Nov 072012
 

Now that both Leila and Jack are out of the picture, there’s nothing left to deal with but Ana and Christian’s relationship.

“Christian, this has all been so quick. And by your own admission, you’re fifty shades of fucked-up. I can’t give you what you need,” I mutter. “It’s just not for me. But that makes me feel inadequate, especially seeing you with Leila. Who’s to say that one day you won’t meet someone who likes doing what you do? And who’s to say you won’t, you know . . . fall for her? Someone much better suited to your needs.” The thought of Christian with anyone else sickens me.

Ana’s giving a mixed message: she keeps insisting that she’s not kinky, that she’s nothing like Elena or Leila, yet she enjoyed the sex with the spreader bar, and seemed at least curious about the other toys. This may have something to do with Christian coming on way too strong when they first met, and only lately has he started introducing her to kink in a reasonable way: one thing at a time, with negotiation and consent.

Reframed slightly, Ana may not ever play as heavy as Christian would want to play, or do the same things. That is a real problem, but not an insurmountable one. They might be able to reach a compromise. They could also work out some polyamorous  or “monogam-ish” arrangement in which Christian sees sub women while being committed to Ana. Given Ana’s near psychotic jealousy, that’s not likely. Her telos, and this book’s, is lifelong heterosexual monogamy.

Back at work, not only is Jack Hyde gone, but Ana gets his job, despite being only a few weeks out of college. Surprisingly, Christian says he had nothing to do with this.

Christian takes Ana along on one of his sessions with Dr. Flynn. Christian’s on a first-name basis with him.

When Ana mentions the non-disclosure agreement, Flynn mildly disapproves.

“As I thought.” Dr. Flynn turns his attention back to me. “Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about confidentiality, but may I suggest that the two of you discuss this at some point? As I understand, you’re no longer entering into that kind of contractual relationship.”
“Different kind of contract, hopefully,” says Christian softly, glancing at me. I flush and Dr. Flynn narrows his eyes.

So, Christian is still angling for a master-slave contract, even though Ana has resisted that since the beginning.

Ana asks that Christian steps out of the room, and Flynn observes that Christian intimidates her. Later he says:

“It took you walking out on him to make him take this form of therapy seriously. He realizes that his goal is a loving relationship with you. It’s that simple, and that’s what we’re working on now.”

This reframes Ana leaving him at the end of book 1 as just a way of getting Christian to do what Ana wants, not as Ana asserting her own needs and making her own decision. Even with a psychiatrist, Ana is still getting a Christian-centric world view. She really needs to start spending time with people who aren’t on the Christian Grey payroll.

Flynn on Christian’s kink:

“Christian just thinks the worst of any given situation. It’s part of his self-abhorrence. Of course, there’s such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a nonissue. My understanding is that Christian has conducted all of his BDSM relationships in this manner. You’re the first lover who hasn’t consented, so he’s not willing to do it.”

That’s an okay position on BDSM, but it does gloss over a lot of issues, particularly several incidents of at best dubious consent in the first book.

“In a nutshell, he’s not a sadist, Ana. He’s an angry, frightened, brilliant young man, who was dealt a shit hand of cards when he was born. We can all beat our breasts about it, and analyze the who, the how and the why to death—or Christian can move on and decide how he wants to live. He’d found something that worked for him for a few years, more or less, but since he met you, it no longer works. And as a consequence, he’s changing his modus operandi. You and I have to respect his choice and support him in it.”

Ana doesn’t have to do anything. Also, while I can see the point that trying to come up with some root cause for Christian isn’t a terribly useful thing to do, there is a problem of erasing too much of the past, of things like Christian’s short temper and his disrespect for personal boundaries. To come back to Clarissa again, Lovelace and his minions have been lying to Clarissa for so long that they’ve built a false virtual world around her, and then he drugs her senseless and rapes her, but Lovelace still thinks that marriage can wipe all that away with a fresh start. Clarissa was Richardson’s attempt to disprove the theory that reformed rakes make for good husbands. Apparently it didn’t work.

“Christian will always think the worst of himself. As I said, it’s part of his self-abhorrence. It’s in his makeup, no matter what. Naturally he’s anxious about making this change in his life. He’s potentially exposing himself to a whole world of emotional pain, which, incidentally, he had a taste of when you left him. Naturally he’s apprehensive.”

Never mind all the times Christian left Ana in pain and tears in the first book, or all the times she’s cringed in fear of him in this one. What matters is the emotional pain she inflicted on him. It’s Christian Grey’s world; we just live in it.

Christian comes in and briefly asks about Leila. Flynn only says:

“She’ll get there,” he says reassuringly.

What’s staggering about this scene is all the things not said. Such as:

  • What happened with Leila?
  • What happened with the 14 other submissives?
  • Does Flynn know that Christian has mood swings more often than he inhales?
  • Does Flynn know that Christian is systematically taking control of every single aspect of Ana’s life, up to and including her reproductive cycle?
  • Does Flynn know that Christian plays fast and loose with consent? That he’s left Ana in tears at least twice?
  • Does Flynn know that Ana is pathologically jealous, needy, passive-aggressively controlling twit?
  • Is it really healthy for two self-loathing people to have a relationship?

I can only see Flynn as a well-compensated, enabling quack for rich crazies.

Afterwards, Ana has a phone conversation with Jose that sounds like Christian is holding a knife to her throat and growling, “Act normal. Don’t make him suspicious.”

“Is he with you now? That why you’re speaking in monosyllables?”
“Yes.”
“Okay. So are you allowed out tomorrow?”

“Of course I am.” I hope. I automatically cross my fingers.

They have another fight in the car, which includes Christian still thinking of his kink as his deep, dark horrible secret and flaw. So, if Ana’s not kinky, and Christian is kinky and hates that part of himself, and says he doesn’t need to do it anymore (now that he’s found an endlessly giving mother figure), what were they doing last chapter with the spreader bar? This book just doesn’t have a coherent position on BDSM.

  8 Responses to “The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 17”

  1. Just a little misunderstanding here: the contract Christian hopes to have with Ana is marriage, not another Dom/sub contract 😉
    Besides that little thing, I agree wholeheartily with you.
    And thanks for the insight about BDSM.

    • You’re right. I misread that passage. Still, the way Christian says it is that he thinks of marriage in terms of possession and control of Ana.

      • I agree.
        Our mecurial (ugh, I hate this word forever) “romantic hero” is repeating over and over that Ana is his.
        I can’t find any point in the story where it doesn’t sound like complete possession.
        Very romantic and modern indeed! ^^
        Christian belongs to medieval times… and that’s not a compliment.

  2. First off, loving these posts. What’s better is they give me something to do at work. I am curious about one thing though. You mentioned that Christian was on a first name basis with Dr. Flynn like it was a bad thing (or that’s how it came across to me). If this is the case, I would like to point out that it is fairly normal for a patient to call his/her therapist by his/her first name. Often times, it can make the patient more comfortable. Granted, this doesn’t change the fact that Dr. Flynn is a horrible therapist.

    • Thank you.

      I guess it never occurred to me that the first-name thing wasn’t a problem. To me, it added to the weirdness of that scene, which felt more like Christian was introducing Ana to his father than his therapist.

      • I use the titles and last names of the therapists I see, but I can readily believe not everyone does.

        I like the “enabling quack” theory. Another theory is that Flynn isn’t a therapist at all, just a friend of Christian’s who is dressing up as a therapist to help him convince Ana to marry him. At least it would explain what Flynn was doing attending a social event at the beginning of the book, something no real therapist would do.

        • Flynn being at the party and bidding against his supposed patient for the right to dance with the patient’s girlfriend is what makes the first-name basis uncomfortable. A doctor still needs to keep a professional distance, and Flynn isn’t doing that.

          Another sign he’s no real therapist is his assertion that kink is just a part of Christian that nothing can ever chance, no matter what. If Flynn’s talking like this to Christian, of course the patient may think the doctor is right, feel powerless to change, and so not bother. Flynn is teaching Christian that the world needs to bend to accommodate him instead of helping him learn how to exist in the world. Flynn reinforces this by telling Ana that nothing can ever change, and so she better learn to deal with it.

          • I actually insist my clients use my first name if there isn’t a cultural issue there. Subtle things like that can make a client feel more comfortable and less likely to see you as an intimidating figure.

            The sad thing is, sexual sadism in a psychiatric context is usually done without their victims consent. We haven’t seen consensual BDSM as a pathology in a long time. The therapist seems to imply that it is.

            James also has no flipping clue about anything to do with therapists. Flynn mentions he does Solution Focused Brief Therapy yet Christian has seen him for years. It’s maddening.

            Also, Christian and Ana should have had the confidentiality conversation with him before he disclosed anything. That is insanely unethical much like the rest of his behavior. He certainly shouldn’t have been disclosing any information about Leila to Christian. It’s not like this stuff was hard to look up so James has no excuse.

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