Jenny Reads Fifty Shades Of Midnight Sun: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, or “CW: Rape threats. All of them. Forever.”

Usually I put stuff here, but this is a very, very long recap and my shoulder hurts from typing and I’m losing my passion for cuteness and fun where this series is concerned. Let’s just do it.

Christian has ordered a glass of Sancerre. Sancerre is, if you’ll remember from previous chapters, the only thing he drinks. Okay, this is something I think is actually kind of cool. In the original trilogy, Ana would just constantly say, “he ordered me a white wine” or something. In this book, it’s always Sancerre. So it’s like, a little detail that’s consistent, but from different viewpoints.

It is the only thing consistent about this book.

Christian is waiting at the bar for Ana for their non-date date to discuss the contract. He’s nervous and had to do extra running to calm his nerves. He also mentally logs everything he’s done during the day. And it’s all over the place:

This feels like a first date, and in a way it is. I’ve never taken a prospect out to dinner. I’ve sat through interminable meetings today, bought a business, and fired three people. Nothing I’ve done today, including running–twice–and a quick circuit in the gym, has dispelled the anxiety I’ve wrestled with all day.

Why is his work day even mentioned here? For one, it comes off very oh-shit-I-need-businessy-words-so-he-sounds-important. If he just bought a company, why wasn’t he consumed with work for the past week? Christian doesn’t come off as a hard worker capable of clawing his way to the top from the very dregs of adversity when he’s hardly ever at work. Yes, it’s normal for a CEO to delegate things to other workers, but they also want to sort of keep tabs on important shit like buying a whole company.

That line is also in a very weird place because it makes it seem like firing three people is something that should have calmed his anxiety. It reads like, “Man, I’ve tried everything to get over this anxiety. I went running, I exercised, I fired three people. Nothing is working.” Of course, knowing Chedward, firing people might be a stress reliever or something.

“But Jenny,” you say, “isn’t he listing things that caused the anxiety?” Oh ho. Let’s not be naive here. The anxiety is caused by Ana:

That power is in the hands of Anastasia Steele. I want her submission.

When Ana walks in, Chedward describes her in the most flowery prose possible:

She looks exquisite: her hair falls in soft waves to her breast on one side, and on the other it’s pinned back so it’s easier to see her delicate jawline and the gentle curve of her slender neck. She’s wearing high heels and a tight dark purple dress that accentuates her lithe, alluring figure.

Now, I’m not saying that no twenty-seven-year-old male has ever used the words “exquisite” or “alluring”. But every adult man who’s attracted to women that I know of? Would just be like, “Wow, she’s hot.”

To be fair, he does think, “Wow.” But that “Wow” only makes “lithe, alluring figure” seem all the more clunky and overdone.

“You look stunning,” I whisper, and kiss her cheek. Closing my eyes, I savor her scent; she smells heavenly.

From TV's Hannibal, Hannibal is standing behind Will Graham, and Will is saying, "Did you just smell me?"

He asks her what she wants to drink:

“I’ll have what you’re having, please.”

Ah, she’s learning.

Presented without comment. Underlines = italics.

“They have an excellent wine cellar here,” I add, and take a moment to look at her.

Like, he’s described her hairstyle and clothing down to every last “lithe, alluring” detail, but now he’s gonna look at her.

She’s wearing a little makeup. Not too much. And I remember when she first fell into my office how ordinary I thought she looked. She is anything but ordinary. With a little makeup and the right clothes, she’s a goddess.

“I thought you were ugly until you put on enough makeup” is such a beautiful sentiment. Why doesn’t it show up on more Valentines?

They begin their negotiations with boring flirting, and then:

She purses her lips to stifle her smile. “You know this contract is legally unenforceable.”

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

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

What? I didn’t think I’d have to…and you’ve worked it out for yourself. “You think I’d coerce you into something you don’t want to do, and then pretend I have legal hold over you?”

“Well, yes.”

Whoa. “You don’t think very highly of me, do you?”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“Anastasia, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. It represents an arrangement that I would like to make with you–what I would like from you and what you can expect from me. If you don’t like it, then don’t sign. If you do sign and then decide you don’t like it, there are enough get-out clauses so you can walk away. Even if it were legally binding, do you think I’d drag you through the courts if you did decide to run?

What does she take me for?

She considers me with her unfathomable blue eyes.

Before we dive into this, I want to show you the same exact scene, from the original:

“You know this contract is legally unenforceable.”

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

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

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


“You don’t think very highly of me, do you?”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“Anastasia, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. It represents an arrangement that I would like to make with you–what I would like from you and what you can expect of me. If you don’t like it, then don’t sign. If you do sign and then decide you don’t like it, there are enough get-out clauses so you can walk away. Even if it were legally binding, do you think I’d drag you through the courts if you did decide to run?”

I take a long sip of my wine. My subconscious taps me hard on the shoulder. You must keep your wits about you. Don’t drink too much.

First of all, do you notice how little agency Ana has in her own thoughts? Christian is allowed a reaction to the things that are going on. All Ana is allowed to do is make sure she doesn’t get drunk, because she has to be on her guard. Ana has no reaction, either internal or external, to any of this. I just thought that was very telling, in terms of how the reader is meant to view the characters.

Anyway, let’s talk about Chedward’s reactions and why, exactly, he shouldn’t be a Dom. His assumption is that his inexperienced potential sub would just know that this contract wasn’t legally enforceable. He was perfectly happy withholding that information and letting her “work it out” for herself. In other words, he can’t be bothered to give her even the most basic information that she needs to enter into this relationship under clear pretenses.

Chedward is a bafflingly successful billionaire. He knows how contracts work, and he knows how people expect them to work. And he continues to insinuate that the contract is binding on some level, by suggesting that “get-out” clauses are needed for her to be allowed to walk away from him.

Now, he wants all of this, but he doesn’t want Ana to have a low (read: accurate) opinion of him. All we know from Ana’s POV that she doesn’t trust him; she won’t get drunk around him, and what we know from Chedward’s POV is that she shouldn’t trust him, because he wants to manipulate her by withholding important information.

Both books are trash, but I’m having a hard time figuring out which one should go in the fire first.

What I need her to understand is that this contract isn’t about the law, it’s about trust.

I want you to trust me, Ana.

I want you to trust me, even though I’m actively working to deceive you via omission.

Also, remember how Ana doesn’t want to be called Anastasia or Miss Steele? Christian clearly thinks of her as Ana in his own head. So, yeah. It’s a fucked up control thing. He’s perfectly capable of thinking of her as Ana, but he refuses to say it.

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

She rubs her chin as she considers what I’ve said.

“So it’s quite simple, Anastasia. Do you trust me or not?”

Ana has literally just called him out for indirectly lying to her about the contract. He’s given her absolutely no reason to trust him yet. He doesn’t mention anything about having to trust her, either, beyond, “if you can’t be honest with me.” Which still puts the onus for all the trust in the relationship onto Ana. Christian doesn’t have to surrender and put his faith in Ana, she has to be honest with him. And he doesn’t have to be honest with her, she just needs to trust him and figure out the rest on her own.

“Did you have similar discussions with, um…the fifteen?”

“No.” Why is she going off on this tangent?

“Why not?” she asks.

“Because they were all established submissives. They knew what they wanted out of a relationship with me and generally what I expected. With them, it was just a question of fine-tuning the soft limits, details like that.”

Stop. No. Gameshow buzzer noise. You didn’t negotiate things with the other submissives because they were experienced? All this tells me is that you think you have to lock Ana into a contract because she doesn’t know exactly what she wants or what to expect from you, so you have to secure her permission to do whatever you feel like before she knows any better. Christian’s constant emphasis on how differently he treats Ana in comparison to his other subs is meant to make the reader believe that he finds Ana special (not like other girls™) and therefore their relationship is more serious (twu luv™). Instead, it just reads like he knew he couldn’t take advantage of those other women, but he recognizes the opportunity to take advantage of Ana. He wants to use all this paperwork to intimidate Ana into acquiescing to his demands.

I mean, that’s the way it comes off to someone who recognizes that this is a textbook case of emotional abuse and manipulation. Everyone else, I don’t know what the fuck they see beyond “the other fifteen were whores and this blank avatar for my fantasies (Ana) is the only pure, clean woman that deserves Christian Grey.”

“Is there a store you go to? Submissives ‘R’ Us?” She arches an eyebrow and I laugh out loud. And like a magician’s rabbit the tension in my body disappears. “Not exactly.” My tone is wry.

First of all, magicians make the rabbits appear. They pull them out of their hats, not cram them in. Second, there is no reason his dialogue needs to share a paragraph with hers. There are very rare instances where two characters’ dialogue has to fit into the same paragraph, but this is not one of those. “‘Not exactly.’ My tone is wry.” could have easily been its own line.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

She looks suspiciously at the olives. “No.”

In Ana’s POV, she’s thinking, literally, “Oh no…food.” Some readers have pointed out that she develops an eating disorder as a way to buck Chedward’s control. But here, she’s looking at the olives “suspiciously”, and all I can think is, if you haven’t read the first book it seems like she doesn’t trust him not to have drugged the food.

When Christian finds out she hasn’t eaten, of course he reacts sensibly. By threatening to rape her:

“You have to eat, Anastasia. We can eat down here or in my suite. Which would you prefer?”

She’ll never go for this.

“I think we should stay in public, on neutral ground.”

As predicted–sensible, Miss Steele.

“Do you think that would stop me?” My voice is husky.

She swallows. “I hope so.”

Put the girl out of her misery, Grey.

“Come, I have a private dining room booked. No public.” Rising, I hold out my hand to her.

Will she take it?

She looks from my face to my hand.

“Bring your wine,” I order.

It doesn’t matter if they’re in public or private. If he wants to have her, he’s going to. Nothing is going to stop him. And he ignores her request to stay in public. When she’s hesitant to go with him, he just flat out orders her to. How on earth does he expect her to trust him when the moment she shows even the slightest, most reasonable caution–especially after he’s made it clear he’s cool with raping her in a public place–he rejects her suggestion for a safer venue and forces her to go with him to a secluded place. Yeah, that seems super trustworthy, Chedward.

Honestly, I’m still at a loss as to how anyone viewed this as romantic or sexy. How fucked up is our idea of women’s sexuality that this is considered desirable behavior from a man? All I can think is that it’s expected behavior that we’ve resigned ourselves to enduring, so we have to find a way to spin it into something we’re cool with.

As we leave the bar, I notice admiring glances from other guests, and in the case of one handsome, athletic guy, overt appreciation of my date. It’s not something I’ve dealt with before…and I don’t think I like it.

Again, Ana is special, because Christian didn’t care about any of the fifteen other women he’s been in relationships with. This assumes that the only way a reader can tell if a hero truly loves the heroine is by eliminating the competition of the past. If he felt jealous or cared at all about any of the other subs, that makes what he has with Ana less authentic.

Upstairs on the mezzanine, the liveried young host dispatched by the maître d’ leads us to the room I’ve booked. He only has eyes for Miss Steele, and I give him a withering look that sends him in retreat from the opulent dining room.

In Ana’s POV, the dining room is described in detail, so here’s another case where James assumes that anyone picking up this book has already read at least the first book of the other series and decides not to do the work. We also find yet another lazy and destructive case of confusing jealousy for affection.

In Fifty Shades of Grey, this scene starts out with one of those interminable “don’t bite your lip” scenes. It’s cut here, and not even alluded to. Chedward asks Ana what she wants to talk about.

“The nitty-gritty,” she says, focused on the task at hand, but then she takes a large gulp of wine and her cheeks color. She must be looking for courage. I’ll have to watch how much she’s drinking, because she’s driving.

She could always spend the night here…then I could peel her out of that enticing dress.

I can’t remember, does Chedward ever find out that it’s Kate’s dress? How could he possibly stand to touch Ana in it, after the infuriating Miss Kavanaugh has worn it?

Please note that Chedward isn’t worried about Ana getting too drunk to consent to anything. Just that she’s going to be driving. In fact, his ideal scenario seems to be getting her so drunk that she has to stay with him. Which is, you know. Also too drunk to consent.

He goes over the clauses Ana has pointed out in her emails.

“My sexual health? Well, all of my previous partners have had blood tests, and I have regular tests every six months for all the health risks you mention. All my recent tests are clear. I have never taken drugs. In fact, I’m vehemently antidrug. I have a strict no-tolerance policy with regards to drugs for all of my employees, and I insist on random drug testing.”

In fact, one of the people I fired today failed his drug test.

“I’m vehemently anti-drug…now drink some more wine.” I absolutely hate, loathe, and despise to the core of my being people who are sanctimonious assholes about people who take drugs, insist that they aren’t that kind of person, and then chug down a bottle of whatever’s handy at the slightest opportunity. Those “It’s wine-o’-clock!” moms on Facebook who turn around and go, “Well, I don’t give homeless people money. They just buy drugs with it.”? They should all be executed by firing squad. Alcohol is a drug. It’s just a socially acceptable drug. You cannot be “anti-drug” and blithely encourage the use of a drug. It’s like a meth head saying they’re anti-drug because they’ve never smoked crack. IT ISN’T A REAL THING.

“Your next point I mentioned earlier. You can walk away anytime, Anastasia. I won’t stop you. If you go, however–that’s it. Just so you know.”

No. Second. Chances. Ever.

This is yet another place where the contract doesn’t make sense, because she does walk away. And he won’t let her go. He continues to pursue her until she comes back. In other words, he thinks he, a billionaire with a security team that makes him basically untouchable, needs a non-legally binding contract with a woman to keep her from trying to win him back, but that contractual obligation doesn’t go both ways.

The waiter comes with raw oysters, and Chedward instructs Ana on how to eat them.

“So, I don’t chew it?”

“No, Anastasia, you don’t.” And I try not to think about her teeth toying with my favorite part of my anatomy.

I, too, struggle to not fantasize about someone chewing away on your knob.

She asks me if I’ve chosen oysters deliberately, knowing their reputed aphrodisiac qualities. I surprise her when I tell her they were simply at the top of the menu. “I don’t need an aphrodisiac near you.”

Yeah, I could fuck you right now.

With or without her consent, as he’s already told us at this point. Also…maybe she was wondering if you ordered them to get her in the mood. Funny, the things you can think of when you realize that there’s a universe full of people who aren’t Cheward Grullen.

Ana tells Christian her objection to the “obey me in all things” clause:

“But I’m worried you’ll hurt me.”

“Hurt you how?”


“Do you really think I would ever do that? Go beyond any limit you can’t take?”

“Do you really think” is such a manipulative phrase. “Do you really think?” Yes, I really think. If I didn’t think, I wouldn’t have said. That’s how it works. “Do you really think” is Christian asking Ana to question whether or not she believes what she’s saying/thinking, as though she can’t trust her own thoughts/words.

A lamplighter on a ladder, lighting a gas street light.

Chedward’s second job.

He tells her about the sub he accidentally hurt in a suspension accident–one of the ropes was tied too tightly–and she doesn’t react well:

Appalled, she holds up her hand in a plea for me to stop.

Too much information.

Then this should be a sign that she’s not ready to enter into this “contract” at all. If the idea of a rope being too tight squicks her out, this is not a great sign for your bondage hopes. Rope injuries are probably the most common BDSM injury. I don’t have a study to cite on that, but given every kinkster I know has a story about “this one time when I got rope burn”, bondage/suspension seems high in the running for “most likely to injure”. Ana could sustain damage from bondage even without suspension. And these things can happen even to experienced Doms/subs. Shit happens. If the idea of that risk is totally unacceptable to Ana, she should not be engaging in bondage, for her own comfort and safety.

And what kind of injury are we talking about here, Chedward? The most common injury I can think of off the top of my head that you could get from a tight rope in a stressful suspension scenario is either circulatory or nerve damage. Given that these former subs were always so super experienced and totally didn’t need any education and he could just do whatever he wanted without any discussion, I assume they would know that, hey, my body part is cold/numb/tingling/in searing pain would be a bad sign and they would stop things. Chedward, you’re doing the tying up. It’s your job to communicate with your sub about whether or not the ropes are too tight, and to correct that before they sustain a serious injury.

So basically we have a potential sub freaked out by the very thought of an extremely common accident, and a potential Dom trying to power past that resistance by just dropping the subject altogether. I don’t know. Maybe he thinks she’ll figure it out on her own, just like the legality of the contract. The lengths to which this book will go to trying to make Chedward look like The Maestro of Kink, only to trip over its own goddamn feet like Anastasia Steele walking through an unimpeded doorway, is astonishing.

Ana makes suspension a hard limit (though I’m pretty sure they do a suspension scene later in the series anyway), and he asks her if she’ll obey him.

She stares at me with those eyes that see through to my dark soul, and I don’t know what she’s going to say.

Shit. This could be the end.

We should be so lucky.

She tells him she can obey, and he wants her to give up her one month, one weekend off per month clause, as well:

“One month instead of three is no time at all, especially if you want a weekend away from me each month.” We’ll get nowhere in that time. She needs training and I can’t stay away from her for any length of time. I tell her as much. Maybe we can compromise, as she suggested. “How about one day over one weekend per month you get to yourself–but I get a midweek night that week?”

This is like a fucking custody battle right here.

Look, Ana is saying that she’s fine with trying things out for a month, but not for three months. THAT IS THE COMPROMISE. And saying she wants one weekend a month for herself? That’s reasonable. Asking her to come to you in the middle of the week–when she’ll probably be working–is just ridiculous. She’s trying to get time away from you. Time that will be hers, not spent with you. She’s not trying to reschedule. She’s trying to unschedule.

Obviously, we all know that this doesn’t happen, and Ana ends up spending literally every waking moment of her life with Christian or surrounded by his “security” team, but we’re here now, so I’m going to bitch about it.

“And please, let’s try it for three months. If it’s not for you, then you can walk away anytime.”

She could walk away anytime during one month, too. All the three months gives him is the ability to say, “But you said you’d try for three months. At the end of that, you can just walk away. But you said you’d try for three months and now you’re breaking your word.”

Then we move on to what is possibly the biggest Dom red-flag so far:

“The ownership thing, that’s just terminology and goes back to the principle of obeying. It’s to get you into the right frame of mind, to understand where I’m coming from. And I want you to know that as soon as you cross my threshold as my submissive, I will do what I like to you. You have to accept that, and willingly. That’s why you have to trust me. I will fuck you, anytime, any way I want–anywhere I want. I will discipline you, because you will screw up. I will train you to please me.

“But I know you’ve not done this before. Initially, we’ll take it slowly, and I will help you. We’ll build up to various scenarios. I want you to trust me, but I know I have to earn your trust, and I will. The ‘or otherwise’–again, it’s to help you get into the mind-set; it means anything goes.”

Christian Grey does not understand, on any level, what makes submission attractive for the submissive. That ownership isn’t just terminology. It’s something the submissive wants. To be owned. To be dominated. Yes, it’s a mind-set, but it’s one that the Dom is supposed to help the sub achieve. It’s not, “You need to understand that I own you because then you’ll remember to do everything I say.” This is a sexual relationship. It’s a two-way street. A sub does everything a Dom says because they want to be owned. A Dom wants the sub to want their control and ownership. Christian Grey just wants Ana to obey him and give him whatever he asks, and this whole “I want to treat you all these ways, and you have to tell me right now that you’ll do whatever I say” routine is proof that he really doesn’t care if his sub will get anything out of it. He doesn’t want a sub, he wants a toy.

“Would you like some more wine?” I ask her.

“I have to drive.”

Good answer.

Arrrrgh, all of these abusive little bullshit tactics. Let me ask you a trick question! You answered correctly! You are winning in the mind game you don’t even know you’re playing! People like Chedward are the fucking Hunger Games of manipulation.

Christian rattles off some stupid shit about pleasure and pain that was probably copied from another fanfic that started out with a summary that included the words “welcome to my twisted mind”,  ending with:

“Again, it comes down to trust. Do you trust me, Ana?”

“Yes, I do,” she says immediately. Her response knocks me sideways: it’s completely unexpected.


Have I gained her trust already?

“Well, then, the rest of this stuff is just details.” I feel ten feet tall.

First of all, do you know who you absolutely, never, under any circumstances, should trust? Someone who consistently emphasizes how much they want you to trust them, and who asks repeatedly if you trust them yet.

Especially if they then decide that now that they have your trust, further discussion about sexual activities you’d like to engage in with them is unnecessary.

Thankfully, Ana points out that she does want to go over the rest of the contract. She won’t budge on agreeing to having her food and sleep controlled. I mean, that’s really only going to last until you’re married, Ana, but good for you for thinking your life is still yours. Then she asks him why she can’t touch him.

“Is it because of Mrs. Robinson?”

What? “Why would you think that? You think she traumatized me?”

Why on earth would anyone think that? I mean, really. An emotionally damaged fifteen-year-old being groomed into BDSM by one of his mother’s friends in a you-can-never-tell-or-we’ll-both-be-in-trouble deal? How ever could that be traumatizing to a person?

He tells her that it’s not because of Mrs. Robinson and adds:

“And I don’t want you touching yourself, either,” I add.

“Out of curiosity, why?”

“Because I want all your pleasure.”

Fair enough, in a D/s relationship. But, uh…shouldn’t that also be, you know…discussed?

Look, if you’re thinking, “I might want to try this BDSM thing out!”, then here’s a word of advice: if a potential Dom behaves toward you as though you’ve already agreed to sub for them and they cannot drop their Dom persona during negotiations like this? Run as fast as you can in the other direction. They will ignore your limits, they will try to coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do, and they will use “but I’m naturally dominant!” as an excuse for that manipulative behavior.

Hey, speaking of creepy behavior:

I could fuck her here to see if she can be quiet. Real quiet, knowing we’re within earshot of the hotel staff and guests. After all, that’s why I’ve booked this room.

I don’t want to belabor the point here, but Ana specifically asked to stay in a public setting so that they would. not. have. sex. Christian made her come with him to this private room, and now we have confirmation that he was expecting to have sex with her in said room. Despite her saying she didn’t want to go somewhere private, where they could have sex, he has brought her here with that express purpose. Despite the fact that, and maybe I’m stressing this too much, she already said she doesn’t want to.

Plus, he planned on her engaging in public sex without clearing it with her at all beforehand? She’s clearly uncomfortable even talking about sex, but he thinks she was going to be DTF in a room where a waiter could just walk in? That takes a lot of fucking ego to just assume that a woman is going to fuck you in public because you want her to.

“Do you want to go over the soft limits now, too?”

“Not over dinner.”


“Something like that.”

Again. If she’s squeamish just talking about these sex acts, this is a sign that she’s not comfortable and is perhaps not ready to enter into this type of relationship without casually trying this shit out.

Christian points out that Ana hasn’t eaten much:

This is getting old. “Three oysters, four bites of cod, and one asparagus stalk, no potatoes, no nuts, no olives, and you’ve not eaten all day. You said I could trust you.”

Aaaaaaand you said she could trust you, and you promised not to police her eating habits. So who’s untrustworthy here?

“Christian, please, it’s not every day I sit through conversations like this.”

“I need you fit and healthy, Anastasia.” My tone is adamant.

I need you fit and healthy, but not mentally healthy. If I needed you mentally healthy, I might do something like not let you know that I’m cataloguing every single bite of food you take to use against you in a later argument.

“Christian. You use sex as a weapon. It really isn’t fair.” She looks down at her lap, and her voice is low and melancholy. She looks up again, pinning me with an intense stare, her powder-blue eyes unnerving…and arousing.

“You’re right. I do,” I admit. “In life you use what you know. Doesn’t change how much I want you. Here. Now.” And we could fuck here, right now.

Again, he has no interest in what Ana wants, what her comfort level is, or whether she’s even interested in having sex right now. He wants it, so it’s happening.

“I’d like to try something.” I really want to know how quiet she can be, and if she can do this with the fear of discovery.

Her brow creases once more; she’s confused.

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

He goes on to say:

“I can tell because your body gives you away. You’re pressing your thighs together, you’re flushed, and your breathing has changed.”

Okay, but I’ve read the original series and Ana is flushed all the time. That said, Chedward is overlooking an important detail: Ana’s body is not in charge. Ana’s mind is. And she hasn’t said she wants to fuck you.

She’s quiet for a moment and looks away. “I haven’t finished my cod,” she says, evasive but still blushing.

“You prefer cold cod to me?”

Her eyes meet mine, and they’re wide, pupils dark and large. “I thought you liked me to clear my plate.”

“Right now, Miss Steele, I couldn’t give a fuck about your food.”

This is important to me, until it isn’t. Now try and guess which times those are.

She’s trifling with me–a dangerous tactic that will have me fucking her over this table.

Honestly, anyone who reads this shit and finds him so romantic and sexy? Need to have constant supervision so they don’t accidentally start dating a dude like this. If you have a friend who loooooooves Christian Grey, start spreading malicious rumors about how she farts during sex or something. Anything, to stop her from finding her perfect Mr. Grey.

She really has no idea how sexy she is…I’m about to pounce when the waiter knocks and enters.

I’m about to rape her when the waiter knocks and enters.

Ana uses this interruption to announce her intention to leave.

This is not going to plan at all.

You know, the plan. The plan where he was going to have public sex with Ana without consulting her first.

He asks why she wants to go.

“Because you’ve given me so much to consider, and I need some distance.” Her eyes are pleading with me to let her go.

But we’ve gotten so far in our negotiation. We’ve made compromises. We can make this work. I have to make this work.

“Hey, I compromised! Now you have to let me fuck you in front of the waitstaff!”

Every time I write one of these recaps, I feel the delicious, thirst-quenching tears of all the fans who passionately defended the series against abuse allegations and find Christian brutally misrepresented as a creepy, creepy stalker. Yes, cry, you abuse apologist trash people! Your sorrow strengthens the rest of us! Muahahahahahahahaha!

“I could make you stay,” I tell her, knowing I could seduce her right now, in this room.

In the original, in Ana’s POV, this says:

“I could make you stay,” he threatens.


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

Now that threats and intimidation haven’t gotten her spread and willing, he goes straight to the guilt button. You misrepresented yourself, I thought this about you and now you’re disappointing me.

Then he goes on to kissing her, because obviously she’s going to change her entire mind about needing space if she gets horny enough. But she still wants to leave, and tells him that she doesn’t know if she can have the kind of relationship he wants. He gives up and takes her to the lobby, where he asks her if he can see her on Sunday. She says maybe, and it’s all, whoa is me, this might be the end, oh no. For a guy who doesn’t get emotional or hearts and flowery, he’s taking this potential breakup of his non-relationship like a middle schooler getting dumped for the first time.

Then the valet brings her car, the truck her stepdad Charlie bought her beat up VW Beetle her stepdad Ray bought her, and Christian gets pissy about that. Because obviously poor people cars aren’t as reliable as rich people cars.

They have a stupidly dramatic goodbye, in which Ana struggles not to cry, and he goes up to his room to drink more wine and refuse to give Ana space. He emails her:

I don’t understand why you ran this evening.

Because you kept threatening to rape her, while simultaneously demanding she trust you? There’s more the to the email, but it’s basically just I hope you give my proposal serious consideration, etc. Which is exactly what she’s trying to do, what she told you she’s trying to do, and why she asked for space.

I glance at my watch. It will take her at least twenty minutes to get home, probably longer in that death trap.

So the space he’s willing to give her is immediately emailing her after she leaves, and counting the minutes until she replies. He also emails Taylor and tells him that he needs an Audi delivered tomorrow.

Let’s take a break from the absolutely enraging rape culture as romance bullshittery for a good, old fashion critique of this run-on from hell:

Opening the Sancerre, I pour myself a glass, and picking up my book, I sit and read, trying hard to concentrate.

Let me give you a fucking hand here, Erika. I open the Sancerre and pour myself a glass. I pick up my book and sit. As I read, I try hard to concentrate. Wow, look at all of those separate actions in their own sentences.

At 11:00, I text her.

So, she left at ten, it’s now eleven. Within an hour, he has sent her an email and text. After she’s asked for space.

Before midnight I send another email.

Within two hours of her asking him to give her space, he’s sent two emails and a text.

I’ll see her tomorrow at the graduation ceremony and I’ll find out then if she’s turning me down.

Less. Than. 24. Hours.

Then, of course, he goes to bed, because it’s the end of the chapter, and every really good writer ends each chapter of a book with waking, and ends each chapter with sleeping. Every. Single. Chapter.


100 thoughts on “Jenny Reads Fifty Shades Of Midnight Sun: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, or “CW: Rape threats. All of them. Forever.”

  1. As we leave the bar, I notice admiring glances from other guests, and in the case of one handsome, athletic guy, overt appreciation of my date. It’s not something I’ve dealt with before…and I don’t think I like it.

    For a moment, I completely forgot that this was in Christian’s POV and assumed that James was finally responding to the homophobia accusations by having a super-hot guy eye up Christian.

    Which reminds me…how is this in any way different from Ana’s internal narration? Like, at all? This could literally come straight from 50SoG. No one would be able to tell. That’s not “oh, our thoughts are so in sync thanks to the purity of our love!” that’s “Hi, my name is E.L. James and I have a problem…with basic writing skills.”

    1. I noticed that, too. In the original, we get to hear about all the women salivating over Chedward. Now are we going to have to put up with all the men salivating over Bel-I mean, Ana?

  2. I know that in the context of the shit-show that is this book this is pretty minor, but this:

    “With a little makeup and the right clothes, she’s a goddess.”

    reeeaaaallly pissed me off. It seems like even people who can’t see the abuse should be taken aback by that.

    Also, I had a boyfriend recently who was needy as fuck and would basically attempt rescheduling time together anytime I told him I needed a day or two to myself. Like that somehow makes it ok for him to stay the whole next week over at my place. Drove me fucking nuts.

  3. “Honestly, I’m still at a loss as to how anyone viewed this as romantic or sexy. How fucked up is our idea of women’s sexuality that this is considered desirable behavior from a man? All I can think is that it’s expected behavior that we’ve resigned ourselves to enduring, so we have to find a way to spin it into something we’re cool with.”

    The only thing I can think of is that the bodice-ripper/rape fantasy for women is possibly the equivalent of the common two-women-one-man fantasy that many men have. And that’s just it, it’s more often than not a fantasy.

    In real life what would happen in the men’s fantasy case is that either 1) after 4 to 6 orgasms he’s totally tapped out and asleep on the floor while the women are humping each other for the next 5 hours straight, or 2) the women get insanely jealous of each other (or the male) and would permanently end the relationship (how DARE you think of sharing me with ANYBODY!!!) and storm out the door. (This is also true if the third party is male, she still won’t want to have the third person in bed with them.) A lot of men have this fantasy, very few actually have it in real life.

    So is it perhaps the reason this series is so popular is because it feeds a common fantasy of women, but like many fantasies, implementing it in real life would not meet the expectations of the fantasy? (In real life, rape sucks, but it’s OK in fantasy-land?)

    1. That would make sense only if there was any actual sexy bodice-ripping in Midnight Sun.

      I mean, as much as I detest rape culture, I’d get a thrill out of a well-written scene that portrays that fantasy of being lusted after, and secretly the heroine wants to be ravished, and it’s all carnal and what-have-you…
      Instead we just get endlessly dull “foreplay” where he threatens, cajoles and manipulates Ana, and acts like the biggest douche… and all the time she’s just trying to keep him at arm’s length while she asks the same 3 questions about some dense paperwork. For me, it’s such a turn-off.

      It’s like EL James has managed to distill all the sad, pathetic, sordid tragedy of date-rape and workplace harassment into Chedward and Ana’s interactions, with literally none of the thrill of an actual stalker/rape fantasy.

      1. THIS!!
        I read plenty of lusty pirate/nobleman/highwayman/Viking books back in the day, and part of what makes them work is the heroines are usually NOT shrinking, intimidated little subs. They are generally tough cookies, with healthy dollops of Scarlett O’Hara and Kate the Shrew, “bold vixens” who don’t really mind being dominated by a strong man because THEY are strong, and weak men bore them. The clash of the strong-willed couple is what makes them interesting.
        With Ana and Christian, all you get are two whiners. It’s difficult to get enthusiastic about one loser raping another.

        1. Oh, Okay. I’m completely unfamiliar with the genre, so I’ll take your word for it.

          But that begs a bigger question if this really isn’t the bodice-ripping variant, why is it so f-ing popular with the general public?

          1. I think it’s something of a lemming phenomenon. It started with the fans of Master of the Universe, who bought it to support the fanfic writers dream, of publishing their fic and becoming a Real Author. I don’t think that there was any real belief then that it would become the huge thing it did. Then the publisher came along, picked it up, and flung it at them again, and since it came with a pre-packaged audience (whom started buying it all at once) it jumped to the top of the bestsellers lists and people became curious because a lot of people had never been exposed to erotic literature before, and there’s this assumption that if it’s on a bestsellers list it must be good, and bought it to sate that curiosity, and it escalated from there. I’ve met a lot of people who bought the book, almost always out of curiosity, but not a single person who actually liked it. Most people who I’ve talked to never read further than the first chapter, at most.

            It’s kinda kale, there’s a small group of people who genuinely like it, and consume it loyally. Then some shady marketing people build up a health fad around it, proclaiming it a superfood. Then grocery stores start selling it in things to meet the new demand. Then, people buying their fruit and veg see it, go huh, that’s that stuff all the kids are eating tehse days, maybe I’ll try it, and buy it. They try it and don’t like it, but everyone else is buying it so there must be something about it they aren’t appreciating properly, maybe they just aren’t preparing it correctly or something. So they either don’t speak up about their unpleasant experience, or they pretend to like it so they’ll fit in with their peers. Either way, it gives the illusion that the people who actually like the stuff are much more numerous than they actually are.

            It’s a cold comfort, given what this awful thing has become, but it will die, just like all the stupid health food fads do. The novelty factor is wearing off now, and the curiosity buyers are getting weeded out by the glut of 50SOG copycats. It’ll run out of steam, maybe not this year, but soon. Or at least, I goddamn hope so.

          2. @Amelia: I like your kale comparison. I tried kale, didn’t like it, found out that it doesn’t have anything you couldn’t get from spinach (which I DO like), and that was that. Maybe this is a literary case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
            In addition to the old Rosemary Rogers bodice-busters, I grew up reading the costume epic trailblazers‎ (GWTW, “Forever Amber,” etc.). Those heroines are always willful spitfires who can give as good as they get, so I don’t really understand the appeal of 50SoG. Fantasize you’re a spoiled Southern Belle or a Restoration Jade? Sure. But who the hell would want to be wimpy little Ana?

  4. I don’t have enough middle fingers for this book or anyone who tries to claim it’s “romance.” Threatening women into being your fuck toys isn’t romance.

    On a related note – Just last night, I heard about this woman’s death in Australia and the dialog in this chapter are eerily similar in tone. Back in 2014, a New Zealand woman went to Australia for a wedding. She met some guy on Tinder and wound up falling from his balcony. For some reason, the dude recorded part of their evening which includes the lead-up to her death.

    The woman repeats: “No” again and again: “Just let me go home.”

    “I would, but you have been a bad girl,” the man replies.

    The whole story, and transcript of the recording, is on here. It’s pretty upsetting for obvious reasons, but man I could not shake it while reading this post. Repeated threats, coercing her with alcohol, etc. That link is a year old, he will be standing trial in October.

  5. Also, remember how Ana doesn’t want to be called Anastasia or Miss Steele? Christian clearly thinks of her as Ana in his own head. So, yeah. It’s a fucked up control thing. He’s perfectly capable of thinking of her as Ana, but he refuses to say it.

    THISSSS. As a queer person with a lot of queer friends? Refusing to use someone’s chosen name (whether they’re queer or not) is so incredibly disrespectful and an automatic red flag that they are not a safe person to be around.

  6. Christian Grey does not understand, on any level, what makes submission attractive for the submissive. That ownership isn’t just terminology. It’s something the submissive wants. To be owned. To be dominated. Yes, it’s a mind-set, but it’s one that the Dom is supposed to help the sub achieve.

    This is such a great observation, but the really interesting thing to me is neither does Ana and, I would argue, I don’t think E.L. James understands it, either.

    1. To be fair to Ana as a character, she can’t really understand it any better than that when she gets all her information on the topic from Chedward.

      And, of course, neither character can understand it if E.L. James doesn’t.

  7. There are very rare instances where two characters’ dialogue has to fit into the same paragraph, but this is not one of those.

    If it’s not too much trouble, could someone provide an example of when this is necessary? I’ll admit to curiosity, and couldn’t conjure one up after thinking about it.

    1. I think it’s best used when one character is starting to figure out something and the other character has figured it out so fast that they just blurt it out. Basically two halves of a whole coming together. And this thought has to be something pretty important too because the structure of that paragraph is going to stick out from the rest. I can’t think of an example I’ve read of this off the top of my head, but if I were to use it, maybe something like this:

      “But if the pudding sprouted legs, that must mean that–” I start but Dr. Welk cuts in. “Dr. Badguy poisoned the pastries with Particle X! We have to warn the others!”

      Idk, maybe something like that? Either way, this structure doesn’t work for this particular section of Grey because a) the dialogue between the two isn’t rapid fire and b) Christian even says to the readers that the tension in his body disappears, and when tension dissipates one’s expecting a dialogue to go slower and easier, not harder and faster.

      1. I’ve also seen it used (mostly in sci-fi-ish books and all) where the two (or more) characters are meant to be confused with each other. Think identical twins finishing each others’ sentences, clones, Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Gildenstern (if it was a prose work and not a play), etc. In that case it works, since everything’s supposed to be muddled together, even if it’s not fast-paced dialogue, but with Chedward and Ana’s conversation, it really, really doesn’t work..

    2. A common usage of placing two characters’ dialogue in the same paragraph is one character quoting a conversation with a second character to a third character. Example:

      “So, how was it, Ana?” Kate plops down on the sofa next to me. “Tell me all about your dinner date with Mr. Rich-Young-and-Scorching-Hot. Spare no details.”

      I feel a little queasy from rolling my eyes so hard. “God, he’s such a fucking idiot, Kate. After the appetizer is served, he glares at me—fucking glares at me— and says, ‘You’re supposed to swallow raw oysters whole, Anastasia, you dear unsophisticated provincial,’ and I’m all like, ‘That’s an urban legend, you highfalutin shit-sack of pretentiousness. You have to chew the oyster at least twice or you won’t taste anything, plus you might choke on it and I’ll conveniently forget the Heimlich Maneuver if you do.’ Jesus fuck, Kate. What a loser. I swear to God, I’m sticking to hot blue-collar dudes from now on. Preferably older. And mute.”

      1. Gee, I don’t know. He can do some very good things with his no-no part in someone’s bad places, if you know what I mean. Holy cow, just writing that has my *down there* tingling…

        (Okay, now tell me honestly: should I turn this into a trilogy and a spin-off?)

        1. NO. “Down there”? Oooh, how coy.
          Cripes, if the Wife of Bath can refer to her “bel chose ” (beautiful thing) or, more directly, her “queynte,” why does James’ English major heroine have to talk like an 8-year-old?

          1. That article you linked to describes most people I went to grad school with–Anglo-Saxonists who read Harry Potter, 14th-century East-Anglia specialists who watched “Firefly” and “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer,” Lollardy specialists who held drunken football-watching or Ninja-movie marathons.

            Then, of course, there’s all the critical literature on your field you have to read, not just the primary sources. You can’t do research on Jane Austen, Mark Twain, or anybody else without reading what current scholarship has to say on the subject, even if you quote it only to refute it. You CAN’T avoid everything published after Queen Victoria died

            James’ “understanding” of what English majors do is just bizarre. I think she just picked “English” as shorthand for “nerdy,” so she could give Ana her Cinderella transformation. Amazed she didn’t make her a librarian with horn-rimmed glasses, so Chedward could remove them and say, “Good heavens, Miss Yakamoto: you’re beautiful!”

          2. That reminded me of

            But when I try in here to tell you, dear
            I love you madly, madly,
            Madam Librarian…Marian!
            It’s a long lost cause I can never win
            For the civilized world accepts as unforgivable sin
            Any talking out loud with any librarian Such as Marian…
            Madam Librarian.

  8. Maybe she’d eat more if she was allowed to order for herself without it being a huge hassle/risking a Chrissy fit. Seriously, fish and olives? Ew. And the meal as a whole makes like no sense. No flow.

    Sorry, I know that’s not really the point, but yanno.

    1. THIS. Olives give me hives and cod is not what I’d choose to order for myself if I was in a fancy restaurant eating dinner with a billionaire, especially not if I’d had oysters as a starter. I mean hell, I can get beer-battered cod at my local Friday night fish fry every week if I want…. and I do, because beer-battered cod is fucking delicious.

      1. I don’t actually eat seafood. Gimme a steak, yo :P

        *googles fish* Apparently I have a type of cod in my freezer for the person in my house who does eat seafood. Whole 8 dollars I spent.

        1. Actually, some folks are so allergic to fish, especially oysters, that it can kill them. And the oysters can turn up anywhere, for example, classic beef-and-broccoli at the Chinese restaurant uses oyster oil in the cooking of the beef, so even though there’s no apparent seafood listed it can still kill them.

          (A friend of mine has such an allergy, so much so that if he walks into a grocery store and if there’s enough air current coming from the fresh fish counter even halfway across the store he has to leave or else he’ll have a bad reaction and die. He told me about the beef-and-broccoli problem where he almost died from that.)

          So here is another example of Chedward not checking before ordering for AnaBella to see if she has any food allergies that could either cause unpleasantness like tummy upsets or potential death.

          What. A. Guy.

          1. Well, to be fair, I don’t ask people I’m with at restaurants if they have food allergies. I expect them to say something if they do. On the other hand, I’m not ordering for them, so it probably doesn’t apply anyway.

          2. I suppose we’re supposed to believe that Chedward’s “background check” was so thorough that he was able to find out her allergies and whether or not she’s a vegetarian. Ugh.

          3. Another way an allergy might manifest: Chedward tries to get intimate with Ana, and she pukes all over him.

    2. I despise being on Christian’s side but Ana never eating bothers me. There are times it’s justified like here, or if she’s nervous or actually lost her appetite but others bug me. When she’s pregnant , she refuses to eat, even for her child’s sake.

      1. But Ana is a grown adult. She’s in charge of when, what, and how much she eats, even if other people think it’s unhealthy, or even if it is actually unhealthy. You can’t “fix” people by nagging at them, and nobody’s food habits are actually your business. Even while pregnant, a person’s body is not public property.

        1. Agreed. What bothers me about the eating thing is the whole “you must be skinny to be perty but don’t go too far because ew” thing. To me it’s not so troublesome that Ana doesn’t eat. She can do what she wants and is put in a lot of situations that impact anyone’s appetite. It’s the internal and external dialogue around her eating that drives me insane.

          1. Same here… it’s such a turn-off. If someone were nagging me that much about eating I’d ask them if they were my mother. Not that that would ever happen anyway, I like food and don’t have an eating disorder. I just don’t find having everything ordered for me much of an aphrodisiac.

      2. I have some digestive issues that make me built like Ana, and I wonder if she needs to eat little meals throughout the day as opposed to heavy meals in three sittings. I would get terribly sick if I choked down a big dinner, but if I eat a small portion, and then have some later at home, I feel fine. I also can’t go too long without eating, or else I get really shaky and sick.

        I also wonder why E.L James included this “I don’t eat” stuff at all. It’s disturbing and unnecessary.

        1. If you also get sick when excited/nervous/stressed and/or feel dizzy when you don’t eat enough, we might be the same person. (This is embarrassingly exciting, since I just thought I was a mutant freak who didn’t know how to food.)

      3. Sure. Christian’s a jerk about food, but Ana has some issues even when she’s not with him. Doesn’t she forget to eat for five days when she dumps him?

        But she needs to seek help on her own. She doesn’t need someone to browbeat her into eating every day.

    3. Actually, it kind of IS the point, Laina. I think you’ve hit on something.

      If you’re trying to get sexual with someone you know is a Jane Austen freak or a Bronte freak, wouldn’t you take her to some place with historical ambiance or even historical food? NY has Fraunces Tavern, Philly has City Tavern (complete with historical drinks menu and wait staff in 18th century dress), Atlantic City has the 1890s Dock’s Oyster House. I don’t know how many restored historical buildings the Pacific NW has (any locals want to tell us?), but I’m sure it has some kind of place with a romantic theme to it.

      Chedward’s taking her to a modern, ostentatiously expensive place shows that this is all about HIM, and what HE likes. As usual.

  9. “I can’t remember, does Chedward ever find out that it’s Kate’s dress? How could he possibly stand to touch Ana in it, after the infuriating Miss Kavanaugh has worn it?”

    No. I don’t think he even did. Unless we find out in Fifty Shades Greyer and Fifty Shades Greyed.

    Also, Kate tells Ana to keep the dress so isn’t it Ana’s now?

    Fifty Shades:
    “[...]wash my hair, and then spend a good half-hour drying it so that it falls in soft waves to my breasts and down my back. I slip a comb in to keep one side off my face and apply mascara and some lip-gloss.”

    Grey: “She looks exquisite: her hair falls in soft waves to her breast on one side, and on the other it’s pinned back so it’s easier to see her delicate jawline and the gentle curve of her slender neck.”


  10. An enjoyable read as always. Although, I am curious about one line:
    She says maybe, and it’s all, whoa is me, this might be the end, oh no.

    Was the ‘whoa is me’ intentional, or did you actually mean ‘woe is me’ when you wrote that?

  11. Re: suspension and too-tight rope, it can be very easy for even experienced riggers to accidentally cause someone a nerve injury during a suspension scene. Possibly because rope suspension often looks really pretty, people have a tendency to forget that it’s a fairly edgey activity. And with any rope bondage, it’s not uncommon for things to hurt/tingle/change color even when there’s nothing wrong, especially if sadistic bondage is the goal. Also, something like suspension can definitely be a huge endorphin rush for the bottom, and some people have a really difficult time taking care of themselves when they’re in an altered state because endorphins.

    This is not at all to defend Christian, though. If Christian were actually a responsible rope top and Dom, he would know the following:

    -the top should always be able to get two fingers between any restraint and the bottom’s skin (this is also relevant to the handcuff scene in Fifty Shades Freed, especially since metal handcuffs are EXTREMELY likely to cause nerve damage)

    -check in with your bottom, by doing things like checking to see that they can squeeze your hand tight with both of their hands, and touching them to check if any body parts that are restrained feel hot or cold to the touch

    And even more than the above, if Christian were a remotely responsible Dom in an established, mutually-beneficial relationship with an established submissive who is okay with engaging in edge play, HE SHOULD KNOW IF SHE GETS TOO SPACEY FROM ROPE TO SAFEWORD.

    Like…mistakes still happen, and there are first times for everything, including people going nonverbal due to intense sensation. But Jesus fucking Christ, “the rope was too tight” is a really upsettingly beginner-level mistake for someone who’s doing a full fucking rope suspension. Like, I would be much less surprised if it was “the rope was poorly placed.”

    And while I am a sex and kink educator, I’m not even a rope person. Anyone who is actually well-versed in rope safety should know everything I just said and more. These are like, the most basic basics of rope safety.

    TL; DR: Christian Grey is a shitty, dangerous top and Dom, and no one should play with him.

  12. “Also, remember how Ana doesn’t want to be called Anastasia or Miss Steele? Christian clearly thinks of her as Ana in his own head. So, yeah. It’s a fucked up control thing. He’s perfectly capable of thinking of her as Ana, but he refuses to say it.”

    But that only shows that he needs her wishes where it counts – in his own, private Manosphere! He only taxes her because he likes like her, don’t you see?

  13. “Put the girl out of her misery, Grey.”
    What ‘misery’ is Ana in, exactly, Grey? She’s just told you that she wants to stay in public on neutral ground and you’ve replied that public neutral wouldn’t stop you. And you want to put her out of her ‘misery’ by doing the exact opposite of what she wants?

    “As we leave the bar, I notice admiring glances from other guests, and in the case of one handsome, athletic guy, overt appreciation of my date. It’s not something I’ve dealt with before…”

    At first read, I thought that the’something’ he hadn’t dealt with before was being the recipient of admiring glances because everyone always thought “He ain’t shit”.

    Put us all out of our misery, Grey.

    1. About the “not something I’ve dealt with before” part – I originally took that to mean that none of his exes were as stunningly beautiful as Ana, so nobody started at them…

  14. Oddly, what annoyed me the most in this chapter were all the instances of “I’ve not” and “you’ve not.” No American speaks that way. We say “I haven’t” or “I’ve never.” Now, granted, there may be a few natural-born Americans who say “I’ve not” from time to time, but in that case, you should limit them to no more than ONE character in your all-American novel. The problem here is both Ana AND Chris (yes I’m calling him Chris because I bet it infuriates him XD) talk that way, and if memory serves me correctly, so does at least one other character, and not the obviously English Dr. Flynn. Whoever E.L. Fudge (and that’s what I call James because it pleases me immensely) hired and thanked in the acknowledgments for fine-tuning her “Americanisms” were obviously not American themselves.

    1. Yes! I notice this every time, and it drives me crazy, too. I’d wonder if James had ever so much as read a book or watched a movie featuring American characters before writing this dreck, but we obviously know she’s pretty damn familiar with at least one American series.

  15. “He doesn’t mention anything about having to trust her, either, beyond, “if you can’t be honest with me.” Which still puts the onus for all the trust in the relationship onto Ana.”

    ““Do you really think” is such a manipulative phrase. “Do you really think?” Yes, I really think. If I didn’t think, I wouldn’t have said. That’s how it works. “Do you really think” is Christian asking Ana to question whether or not she believes what she’s saying/thinking, as though she can’t trust her own thoughts/words.”

    My flesh literally crawled reading those points. I went through those things but have never actually expressed them, and you’re exactly right.

    “Let me ask you a trick question! You answered correctly! You are winning in the mind game you don’t even know you’re playing!”

    Oh my god. My twenties, summed up. *sigh*

  16. “Is it because of Mrs. Robinson?”

    The Mrs. Robinson reference has bugged the shit out of me from the beginning. This is one of the many anachronisms clearly demonstrating that the books were written by a woman in her fifties, for whom a term like that would be a go-to reference from her own younger days.

    I can’t suspend belief enough to accept that a twenty-one-year-old woman in 2011 would use that antiquated term for an older woman seducing a much-younger man, and in all likelihood would not even know of it unless she was a hardcore film buff.

    Ana, as the character is written, would simply refer to Elena as “the cougar.”

    1. My family name is Robinson, and my mother is a teacher. I asked her once what the best thing about getting older was, and she said, “When I walk into a classroom and say, ‘Hi, I’m Mrs. Robinson’, kids don’t sing that Simon and Garfunkel song any more.”

    2. I wouldn’t mind the “Mrs. Robinson” reference if Ana weren’t written as if she has spent the entirety of her life pre-Chedward underneath a rock. I mean, “The Graduate” is a pretty famous movie, and it’s not at all implausible that a 21-year-old would have seen it at some point – but it is awfully implausible that a 21-year-old who is entirely unfamiliar with email, Google, books written within the last century, text messaging, etc. would have seen it. I kind of get the impression that if you tried to show Ana Steele a movie, she would spend the whole time trying to figure out how you got those little people inside the magic glowing box.

    3. Dead on. I was thinking much the same thing the first time I read the original book. Some people in their twenties haven’t even heard the Beatles, so why on earth would they have heard of a movie like The Graduate, much less seen it? It took me a good forty years to see it. And I still don’t refer to older women who date younger men as Mrs Robinson. I refer to them as lucky.

    4. I know, right? And yet, Ana claims that The X-Files is before her time.

      Aside from these books, I have never heard anyone use the term “Mrs. Robinson” outside of “The Graduate” and the song “Mrs. Robinson.”

    5. I’m a few years older than Ana, and I’d probably use “Mrs. Robinson,” too, unironically? I’ve heard the song that uses that name, but I wouldn’t be referring to that by using that form of her name (and I’ve never heard of the other things referenced). :/

      In my case, it would be because that’s what my acquaintance seems most comfortable with me calling her; I’ve found this works the best for people I know that have been abused in any way. Name calling gets reserved for when I’m really angry or when they start tearing into their abuser (and “the cougar” seems too… familiar? Friendly? Something like that? to use in general towards someone who groomed and sexually abused a minor, anyway). If Chedward was my friend (like HELL that would happen, but let’s pretend anyway), I’d ask if he’d be okay with me calling her Elena, but… I mean, if there was an ingrained sense that you had to earn the right to call her that or whatever, I’d stick with Mrs. Robinson.

      In Ana’s case… eh. It’s probably just bad writing from someone well over twice Ana’s age, but it’s not unheard of, either.

  17. Jenny, thank you so much for that bit about alcohol being a drug. It absolutely is!! I’ve just gone to get help for my alcoholism, and you wouldn’t believe the number of people who won’t believe I have a problem because I ‘don’t drink enough to be an alco’. As if 1-2 bottles of wine a day is fine, because our society has accepted that drinking is okay! I only ever drink alone, never socially (don’t want to lose control around others) so I know I’m using alcohol as a drug to cope, yet my friends think I’m fine because it’s just booze, no big deal. They would definitely not be saying that if I was doing the same thing with opiates! Anyway, thank you and I love your blog :) and Chedward can go suck on a lit firework

    1. It’s good you’ve realised you have a problem :)

      I’m in Australia and drinking is so ingrained it is terrible. I personally don’t drink, don’t like alcohol and it makes me sleepy, and the level of pressure to have a drink is unbelievable. The double standards regarding alcohol and other drugs, or even tobacco now with that becoming more unacceptable, is awful.

  18. “I can tell because your body gives you away. You’re pressing your thighs together, you’re flushed, and your breathing has changed.”
    That could just as easily be a sign of needing the toilet. Or, more likely, of being creeped out by a fucking date-rapist.

    When Chedward gives his sexual history, did anyone else think he protests too much? He has his partners tested, his regular tests have all been clear, and here’s irrelevant information about how much he abhors drug use amongst his employees… it seems like the kind of tangent someone would go on while trying to gloss over the fact that Ana hasn’t seen his test results and he might be lying about them. Especially after all that “Trust me!” crap.
    It sticks out to me that he doesn’t discuss safer-sex methods like consistent condom use with Ana.
    Is Ana supposed to infer from his intimacy issues and the fact that he used a rubber last time that he has always had safer sex and will continue to do so with her? Doesn’t the contract demand that she goes on The Pill so that he won’t have to use a barrier method?

    A negotiation over how they’re going to fuck might even be sexy – “Oh, Christian, I want your dick, but wrap it first.” – “Oh, but Ana, I want to feel your wet pussy”, etc etc.
    Instead, E.L. James just opts for “here’s some more boring paperwork to get out of the way, see my medical report” and seems to have them actively avoiding anything that might resemble sex-talk, outside of any scene in which Chedward’s cock is inside Ana.
    “I have regular STI checks and I run random drug tests at work” – for someone so horny, Chedward sure knows how to kill the mood.

  19. “All I can think is that it’s expected behavior that we’ve resigned ourselves to enduring, so we have to find a way to spin it into something we’re cool with.”

    Yes, some of this, though I imagine mostly subconscious, hidden under layers of denial. When I was younger and a crappier feminist, I used to find stupid sh** like this “romantic” too. (I mean, what could be sexier than the repeated kidnappings, threats, and outright murders of the Phantom of the Opera? And don’t even get me started on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.)

    Now, I look back on this as me trying desperately to find any explanation for my situation other than that I was being abused. I couldn’t get away from my family at that time, so I eroticized the f***ed-up control schemes. With media that puts a veneer of “romance” over this, I was able to convince myself that if these manipulative characters were simply demonstrating their love in the only way they knew how, then maybe, deep down, my primary abuser loved me, too.

    That’s a powerful thing to tap into–someone’s desire for love at a time of isolation, when the abuser is possibly the *only* person around, the only potential source of love. If literally the only way to feel loved, supported, and cared for is to concoct some convoluted reality in which abuse is love…well, the human mind will go to great lengths to get through situations involving danger and imprisonment. Much as reading this sh** makes me want to bang my head on a desk nowadays, I still kind of understand the appeal.

    1. Don’t forget the other thing that’s going on that EEL COMPLETELY misses is that for Ana to realistically link up emotionally with Christy/Fistian, then she would have needed some similar type of abuse in her early life such that her subconscious would link up with his because her subconscious would know that he will provide the level of abuse her subconscious is familiar with.

      But there’s none of that in this 50-shades-of-shitdom. In real life, people who were abused grow up and go out to find other people that will abuse them. It’s not logical, the folks outside the relationship ask ourselves ‘why’ that could possibly happen? But it’s pretty clear: Because the abused person only knows the abuse (especially if they just left their abusive initial situation) their subconscious misses the abuse, only because it’s familiar and the subconscious will look for the exact same thing to fill in the void. Yes, the person is very nice and outgoing to start, but somehow radiates enough ‘I will abuse you’ pheromones such that the victim’s subconscious gloms onto it.

      Believe me, it takes a LOT of active thought to tell one’s subconscious to go f**k itself and find the person that WON’T abuse them. And without active training, as the song goes, “You go back, Jack, and do it again.”

      And it doesn’t have to be bad abuse For example, one of my wife’s bosses would only have affairs with men that lived clear across the country or on another continent. ?!?!? Why? Turns out her Dad was a traveling musician and would be on the road a lot while she was growing up. So she was used to the man in her life coming home from a long absence every 2 to 3 weeks. when she grew up, her subconscious replicated the emotion, so subconsciously she actively looked for ‘unavailable’ men. Last I checked this has been going on for 35 years or so now–the men right around the corner aren’t ‘good enough’ but she finds ‘twu ruv’ on a jaunt to Europe. Uh huh. And she has no idea what’s happening, and is ‘bummed’ when the guy is so far away, yet runs away from him the minute he offers to move into her city.

      Anyway, Anon123, I hope you learn how to look past your subconscious’ cravings and find someone who won’t abuse you!

  20. You ever have one of those times where a line from a book that’s supposed to be erotic messes you up so badly that your safeword automatically jumps to the forefront of your mind because NO NO NO STOP DO NOT WANT? That happened to me like three times when Christian was talking.

    1. I’m convinced that *somebody’s* safe word is “Christian Grey”.

      (I was googling quasi-femme handcuffs for chatfic porn and kept seeing that damn “Grey tie”/the rest of the Fifty Shades line and it was a total buzzkill for me.)

      I don’t usually have a problem reading straight up rape porn or dubious consent if I know what I’m getting into and the narrative isn’t asking me to treat abuse as romance. Fifty Shades makes me want to throw up because James apparently thinks it’s a kinky romantic porny HEA and so do all too many readers.

  21. Snowqueens Icedragon’s Twilight fic really stands out this chapter, what with Chedward being “refined” because he’s a rich 1920′s New Englander and Anabella not having any autonomy. Oh, and Chedward being all upset Anabella won’t behave the exact way he wants because unlike all the people from his past he can’t read her mind.

    I wish we lived in the parallel universe where Meyer sued James and “Master of the Universe” remained a bloated tale only remembered among Twihards and sporkers, and Snowqueens Icedragon was just one more ungrateful BNF who tantrumed their way out of the fandom.

    1. I’m just wondering why she didn’t sue, any other author most likely would have. That is the same person who refused to release a book because a couple chapters got leaked online, right? Or was it more than that and she just didn’t see the point in finishing it, anymore? I never got the full story.

      And I regularly wish for that, too. We probably wouldn’t have any of the other rip-offs that have been poisoning the airwaves lately, either.

      1. There’s a rumor that once it became super popular, there was some kind of backdoor deal, but I’m not sure that’s true. We know that she hates 50, because she went back to write Midnight Sun last year and said that because she heard Grey was going to print, she stopped and probably won’t finish it. She called the publication of Grey a “flip the table moment”.

        A lot of times, authors are given the really bad advice to shut up in situations where they’re being wronged, and I have a feeling this was the issue with Meyer. Someone probably saw a way to make money if Meyer didn’t take action, and advised her to stay quiet.

    2. I wish Stephenie Meyer had sued 50 Shades out of existence. Twilight was already sexist enough, we didn’t need a series that took the sexism and dating abuse up to 11.

      1. Remember the days when Twilight was the most appallingly abusive and anti-feminist thing being peddled as romance? Ah, what a simpler time . . .

  22. ‘All I can think is that it’s expected behavior that we’ve resigned ourselves to enduring, so we have to find a way to spin it into something we’re cool with.’

    Yet again, you perfectly articulated something that’s been on my mind. When a person experiences coercion and abuse irl, especially if that person is a woman, there is a lot of pressure to down-play what’s happening.

    I *just* had a scary as fuck encounter on the train the other day, with this guy who would not let up about getting my number. He was a big guy, and I told him every lie imaginable to de-escalate. He asked for my phone number, I said I don’t give that out. He asked my name, I lied. He asked where I lived, I lied again. He kept asking why I wouldn’t give my number. He offered to give his. He asked if I had a boyfriend and I said yes, so he said ‘Oh THAT’S why you won’t give me your number.’ I don’t have a boyfriend, but I just smiled and laughed. He kept calling me pretty. Kept mentioning parts of my face and body. Then he asked if I found HIM attractive. I said whatever I could to get him to stop. And the whole time I was scared out of my mind, but a little part of me was trying to downplay what was happening. Like oh, he’s just an awkward guy. He must not understand that being this aggressive is bad. But he did. At one point, he straight up said “You’re just telling me what I want to hear so I’ll leave you alone,” so I fake laughed. These men know exactly what they’re doing. As a woman, it’s not like I could say ‘leave me the fuck alone you deranged idiot’ cause then I might get hit. And there was no way I could take a guy his size.

    Everyone who got on the train sat at the other end. I thought about getting of a hundred times, but thought he might just follow me. When my stop came I waited until the last call then bolted like I’d just forgotten this was my stop. I saw him wave and I just ignored him.

    This is the shit men get away with every day. They know when they’re making a woman uncomfortable, but they don’t care. As long as they get what they want in the end. And this was an experience I had with a STRANGER, so it’s a lot easier to call it out. There have been plenty of guys I’ve been attracted to pull this shit as well. But there it’s almost worse, cause then you fall into a trap thinking you’ve brought the abuse on yourself. Cause didn’t you want this guy in the beginning/weren’t you flirting/etc.

    Ok that was long. I’m honestly still shaken up by what happened. It sort of feels like the only way I can get power and agency back is by pretending the situation wasn’t as bad as it was. And I hate that. So exactly like you said, we often have to endure and spin these instances later into something more palatable for ourselves. It’s infuriating and depressing.

    1. I don’t know where you live, but I survived 12 years of NYC subway-riding with some of the following techniques:
      a) be crazy. Twitch and mutter to yourself. They don’t want to mug you because you have no money, probably spent it on drugs, and may have been sharing infected needles or turning tricks to pay for your habit. They also don’t want you bleeding on them, which is a good reason not to rape you as well as mug you. Scratching is also helpful. It could mean tweaking from Meth or skin parasites.
      b) be crazy and boring. Ask them if they’ve accepted Cthulhu as their personal Lord and Savior. Keep talking about how Cthulhu loves them.
      c) Be foreign. No speaka da Yinglish. Learn some phrases in an obscure Serbo-Croatian dialect. This is especially fun if the phrases are comments about his mother. (Don’t use Spanish, everybody knows that.)
      I’ve read of extreme remedies where women keep Alka Seltzer tabs in their coat pockets, so if the guy follows them up the tunnel, they can palm them, and by the time he reaches them, they’re foaming at the mouth. Never tried it, but the important thing to remember is these guys feed off your fear. (I got horribly bullied in elementary school as the “Hyper kid,” so rage usually overrides fear, but if that doesn’t work for you, just repeat this silent mantra: “I’m crazier than thou. I’m crazier than thou.” They WANT you to feel trapped in your normality. )

  23. This is just… honestly worse that fifty shades. That at least has the excuse of “oh, it’s my first fic please be nice;)” nonsense I expect from fan
    The whole thing about Christian refusing to call her by her preferred name just becomes infinitely worse here. His excuse of it being too similar to his abusive mother’s name could have possibly flown if 1) EL had remembered that her main character wasn’t named Bella anymore, and 2) this isn’t a real life scenario and she really hasn’t given any textual evidence that Ella WAS a bad mom. Maybe if Christian didn’t have a bigger Oedipus complex than a V. C. Andrews character, I’d be able to believe he didn’t want any excuse to be reminded of mommy dearest during sex.
    Chedward being based on a ninety year old vampire really comes out in this chapter, because he reminds me so much of my grandfather when he’s demanding she clean her plate. And that is the epitome of eroticism (sarcasm noted). But really, his “you need to eat” no, you need to sex me” is such an abuser mindset. It’s like the parent who spends the entire ride from school complaining that their terrible child needs to do their chores and stop being so ungrateful, then as soon as they get home and the kid goes to do just that, they scream about ignoring homework.
    And the car. Oh the car. So, my first car was my grandfather’s of Delta 88 Oldsmobile. It was solid and nothing but metal so my mom didn’t have to worry so much about me. If I got into an accident in that car, I was going to walk away from it. Yes, it had the occasional engine troubles, but no one would have ever called it a death trap. A flimsy little Audi that’s mostly fiberglass however… (not that Ana will ever get to drive it)

  24. Is it just me or Ana seems a lot more sympathetic when viewed through the distorted psychopathic eyes of Mr. Billionaire Extraordinaire?

    I’m not really a romance/smut fan, but even I can tell this is neither romantic nor smutty.

  25. I have had trouble responding to Jenny’s eviseration of this chapter. It’s because I can relate to Ana (for once). After my husband died, a male friend of ours helped me through a lot of the initial paperwork, dealings with the cops and the coroner, etc. (I found his body, and it was a mess). So I thought this guy was a friend. Wrong. You know the situation–widows are extremely vulnerable. Combined with “she ain’t gettin’ dick from her deceased hubby,” and a lot of men, single and married, hit on their widowed friends. Vulnerability! Lack of dick! Jackpot!

    So this…stupid fuckwad comes over one evening unannounced, and TELLS me that I am going to be in a relationship with him, and I am going to submit and he is going to humiliate me. TELLS ME. He’s all grinning, and I’m in shock, standing there with tears on my face, because I’d been crying because, you know. Dead husband.

    Safe, sane, and consensual? Well, obviously I was not “safe” with this fuckwad, because I had become a “thing” to him, a vulnerable fucktoy who obviously needed his dick. Sane? Really? Who the hell thinks this way? Consensual? AHAHAHAHA. Since I had no idea he’d even think like this.

    I managed to get him out, and to convey that I never wanted to speak to him or see him or know he was alive again, but…that moment of pure shock, that I was “thingified” (thank you, Henry James) now, just a fucktoy with no will of my own because Vulnerable! Needs Dick! sometimes comes back to me, and this horrible chapter with Grey absolutely slammed it into my face again. How the hell can Erika THINK this way about women?

    1. Ever see Richard III, especially the Olivier version? That’s how HE does it. Lady Anne is a psychological mess: her husband and father-in-law have been killed, and Richard shows up one of the funeral processions. Little problem: HE’s the one who killed them. But he tells her it’s all her fault because she’s beautiful and her beauty drove him mad. Is she stupid enough to believe him? Probably not, but she’s a psychological mess, so he basically bullies her into submission. You can thank whatever your belief system is that you were tougher.
      BTW, the Shakespeare version of events is great theatre, but probably not true. Richard and Anne were about the same age, they knew each other well because he was fostered at her father’s house (noble children were often farmed out in those days), and their relationship seems to have been a pretty good one, by medieval standards.

        1. Agreed. When I saw the Olivier version in my senior high school English class, I wondered what was wrong with me because he was a sociopath, a megalomaniac, physically deformed, and I thought he was SMOKIN’ hot. Of course Shakespeare knew what he was doing–if evil isn’t seductive, why would anybody ever fall for it?

  26. UGH! One of the girls I work with is reading 50 Shades and she actually said, “I’d let someone do that to me for that kind of stuff. New car, new computer…” dead serious. And I’m like, “For the love of all things holy, NO!” As a rule I try to avoid using the “you should have more self respect” line, because if you’re using that line chances are it’s none of your fucking business. But this is a real person in my life that can’t see that he’s totally a stalker and an abuser. And when I point it out, she’s just like, “yeah, well, new car, new computer, kinky sex…” and I just want to shake her until she gets some sense in her. It’s so frustrating.

  27. To be fair, I prefer the mercenary, “I’d do it for free stuff” mentality to the people genuinely believing any of it is romantic. I kinda see her point, except Chedward is so controlling he’d never let you enjoy that stuff….maybe try that angle on your coworker?

    1. Make them watch this “Til Tuesday” video for insight on dating controlling yuppie scum and thinking it’s romantic:

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