It’s that time of two weeks or whatever when I once again wade into the utter bullshit that is 50 Shades and come out the other side a fuller, more enraged person for it. But first, links:
@JennHolton sent me this link from XOJane.com, “It Happened to Me: I Had a Baby with My Abuser”. I feel like the “It Happened To Me” features are the very best articles XOJane has to offer, so when you’re done reading that one, check out some of the others, too. And I very much hope that Ms. Nolan and her son continue to have a happy, safe life together.
Luisa Prieto drew an awesome comic about what would happen if Hannibal Lecter took Dr. Flynn’s job. And I’m totally flattered that she name dropped me in such a magnificent post.
Meanwhile, total badass Lacey has come up with a drinking game and sound effects for your recap reading pleasure, but I like them so much, they’ll be getting their own post later this week.
So, on to the recrap:
That’s a typo, but I’m leaving it.
At the end of the last chapter, Ana found out that subsequent to her “loving husband” flying into a blind rage over her pregnancy, he went to see Mrs. Robinson:
He’s been out until one thirty in the morning drinking– with her!
How could he? How could he go to her? Scalding, angry tears ooze down my cheeks. His wrath and fear, his need to lash out at me I can understand, and forgive– just. But this… this treachery is too much. I pull my knees up against my chest and wrap my arms around them, protecting me and protecting my Little Blip. I rock to and fro, weeping softly.
Maybe I’m a shallow and cynical reader, but since Ana did just about the same thing on the floor of a parking garage in the first book because Christian Grey didn’t kiss her on their non-date, I’m not moved by the dramatic outpouring of feeling. Plus, I’m annoyed that once again our heroine is blaming herself for the emotional abuse heaped on her and is rationalizing it away, while the author of the book doesn’t feel that the relationship is abusive in any way. It’s like she’s straight up looking us in the eye and saying, “You’d have to be weaker than Ana Steele to not be able to make your abusive marriage work, ladies.”
And I just realized in typing that sentence that Ana’s married name could be Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey, and now I want to drink and it’s still morning where I am.
What did I expect? I married this man too quickly.
I knew it– I knew it would come to this. Why. Why. Why?
Why. Why. Why? did you marry him, or Why. Why. Why? did you choose to punctuate a question with a period twice in a row? Third time’s the charm or something?
The knife twists slowly and painfully deep in my heart, lacerating me. Will it always be this way?
Yes. Because you married a psychopath. Because you knew you weren’t happy with him and you said yes because you felt sorry for him. Because he duped you into believing you loved him, when really you were just scared of him and isolated from your support system. Because he’s an abuser, and he’s not going to change just because you loved him perfectly.
I married him because I love him, and deep down I know that he loves me. I know he does. His achingly sweet birthday present comes to mind.
For all our firsts on your first birthday as my beloved wife. I love you. C x
No. That isn’t an achingly sweet birthday present when he uses it to make it all about him. How much of that message is really about Ana? Not much. “OUR firsts.” “Your first birthday as MY beloved wife.” It’s about how she reflects his image back to him. Not a damn bit of his “love” for her has anything to do with her.
He will come around… he will. But will I? Will I recover from this… from this treachery?
Treachery is kind of an archaic word to throw down twice on one page. You’re starting to sound like this guy:
I think about how he’s been this last, horrible, wonderful weekend. His quiet strength while my stepdad lay broken and comatose in the ICU… my surprise party, bringing my family and friends together… dipping me down low outside the Heathman and kissing me in full public view.
This is ridiculous, Ana. Christian didn’t display “quiet strength.” He fucked off to the waiting room to make business calls, then took it upon himself to step in and get your critically injured father transferred to another city unnecessarily. He brought in the doctors he wanted, without consulting you or Charlie. Yes, I know your dad’s name is Ray, but he’s so blatantly plagiarized, I’m not even going to fuck with calling him Ray anymore because it’s too confusing to try and remember which is which, even when the book is open right in front of me. As for the fucking surprise party, wake up and smell the isolation: the only people who were at that party are the people Christian allows to have contact with you, and then only when he chooses the method and delivery of said contact. So, he kissed you in public. BFD. People kiss in public everyday. That doesn’t make him a prize. It doesn’t erase his abuse.
Ana at least realizes that her choice in husband doesn’t affect just her anymore. She decides to completely disregard Dr. Flynn’s edict to give Christian the benefit of the doubt, and instead she goes snooping through Christian’s phone.
Now, I’m not going to say that I’ve never snooped on a romantic partner. I will say, however, that if you need to snoop on a romantic partner, it doesn’t really matter what you find when you do. The fact that you’re snooping is the answer, ya dig?
There’s nothing on his phone that indicates he’s been communicating with Elena. There is, however, proof that he’s a serial killer:
The wallpaper on his phone is photograph upon photograph of me, a patchwork of tiny Anastasias in various poses– our honey-moon, our recent weekend sailing and soaring, and a few of José’s photos, too. When did he do this? It must have been recently.
I love that she comes to the conclusion that this was done recently, because there are recent pictures in the collage. No kidding, Ana? You must be some kind of genius. All I can picture though, when I read about that collage, is the creepy janitor who is obsessed with Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard.
I notice his e-mail icon, and an idea slithers enticingly into my mind… I could read Christian’s emails. See if he’s been talking to her. Should I? Sheathed in jade-green silk, my inner goddess nods emphatically, her mouth set in a scowl. Before I can stop myself, I invade his privacy.
Oh yeah, this is an invasion of privacy. Let me remind you, readers, that Christian had a private investigator obtain Ana’s school records, banking information, home address, SAT score, etc. before they were even dating. I’m not making this up, by the way. The private investigator’s report in the back of this damn book, in the “Shades of Christian” section that I’m so not looking forward to covering. Should Ana dig through his emails? No. But it’s not like he’s ever given her any privacy, either.
In his emails, she finds nothing indicating an affair (and we already know that he’s not smart enough to not use his business email for that shit, so it’s all clear), but she does find an email from Barney, about Jack Hyde. Let me give you just two chunks of this email and I’ll explain to you why it’s so laughably clumsy as an exposition device:
As Welch has told you the unsub car was rented with a false license by an unknown female, though nothing ties it to the South Irving Street area.
As a reminder, here is a list of what was retrieved from Hyde’s SIP computer.
Okay. You know how you’ll be watching a movie, and a scientist or something will be like, “I needn’t remind you of the consequences. Should this fail, Earth is doomed,” and you’re like, “Wait, if he didn’t need to remind him of the consequences, why did he go right on and remind him of the consequences? That seems like it was more for my benefit than the guy in the movie’s benefit,” and you get this creeping sense that maybe the characters in the movie are aware that you’re watching them, and then you think maybe you ate too much acid and you have to get out of that theatre fast because everyone is turning into lizards and it’s just started raining carnivorous, sentient daisies? This is kind of the same situation. Only super, super stupid, because this is an email. There’s no reason Ana couldn’t have just found the email where Barney says, “Heads up, we found this out about the car and also here’s what we found on the computer.” There’s absolutely no reason to show Barney rehashing information Christian already knew in such an obvious, “As you know,” way. Because it’s a fucking email. She could just find the original email.
I feel like I’m not a skilled enough writer to express just how fucking stupid that is.
Even though Ana doesn’t find anything from Mrs. Robinson– or Leila– on Christian’s phone, she isn’t going to sleep with him. She’s going to sleep in the playroom, where we can have more “E.L. James has no fucking clue about BDSM” fun times:
I retrieve a pillow, duvet, and sheet, then unlock the playroom door and enter, switching the lights to dim. Odd that I find the smell and ambience of this room so comforting, considering I safe-worded the last time we were in here.
So, according to the Holy Gospel of 50 Shades, using a safe word during sex play should be a disturbing event. What the ffffff… okay. Deep breaths. Safewording should never be uncomfortable. The safe word is a comfort. The safe word allows the sub to push their own limits in a safe way. And using the safe word isn’t some rare and traumatic occurrence in a healthy D/s relationship. Guess what? Sometimes, you safe word because your ass is sore or you get a cramp in your tied up arms. Not because you’re emotionally broken or because it’s some massive issue in your relationship. And in a healthy relationship? A sub would most likely not be uncomfortable in their own fucking playroom.
Ana has forwarded Mrs. Robinson’s text to her own phone, and she resends it to Christian with her own message calling him out on his bullshit. Then, the saddest part of any of these books happens:
Briefly, I relive telling Christian that I’m pregnant and fantasize that he falls to his knees with joy in front of me, pulling me into his arms and telling me how much he loves me and our Little Blip.
This might be the very first time I’ve felt actual sympathy for Ana. Which is fucked up, because I’ve already acknowledged many times that she’s in an abusive relationship. But there is something so unlikeable and awful about Ana, I’ve never cared about her. Because she’s supposed to be a blank form I can project my immature ego onto. But now, having read that, I do feel like if she were a person, I would feel badly for her, after all–
Yet here I am, alone and cold in a BDSM fantasy playroom.
What was I saying about my sympathy? Because it’s gone now. What is this happy-families-heteronormative-kink-negative-bullshit-a-thon happening right before my eyes? Somehow, BDSM is subtly to blame here. If he weren’t kinky, he would have reacted better? Fuck that. This entire series is like when a religious door-to-door annoyance knocks and tries to explain about how they used to be on drugs and having all sorts of crazy sex, but then they found Jesus and now they don’t do that anymore. Except it’s, “Excuse me, ma’am, do you have a moment to discuss the gospel of not having fun during sex anymore because you want to have babies and the perfect fairytale rom-com ending and these two things are not compatible?” And no. I don’t. DOOR SLAM. You have ten seconds to get off my fucking property before I let my dogs out.
I have this pain behind my left eye.
Ana falls asleep, then she wakes up after the section break, because that’s the only transition E.L. James knows, and she’s going to sing you the song of her people over and over again. Christian pounds on the door, but she doesn’t answer him, so of course that means she’s been dead or kidnapped or something:
Taylor, Sawyer, Ryan, Mrs. Jones, and Christian are all standing in the entrance to the great room, and Christian is issuing rapid-fire instructions.
SHADES TEAM… ASSEMBLE!
“Where were you?” Christian asks, his voice low and husky. Suddenly Sawyer, Taylor, Ryan, and Mrs. Jones scatter, scurrying into Taylor’s office, into the foyer, and into the kitchen like terrified rats from a sinking ship.
Ana still doesn’t want to talk to Christian, so she ignores his demands for acknowledgment and goes into the bathroom to take a shower.
Oh, it’s warm.
I love how she says this, like it’s surprise. Like water heaters were only recently invented, and she’s still getting used to them.
When she’s done, she comes out and finds Christian:
His expression is wary, that of a hunted predator.
Just, you know. A writing tip? If something is being hunted isn’t a predator. It’s prey. Unless it’s a Predator. I get that she was going for a whole “wolf caught in a snare/predator becomes prey” thing here, but it didn’t work, and all I can think of is how much I want to have sex with Dutch. In that weird clay mud. While we hunt Yautja and fight for our lives.
“Are you ignoring me?” Christian asks in disbelief as he stands on the threshold of the closet.
“Perceptive, aren’t you?” I murmur absentmindedly as I search for something to wear. Ah, yes– my plum dress.
Back the fuck up, bitch! That is not your dress! It’s Kate’s dress! WHY DO YOU STILL HAVE IT? Fuck you, Ana. Your husband is a billionaire, all he fucking wants to do with his life is buy you clothes, and you can’t even return your friend’s fucking dress? Also, was there a wardrobe budget for this fucking series? Why can’t she wear something else every now and then?
What follows is a stupid argument they’ve had a billion times, set to Ana putting on sexy underwear and thigh-highs and stretching, posing, and preening in front of Christian in a “You can’t have this, I’m too mad” dance of sexual denial that would be boring if it weren’t so fucking boring.
I mean, even her hair is stereotypically mad:
When my hair looks wild and untamed, I stop. Yes… I like it. I switch off the hair dryer.
When I hear “wild and untamed” and “hair dryer” in close proximity, I just assume this:
So, Ana basically struts around looking super hot in her panties and untamed whore hair, driving Christian wild with sexual desire as they argue over where she was, where he was, etc. She asks him if he slept with Mrs. Robinson:
“You think I’d cheat on you?” His tone is one of moral outrage.
“You did,” I snarl. “By taking our very private life and spilling your spineless guts to that woman.”
His mouth drops open. “Spineless. that’s what you think?” His eyes blaze.
“Christian, I saw the text. That’s what I know. “
“That text was not meant for you,” he growls.
Well, in fairness, Chedward, her banking information and high school transcripts weren’t meant for you, either. Tit for tat and all. You big tit.
Now, for the addiction shaming!
“Well, you were right. I do choose this defenseless baby over you. That’s what any loving parent does. That’s what your mother should have done for you. And I am sorry that she didn’t– because we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now if she had. But you’re an adult now– you need to grow up and smell the fucking coffee and stop behaving like a petulant adolescent.[…]“
That’s right! Addicts don’t love their children. It’s not like they have a disease or anything that causes them to make shitty choices. It’s a moral failing, and they should be able to overcome it, but choose not to!
“[…] You may not be happy about this baby. I’m not ecstatic, given the timing and your less-than-lukewarm reception to this new life, this flesh of your flesh.[…]”
Are we in the Great Grass Sea? Is this a Khalasar? “Flesh of your flesh,” really? Is he your sun and stars, too, Ana?
Christian falls back on his tactic of getting Ana to have sex to stop the argument from happening:
“Don’t even think about it, Grey,’ I whisper menacingly.
“You’re my wife,” he says softly, threateningly.
“I’m the pregnant woman you abandoned yesterday, and if you touch me I will scream the place down.”
His eyebrows rise in disbelief. “You’d scream?”
“Bloody murder.” I narrow my eyes.
“No one would hear you,” He murmurs, his gaze intense, and briefly I’m reminded of our morning in Aspen. No. No. No.
“Are you trying to frighten me? I mutter, breathless, deliberately trying to derail him.
It works. He stills and swallows. “That wasn’t my intention.”
Yeah, it wasn’t his intention. Because “Scream all you like, nobody will hear you,” isn’t the kind of sentiment routinely expressed by sadistic villains across all forms of media. And let’s remember, our romantic hero for all the ages, dreamy and beloved in the eyes of a lot of readers, is threatening to rape his pregnant wife because she won’t stop fighting with him. Let’s take this a step further, just to get even more disturbing. He says no one would hear her. That’s not the truth, is it? The apartment is full of people. So, what he means is, he can rape her, she can scream all she wants, but he pays those people to ignore it if he does.
Think about that. I’ll wait. And I’ll be here for you with blankets and cocoa and a hot water bottle.
“You really fucked up yesterday,” I whisper, my anger boiling over. “I’ve had a lot to deal with over the last few weeks.”
“You really fucked up three or four weeks ago. Or whenever you forgot your shot.”
Here’s what I don’t get about Christian being so furious over Ana getting pregnant “on purpose” to sabotage him… he didn’t want Ana to sign a prenup. Because they’re so in love and shit. But the second she gets pregnant, she’s somehow trying to trick him or something.
Christian says Elena is out of his life, but it’s like, since when, dude? Since one this morning? At least go twenty-four hours before trying to assert that she’s not a part of your life.
After their fight, Ana thinks:
I did not resort to tears, shouting, or murder, nor did I succumb to his sexpertise. I deserve a Congressional Medal of Honor, but I feel so low.
Excuse me, E.L.. I realize that you’re not an American, and therefore you might not understand exactly why this rubs me the wrong way, but maybe you shouldn’t equate our highest military honor, often awarded posthumously because the recipient made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, with being able to resist the magnetic sexual charms of your shitty, plagiarized Edward Cullen abusive husband fantasy jack off material. Jerk.
Besides, Ana has already received one, when I facetiously bestowed it upon her in an earlier recap. Probably for doing something “brave” like climbing a flight of stairs or pulling the plug in the bathtub when she was still sitting in the water.
Ana goes to work, and Kate calls her. Chedward called Kate earlier looking for Ana, and now Kate is worried.
“Cut the crap, Steele. What gives?” The Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition begins.
“Christian and I had a fight, that’s all.”
“Did he hurt you?”
Oh my god! Are you fucking serious?! KATE SUSPECTS CHRISTIAN IS AN ABUSER. E.L. JAMES WROTE THAT. SHE WROTE A SIDE CHARACTERS SUSPECTING CHEDWARD OF ABUSE, BUT SHE STILL CLAIMS SHE CAN’T SEE HOW PEOPLE FEEL IT’S ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP? YET SHE COULD SEE THAT IT WOULD APPEAR SO TO KATE? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? YOU WROTE IT! YOU WROTE IT IN THE GODDAMNED BOOK! YOU DO SEE IT, YOU JUST DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT THE CRITICISM, SO YOU LIE.
Ana blows Kate off, because, you know. It’s intrusive and an inquisition when a friend who believes you to be missing calls to check up on you.
Heads up, folks who are following these recaps and charting the progression of Ana’s eating disorder:
I throw myself into my work, pausing only at lunchtime for a cream cheese and salmon bagel. It’s extraordinary how much better I feel once I’ve eaten something.
Note that when other people offer her food, she’s never hungry, but here she eats on her own initiative. Earlier in the chapter– in a section I didn’t excerpt because it was pointless– Sawyer asked Ana if she wanted anything from the deli. In the last chapter, Mrs. Jones wanted her to eat, but she would only take tea. Ana tries to avoid eating anything given to her by Christian or anyone connected with Christian, but she acknowledges that she does feel better when she’s eaten food she chose for herself. You guys called it. She’s become anorexic to exert some small amount of control over her situation.
She goes to the hospital to see her father, and when they hug, she thinks:
As I’m in his arms, I realize how rare these moments between us have been. Why is that? Is that why I like to crawl into Christian’s lap?
Because he’s isolated you from your father and infantilizes you constantly? Yes. That’s why.
Ana doesn’t tell her dad about the baby, and when she goes home, she learns that Christian will be working late. So she mopes some more and thinks about the furniture in the house that they’ve had sex on, and thinks:
“Oh, Blip, what have you done to us.”
Congratulations, kid! Your parents have figured out they can blame you for all their problems! Enjoy your childhood.
When Ana wakes up in the morning, she finds Christian’s gray silk tie– the only tie he owns, I guess, and which he probably borrowed from Kate– on the floor next to the bed, and she realizes he’s been there watching her while she sleeps. Because the fact that this is plagiarized from Twilight hasn’t been made obvious enough at this point. Ana goes to work, Christian emails her once to tell her he’s flying to Portland, Hannah offers her tea… You know, it’s basically the usual page and a fucking half of shit we don’t need to hear about. Then after lunch, this happens:
My BlackBerry buzzes, making me jump. I glance at the screen– it’s Mia. Jeez, that’s all I need, her gushing and enthusiasm. I hesitate, wondering if I could just ignore it, but courtesy wins out.
“Mia,” I answer brightly.
“Well, hello there, Ana– long time no speak.” The male voice is familiar. Fuck!
My scalp prickles and all the hair on my body stands to attention as adrenaline floods through my system and my world stops spinning.
It’s Jack Hyde.
Well, I’m sure you’re relieved then, Ana. Because you won’t have to put up with Mia being positive and friendly!
And then the chapter is over. Without Jack murdering Ana. Boo.