Oct 272012
 

Christian is acting in a dom-y sort of way, which is fine. The problem is that Ana isn’t really into the Scene.

When he turns and gazes at me, his eyes are burning. I stand paralyzed like a complete zombie, my heart pounding, my blood pumping, not actually able to move a muscle. In my mind, all I can think is— this is for him—the thought repeating like a mantra over and over again.

Doing it “for him” is the problem. Ana is unaware of her own desires, or at least unable to express them. Again, she’s still thinking of this interactions in terms of “if I do what he wants, he will be nice to me”, instead of “what can he and I do that we will both enjoy?” It’s a recipe for slowly building up a reservoir of resentment.

They may develop to the point of performing complementary roles.

Christian picks up a clear plastic ruler and flourishes it, a good way of building tension in a scene. Ana finally seems to be getting with the program.

Suddenly, I’m hot and bothered and damp in all the right places. Only Christian could turn me on with just a look and the flex of a ruler.

Finally we address the safety issue:

“I want to be quite rough with you, Ana. You’ll have to tell me to stop if it’s too much,” he breathes.
Oh my.  He kisses me . . . there. I moan softly.
“Safe word?” I murmur.
“No, no safe word, just tell me to stop, and I’ll stop. Understand?” He kisses me again, nuzzling me. Oh, that feels good.  He stands, his stare intense. “Answer me,” he orders his voice velvet soft.
“Yes, yes, I understand.” I’m puzzled by his insistence.

A safeword not even necessarily be a code word. It can just be an ordinary “Stop!” or even “Slow down!” Strictly speaking, a safeword is only really necessary if the bottom or submissive is likely to say “No” or “Stop” and not mean it, either as part of a roleplay scenario or as a form of resistance play. He or she may want to say “No” or “Stop” as part of the scene, but reserve the ability to really say “No” and mean it.

In this case, Christian is doing the right thing for a rookie bottom by saying that she is in control of this interaction and can stop it at any time, for any reason. That’s important for Ana to realize that she does have agency in this situation.

However, Christian is still sending mixed messages to Ana as he puts this scene in the context of discipline.

“You said you were worried I’d lost my edge. I’m not sure what you meant by that, and I don’t know how serious you were, but we are going to find out. I don’t want to go back into the playroom yet, so we can try this now, but if you don’t like it, you must promise to tell me.” A burning intensity born of his anxiety replaces his earlier cockiness.

Whoa, please don’t be anxious, Christian.  “I’ll tell you. No safe word,” I reiterate to reassure him.
“We’re lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don’t need safe words.” He frowns. “Do they?”
“I guess not,” I murmur. Jeez—how do I know?  “I promise.”

Ana is still too concerned about upsetting Christian to be trusted to exercise her control over the situation. Christian’s compulsive controlling nature, even when he’s trying to be reassuring, makes Ana too eager to please, and puts her in danger. Christian should stop and redo this conversation when they aren’t in a “about to have sex” state of mind.

Oh, and lovers most definitely do need safewords. There’s a symbolic value to safewords that is greater than their practical utility.

Christian does a little top-game on making Ana try to play pool while distracting and spanking her, then moving up to the plastic ruler.

“Legs,” he orders. I open my legs, panting. The ruler strikes again. Ow—it stings, but its crack across my skin sounds worse than it feels.
I close my eyes and absorb the pain. It’s not too bad, and Christian’s breathing becomes harsher. He hits me again and again, and I moan. I am not sure how many more strokes I can bear—but hearing him, knowing how turned on he is, feeds my arousal and my willingness to continue. I am crossing to the dark side, a place in my psyche I don’t know well but have visited before in the playroom—with the Tallis. The ruler strikes once more, and I moan loudly, and Christian groans in response. He hits me again—and again . . . and once more . . . harder this time—and I wince.

“Not too bad” is not what a top wants a bottom to think in the middle of the scene. Ana is still doing this for Christian’s sake, not for her own pleasure.

“Stop.” The word is out of my mouth before I’m even aware that I’ve said it. Christian drops the ruler immediately and releases me.
“Enough?” he whispers.

“Yes.”

Amazingly, Christian does the right thing and stops. Dare I even hope that this book is not quite as bad as I thought?

Ana is still a little equivocal about her place in kink. “I like it rough, Christian, and I like it gentle, too.
I like that it’s with you.”

Back at work, Ana’s boss invites her on a business trip to New York. Christian, who is trying to ease her into moving in with him, says no, and they squabble. (Elena also emails her about having lunch.) Christian immediately cancels the trip, exercising his power as secret CEO of the company (which Ana isn’t even allowed to talk about). Ana and Christian fight some more over email, with Christian saying basically that Ana can’t fight off unwanted male attention. I’m not sure if he’s calling her a weakling or a slut.

Ana, acting as Jack’s assistant, goes out to get lunch, something she promised Christian she wouldn’t do, and which she thinks he can’t know about. The guy runs the fricking ECHELON system, of course he’ll know. Only outside does she remember that Leila is out there somewhere.

Ana stays late at work, and Jack puts the unwelcome moves on her. Ana, unfortunately, lives up to Christian’s estimation, that she is unable to set boundaries with this guy. Jack only backs off when she mentions her boyfriend is Christian Grey.

Christian flips back to Jekyll once Ana is in his presence, but their dinner is interrupted by the arrival of Elena. Dun dun DUN!

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