I had a link to share, but then at the last minute I decided against it because I realized that the author was accusing detractors of jealousy while simultaneously suggesting that it’s not fair for E.L. James to be popular. Which was…confusing.
But here is a Buzzfeed quiz that is just as good! They ask you to pick out which lines are from 50 Shades and which are from Twilight. Since I know both franchises pretty well, I thought it would be a piece of cake. I totally failed it.
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION TIME! I know that some of you awesome readers come to the blog just for the Fifty recaps, and that’s totally cool. But you may not realize that I’m a romance writer, and I have some books coming out on August 4th. You can find out what they’re all about (and find pre-order links) here. I mention it because lately I’ve been getting some flack from idiots for “copying” and “using” E.L. James to make money, so fuck it. If I’m going to be accused of that anyway, then why not do it? CHECK OUT MY BOOKS, THEY’RE AWESOME.
Anyway, we’re back, and ready for another heaping helping of misogyny, courtesy of our beloved Chedward. This chapter doesn’t synch up to Ana’s chapters, so I’ve left out the link to the corresponding recap.
This Day In History: US journalist Katie Couric signs off as the host of the CBS Evening News.
My scream bounces off the bedroom walls and wakes me from my nightmare. I’m smothered in sweat, with the stench of stale beer, cigarettes, and poverty in my nostrils and a lingering dread of drunken violence.
So, I have this friend. She went on a trip to…I think it was Costa Rica? Anyway, she was on this bus tour with a bunch of upper-middle class white people of retirement age, and she was listening to a bunch of the stupid comments they were making as the bus was going through a poor neighborhood, and she goes, “Look darling, PAAAHverty,” like the stereotypical big-chin country club guy, right? Okay, so, that? That big chinned WASP at the country club pronunciation, “PAAAHverty,” is how I imagine E.L. James hears it in her head.
Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a lot of my life in poverty, but I’m a little touchy. I don’t remember smelling like poverty. I don’t remember it having a smell, but apparently rich assholes can smell us the way the Cullens can smell Jacob and Sam, etc.
BOOM SUCK IT I GOT ANOTHER TWILIGHT JAB IN.
Chedward mentions that he’s been having nightmares every night for the last four nights, and it’s 3:30 in the morning. He thinks about how great it would be to get a full night’s sleep, but he’s a busy man:
And I have a round of fucking golf with Bastille. I should cancel the golf; the thought of playing and losing darkens my already bleak mood.
I bet when Edward loses, he starts stomping around the golf course, screaming about how great he is, and how everyone will pay.
Okay, here’s a thing. And I’m not saying that everyone who has ever had tragedy in their life has to be cheerful forever. But Christian Grey has this huge chip on his shoulder because his mom was addicted to crack, but then he got adopted by rich people, got every opportunity in the world, is the richest man on the planet and possibly in the solar system, and he still has this enormous attitude problem. Again, not saying that just having good shit happen to you after tragedy means you’re beholden to anyone to be a good person. But it would have been so easy to write him that way.
There are seeds of it. We see Christian go, “Yeah, I’m developing this technology to feed people, because I went hungry,” but in his every day life, he’s like, Oh shit, I can’t bear to lose a round of golf to someone, when really he should be like, That’s okay if he wins, I’m a multi-billionaire, it’s not like I have to have everything. He does have to have everything, and everything isn’t enough.
Now imagine if Christian Grey came up from tragedy. He meets Ana and he recognizes not the perceived weaknesses in her that will make her easier to exploit, but kindness and a naïveté that appeal to him because she reminds him that there’s good in the world. And she’s drawn to him because he’s made his life beautiful out of that tragedy of his childhood. And he’s not fucked up, he just thinks he’s fucked up, and he begins to realize, because he loves Ana and holds her in mutual esteem, that he can’t possibly be that worthless if someone as good and kind as her could love him.
I honestly think that’s the book E.L. James thought she was writing, and the book fans believe they read. But it’s not there in the text at all. What we get is a spoiled brat who can’t stand to lose a round of golf and who sees the heroine only for her potential as his sex toy, and a heroine who is too meek and self-loathing to resist him.
You turned her down.
She wanted you.
And you turned her down.
It was for her own good.
Underlines, as always, indicate italics in the text.
To me, the last chapter didn’t give me any strong indication that Ana wanted him. She asked him if he had a girlfriend, after he gave her the third degree on a coffee date he invited her on. But in Chedward land, him wanting something = everyone wanting something.
Perhaps I need a distraction; a new sub, maybe. It’s been too long since Susannah. I contemplate calling Elena in the morning. She always finds suitable candidates for me.
Well, except for that one that breaks into your house and holds you girlfriend at gun point later. But how creepy is it that he has the woman who raped him find his subs for him? (Before anyone gets into the “it’s not rape just because he was a teenager,” etc., if an adult approaches a teenager who has known emotional problems and exploits those emotional problems to coerce the teenager into a sexual relationship they aren’t ready for, i.e., a D/s relationship before that teenager even loses their virginity, then guess what, it’s rape.)
Christian thinks about how he doesn’t want anyone but Ana, and how maybe he might have given her the impression that he liked her with the whole inviting her out for coffee thing. Maybe going to her work with a flimsy excuse to be there might have done that too, genius. He’s going to try to think of a way to apologize to her.
His alarm goes off after a section break, and he still hasn’t slept. There’s a story on the radio about the sale of a rare Jane Austen manuscript, and of course it reminds him of Ana.
She’s an incurable romantic who loves the English classics.
Again, I don’t remember Ana describing herself as an incurable romantic, at all. I remember her talking about how her mother had been married four times (and in Fifty Shades of Grey it was made very clear how Ana felt about that), and that she liked books. This is some messed up “sins of the mother” type shit if he feels she’s responsible for all of her mother’s marriages.
But then so do I, but for different reasons. I don’t have any Jane Austen first edition, or Brontës, for that matter…but I do have two Thomas Hardys.
It’s okay for him to love the English classics. For reasons. But when Ana loves them, it’s obviously because she’s a girl and obsessed with romance.
Christian realizes that he knows exactly how to apologize to Ana: with books.
Moments later I’m in my library with Jude the Obscure and a boxed set of Tess of the d’Urbervilles in its three volumes laid out on the billiard table in front of me. Both are bleak books, with tragic themes. Hardy had a dark, twisted soul.
Even though Jude is in better condition, it’s no contest. In Jude there is no redemption, so I’ll send her Tess, with a suitable quote. I know it’s not the most romantic book, considering the evils that befall the heroine, but she has a brief taste of romantic love in the bucolic idyll that is the English countryside.
And that’s all that Ana, a woman, would be interested in. The romantic parts.
I also like how he thinks it’s “not the most romantic book,” because it makes me think that E.L. James saw the criticism people were lobbing at the book and the fact that it was described as romantic in Fifty Shades of Grey. Which means that what she’s saying here is that Chedward is smarter about literature than Ana, who majored in it. It’s like this home run of author defensiveness (“See! I knew it wasn’t romantic! I’m still brilliant!”), glorification of the hero, and derision toward the heroine.
Ana mentioned Hardy as a favorite and I’m sure she’s never seen, let alone owned, a first edition.
Classist much? You have no idea if she’s ever seen a first edition. Some college libraries have rare book collections students can access. Maybe one of her professors knew she liked Hardy and happened to own a first edition and let her take a look. You don’t know her life story.
After a section break, Christian is in the back of his car, looking through the book for a quote he wants to share with Ana. He thinks about how fiction was an escape for him when he was younger, but his brother didn’t read much, because he didn’t need an escape. Because the only way we can experience Christian Grey is through comparison to other characters. He can’t just be tortured, he has to be more tortured than anyone else. He can’t be smart, he has to be smarter than everyone else.
Taylor drops him off and Chedward goes into Grey House, where he works.
The young receptionist greets me with a flirtatious wave.
Every day…Like a cheesy tune on repeat.
Ignoring her, I make my way to the elevator that will take me straight to my floor.
Contrast this to how he responds to the male security guard:
“Good morning, Mr. Grey,” Barry on security greets me as he presses the button to summon the elevator.
“How’s your son, Barry?”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
Is that all, Chedward? Are you sure Barry the security guard doesn’t want to fuck you? ARE YOU SURE? Because apparently everyone on the planet wants to fuck you.
Let’s just see how he treats some of his female employees, shall we?
Andrea is on hand to greet me.
“Good morning, Mr. Grey. Ros wants to see you to discuss the Darfur project. Barney would like a few minutes–
I hold up my hand to silence her.
But looking around I notice that Olivia is absent. It’s a relief. The girl is always mooning over me and it’s fucking irritating.
Can the misogyny in this be any more fucking blatant? Wait, yes it can. He wanted Olivia to make him a double espresso, but since she’s not there, Andrea is going to do it:
“Would you like milk, sir?” Andrea asks.
Good girl. I give her a smile.
“Not today.” I do like to keep them guessing how I take my coffee.
AAAAARGH! “Good girl”? Is she your fucking dog? IS SHE?
This guy. This fucking guy.
And it’s not keeping someone guessing if they ask you how you want your coffee, it’s just what happens when someone asks for coffee. Especially if that someone is a tantrum prone boss with exacting standards. You’re going to fucking ask.
And seriously? “Would you like milk?” Well, did he ask for a macchiato? A cappuccino? a latte? Because when you put milk into espresso, depending on the amount, it becomes any of those things. I love it when these books get something pretentious wrong. It’s like a gift from the heavens.
Christian makes a call to Welch and asks him to find out when Ana’s last final exam is going to be. I’m surprised he doesn’t ask when her last bowel movement was, too. Then he agonizes over the fact that he needs to find a quote from the book to present to Ana.
After a section break, Christian is meeting with Ros, his COO, about making vague shipments of something to Darfur. They talk about bribing a senator, and then:
“So the next topic is where to site the new plant. You know the tax breaks in Detroit are huge. I sent you a summary.”
“I know. But God, does it have to be Detroit?”
“I don’t know what you have against the place. It meets our criteria.”
“Okay, get Bill to check out potential brownfield sites. And let’s do one more site search to see if any other municipality would offer more favorable terms.”
Let me get this straight. The guy who was born into poverty in Detroit, who has dedicated his life to feeding the hungry in the third world or whatever (I still have no idea what the fuck his company does besides ship things to Africa and do something with solar powered cell phone technology, and that’s after reading the entire first series), who is supposed to be this big time philanthropist and humanitarian, is resistant to bringing money into the very city in which he was born? He doesn’t want to do anything to stop other children from being born into his situation by improving the local economy? He doesn’t want to take huge tax breaks and encourage the return of industry into the failing city that shaped his early life? It’s not like he would have to go work there. He doesn’t go to work in Darfur every morning, after all.
Ugh. Being a Michigan resident, this makes me hate Christian Grey even more.
Welch calls back and tells him that Ana’s next final exam is tomorrow. And after a section break, MORE MISOGYNY!
At 12:30 Olivia shuffles into my office with lunch. She’s a tall, willowy girl with a pretty face. Sadly, it’s always misdirected at me with longing. She’s carrying a tray with what I hope is something edible. after a busy morning, I’m starving. She trembles as she puts it on my desk.
Tuna salad. Okay. She hasn’t fucked this up for once.
If Olivia is such a bothersome fuck up, FIRE HER. Just fire her. If you’ve got such exacting standards and she’s not meeting them, then get rid of her.
Of course, if Christian Grey fired everyone who mooned over him, he wouldn’t have any employees. Except for Barry the security guard, the only person alive who doesn’t want to fuck Christian Grey.
Chedward has found the perfect quote for his card to Ana:
I’ve chosen a quote. A warning. I made the correct choice, walking away from her. Not all men are romantic heroes.
I’ll take the word “men-folk” out. She’ll understand.
There are actually versions of Tess where the word “men-folk” is left out, but this is a first edition, so it would be in there. Good job, E.L., though this was probably in response to people who mentioned the “wrong” quote.
Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me? Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks…
This is rich, coming from Cheward in this book. He’s been so dismissive of Ana’s love of reading and books so far, but he picks a quote from Hardy that suggests that women should read, to protect them from the dangers of the world. This didn’t stand out in Fifty Shades of Grey, because we don’t see how utterly dickish Chedward is about Ana’s love of reading in that book.
Christian tells Andrea to make sure the books get sent to Ana, then tells her to get him another set of the first edition. Except he tells her to have Olivia do it. Isn’t Olivia a huge fuck up?
Dismissing the thought, I wonder if that will be the last I see of the books, and I have to acknowledge that deep down I hope not.
It’s not really the books he wants to see again. It’s Ana. Did you get that? It’s subtle.
This was a short chapter this time around. Stick around for an Apolonia recap, hopefully next week.