Did anyone watch last week’s episode of Game of Thrones? Every time someone was ordering a whore to beat another whore to death, or forcing a live rat to burrow through a screaming man’s heart, I thought of Ana and her obsession with the Spanish Inquisition. Also, thanks, Game of Thrones. I just got my notoriously squeamish husband to watch you, and you utterly disturbed him. Now I’m going to have to watch it alone, just like American Horror Story, and I’ll have no one to talk to about it. Jeez!
The first thing I notice is the smell; leather, wood, polish with a faint citrus scent. It’s very pleasant, and the lighting is soft, subtle. In fact, I can’t see the source, but it’s around the cornice in the room, emitting an ambient glow. The walls and ceiling are a deep, dark burgundy, giving a womb-like effect to the spacious room, and the floor is old, old varnished wood. There is a large wooden cross like an X fastened to the wall facing the door. It’s made of high-polished mahogany, and there are restraining cuffs on each corner.
I’m no medieval historian or anything, but I’m pretty sure nothing about the Inquisition was faintly citrus scented. Ana has stumbled into the executive class Inquisition, is what I’m thinking. The description goes on, detailing an iron grid on the ceiling, various lengths of rope and chain, paddles, whips, you know. Exactly the type of stuff you’d expect from a sadistic billionaire. There’s also a red leather bed, made from the suits Eddie Murphy wore on tour in the 80′s. Okay, obviously that part isn’t in the book, but let me have this one. Ana feels the room is “romantic”, or at least Christian’s version of romantic, so she picks up a flogger and thinks a bit:
I think I’m in shock. My subconscious has been struck dumb or simply keeled over and expired. I am numb. I can observe and absorb but not articulate my feelings about all this, because I’m in shock. What is the appropriate response to finding out a potential lover is a complete freaky sadist or masochist? Fear… yes… that seems to be the over-riding feeling. I recognize it now. But weirdly not of him – I don’t think he’d hurt me, well, not without my consent.
How is this a surprise? He came to your work and bought rope and cable ties. He took weird pleasure in strapping you into your helicopter seat. It’s not like this guy hasn’t been sending you clues this whole time, probably on purpose to feel you out. He’s not subtle. Ana checks out the bed and admires the “craftsmanship”. Ana asks if he’s into being beaten or beating people himself:
“People?” He blinks a couple of times as he considers his answer. “I do this to women who want me to.”I don’t understand.“If you have willing volunteers, why am I here?”“Because I want to do this with you, very much.”“Oh,” I gasp. Why?
Is it that hard to figure out, Ana? I’ve been wanting to take a crack at you with any available implement since the middle of chapter one. Ana confuses dominance with sadism, but I really can’t blame her. There’s a little caning station set up, for heaven’s sake. Caning ain’t playing around. But Christian doesn’t get off on the pain aspect, just the submission.
Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, in that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.
Let me just clarify, before I go any further with my thoughts here, that I have nothing against BDSM. I think that between two or more consenting adults who want to get off and have a good time, safely, BDSM isn’t any different than any other aspect of human sexuality. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about it, it doesn’t speak to some deep psychological wound in the people who get off on it, it’s just a thing that turns cranks for people. However, I do think there is a different level of “consent” to anything involving the physical aspects of BDSM, and I don’t think Ana can consent here. She’s a miserable person, desperate to please the romantic hero of her dreams, and she’s unable to say no to anyone. I think if Christian Grey asked her to rob a bank or kill a man just to watch him die, she would jump at the chance to please him. In fact, when Ana asks what she would get out of the arrangement, Christian’s answer is, “me”. I don’t feel that’s an entirely fair way for a dominant to answer that question.
Kate had said he was dangerous, she was so right. How did she know? He’s dangerous to my health, because I know I’m going to say yes. And part of me doesn’t want to.
See what I meant about consent?
Christian takes her to a different room, all in white (he has the same decorator as the Cullens do) and with an awesome view. This would be Ana’s room, and she’d stay in it from Friday evening through Sunday, if she agrees during negotiations. He won’t sleep with her, it’s just not something he does. They go back downstairs for dinner, and Christian tells Ana that now that she’s signed a non-disclosure, she can ask him anything. And thus follows the funniest typo ever:
“But we won’t have any sort of relationship?” I ask. “No.”“Why?”“This is the only sort of relationship I’m interesting in.”
I know it’s a typo. I know this, because this is the pre-Random House version of the book. I’ve noticed a few people saying that Random House didn’t edit the book upon acquisition, and just looking over both versions, it’s clear they did line edits on it. So let’s put that to rest, and discuss the fact that in the original version, the one that garnered world-wide success, Christian is only “interesting” in a BDSM relationship. I contend that no, he’s just plain not interesting. He offers Ana food, and when she politely refuses on the basis of not being hungry, he commands that she eat. You know, after the last chapter, where he told her she wouldn’t have to to do anything she didn’t want to do. Sure, he sounds like a safe, trustworthy dom. Ana points out that since she hasn’t signed anything, she doesn’t have to eat if she doesn’t want to, and at least he backs down. I would give her props for putting him in his place, but it’s obvious that this is going to be like, the very last time, because she’s going to sign his paperwork and let him do whatever he wants to her. I know this, because there are a lot more pages in this book.
Christian uses different variations of the word “punish” a lot. I think he’s related to Penny Pingleton’s mother.
Before Christian can warn Ana about the dangers of “race music” or threaten to make her wear a P on her sweater because she’s permanently punished, he figures he better show her the rules. Yes, all the rules are there, like we’re reading the sheet of paper with Ana. To sum them up, Ana has to obey Christian in all things, get plenty of sleep, good nutrition (no snacking between meals… I would be so out), wear certain clothes while in Christian’s presence, work out regularly with a personal trainer, get waxed and prettied up, not smoke, get drunk, or use drugs, have sex with anyone other than him, and generally not embarrass him, or she’s gonna get Punished. There’s a section on “hard limits”, meaning what freaky sex stuff she’s going to be down for. That’s a whole separate batch of paperwork that I’m really looking foward to slogging through, let me tell you. She feels weird about accepting money for clothes, thinking it will make her a “ho”. They argue and nitpick over pretty much everything on the list, then Christian introduces his “hard limits”. They include nothing where people are getting set on fire, pissed or shat upon, cut up, pierced, no medical fetish shit, pedophilia (I wonder if he knows how childlike Ana finds sexuality?) or bestiality, no choking or anything like that. When Christian asks Ana what her “hard limits” are, she admits that she doesn’t know… because she’s never had sex before.
“You’re a virgin?” he breathes. I nod, flushing again. He closes his eyes and looks to be counting to ten. When he opens them again, he’s angry, glaring at me.
“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” he growls.
Wow, the winner of Mr. Sensitive 2012 is…
This recap isn’t longer because it’s a short chapter, made shorter when you cut out the huge chunks of paperwork that I sure as hell was not retyping here. However, tomorrow… now brace yourself… I know you’ve been quivering in anticipation this whole time… tomorrow… Anastasia Rose Steele and Christian Grey are going… to do… IT.
I’ll get my rubber panties.