Oct 072012
 

Christian does call Ana on her childish attempt to make him jealous, all the while dragging her into a restaurant and ordering a full meal for her, plus haranguing the server. (This guy deserves the Tyler Durden special sauce on his order.)

“Nothing’s changed. I can’t be what you want me to be.” I squeeze the words out past the lump in my throat.
“You are what I want you to be,” he says, his soft voice emphatic.
“No, Christian, I’m not.”
“You’re upset because of what happened last time. I behaved stupidly, and you . . . So did you. Why didn’t you safe word, Anastasia?” His tone changes, becoming accusatory.

So we’re back to this series’ hopelessly off idea of how negotiation should work. Safeword or no, Christian as the dominant and as the more experienced partner has a responsibility for what happened the last time they were together.

“I don’t know. I was overwhelmed. I was trying to be what you wanted me to be, trying to deal with the pain, and it went out of my mind. You know . . . I forgot,” I whisper ashamed, and I shrug apologetically.
Jeez, perhaps we could have avoided all this heartache.
“You forgot!” he gasps with horror, grabbing the sides of the table and glaring at me.
I wither under his stare.
Shit!  He’s furious again. My inner goddess glares at me, too. See, you brought all this on yourself!
“How can I trust you?” he says, his voice low. “Ever?”

How can he trust her? Mutual trust is crucial in BDSM, I agree, but we’ve seem ample evidence that Christian does not play fair. The onus is on him to prove his trustworthiness to her.

Furthermore, when a scene goes wrong, bottoms can totally panic or shut down, and not even remember their names much less their safewords. Again, this is why Christian should accept responsibility for pushing Ana well beyond what she was prepared for. Instead, he blames the victim. And yes, Ana did something extraordinarily stupid when she told Christian to do his worst to her, but that doesn’t excuse his lapse in responsibility.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, suddenly feeling stupid. I left because I thought we were incompatible, but he’s saying I could have stopped him?
“Sorry for what?” he says alarmed.
“Not using the safe word.”
He closes his eyes, as if in relief.
“We might have avoided all this suffering,” he mutters.

It’s all coming back to me, how much I hate this book.

Christian brings up that he listens to her talk in her sleep and claims she promised her in sleep she’d never leave him. Then he threatens to spank her for not eating, and claims it has nothing to do with sexual gratification.

Later, in the car, Christian starts with a new proposition. First, he asks if Ana wants a regular vanilla relationship with no kink.

“I like your kinky fuckery,” I whisper.

What?!?! Consider that the two times Ana has done anything harsher than light bondage both ended with her in tears. Consider that Christian has repeatedly proven himself to be untrustworthy. This just doesn’t make any sense.

“That’s what I thought. So what don’t you like?”

Not being able to touch you. You enjoying my pain, the bite of the belt . . .
“The threat of cruel and unusual punishment.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, you have all those canes and whips and stuff in your playroom, and they frighten the living daylights out of me. I don’t want you to use them on me.”
“Okay, so no whips or canes—or belts, for that matter,” he says sardonically.

In a cack-handed way, this is negotiation. Ana says she likes the spanking (apparently her memory isn’t so good), or rather, she thinks, “Yeah… I’d do that again.” It’s not enthusiastic. It’s how much can she tolerate to be with Christian. When he says she can tolerate some pain, her anxiety level shoots up.

He strokes his chin, deep in thought. “Anastasia, I want to start again. Do the vanilla thing and then maybe, once you trust me more and I trust you to be honest and to communicate with me, we could move on and do some of the things that I like to do.”
I stare at him, stunned, with no thoughts in my head at all—like a computer crash. He gazes at me anxiously, but I can’t see him clearly, as we’re shrouded in the Oregon darkness. It occurs to me, finally, this is it.
He wants the light, but can I ask him to do this for me? And don’t I like the dark? Some dark, sometimes. Memories of the Thomas Tallis night drift invitingly through my mind.
“But what about punishments?”
“No punishments.” He shakes his head. “None.”

Then Christian lays into the self-loathing, and Ana immediately goes into “poor baby” mode, saying that she hasn’t tried very hard, and that he’s never lied to her. Maybe not, but he’s certainly acted in bad faith with her.

She literally crawls into his lap.

“I love you, Christian Grey. And you’re prepared to do all this for me. I’m the one who is undeserving, and I’m just sorry that I can’t do all those things for you. Maybe with time . . . I don’t know . . . but yes, I accept your proposition. Where do I sign?”

Can two deranged people find love?

Christian sets a hard limit on her touching him (intimately), which leads to him talking about his childhood. Christian again refers to his mother only as “the crack whore”, a disturbing element of dehumanization and classism, and we also learn she committed suicide. Ana literally imagines the sentimental scene of an abandoned child.

Counter-factual: what if Christian acts the way he does, and he had a happy privileged childhood? What if there was no sentimental excuse for his controlling ways, his dishonesty, his sadism? We prefer the idea that the bully does what he does because of weakness that can be fixed, not because he is strong or because nobody bothered to restrain him.

Not only do Ana and Christian resume their relationship, he immediately “gives” back the laptop and cellular phone, and throws in an iPad for good measure, full of apps and music she could really get herself. Ana interprets these gifts as proof that “He really cares.” And we know that Christian has used such devices to track and surveil Ana in the past.

Christian’s musical tastes, incidentally, are pretty pedestrian: Snow Patrol, Nelly Furtado, Coldplay. The playlist includes “Principles of Lust” by Enigma, which was a standard play/fetish party track about 10 years ago, and so overplayed you rarely hear it anymore.

And we’re back doing emails, complete with headers. EL James has apparently never heard of instant messaging.

His response makes me smile, still so bossy, still so Christian. Will that change, too? And I realize in that moment that I hope not. I like him like this—commanding—as long as I can stand up to him without fear of punishment.

Ana likes the style of dominance as long as it isn’t backed up by the threat of actual punishment, which is a good realization, but this is a relationship that is falling into the same old patterns without anything changing.

  One Response to “The curious kinky person’s guide to Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter 2”

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