Jun 192012
 

Alone in Ana and Kate’s duplex, Christian and Ana have a face to face. They squabble over the antique books (like they’re the problem), and Ana begins to stand up for herself by saying she’ll donate them to charity. Then she immediately backs down.

“I’ll think about it,” I murmur, I don’t want to disappoint him, and his words come back to me. I want you to want to please me.
“Don’t think, Anastasia. Not about this.” His tone is quiet and serious.

Christian’s constant urging for Ana to stop thinking wouldn’t so troubling if she had ever started thinking about her sexuality or her relationship.

“I will buy you lots of things, Anastasia. Get used to it. I can afford it. I’m a very wealthy man.” He leans down and plants a swift, chaste kiss on my lips. “Please.” He releases me.
Ho’ my subconscious mouths at me.
“It makes me feel cheap,” I murmur.
Christian runs his hand through his hair, exasperated.
“It shouldn’t. You’re over-thinking it, Anastasia. Don’t place some vague moral judgment on yourself based on what others might think. Don’t waste your energy. It’s only because you have reservations about our arrangement, that’s perfectly natural. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”

Negotiation isn’t just about sexual or BDSM activities. If Ana is uncomfortable with Christian showering her with expensive gifts, this is something she should make clear to him, one of her limits.

Christian is also misreading Ana’s objections, seeing it as based on her sense of shame and her fear of social ostracism (discussed in the previous post), when it should be seen as symptomatic of the unhealthy, non-consensual power dynamic in their relationship. Ana doesn’t want other people to see her as something to be bought, but more importantly she doesn’t want Christian to see her that way.

Christian also has an annoying habit of changing the subject, diverting Ana from discussing her limits by talking about her step-father and other tedious small-talk, with the aim of finding out about her future plans so he can continue to monitor her. He even hints that he would pull strings to get her a job.

Now that they finally get to the negotiations, Christian continues to hear “maybe” and think “yes”, while Ana continues to thinks “no” and say “maybe.”

“Anal intercourse doesn’t exactly float my boat.”
“I’ll agree to the fisting, but I’d really like to claim your ass, Anastasia. But we’ll wait for that. Besides, it’s not something we can dive into,” he smirks at me. “Your ass will need training.”
“Training?” I whisper.
“Oh yes. It’ll need careful preparation. Anal intercourse can be very pleasurable, trust me. But if we try it and you don’t like it, we don’t have to do it again.”

This is another one of those 10 per cent right-thing, 90 per cent wrong-thing moments. Ana doesn’t have to try it, and doesn’t need to justify her refusal to Christian or anybody else. It’s right there on the page. All she has to do is move “anal intercourse” to the “no” column, and that’s it. Or even add a “no, for the moment” column. And she doesn’t.

Christian actually does address the question of how to use safewords when gagged (hand signals). Ana is still worried about the gagging, which makes it another thing to move into the “no” or  “no, for the moment” columns.

Need I mention that negotiation is best done sober and not buzzed on sparkling wine in teacups? This and her previous drinking binge suggest that Ana doesn’t know her own tolerance for alcohol or how to drink in moderation. This is why this person has no business getting into a BDSM relationship of this intensity.

“Well, you said no to genital clamps. That’s fine. It’s caning that hurts the most.”
I blanch.
“We can work up to that.”
“Or not do it at all,” I whisper.
“This is part of the deal, baby, but we’ll work up to all of this. Anastasia, I won’t push you too far.”
“This punishment thing, it worries me the most.” My voice is very small.

It’s right there, Ana. It’s right on the page. A few strokes of a pen and you don’t have to do this. You don’t get a finite number of refusals. It’s not a “two from column A, one from column B” menu. You aren’t giving up your voice for human legs.

“Outside of the time you’re my sub, perhaps we could try. I don’t know if it will work.
I don’t know about separating everything. It may not work. But I’m willing to try. Maybe one night a week. I don’t know.”
Holy cow… my mouth drops open, my subconscious is in shock, Christian Grey is up for more!  He’s willing to try! My subconscious peeks out from behind the couch, still registering shock on her harpy face.

Going into any relationship with the intention of changing another person is a bad idea. When Christian says he’ll try being her kind of boyfriend, maybe, some of the time, it’s enough for Ana to surge with hope.

As annoying as Ana’s subconscious is, there are moments when it’s right. If the subconscious runs screaming and hides at even the mention of impact play, there’s likely a reason for that. If nothing else, it is a warning sign, not necessarily to be heeded but definitely not to be ignored. Gut checks is an essential part of the self-discovery process.

For example, if “Dread spawns in my belly” when your lover/play partner/dominant says he wants to give you a present, that’s a bad sign. Christian gives her a car, allegedly because he can’t stand the thought of her driving her her old, unsafe beater. Ana manages to talk this down to a loan. Way to set your boundaries.

Christian, improbably, sees this as “challenging”, and again short-circuits any conversation about the deep problems of their relationship with sex.

I want him badly – in spite of the car, the books, the soft limits… the caning… I want him.

You don’t enter a BDSM relationship in spite of the BDSM.

“Please don’t be angry with me,” I whisper.
His gaze is impassive; his gray eyes cold shards of smoky glass.
“I’m sorry about the car and the books,” I trail off. He remains silent and brooding.
“You scare me when you’re angry,” I breathe, staring at him.

These passages really speak for themselves at just how fucked up this relationship is.

Two seconds after she’s quivering in terror, she’s as wet as the Atlantic ocean, naked and even switching it up with Christian. Maybe she is a sex freak after all, and just needs the context of this quasi-marriage to cut loose. What follows is pretty vanilla, with a few bonus points for Christian instructing her on proper condom application. (I guess Ana had no sex ed at school.)

Despite all the emphasis on negotiation, it isn’t really finished in this chapter. If it is supposed to be a legal-like contract, Ana has yet to actually sign it.

Finally, very few Americans would casually use the British expression “Does it do what it says on the tin?”

  One Response to “The curious kinky person’s guide to Fifty Shades of Grey, Chapter 15”

  1. For what it’s worth, my school did not discuss proper condom application or use. It was pretty much abstinence only and here are the nasty diseases you can get from having sex.

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