Plot summary if you choose to skip: Ana "jokingly" breaks up with Christian Grey. He thinks it's real and breaks into her house and rapes her.
MAJOR content warning: Rape. Not rape references or "that's kind of like rape"; outright graphic rape. Also home invasion, emotional abuse, child sexual abuse.
For the first time in my life, I voluntarily go for a run. I find my nasty, never-used sneakers, some sweat pants, and a t-shirt. I put my hair in pigtails, blushing at the memories they bring back, and I plug in my iPod.This raises so many questions. How are the sneakers "nasty" if they've never been used? Why does she own sneakers and sweatpants if she never exercises? Even making allowances for how new she is to sex, isn't it a bit hair-trigger to go all wibbly because you're wearing the same hairstyle you did when you had sex? If she never used a computer before, how did she put music on her iPod?
I pace through the park. What am I going to do? I want him, but on his terms? I just don’t know. Perhaps I should negotiate what I want. Go through that ridiculous contract line by line and say what is acceptable and what isn’t.Yes. Yes, you should do exactly that. ...Well, actually you should turn and run and find one of the thousands of men in Seattle who will have the kind of relationship you actually want with you, but since you're convinced that no other man on the planet could ever arouse you, this is a very good second choice.
It's unsettling how often Ana lucidly spells out what she should be doing, then goes right ahead and does the opposite.
I am plagued by one question - why is he like this? Is it because he was seduced at such a young age?Firstly, it's not "seduced" when an older person rapes a fifteen-year-old and forces them into submission. Secondly, apparently all her research into BDSM didn't dissuade her from thinking of it as a tragic flaw.
And thirdly, why isn't she asking "why am I like this?" Usually in BDSM smutfic, this is the point where the submissive would be discovering the hidden kinky desires that were in them all along. Ana doesn't seem to be going through that. She's just resigning herself to tolerate kink because she thinks it's the only chance she'll get to have sex.
[Ana emails Lump CrabMeat:] Okay, I’ve seen enough. It was nice knowing you. Ana
I press send, hugging myself, laughing at my little joke. Will he find it as funny?How... how is that remotely a joke? If Rowdy sent me an email like that, I wouldn't think it was funny. I wouldn't go breaking into his house and assaulting him, but I'd probably burst into tears. There's no tip-off there that it's anything other than a curt rejection by email. That's not how jokes work.
I guess the joke is that she could never possibly break up with him for real? Oh damn, it just got even more depressing.
I don’t know why I glance up, maybe I catch a slight movement from the corner of my eye, I don’t know, but when I do, he’s standing in the doorway of my bedroom watching me intently. He’s wearing his grey flannel pants and a white linen shirt, gently twirling his car keys. I pull my ear buds out and freeze . Fuck!Fuck is right. He just snuck into her house after, as far as he knows, she genuinely broke up with him. Fuck!
...Under the circumstances, I'm not sure I'd be making note of which fabrics he's wearing. Or maybe I would, but only so I could give a more detailed police report.
“Good evening, Anastasia.” His voice is cool, his expression completely guarded and unreadable. The capacity to speak deserts me. Damn Kate for letting him in here with no warning.I would be quitting Team Kate on the spot, except that I read ahead and Kate has no idea he was there, so apparently Truck DodgeRam just straight-up broke into her house.
“I wondered what your bedroom would look like,” he says. I glance around it, plotting an escape route, no – there’s still only the door or window.ROMANCE!
I think it's Ana's reactions that push this from "non-con fantasy" to "E.L. James what the FUCK are you doing?" Like, if Ana were secretly delighted to see him, that would be unrealistic and problematic, but not totally unexpected in a bodice-ripper. But no, she's panicky and scanning the room for exits, and it's fucking terrifying.
“So, it was nice knowing me?” Holy cow, is he offended? I stare down at my fingers. How am I going to dig myself out of this? If I tell him it was a joke, I don’t think he’ll be impressed.I'm just putting this in to establish that Slam ThudBoom genuinely thinks she broke up with him. He's not punishing her for a bad joke (not that this would be okay either). He is, as far as he's concerned, raping his ex.
...But no worries, because it was a joke, so he's really just raping his girlfriend.
I think this is that point where I have to stop making jokes, except perhaps the saddest and bitterest kind of joke, like, "ha ha, and she's genuinely afraid of talking to him, sounds like the ideal romance, what a fuckin' kneeslapper."
“Well, I thought I should come and remind you how nice it was knowing me.” Holy crap. I stare at him open mouthed, and his fingers move from my ear to my chin. “What do you say to that, Miss Steele?” [...she says nothing...] I take pre-emptive action and launch myself at him. Somehow he moves, I have no idea how, and in the blink of an eye I’m on the bed pinned beneath him, my arms stretched out and held above my head, his free hand clutching my face, and his mouth finds mine.She totally consented, see? Because she, uh, started moving. Maybe to run out of the room or to punch him, he doesn't know, but since we the readers know it was a sexy movement then we can rest assured this is totes 100% consensual.
(Important note: even if it was a sexy movement, that still doesn't constitute consent to being forcibly held down. "Yes" does not mean "yes to everything you could possibly want to do with me.")
He bends and starts undoing one of my sneakers. Oh no… no… my feet. No. I’ve just been running. “No,” I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. “If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you."I... oh god. I'm out of even bitter jokes now. Basically I'm down to "I want you to know that this happens in this book, and this is why it is not just a bad romance novel, it is fucking horrifying."
I mean, this is as completely unambiguous a "no" as you can have. (Not that "no" needs to be unambiguous; ambiguity is also "no.") It's out loud, it's something she genuinely doesn't want, and she never agreed to a D/s relationship. There's no fucking excuse at all here. It's just rape. Presented as enviable and sexy.
And yeah, you can say it's not so bad because she's only saying "no" because her feet stink, but you know what? First of all, he doesn't know that. And secondly, there's no list of approved reasons to say no to sex. "No" isn't something that's only valid if it means "no, because I oppose this with every fiber of my being and would be psychologically scarred if it went on." No means no even if the reason is petty or irrational or stinky feet, because no is not up for debate.
This is the point where I actually had to take a little break in writing this and go outside for a bit. I would not blame you if you did the same reading it.
“Now then.” He licks his bottom lip slowly. “You’re biting that lip, Anastasia. You know the effect it has on me.” He places his long index finger over my mouth, a warning.See, the reference to biting her lip is because Kristen Stewart always did that in the Twilight movies, and the reference to "the effect it has on me" is because rapists often try to make their victims blame themselves.
I hear the ice clink against the glass, and he puts it down again and leans down and kisses me, pouring a delicious crisp, liquid into my mouth as he does. It’s white wine. It’s so unexpected, hot, though it’s chilled, and Christian’s lips are cool.Yeah, so... now he's drinking wine and spitting it back out in her mouth. (And it is hot and cold at the same time, and he is cold because E.L. James once again forgot he's not supposed to be a vampire anymore.) I'm honestly a little grateful for something that's merely disgusting and absurd.
“I meant it as a joke,” I whimper. [...] “A joke?” His voice is menacingly soft. “Yes. Please, Christian,” I beseech him. “Are you laughing now?” “No,” I mewl. [...]
He pushes both my knees up the bed so my behind is in the air, and he slaps me hard. Before I can react, he plunges inside me. I cry out – from the slap and from his sudden assault, and I come instantly again and again, falling apart beneath him as he continues to slam deliciously into me. He doesn’t stop. I’m spent. I can’t take this… and he pounds on and on and on... then I’m building again… surely not… no…At this point, I'm not even mocking this. I'm just documenting it. This happens. In this "sexy" book. This is one of the "sexy" parts.
To be fair: at this point she has said a couple times that she wants to have sex with him. To be much more fair: she was already tied up when she said that, and there was absolutely no indication he would've stopped if she said differently, and she certainly never said she wanted to be hit.
[Somewhat later, because fucking hell, there's only so much I can take:] “You still talk to her [the woman who molested him] regularly?” I can’t keep the shock out of my voice. “Yes.” He’s serious now. Oh… and part of me is suddenly insanely jealous – I’m disturbed by the depth of my feeling.I'd be disturbed too, but not from jealousy. That's incredibly fucked up, being jealous of the person who raped your partner as a child.
"If you’d like, I can introduce you to one of my former subs, you could talk to her.” What? Is he deliberately trying to upset me? “Is this your idea of a joke?For once, Spark FlintSteel actually has a good idea, except that E.L. James clearly doesn't know it is. Subs communicating with each other is a really good thing. It's an opportunity for education, support, and, if necessary, a safety net. Getting references from former subs of a prospective partner is also a good thing, and not rare in the BDSM community.
But to Ana, and I suspect also James, this exchange isn't about that; it's about the misery of knowing your partner has ever had sex with anyone besides you.
“Are you staying?” “I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow at the Heathman. Besides, I told you, I don’t sleep with girlfriends, slaves, subs, or anyone. Friday and Saturday night were exceptions. It won’t happen again.” I can hear the resolve behind his soft, husky voice.This is not a man who needs true love to melt his wounded heart. This is a douche who needs to be single until he can learn to treat his partners like people and not possessions he can put away when he isn't using them.
“God, I’d like to give you a good hiding. You’d feel a lot better, and so would I.” “You can’t say things like that… I haven’t signed anything yet.”I suspect E.L. James actually thinks all BDSM must be guaranteed by legal contract.
But Ana is right; she hasn't signed anything. She hasn't agreed to be tied up or slapped, much less forced into sex. And (I believe) she never does, but that never stops him.
This is the first time I have ever had sex in my home, and as sex goes, I think it was pretty damn fine. But now I feel like a receptacle – an empty vessel to be filled at his whim. [...] I have an overwhelming urge to cry, a sad and lonely melancholy grips and tightens round my heart. Dashing back to my bedroom, I close the door and lean against it trying to rationalize my feelings. I can’t. Sliding to the floor, I put my head in my hands as my tears begin to flow.I thought this would be "she was raped but she loved it" fiction. Instead, it's "she was raped and she hated it... SEXY ROMANCE, EVERYBODY!" fiction.
Somewhat later, Ana emails Rump ButtCheek:
Dear Mr. Grey, Here is my list of issues. I look forward to discussing them more fully at dinner on Wednesday. The numbers refer to clauses:
2: Not sure why this is solely for MY benefit – ie to explore MY sensuality and limits. I’m sure I wouldn’t need a ten-page contract to do that! Surely this is for YOUR benefit. [...]
9: Obey you in all things? Accept without hesitation your discipline? We need to talk about this. 11: One month trial period. Not three. 12: I cannot commit every weekend. I do have a life, or will have. Perhaps three out of four? 15.2: Using my body as you see fit sexually or otherwise – please define “or otherwise.” 15.5: This whole discipline clause. I’m not sure I want to be whipped, flogged, or corporally punished. [...]
15.22: I can’t look into your eyes? Why? 15.24: Why can’t I touch you? [...]Food – I am not eating food from a prescribed list. The food list goes or I do – Deal breaker. [..]. Exercise – We agreed 3 hours, this still says 4.So this is actually kind of awesome. She's sticking up for herself and very clearly negotiating about her needs. Every deity lodged inside me is positively doing backflips.
So how does Crap ShitHead respond to this?
Miss Steele, That’s a long list. Why are you still up? Christian GreyThat smarmy condescending rapist BASTARD. Ideal fantasy man? I have rarely hated anyone as keenly as I hate this fucker.
GO TO BED ANASTASIA. [...] Oh… shouty capitals! I switch off.Good plan, Ana. Good fuckin' plan. Gonna follow your lead there.