May 292012

Ana’s internal exclamations of “Crap!” are becoming tiresome. She doesn’t even swear like an adult.

After the photo shoot (and why does Ana have to be present for that?), Christian asks her out for coffee. Maybe I’m paranoid, but Christian’s actions still seem a little suspicious. For example, he makes a point of separating Ana from her friends and being alone with her, instead of, say, meeting with all of them for a little post-session lunch.

Money changes things, particularly when one person in a relationship has a lot of it and the other has a lot less. A woman I know once told me about working as an interior designer, which involved lunch and dinner meetings with the men who owned deluxe offices and mansions. When you’re a woman having dinner with a guy who thinks nothing of $600 dinner-and-drinks bill, there’s a tension in the air, and sometimes there are… expectations.

On the way to coffee, Christian takes Ana’s hand. This seems a little forward between two people who barely know each other. Again, my “to catch a predator” radar was pinging a bit. The thing is, if the book wasn’t constantly reiterating how virginal and innocent and inexperienced Ana was (we’re told that nobody’s ever even held her hand in public), I wouldn’t be as concerned. I’d be confident that Ana could set some boundaries and exert some control over this interaction, as most early-20s women would at least have some idea how to do. But Ana is a babe in the woods, we are repeatedly told, and she seems to have no defences or boundaries or bullshit detector. Her low self-esteem also leaves her vulnerable to manipulation.

While nobody has yet brought up anything overtly BDSM, this is a good time to bring up protocols for meeting people in the Scene. In this case, Ana and Christian are in a public place, a coffee shop, which is far safer than having the initial meeting in a private place.

When Ana admits she finds Christian intimidating, he says, “You should find me intimidating.” A dominant who is always “on”, who can’t step back and take off the pressure even with a total newbie sub, is worrisome. He follows this up with eliminating the possibility of any boyfriend and then grilling her about her family.

I should emphasize that this kind of safety-conscious thinking is not only necessary for female subs. Male subs can get screwed over too. (And doms of any gender need to be cautious when meeting new people, too.)

One paradox of BDSM (and there are many) is that to be a good, healthy and happy submissive, you have to be assertive. You must know your emotional, physical and mental boundaries, communicate them clearly to your play partners and enforce them. Ana, who gives up her family history and intimate emotional details to Christian with only the slightest encouragement on a second meeting, doesn’t.

In keeping with this book’s Twilight ancestry, Ana apparently can’t even cross a road without stumbling and needing Christian to catch her in his arms. Again, there’s this strange disavowal of Ana’s desire. Instead of taking a risk, being assertive, and making some move towards greater physical intimacy, Ana stumbles into a moment of physical intimacy with Christian. The disengenousness is laid on so thick you could spread it on toast.

And for the first time in twenty-one years, I want to be kissed. I want to feel his mouth on me.

We’re supposed to believe that not only is she a 21-year-old virgin, but that she’s never even wanted to be kissed until now? (Let alone want to kiss someone else.) Not even a little adolescent experimentation? Never even played doctor as a pre-teen? I know there are asexual people out there, but I find it highly unlikely that a woman of this day and age could reach the age of 21 without any sexual desire whatsoever and then suddenly be overcome with lust when she meets the right man.

  3 Responses to “The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey, Chapter 3”

  1. I’d like to point out (as an asexual) that there is A LOT of pressure on asexual teenagers and young adults to try things like kissing and that many confuse say romantic and strong friendship love for sexual attraction. This get’s a lot of otherwise confident and knowledgeable young people into some pretty hot water.

    For example, my abuser (I’m a girl, she’s a girl) used the fact that I didn’t have any sexual or even friendship desires for guys to “persuade” me that I therefor must be a gay for her. With my own feelings of shame and broken-ness over the issue it wasn’t hard for her to manipulate and abuse me.

    So, no, in this day and age saying, “Well I know there are asexual people out there” is not an exploitation for why one might be so clueless and inexperienced at /21/. I was 12 when a kiss was forced on me for the first time.

    I just think that comment is in kind of bad taste, all things considered.

    • I know this comment was from two years ago, so I’m just putting my two cents here for posterity more than call you out.

      In my experience as an asexual, I had never been kissed until I was 19 and I had the only the barest experiment in sensuality when I was 17, which I ended almost immediately because of how unpleasant it was. So, I find being clueless and inexperienced at 21 completely plausible – I would still be if I hadn’t met the right person at 19. I still am clueless in many respects, and I’m happy to be so – sex is not my thing.
      If Ana were on tumblr, she would probably describe her sexuality as “demi-sexual’ – how a friend of mine describes being sexually aroused only with specific people, and dead to the world otherwise. ‘demi-sexuality’ may sound absurd or unlikely, but that is the testimony of many who identify as such and I have no cause to doubt them. I guess what I’m saying is that the “chaste female who is a hero-specific sexual tiger” is a troublesome trope for many reasons not related to its plausibility, reasons that this blog goes into detail about in other chapters.

      • i would like to register my deep amusement that I was assigned a snowflake-looking avatar after using the word “demi-sexual”. A-plus random selection system there XD

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