me anyway) and ordinarily, I’m of the mind that one should just enjoy what they like, even if it isn’t “high class”, but I do think it’s interesting that Christian “wine connaisseur” Grey commited what is apparently such a harsh violation of wine etiquette. Esp. with that whole 5SOG wine series out.

  30. “…not a five-year-old in the backseat with the child locks on.”

    But he might be turned on by this, you know, since he has all these tendencies toward pedophilia.

  31. Late to comment, but will anyway.

    To add to “Ana needed email”: I’m only about a year apart from Ana, and I know for a fact a college student couldn’t survive without email or a laptop in 2011. The university assigns you an email. The syllabus, most homework, and exam notes are all assigned via email. 80% of assignments are submitted to a dropbox. Lecture is extremely difficult to follow without a laptop. Campus alerts are sent via email or text re: classes being cancelled, weather, campus shooters or anything like that. Course enrollment, and all job/internship opportunities are posted on the school site, which you need your school email to access. The 2011 job market SUCKED, so you had to be anal about constantly checking, applying, and reapplying to job postings. I had to take my laptop into the Apple store once in college, and not having it for FOUR DAYS was extremely debilitating; there’s no way Ana could have gotten through FOUR YEARS without one, unless she spent her entire college career renting one from the library. Ana could not even enroll, let alone graduate, let alone graduate WITH A JOB without email. As for social media, I can *almost* believe EL. I don’t remember if Snapchat was even a thing, but Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. were all young so I could see her not being on those apps yet. As far as Facebook, I knew quite a few students who weren’t on FB and when you asked why, they ranted about government invasion of privacy. So if Ana was a conspiracy theorist, she may have deleted her Facebook, but I guarantee she would’ve had one at some point in time. EL was trying to make Ana naive and endearing, but no. Fail.

    Switching gears- as far as holding doors open goes, I’ve only had a car door opened for me once, but I generally find “chivalry” super endearing. I was scrolling through the comments like, “wow no one likes that stuff?” then I had to remember, LOL, I’m a Black woman. I’m used to myself and the women around me being everyone’s work-dogs so being doted on is super rare and appealing to me. White men have held the door open for multiple white women, looked me in the face, then purposely closed the door right on me so *to me* silly things like running to grab the door for me isn’t patronizing, but acknowledges my womanhood and humanity in a way rarely afforded to women who look like me. OF COURSE I can and do open my own damn door, BUT I do like when men do it as well, just because I’m typically the one expected to defer to everyone else’s comfort. Pardon the rant, just an example of when “white feminism” isn’t necessarily my feminism haha.

    Anyways, great post as usual!

  32. You know, something else that has been bothering me since the first book is that Christian cares so much for Anna’s ~safety~, but will sit there drinking like a half a bottle of wine and then go out driving. I refuse to get into the car with someone who had one glass of wine like three hours before hand. I cant imagine any of these functional alcoholics not getting into a car wreck.

    1. Yeah, like even after a half glass of beer you shouldn’t drive, and wine I think has more percentage especially a good one like that. and yeah Chedward is rich and whatnot but in real world you get your licence taken away, even if you didn’t drink much

  33. Okay, I’m really Canadian so I didn’t really think about this….

    But shouldn’t it be Gray in America?

  34. Okay I’m assuming since Chedward obsesses about her not texting him for five hours that they were out to lunch and not dinner? If someone tried to force me to have venison and wine for lunch I’d walk the fuck out. I can’t stomach a lot of meat and definitely not at lunch. No wonder Ana doesn’t eat much.
    Scratch that. With my lack of appetite lately if someone I barely know tried to force me to eat after I told him I wasn’t hungry and then tried to force me to drink wine I did not want, I’d wait for the wine to arrive and throw it in his face. Maybe that’s why he orders white wine with meat so his suit doesn’t get stained too badly when he pushes a girl too far.

  35. So I was one of those people that read 50 Shades and totally didn’t notice the abuse / rape / absence of consent.

    And then I found the recaps on your blog and I was horrified that I hadn’t noticed. I like to think I’m a fairly intelligent person and generally alert to misogyny but I totally missed it. That says something fairly worrying about me but also about society generally, I think.

    I haven’t read Grey because I found the recaps around the time I downloaded it.

    Feel disappointed in myself I think really.

  36. “At the same time, why the fuck can’t Ana just ask for it her damn self? As the series goes on, Ana is brainwashed and manipulated into not speaking up or making choices for herself, but this early in their relationship she is unable to resist even something as minor as his control over her drink choices? I know we’re supposed to view this through the romantic lens of being so caught up in new love that she can’t think for herself, but it just makes her look weak and pathetic at this point.”

    I see this as James showing that everything is really Ana’s fault since she doesn’t speak up nor tell him to stop/safeword so some of the blame is off of Christian.

  37. “Picking up my latest read, I settle onto the sofa. It’s a book by two renown economists who examine why the poor think and behave the way they do.”
    The first thing that popped up in my mind was that he reads something by Marx and Engels. I blame that on growing up on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain.

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