Dec 232012
 

Christian has pushed Ana into scene in the playroom when she’d rather stop and talk about their relationship. Ana finally safewords, asserting herself in the only way Christian is likely to heed.

“Red,” I whimper. “Red. Red.” The tears course down my face.
He stills. “No!” He gasps, stunned. “Jesus Christ, no.”
He moves quickly, unclipping my hands, clasping me around my waist and leaning down to unclip my ankles, while I put my head in my hands and weep.
“No, no, no. Ana, please. No.”

This is, I think, the second time a BDSM scene between these two people in this room has ended with her in tears. Add to that the possible rape back in book 1, which also ended with her in tears. I bet if you tabulated all the BDSM scenes, or sex scenes, and calculated how many left Ana crying, it would be an unacceptable average.

Picking me up, he moves to the bed, sitting down and cradling me in his lap while I sob inconsolably. I’m overwhelmed . . . my body wound up to breaking point, my mind a blank, and my emotions scattered to the wind. He reaches behind him, drags the satin sheet off the four-poster bed, and drapes it around me.

At least Christian does basic aftercare at this moment.

Turning my face into his neck, I continue to cry, and it’s a cathartic release.
So much has happened over the last few days—fires in computer rooms, car chases, careers planned out for me, slutty architects, armed lunatics in the apartment, arguments, his anger—and Christian has been away. I hate Christian going away . . . I use the corner of the sheet to wipe my nose and gradually become aware that the clinical tones of Bach are still echoing around the room.

“Slutty architects” aside, Ana has understandably felt overwhelmed and stressed out about everything that has happened lately, and Christian has alternated between ignoring her and making demands of her. He hasn’t supported her at all.

I should also mention at this point that when one player safewords, it isn’t necessarily anybody’s fault. A dominant can do everything right and something unpredictable can still happen to the bottom that makes them want to stop the scene: a muscle cramp, a spoken word that sets off an emotional reaction, just not being into it right then, etc. The partner who didn’t safeword is obligated, in my opinion, to look after and support the partner who did safeword, but they needn’t feel guilty.

In this case, Christian should apologize for shoving Ana into this. It’s good that he listened to her safeword, but he should have stopped and listened to her long before they got to this point.

“Why did you do that?” My voice is barely audible as I try to process my scrambled thoughts and feelings.
He shakes his head sadly and closes his eyes. “I got lost in the moment,” he says unconvincingly.
I frown at him, and he sighs. “Ana, orgasm denial is a standard tool in—You never—” He stops. I shift in his lap, and he winces.

A standard tool in what? It’s certainly a BDSM technique and if Christian is determined to punish Ana, there are worse ones he could have chosen. But still, he shouldn’t have been punishing her at all.

So much of what’s going on here wouldn’t happen if Ana just sat down and expressed what she wants in a BDSM scene, and in her relationship. But Christian is Mr. Alpha Male, Mr.  “Always Be Closing”, as required by the mainstream heterosexual romance formula and by consumer capitalism. He has to take “no” as a “maybe”, a “maybe” as a “convince me”, silence as “maybe”. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be this ideal heterosexual male. FSOG isn’t a bestseller despite the abusive themes, but because of them.

I shake my head. I don’t want him to touch my breasts. He shifts so he’s looking down at me, and tentatively raising his hand, he strokes his fingers gently down my face. Tears pool in my eyes again. How can he be so callous one minute and so tender the next?

It’s called the Cycle of Abuse, Ana. It’s actually kind of creepy how these books think they’re playing out some drama of redemption, of beauty saving the beast, when it’s really just romanticizing a hideously dysfunctional and abusive relationship. It’s not “It could be read that way, subtextually.” That’s what it is, quite textually.

“You have to stop doing this,” I murmur.
His brow furrows.
“For a start, you only end up feeling shittier about yourself.”
He snorts. “That’s true,” he mutters. “I don’t like to see you like this.”
“And I don’t like feeling like this. You said on the Fair Lady  that you hadn’t married a submissive.”
“I know. I know.” His voice is soft and raw.
“Well stop treating me like one. I’m sorry I didn’t call you. I won’t be so selfish again. I know you worry about me.”

[…]

“I never promised to obey you, Christian,” I whisper.
“I know.”
“Deal with it, please. For both our sakes. And I will try and be more considerate of your . . . controlling tendencies.”

The question is, can/will he deal with it? We’re coming back to Twilight again, in which being with Bela means Edward has to control a constant urge to consume her, a paranormal romance version of the Mormon abstinence ideology.

And just when you’d think they could stop for a moment and breathe, they get to arguing again about Christian sharing information. He discloses some more details about Jack Hyde’s plan, such as how he got into the building, and that he was planning on kidnapping Ana, and he was even going to leave a note for Christian.

The big reveal at the end of this chapter is that Christian and Jack have some kind of connection because they’re both from Detroit. Millions of people have been born in Detroit, so that’s a bit of a stretch. (If EL James does an “Christian, I am your father” bit, I may give up on this thing entirely.)

Note that the focus is back on an external threat, instead of dealing with Christian and Ana’s issues.

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