50 More Shades of Shut Up Already!

Upon opening the second book of the 50 Shades trilogy, I asked myself, “Why am I putting myself through this shit again?” But I knew why. I was desperate to find that abuse everyone talked about. When you argue about the poor quality of the first book with fans of the trilogy, they immediately declare that you just won’t understand until you read the second and third books, because apparently that is where the “real” chemistry start. And thus, needing to be able to properly debate this whole thing, I set out to wade through the shallow waters of 50 Shades Darker.

We left off in the first book, Anastsia had just fled from Christian’s scary “50 shades of fucked up”. She had decided to let him really lay into her, and after her mild ass beating, she immediately closed up, rejected his after care, and decided that he was a monster and she could not possibly give him everything he needed. Commence scene where she goes home, throws herself on her bed dramatically, and cries. Poor Christian, finally gets the woman he apparently cares for to consent to a little rough handling, and she deserts just like his crack whore mother when she killed herself in front of 4 year old Christian and he was left with her dead body for 4 days.

But, let us jump right into the second book. Ana has begun her job at a publishing house in Seattle. Things seem to be going great, and she’s oblivious to her sleazeball boss’s firtations. Go figure. She receives flowers from everyone’s favorite billionaire 3 days after she stormed out on him, with a card congratulating her on her first day of work. 3 days laterm she gets an email from Mr. Grey, remembering that her friend’s art gallery opening is the next day and she had previously invited him to attend it with her. And of course, since she has no car at this point in time, he ofers to pick her up and take her still. And she, of course, agrees.

When Ana and Christian are reunited, we discover that she has not eaten since last Friday, the night she left him. And this has been a recurring theme with Ana. It seems anytime food is places in front of her, she becomes so sexually distracted that she loses her appetite. Or else, the distraction is her fear of Christian’s past and his deviant sexual appetites. This girl practically never eats. But thankfully, her habits seem to get better throughout the second book. I’ve never met someone who has forgotten to eat or completely lose their appetite as easily as Miss Steele. But, despite all that has transpired between them in the past week, the two slip easily back into their roles; Christian asserting his dominance and Ana acting like a rebellious teenager. They go to the art gallery, they go out to eat. End chapter one. So much excitement.

Chatper two we have negotiations that set the scene for the rest of the book, basically. Christian doesn’t want to lose her again, so he agrees to a vanilla relationship. We learn that Miss Steele doesn’t like pain, but she does like it a little bit. She doesn’t want to be punished (though she would benefit from it greatly), but she does want to be spanked a little. So, the Domly Dom who has never had a normal relationship is now in a normal relationship with a girl who is technically in her early 20s, but has the mentality of a preteen and doesn’t know better than to not send personal emails to you boyfriend through your work email. And even after she is warned that her work emails are monitored, she continues to send things that she definitely shouldn’t. Rebel without a cause, or ignorant teenager? Not that she’s entirely at fault. Christian could’ve stopped emailing her back. Dumb lovestruck socially inept billionaire.

The carrying on between Christian and Ana remains similar to what it was in the first book, but E.L James seems to be trying to turn the tables. Where in the first book Christian was portrayed as this strong character and Ana was unsure and insecure, the second book finds their roles switched. Ana seems to be thriving under this new relationship with Christian. No longer afraid of punishment, she’s become mouthy and more bratty than ever. And Christian, completely out of his element, is suddenly opening up and making himself vulnerable for this woman that he loves. Character develpoment? Or fantasy dreams of the lonely and sexually unfulfilled? Personally I think it’s the latter, but the author will probably argue with me, and arguing with children is tedious and hardly ever gets you anywhere, so I’m going to save myself the headache.

Obviously, now that we know that Christian is not going to dominate little Ana, the threat of abuse is gone from the storyline. So, what are we given to keep us reading once we realize this? We’re given Christian’s past. From the pedophilic Mrs. Robinson to a mentally unwell ex-sub, the drama never stops. The first book was about the contract. Will she or won’t she agree to become his submissive? The second book was definitely all about Christian’s past and battling his demons and putting them to rest. And it’s all rather hilarious, which is really the only redeeming quality of these book is the humor I find in how outrageous this all is.

And what is the icing on the cake of the Chrsitian Grey drama? All those times he told Ana that she wouldn’t want to be with him if she knew why he did the things he did, what was that all about? Well, my friends, I’ll tell you. Mr. Grey chooses his submissives, the women he brings into his house to beat and tie up and fuck… based on how much they look like his mother. Yes, folks, all his pretty brunette submissives remind him of mommy. Which kind of explains why all the women who work for him are blondes. BAM! Secret revealed, we can all go home. Drive safely!

But with all of this past drama squared away and imminent wedding bells, why do we need a third book? Is it just so the author can write out her dream wedding to the kinky billionare man of her dreams? Oh no, E.L. James has one more trick up her sleeve for us. Because after the sleazeball boss I mentioned earlier tries to blackmail Ana with those emails I also previously mentioned, Christian (who, by the way, bought the fucking publishing company Ana works for) has the sleazeball boss fired after Ana kicks him the balls and then Christian’s body guard has a go at him. And at the end of the book, we discover that the reason Christian’s helicopter malfunctioned (yeah, that’s right, I’m not giving you all the details. You want them, you have to suffer through the whole book like I did… Or maybe just ask me… I’ll probably tell you anyway) is because the sleazeball ex boss wants his revenge.

So, will I pick up the third book?… Probably. I’ve made it this far, I feel like I need to finish this out so that when I debate with fans I can be like “I READ THE DAMN BOOKS, I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT WHEN I SAY THIS IS ALL RUBBISH!” But, in terms of fucked up shit and good soap opera drama, the second book really brought it harder than the first book with all that transpires with Christian’s exes. Does Anastasia’s attitude and unrealistic insatiable sexual prowess for a recently deflowered virgin still piss me off because it makes ZERO sense for her to be able to have rough sex all of the days multiple times a day and never seem to become sore? Yes. I’m still searching for decent fictional books with bdsm storylines, but maybe I should stop looking in the erotica for young adults section, because I really feel like that is where this trilogy belongs.

Advertisements

50 Shades of Fuckery

For some time, there was a war on my Facebook newsfeed. There were soldiers on both sides in my friends list, and thus I was confronted with both sides of the argument. I read all the comments, looked at the articles provided as evidence for each side, and in the end, I still didn’t feel like I could properly choose a side. So I’ve embarked on a strange, often boring, usually repetitive journey to enlighten myself so that I might be able to make a rational and constructive opinion about this war, so that maybe I can choose a side. And what have I found so far? I don’t really agree with either side. I do agree with bullet points from each side, but not the entire argument. And what battle am I referring to? Why, none other than the legendary battle of 50 Shades of Grey, the ones who love it versus the ones crying “abuse!”.

Before I read the first book, I read the articles online that vehemently protested the book, claiming it was no dreamy fantasy, but instead a disgusting portrayal of abuse and violence that painted the BDSM lifestyle in ugly and untrue colors. I read the statuses of friends who know a thing or two about the BDSM lifestyle saying the same things the articles were saying, and begging their friends not to go see it or read the books, but instead to find better literature about BDSM. I learned from my few explorations into these lists of “better literature” that I’m not entirely sure there has ever been an “accurate portrayal” of BDSM in the media… At least, not in the general sense of it and not a portrayal that seems to go to the extreme side of the Master/slave end of the spectrum. This includes (so far) the first book of The Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice and the movie The Secretary. I may yet do a short review on those, but that is still to be decided.

Now then, 50 Shades of Grey. I read the book with a keen eye set out for any funny activities that I could yell, “A-ha! Christian Grey, you abusive scum!”, at. Weirdly enough, that never happened. And I had to wonder, who was claiming these books portrayed abuse? Was it the masses of hyper-sensitive people our generation has seemed to breed? Did my friends even read the book, or just listen to the articles with their carefully selected sentences and short excerpts from the book? It’s actually taken me a minute to get this review finally typed up because I was nervous to put my actual thoughts on this book out there. It seemed I was a lone grey area (ha!) in a sea of black and white. But then musician, poet, writer, artist, Dominant William Francis, aka William Control, himself went to see the movie and came up with a similar response to mine.

http://williamcontrol.com/fuck-christian-grey/

I’m sure everyone has heard by now that 50 Shades started out as Twilight fanfiction online. For anyone who has read Twilight (I admit, I read about 2 1/2 of those books. That’s another conversation for another day), it’s easy to see the influence Stephanie Meyer had on E.L. James and the reason they same women who loved Twilight have become smitten with Mr. Grey. The writing in the books is childish, in my opinion. It’s basic, though she does try to throw in some big words here and there. The leading female character is immature in generally all aspects, no matter how hard the writer tried to make her seem strong. I suppose the reason for this is to make her more “relatable”, but I can’t relate to a woman who mentally refers to her self conscious as a seperate entity from herself and has an “inner goddess” who is seperate from both herself and her subconcsious. I also cannot relate to a woman who refers to her vagina as “… there“. Pussy, cunt, vagina, sex, gaping fuck hole. I don’t care what you want to call it, just please, anything but “… there“!

I admit, from the first chapter where I was convinced that the reason Anastasia Steele was a virgin was because she was secretly a lesbian in love with her best friend/roommate, I was mentally chastising myself for allowing myself to feel obligated to read this rubbish just to have an opinion. It’s rough, obviously, living in a world where we need to feel relevant. Most of the time I don’t care. But for some god awful reason, I just had to have a relevent opinion on this… Damn it.

So, klutzy girl next door Miss Steele has to interview mysterious sexy billionaire Mr. Grey because her best friend/roommate is sick. And basically the next day he shows up at the hardware store she works at wanting to buy rope and cable ties, after not being told where she works. “Oh, Christian, fancy meeting you here in Portland at this little locally owned hardware store that I just so happen to work at. What ever made you come here from Seattle basically the day after we met?” Gag me, please, and in exactly the way Ana later decides she doesn’t want to be gagged. Ya know, cuz I’m actually into that shit. But, this turns out to be a regular occurence. And this is the start of where some people start calling out abuse the way you might yell “fire!”. Because, yeah, it’s a little stalkerish. Especially when he starts doing stuff like that a lot. Like, tracking her cell phone. And it’s true that if this were being said about some middle-lower class guy living in a trailer, we’d be freaking out. But, since this is the uber sex god and inconceivably rich CEO and self made hunk Christian Grey, it sets mouths and other things to watering.

But, is it abuse? It’s a little odd, yes. However, it just doesn’t scream abusive to me. I realize that some people who are involved in the kink scene are afraid of people being inspired by these books and not taking proper precautions before attempting their own kinky fuckery, getting hurt, and then shining bad light on the lifestyle. But, Mr. William Control said it best himself when he said that, “The sanctimonious, whining interpretation of this mild BDSM as a cover for domestic abuse is absurd. The notion this is a complete or accurate example of BDSM is shallow… Maybe you’re new and want to find out more about these things you feel hidden within your heart. Ask questions, there are answers to be found. Here’s a little piece of advice: Don’t Google search ‘Submissive’ and expect a full picture of what that actually looks like, because the meaning and achievement of that role is quite different for everyone.”

Ideally I wanted to make this review a little more in depth, with nice littler excerpts from the book and page numbers so you folks could follow along. But I ended up sending the book back to the library before I found time and motivation to get into this. What I can say is that I read through the entire first book, and not once did I see him do anything abusive to her. “But, didn’t you see where she said no and he didn’t lsiten to her?!” Ummm, not really. I saw her say no, and him not do anything to her until he finally got the yes that she didn’t at first say because she was just innocently nervous, not because she didn’t actually want to do the things he wanted to do. Another excerpt from WIlliam Control’s review sums up my thoughts on this nicely: “...Christian spends nearly the whole film politely requesting Anastasia’s consent, trust and devotion. This gesture is probably the most realistic portrayal of a BDSM relationship in the whole placid plotline.

I’ve heard more negative uproar from the feminist extremist community (not the feminist community in general. Don’t start giving me lip, mother fuckers.) and kinksters who themselves are maybe a little more sensitive to rape and abuse than others. And I can see the whole thing from their point of view. I just don’t agree with it. The few portrayals of BDSM in the media I’ve seen seem to focus on a Master/slave dynamic and fall into more extreme places on the spectrum. And this is not an unknown occurrence. But you know what? Floggers and restraints and nipple clamps have been sold in sex stores forever. Putting a 50 Shades of Grey tag on them suddenly has everyone scooping them up, yes, but that’s okay. This is the tamest BDSM portrayal I’ve ever seen, some of the softest of the soft core erotica I’ve ever been subjected to, and if it shines a little more public attention on kinky fuckery, then more power to it, no matter how poorly written it may be. Because the ones who are serious about it will find their way.