Jun 012012

Christian flies Ana in his private helicopter to his private building in Seattle. Christian keeps dangling his Gothic secret before Ana, who keeps batting at it like a not-terribly-bright cat pawing at a string.

They also talk about Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which is supposed to be familiar to both of them. Not only do I not think either of them have actually read it, I wonder if E.L. James the author has read it either.

Tess is not a romance. It’s not like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in which the steel-hard Mr. Darcy turns out to have a heart of soft, squishy gold. The title character is a peasant woman seduced, chewed up and spat out by socially and economically privileged men, and the entire society they represent. If anything, the novel is a bitter, pessimistic critique of the fantasy of a woman’s social advancement through marriage.

A woman who had studied Tess would be well aware of the ways of inequality, not just of men and women but of rich and poor. She would know that inequality is still a part of our world, just as it was in 1891, when Hardy wrote his book. That Ana apparently sees no parallel between herself and Tess, and is not aware that she can suffer the modern-day equivalent of Tess’ fate, strains credibility.

Over wine, Christian brings out a nondisclosure agreement, which she signs without reading, despite Christian’s objections.

I had to stop reading after that. My eyes were rolling so hard that I couldn’t see the words.

This is the point at which I stopped holding out any hope that Fifty Shades of Grey would in any way be a good teaching text for BDSM, a way to introduce people to concepts in a easy way.

If Ana had any common sense, she would at least read the NDA that is presented to her by this weird, uptight, stalking billionaire. In fact, if she was a good submissive, she would be careful to read it, to understand what she’s getting into.

BDSM is built on contracts, sometimes quite literally. It’s all about reciprocal trust and informed consent. Everybody involved knows what is going to happen, and everybody has brought up their limits, physical and psychological. You always read the contract. (There are people who talk about TPE, total power exchange, but that’s another topic.)

If Christian was a good dominant, he would realize that Anastasia’s actions indicate she has serious problems in her judgment, and stop or at least slow down. He might at least order her to read the nondisclosure agreement. You’d think an uptight control freak like Christian is supposed to be would insist on it. He does none of these things.

Instead, he accepts her signed NDA and takes her immediately to see his penthouse’s play room.

This is not sexy, or romantic, or passionate, or daring, or anything resembling good BDSM. This is an overly aggressive, experienced dominant combined with an insufficiently defensive, completely unaware submissive. In reality, this would be a train wreck.

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