Way back when we started reading this book, our friend who told us about it said that eventually you hit a point where more obscure sex-type things take place, thus leading to a quote she will probably never live down: “Fifty Shades of Grey made me Google things”.
Here, at chapter twenty, we reach that point where we have to Google things.
At the end of the last chapter, Christian took Ana from his family’s dinner to go spank and fuck her to punish her for something or other, and I discovered I had finished my drink.
And in true Fifty Shades of Grey fashion, during the build-up to what in a different book would almost certainly be a rape scene, we take the time to provide unnecessary detail about the scenery.
Christian bursts through the wooden door of the boathouse and pauses to flick on some switches. Fluorescents ping and buzz in sequence as harsh white light floods the large wooden building. From my upside-down view, I can see an impressive cruiser in the dock floating gently on the dark water, but I only get a brief look before he’s carrying me up some wooden stairs to the room above.
This opening paragraph kind of summarizes everything that is terrible about the writing inFifty Shades. Note the tonally mismatched juxtaposition between Ana’s excessive description of unnecessary detail and the not-sexy sexiness. There’s imminent barely-even-kind-of-isn’t-even-at-all-consensual sex, and she decides it isn’t anywhere near as worth being concerned about as adequately explaining what time of boat the Greys have in this room.
Whew, that was a mouthful. Let me try that again, in a shorter sentence: awkward, rapey sex is about to happen, and we are looking at boats instead of worrying about it.
But then suddenly Ana stands the fuck up for herself and tells Christian, “I don’t want you to spank me” and TOUCHES HIS FACE AND KISSES HIS MOUTH (note: not how this is worded in the book. Sadly?), and Christian, constantly unaware of what intimacy is, responds with this:
“What are you doing to me?” he whispers, confused.
And then we get right back to Christian saying super creepy things that seriously make me question if this is or isn’t actually sexual assault:
“And if you’re not going to let me spank you – which you deserve – I’m going to fuck you on the couch this minute, quickly, for my pleasure, not yours. [...] This is mine,” he whispers aggressively. “All mine. Do you understand?”
Christian tells Ana that she isn’t allowed to come, and Ana’s thoughts in response are “Holy crap… how do I stop?” and, you know, I just don’t have a witty joke for this one.
“Don’t touch yourself. I want you frustrated. That’s what you do to me by not talking to me, but denying me what’s mine”
While most of this sentence is Christian Grey being his usual, terrifying self, there’s actually a fair point in here somewhere, in a way. As much as Ana complains about how Christian doesn’t want a normal relationship, she isn’t really putting very much effort into the relationship part of their relationship either.
But Christian Grey gives Ana back her panties, so at least we’re resolving the important issues.
Back at the house, everybody’s getting reading to leave, and Ana tries to tell Kate to stop purposefully antagonizing Christian, to which Kate responds:
“He needs antagonizing; then you can see what he’s really like. Be careful, Ana – he’s so controlling.”
So Kate makes a reasonable point, and then we turn the page and BAM:
I KNOW WHAT HE’S REALLY LIKE – YOU DON’T. I scream at her in my head.
In response, Kate sticks her tongue out at Ana. Yep, these characters are adults. And then there are a couple pages of everybody talking about how much they like Ana (seriously), and, like always, Ana responds the same way the reader does: with complete and utter confusion.
“Well, it seems my family likes you, too,” he murmurs.
Yes. Too. As in, in addition to. As in in addition to him. How is this confusing. Have you never used words before?
But then something really weird happens – they have a normal conversation about their feelings! Ana says that she feels she was only invited because Elliot brought Kate, and Christian is shocked because he wanted her to meet his family! Then Christian asks (after having “some internal struggle” – people in this book are acting like real people for once OH MY GOD) if he could come with Ana to Georgia and meet her mother. Ana says that part of the trip is to get some distance and think their relationship-thing through, and, guys, after 350 pages of watching these people struggle with being actual people, I’m kind of proud of them!
he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark. Can I not guide him into the light?
Okay, I’m proud of them in much the same way you’d be proud of a four year old for tying their shoelaces all by themselves. It’s not actually impressive by normal people standards, but it’s pretty impressive for them.
We’re coming near to the end of the bridge, and the road is once more bathed in the neon light of the street lamps so his face is intermittently in the light and the dark. And it’s such a fitting metaphor.
Okay, stop. You’re ruining the moment.
Christian asks Ana to stay with him for the night and it’s actually in a feelings way and this is nice, and then they’re gonna have sex and that’s a little disappointing, but, whatever, they’re a new couple in the throes of lust, still okay.
“Don’t you want to fuck?” He asks.
“No,” I breathe [...] “I want you to make love to me.” [...]
“Ana, I…” he runs his hands through his hair. Two hands. Jeez, he’s really bewildered. “I thought he did?” he says eventually.
Okay, well, at least there’s no way they could fuck up the foreplay at this point.
in one breathtakingly swift move he removes my dress like a magician, grasping it at the hem and pulling it smoothly and fleeting me over my head.
“Ta-da!” he says playfully
I giggle and applaud politely. He bows gracefully, grinning.
The trend of making everything horrible continues as Ana decides it’s a good idea to use sex as a bargaining tool to find out more about Christian’s dark, mysterious, dark past of mystery. Because what better way to try to bring out the romance in sex than to make the person you’re sleeping with discuss why they’re in therapy immediately afterwards?
Oh, also, vaginal balls!
And, guys, I have to be honest with you: this section is gold. They each put the balls in their mouths to lubricate them and Ana thinks “Fuck, this is sexier than the toothbrush.” Man, E L James must really hate going to the dentist, because I assure you, every single one who has read this book has probably killed themselves.
Then he puts them in her and has her turn around, go get her a glass of water, and spanks her, and, once again, we go into a crazy amount of detail describing how he spanks her. And then it’s basically the same sex scene it always is: Ana talks about being filled, groans loudly, has an orgasm like three sentences later and describes it with a string of adjectives that may or may not make sense (this time it’s “delicious, violent, exhausting orgasm”, and, well, she’s done worse), and then Christian says something really weird.
“Your ass is a glorious color”
And then Ana insists on him telling a dark secret of his past, like he promised, and he reveals that his birth mother was a crack whore, and Ana is shocked that asking someone for details about their disturbing formative years may, in fact, be disturbing.