Jun 092012

The morning after, Christian’s hangups about wasted food come up over breakfast with Ana. Kate calls and checks up on Ana.

This is another worrisome moment. Because of the non-disclosure agreement she signed without reading, Ana isn’t sure how much she can tell Kate about her night with Christian. It’s hard not to feel that there is a subtle process of isolation at work, with Christian introducing Ana to this new world with new rules, and Ana being legally prohibited from talking about them with anybody else and getting a second opinion or reality check. Again, there’s a creepy sense that Ana just doesn’t know enough to be at all concerned about the patterns of this relationship.

We also learn this is apparently the first time Christian has had vanilla sex with anybody, which is another improbability. Nobody is born into BDSM. And very few kinky people have zero interest in vanilla sex.

Remember that contract Christian brought out a while back, the one about which Ana quibbled over a few points and never signed? I was all set for the idea that Christian has no interest in vanilla sex with Ana, that he only wanted to have a BDSM relation. Instead, we’ve had two chapters of vanilla (though rather domineering) sex, without any explicit negotiation. To go back to the car analogy, Christian just can’t take his foot off the accelerator, but Ana has managed to ask him to steer the car in the direction she wants to go.

BDSM negotiation is something that even people with no interest in BDSM could benefit from learning about. Instead of improvisation and guesswork, partners can set limits, establish ground rules, and otherwise be clear and direct in their communication. You can say, “I think you’re hot, but I just don’t want to have sex with you just right now.” You can say, “I don’t like it when you X, but love it it when you Y, and how do you feel about trying Z?”

Continuing, Christian introduces Ana to giving fellatio. For someone who’s never had any kind of sexual experience until a few days ago, she takes to it quickly, and even proves she has no gag reflex and she swallows. (She better not have her clitoris in the back of her throat.)

Post-fellatio, Christian brings up the contract again. Ana gives one of her non-answers, to which he decides is an unspoken yes (an extremely dangerous assumption in vanilla sex and even moreso in BDSM). “He takes my hand and leads me back to his bedroom, leaving me reeling, so I follow him meekly. Stunned.”

Finally, we get to some BDSM play, a little over a quarter of the way through the book, when Christian puts her in bondage. Unfortunately, it’s a silk necktie, just like the one on the cover, around her wrists.

There are a lot of things you can use to restrain a person. Only a small fraction of them are safe, and silk neckties or scarves are in the “not good” majority. Silk fabric (not silk rope) is too prone to slip and twist, especially if it is around wrists which have lots of vulnerable nerves, blood vessels and tendons. Christian should use thick, woven rope or, even better, wide padded cuffs for Ana’s first bondage session. Silk scarves or neckties have their place as blindfolds or friction toys, but not bondage.

While the book doesn’t describe exactly how Christian ties her, I should also mention that the right kinds of ties are important. A bondage tie should not tighten under strain, and should also be easy to undo.

I’m going to give Christian the benefit of the doubt and assume he has a pair of paramedic scissors or emergency shears handy. These are used by EMTs to cut through clothes to get at injured people, and are also useful to get through rope, cuffs or silk neckties in emergencies. Every person who gives or receives bondage should have a pair in their toybag.

For a change, Christian goes slow with Ana for her first bondage session, just oral stimulation and a little love-biting. However, there’s still the problem that Christian is pressing ahead with this without any real negotiation with Ana beyond asking her “Trust me?” Actually, it isn’t entirely clear that Ana grasps the idea that she has any control over this situation. There’s been no discussion of safewords or physical or emotional limits, or discussion of what she wants. For instance, Ana might have epilepsy or asthma or some other condition that could cause problems, and Christian could be caught by surprise and have no idea what to do to help her. Ana hasn’t said “no” to anything, but she hasn’t given an unequivocal “yes” to anything either.

Do I need to mention that most women find it difficult or impossible to orgasm from vaginal intercourse, especially women who are only just starting their sexual lives?

This is also when Christian turns up the pressure on Ana again. “If you give yourself to me, it will be so much better. Trust me, Anastasia, I can take you places you don’t even know exist.” Ana again, says nothing, but just moments ago she was thinking about sex as something done to her, not something she does for herself.

Their tryst is interrupted when Christian’s mother appears. Once again, Christian Grey and/or the narrative has the accelerator on the floor.

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