Grey: Monday, May 23, 2011
The chapter kicks off with Christian Grey jogging to “O Fortuna”, because nothing says “eclectic music tastes” like “the one choral song literally everyone knows”. Christian gets back from his run, wondering if Ana will respond to his last email. About sex. In case you forgot the one thing going on in this story. As she has not, he writes an email to Elena AKA the older woman who seduced teenage Christian Grey with a BDSM lifestyle AKA Christian’s business partner who owns a hair salon whose motto is revealed to be “For The Beauty That Is You ™”, which is definitely the first attempt E L James made at coming up with a hair salon’s motto.
Sorry not to get back to you. I’ve been busy all weekend, and I’ll be in Portland all this week. I don’t know about next weekend, either, but if I’m free, I’ll let you know. Latest results for the beauty business look promising. Good going, Ma’am…
Yo, if any given email contains a not-subtle inside joke about your past shared sex life, I hardly think you can claim that things are just friendship and business between you two.
I press send, wondering again what Elena would make of Ana… and vice versa.
Thankfully, we break away from Christian’s idiotic inner dialogue to get… okay, I lied. It’s still his idiotic inner dialogue, but about other stuff.
There’s a ping from my laptop as a new e-mail arrives. It’s from Ana. […] “I slept very well, thank you— for some strange reason— Sir.” […] “Sir” with a capital S; the girl has been reading, and possibly researching.
Ughhhhhhhh 1) Can you really assume that just because she said “sir”, that she’s been doing research into BDSM culture? This doesn’t seem like a totally out there kind of joke to make. 2) How the fuck could “reading” and “researching” possibly entail separate things in this scenario? Christian and Ana email back and forth about whether she’ll take the laptop Christian gave her, which makes him reflect on how Leila was more willing to accept his gifts.
Ah, Leila. She was a good submissive, but she became too attached and I was the wrong man. Fortunately, that wasn’t for long. She’s married now and happy. I turn my attention back to Ana’s e-mail and reread.
What’s amazing about Grey is that it can be so misogynistic, scattershot, and boring as shit, all in such a short amount of time. Ana quips that she can’t email him all morning because “some of us have to work for a living”, which intriguingly affords an opportunity to show what impressively tiny corners E L James manages to keep writing herself into somehow. Because Christian’s response was already in Fifty Shades of Grey, but his thought process that she wrote for Grey… does not match.
[I] decide to set the record straight with Ana. […] “I work for a living, too.”
Grey continues to take advantage of getting to flesh out what a great boss Christian Grey is to his (male) employees, when he suggests Taylor take the next couple days off and visit his daughter, since his schedule looks like it’ll be fairly light. Grey also adds minor details to the story’s minor characters (which is fine, but it really should try to nail down its main characters first…)
I hope his ex-wife isn’t giving him grief. I pay for his daughter’s schooling as another incentive for him to stay in my employment; he’s a good man, and I don’t want to lose him.
Yay, now we know more about Christian Grey’s relationship with Taylor. It’s like we’re reading a whole different story. The story goes back to Christian and Ana emailing each other. Ana emails Christian about doing research because she’d “like another A”, which Grey unsurprisingly finds a way to make more nauseating.
Yes. That A was something else. Closing my eyes, I see and feel her mouth around my cock once more. Fuck.
Ok, I know I toss around quite a few fucks on this blog, but surely I can still criticize how frequently E L James can’t think of a way for Christian to articulate his emotions aside from a one-word sentence that just reads “Fuck.”?
“What would you suggest I put into a search engine?” […] Shit! Why didn’t I think about this?
This book takes place in 2011. Why would you think about this? Ana sends the “Okay, I’ve seen enough. It was nice knowing you.” email that, in Fifty Shades of Grey, prompted Christian to show up in her apartment, unannounced, to seduce her into changing her mind. So it would presumably be fairly insightful to see this from Christian’s point of view. Just what was going on through Christian’s head while he was doing this?
That’s it? No discussion? Nothing. Just “It was nice knowing you”? What. The. Fuck. I sit back in my chair, dumbfounded. Nice? Nice. NICE.
Christian tries to write an email in response (with the subject line “NICE?” in all-caps, which isn’t terrifying at all), but can’t think of anything to write. And so opts for the obvious next best thing: a premeditated attempt to go have sex with her until her “no” becomes a “yes”.
She needs to look me in the eye and say no. Yep. […] From my messenger bag I take some condoms and slide them into the back pocket of my pants
Unsurprisingly, this is all way more disturbing from Christian’s point of view. Since this scene existed in Fifty Shades of Grey, maybe this could have been an opportunity for E L James to make her thoroughly-criticized Christian Grey seem, say, less manipulative. Nope.
As I pull up in the R8 outside the apartment she shares with Kavanagh, I wonder if this is a wise move.
Kavanagh answers when I knock at the door. She’s surprised to see me. “Hi, Christian. Ana didn’t say you were coming over.” She stands aside to let me enter. “She’s in her room. I’ll call her.” “No. I’d like to surprise her.” I give her my most earnest and endearing look and in response she blinks a couple of times. Whoa. That was easy. Who would have thought? How gratifying.
And that’s how you romanticize rape culture.
Ana suddenly jumps, startled by my presence. Yes. I’m here because of your e-mail.
“Would you like a drink?” she squeaks. “No thank you, Anastasia.” Good. She’s found her manners.
Have you seen the 1989 Batman movie, with Michael Keaton as Batman, Jack Nicholson as the Joker, and Prince as all the music? You know that scene where the Joker is destroying the museum, but stops his henchman from destroying one painting, pauses to consider it, and says, “I like this one”, and he leaves only that painting in tact? You know why that scene exists? Aside from because it’s pretty funny, it’s because one trick that stories use to make their villains likeable is to make them look cultured, which subconsciously registers as a significant redeeming value. Why am I bringing any of this up? Because, as can be seen in this last quote, Grey is using the exact same trick, but with Christian Grey, the leading man in a romance novel.
Anyway, enough about Batman. Time to talk about Christian Grey’s relationship with God, I guess.
“And you decided that it was nice knowing me? Do you mean knowing me in the biblical sense?” Her cheeks pink. “I didn’t think you were familiar with the Bible.” “I went to Sunday school, Anastasia. It taught me a great deal.” Catechism. Guilt. And that God abandoned me long ago.
Christian tell Ana that he “thought I should come and remind you how nice it was knowing me”, which prompts Ana to jump him, because of course. And so we have our typical E L James sex scene. It has no awareness of when the events taking place stop being consensual and starts being threatening:
“If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet, too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you. Keep quiet. Katherine is probably outside listening right now.”
It’s fucking disgusting:
[I] shift her so she’s stretched out and lying on her sheets, and not that dainty, homemade quilt. We’re going to make a mess.
It has a constant undercurrent of horror:
her breasts are pert and vulnerable, just how I like them.
And it follows some insanely alien definition of “sexy”:
Taking a sip of wine, I lean down and kiss her, pouring the wine into her mouth. She laps it up
“But wait”, you might be asking yourself right now. “Didn’t Fifty Shades have a scene where Christian interrupts their foreplay and left Ana in the room to go get glasses and ice? And didn’t we just learn that Kate is out there? What happened there?” Well, fortunately, Grey answers these questions. With Christian’s psychotic behavior.
- Kavanagh looks up from where she’s sitting on the sofa, reading, and her eyebrows rise in surprise. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a shirtless man, Kavanagh, because I won’t believe you.
- “Um. In the kitchen. I’ll get them for you. Where’s Ana?” Ah, some concern for her friend. Good.
- “Are you going to come and help Ana with the move?” Her eyes flash. She’s challenging me. […] Fuck off, Kavanagh.
I mean, I just assumed Christian disliked Kate in Fifty Shades because of his general hatred of anyone in Ana’s life who wasn’t him, and also women. But why on earth does Christian actively hate Kate so much? After sex, Ana elaborates on what her email meant, lest the book actually have us thinking she’s only still interested in Christian because he just sexed her into changing her mind after she expressed disinterest in continuing their relationship. Ana explains that she has a few questions based on her research.
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t made up my mind. Will you collar me?” Her question surprises me. “You have been doing your research. I don’t know, Anastasia. I’ve never collared anyone.” “Were you collared?” she asks. “Yes.” “By Mrs. Robinson?” “Mrs. Robinson?” I laugh out loud. Anne Bancroft in The Graduate.
How the shit is “Anne Bancroft in The Graduate” a more universal explanation than “Mrs. Robinson”? Christian continues to tell Ana that she can’t talk to anyone but him about sex, which – and I feel like I’ve said this before – is much more unsettling and also utterly disconnected from reality from Christian’s point of view.
If you’d like, I can introduce you to one of my former subs. You could talk to her.” “Is this your idea of a joke?” she demands. “No, Anastasia.” I’m surprised by her vehemence and shake my head to reinforce my denial. It’s perfectly normal for a submissive to check with exes that their new Dominant knows what he’s doing.
“I’m not offended. I’m appalled.” “Appalled?” “I don’t want to talk to one of your ex-girlfriends, slave, sub, whatever you call them.” Oh. “Anastasia Steele, are you jealous?” I sound bewildered… because I am.
So there’s the obvious criticism here that Christian continues to only ever have self-centered misreadings of anything Ana ever says or does, but in addition to that, “I sound bewildered… because I am”. Seriously? You know, E L James, since you’re the writer, if you tell us what a character is feeling, we’ll probably believe you. Because you’re telling the fucking story. To be fair, Ana is about as amused as I am that Christian is so insanely oblivious and kicks him out. Which prompts some long-awaited self-reflection for Chr- fuck it, you know he’s being a manipulative misogynist.
- Her petulance is irritating, and were she truly mine, it would not be tolerated.
- I still want this. Why, though, I don’t know; she’s so difficult.
And a hypocrite:
- For the first time— well, maybe not the first time— I feel a little used, for sex
- “Please pass me my sweatpants,” she orders, pointing to them. Wow. Miss Steele can be a bossy little thing.
And… I don’t even know what has to be wrong with someone for them to misread this one:
“Yes, ma’am,” I quip, knowing that she won’t get the reference. But she narrows her eyes. She knows I’m making fun of her
Christian Grey: confused that other people can magically figure out that he’s being a dick to them.