Grey: Chapter 4 (Thursday, May 19, 2011)

Hello again, good people of the interwebs.  I am here with another instalment of misery, in the form of Grey, chapter 4!  Try to contain your joy…

Now, you may remember that at the end of the last chapter, Ana had wanted Grey to kiss her, but instead, he’d warned her off with the classic “I’m not the man for you” manipulative bullsh!t that abusers so dearly love to use.  As we start this chapter, Grey is having a terrible nightmare and gets up, only to glance at himself in the mirror and look away in disgust.  Sadly, it’s not because he realises he’s a vile creature who treats women appallingly.  It’s because he turned Ana down.

The thing is, this whole opening is so exceptionally melodramatic, I feel I can’t possibly keep it from you.  It simply wouldn’t be fair.  So…

No!  My scream bounces off the bedroom walls and wakes me from my nightmare.  I’m smothered in sweat, with the stench of stale beer, cigarettes and poverty in my nostrils…

What, exactly, does “poverty” smell like?!

…and a lingering dread of drunken violence.  Sitting up, I put my head in my hands as I try to calm my escalated heart rate and erratic breathing.  It’s been the same for the last four nights.  Glancing at the clock, I see it’s 3:00am.

So, hey, who wants to make a guess as to how many days it’s been since Grey turned Ana down?  Anyone?  Yup, four.  See, EL James is doing two things, here.  Firstly, she’s reminding us that poor ickle Christian had a truly awful time as a child, therefore nobody can blame him for his behaviour as an adult.  Secondly, she’s highlighting that his nightmares have gotten worse since he turned Ana down.  The incredibly obvious subtext being that if Ana was there, he’d be okay.  Because she could “fix” him.  It’s important to note, because this is where the “Ana is responsible for fixing Christian” crap really starts.  It’s the same in the original Fifty Shades; once Grey tells Ana he’s no good for her, she’s intrigued and starts wondering about his past and whether she could change him.  Here, from his POV, EL James is very clearly setting up Ana as the one who can change Christian’s life and rescue him from himself.  Never mind that she doesn’t change him at all; it’s not her job to change him in the first place.  That’s up to him.  He has to recognise his behaviour and want to change.  Which, you know, he literally never does.

But hey, on with the drama…

I have two major meetings tomorrow…today…and I need a clear head and some sleep.  Damn it, what I’d give for a good night’s sleep.  And I have a round of fucking golf with Bastille.  I should cancel the golf; the thought of playing and losing darkens my already bleak mood.

Christian Grey: a man so precious, the thought of losing a game of golf has the capacity to affect his mood.  He really needs a better therapist than Dr Flynn, because WOW, issues.

Clambering out of bed, I wander down the corridor and into the kitchen.  There, I fill a glass with water and catch sight of myself, dressed only in pyjama pants, reflected in the glass wall at the other side of the room.  I turn away in disgust.

You turned her down.

She wanted you.

And you turned her down.

It was for her own good.

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Good LORD man, get over yourself.  Most of us have, at some point in our lives, turned down a person who was romantically interested in us.  It’s not like you burned down her apartment (although I wouldn’t put it past you).

Grey ponders whether he needs a new sub to take his mind off Ana and he informs the reader that Elena usually finds him “suitable candidates,” which is super healthy, given that she’s the older woman who molested him when he was underage…

He whines on for a few paragraphs about how beautiful Ana is and how much he wants her.  He contemplates calling his shrink, if Dr Flynn wasn’t in England on vacation, explaining charmingly:

His psychobabble shit would stop me feeling this lousy.

Would it?  Because you don’t seem to listen to any of it.  Besides which, Dr Flynn enables your awful behaviour, so…

Anyway, Grey starts wondering if he can find a way to apologise to Ana.  This becomes relevant, when he hears a news item about a rare Jane Austen manuscript being auctioned off and thinks:

Christ.  Even the news reminds me of Little Miss Bookworm.

Why does his internal monologue so often make it sound like he really doesn’t like Ana?!  In the last few chapters, he’s criticised her dress sense constantly and now he’s calling her “Little Miss Bookworm,” which, I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I know he’s an asshole and I’m looking for stuff, just seems to come off as a little sneering towards her.

He remembers he just happens to have two Thomas Hardy first editions – Jude The Obscure and Tess of The D’Ubervilles in his library.

Both are bleak books, with tragic themes.  Hardy had a dark, twisted soul.

Like me. 

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He decides to send Ana the first edition of Tess of The D’Ubervilles “with a suitable quote.”  He admits that it’s “not the most romantic book,” but to be honest, the way he talks about the plot and the non-romantic parts just makes it sound like EL James has read the CliffsNotes and wants to sound knowledgeable, after critics questioned the choice of book and quote, in the original Fifty Shades of Grey.

As he sits in the back of the car on his way to work, Grey tells the reader that he used fiction as an escape as a teenager.

My mother always marvelled that I read; Elliot not so much.  I craved the escape that fiction provided.  He didn’t need an escape.

Because Grey is SO MUCH MORE TRAGIC than Elliot and nobody could ever understand such things!  Also, the way that sentence is worded makes it look as though Elliot didn’t marvel that Christian read, but their mother did.  Just saying.

Grey ignores the receptionist who gives him what he calls a “flirty wave.”

Every day… Like a cheesy tune on repeat.

Ignoring her, I make my way to the elevator that will take me straight to my floor.

Here’s the thing, douche-canoe… You’re that girl’s boss.  Have you literally never considered that she smiles and waves at you whenever you come in, because you pay her freaking wages and she figures she ought to be friendly and polite towards you, even though you’re a massive ass-hat?!

Probably not.  This guy is, after all, the most arrogant human who has ever lived.

But notice how he talks to the security guy:

“Good morning, Mr Grey,” Barry on security greets me as he presses the button to summon the elevator.

“How’s your son, Barry?”

“Better, Sir.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

See, he refers to this guy by name.  He has clearly spoken with Barry before about his life, because he references Barry’s son having been unwell.  Compare that to the way that Grey treats women who works for him.  He mentally admonishes them all for “flirting” with him when they smile or are polite towards him and he cuts them off when they try to speak.  Don’t believe me?  Look how he treats Andrea, his PA, when he gets out of the elevator:

“Good morning, Mr Grey.  Ros wants to see you to discuss the Darfur project.  Barney would like a few minutes…”

I hold my hand up to silence her.

Yup.  Christian Grey is a misogynist.

Just to ram home the point, he informs the reader that he can’t see Olivia around and that it’s a relief, because she’s “always mooning over me and it’s fucking irritating.”  And when Andrea asks Grey if he’d like milk in the coffee he originally wanted Olivia to get, he replies “not today” and then smirks to himself, because he likes to keep the office girls guessing as to how he likes his coffee.

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Because women are beneath him, duh.

Of course, once he’s at his desk and should be working, Grey immediately calls Welch and tells him to find out when Ana’s last exam is, “as a matter of priority.”  Because what’s more important, eh?  Running the global business you brag about, or gaining further information without consent?!

Next up, there is a seriously, seriously dull meeting with Ros about business stuff, which genuinely, I might print out and keep beside my bed for when I next struggle to get to sleep.  You can really tell the sections where EL James knew she had to pad this crap out and just decided to fill it with unnecessary details that I doubt even the biggest fan of this abomination is interested in.  The only thing that may be of interest is Grey pouting over the idea of opening up an arm of his empire in Detroit, because he was born there and spent the first four, tragic years of his life, there.  But that doesn’t make much sense, because if he knows there are poor people there, and he’s dedicated part of his business to feeding the hungry in Africa because he went hungry as a kid, why doesn’t he want to create job opportunities for poor families in his home city?!

Andrea interrupts this meeting to let Grey know that Welch is back on the line with the information he asked for: Ana’s last exam is – conveniently – tomorrow.

Before long, it’s lunchtime (thank goodness; we know Grey does not tolerate hunger – EVER), but EL James can’t even write a simple lunch scene without reminding us that all women love Christian Grey, but Christian Grey hates all women:

At 12:30, Olivia shuffles into my office with lunch.  She’s a tall, willowy girl with a pretty face.  Sadly, it’s always misdirected at me with longing.  She’s carrying a tray with what I hope is something edible.  After a busy morning, I’m starving.  She trembles as she puts it on my desk.

Tuna salad.  Okay.  She hasn’t fucked this up for once.

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Dude, if she’s “shuffling” into your office and “trembles” as she gives you your lunch, it might not be that she has this big, giant crush on you.  She’s probably freaking terrified of the vile boss who treats all of the women in his company with such enormous contempt.  Ugh.

Anyway, Olivia also has some blank notecards for Grey to choose from, in order to write a quote to send to Ana.

“Great,” I mutter.  Now go.  She scuttles out.

I take one bite of tuna to assuage my hunger, then reach for my pen.  I’ve chosen a quote.  A warning.  I made the correct choice, walking away from her.  Not all men are romantic heroes.  I’ll take the word “men-folk” out.  She’ll understand.

Why didn’t you tell me there was danger?  Why didn’t you warn me?  Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks.

Grey then buzzes for Andrea and tells her to send the books to Ana, ensuring they arrive the next day.  Andrea apparently smiles as she leaves the office, which Grey thinks is odd, because apparently Andrea “never smiles.”  I think the reader is supposed to be all “aaaw, Andrea’s smiling because her cold-hearted boss has melted because he’s in luuuuurve,” but for all we know, she might just have wind.

She never smiles.  Dismissing the thought, I wonder if that will be the last I see of the books, and I have to acknowledge that deep down, I hope not.

And that, friends, is the end of this truly riveting chapter.  Yes, literally all that happened is Grey had a nightmare, which the author subtly put responsibility on Ana for stopping, he went to work and was a misogynist sh!t-weasel, got yet more information about Ana without her consent and sent her some books.

Wow.  I think that might have been the dullest chapter of a so-called erotic novel I have ever read.  Ever.

At least I know I’ll sleep like a baby after reading that drivel…

See you next time!

 

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Grey: Chapter 4 (Thursday, May 19, 2011)

Grey: Chapter 3 (Sunday May 15 2011)_

Right, everyone.  The last chapter proved that Christian Grey is a possessive, obsessive stalker.  So, I’m super excited for this chapter…

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We open with Grey going for a 6:30am jog.  He informs us that he’s been having sexual dreams about Ana and he wonders what his therapist would think about it, if he told him.

The thought is disconcerting, so I ignore it…

Yeah, that’s Christian Grey: always so very keen on self-analysis and positive change…  Pffft.

He begins wondering whether he ought to invite Ana out for coffee, and we’re treated to yet another glimpse of what a totally swoon-worthy Romeo we’re dealing with:

Maybe I should take her for coffee.

Like a date?

Well.  No.  Not a date.  I laugh at the ridiculous thought.  Just a chat – an interview of sorts.  Then I can find out a little more about this enigmatic woman and if she’s interested, or if I’m on a wild-goose chase.

The idea of a traditional date is “ridiculous” – all Grey wants to do is “interview” Ana to see if she’s up for fulfilling his desires.  He hasn’t once considered what she might like.  This is literally all about him.  Please do let me know at which point I’m supposed to get my knickers in a knot over this guy.

He returns from his run and finds that his breakfast has been delivered.  He tells us:

I’m famished.  It’s not a feeling I tolerate – ever.

Okay, so this is meant to be a callback to his tragic youth and a reminder that Grey is, much like Band Aid, on a mission to Feed The World (and possibly let them know it’s Christmas time, I don’t know…), but to be honest, it just made me do a little giggle.

I AM CHRISTIAN GREY AND I DO NOT TOLERATE HUNGER. EVER.

I wonder what other physical sensations he doesn’t tolerate?  Are we going to find out that he simply WILL NOT PUT UP with being clammy?  Perhaps he becomes APOPLECTIC WITH RAGE when he has pins and needles?

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Is anyone out there wondering how Grey gets himself ready to meet Ana, once he’s had breakfast and showered?  Well, wonder no longer…

My hair is wet from my shower, but I don’t give a shit.  One glance at the louche fucker in the mirror and I exit to follow Taylor to the elevator.

Is…  Is EL James trying to make him laughably egotistical?!  Because LOL.  And not in a sexy “ooh, he’s got such a swagger, tee-hee, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, haha” kind of way.  More of a “MWAHAHAHAAAAA THIS GUY STINKS MORE THAN A STILTON LEFT IN A WARM CUPBOARD FOR SIX MONTHS” type way.

Ana is wearing jeans and chucks, which Grey genuinely describes as “not very convenient.”  Yep, there’s the wannabe rapist we all know and love.  He’s annoyed because her clothes don’t provide easy enough access.  Phwoar.

He tells us that he wants to kiss Ana’s hand upon greeting her, but tells himself:

Don’t be absurd, Grey.”  

Because we have to know at all times that Christian Grey does not do romance.  Consider me to be eye-rolling pretty darn hard, right now.

He is introduced to Katherine Kavanagh, aka Ana’s roommate Kate and, as in the original Fifty Shades book, he instantly dislikes her.  He “reluctantly” releases Ana in order to shake Kate’s hand and has to remind himself that had Kate not been ill, he wouldn’t have met Ana.  That is literally the only charitable thought he has towards Kate.  Indeed, he admits:

The thought makes me feel a little more benevolent towards her.

Wow, I’m sure Kate’s thrilled.

And yet, the insta-hate he feels for Kate continues immediately, as he judges her without knowing anything about her:

She has a firm, confident handshake, and I doubt she’s ever faced a day of hardship in her privileged life.  I wonder why these women are friends.  They have nothing in common.

You got all that from a firm, confident handshake?!

I mean sure, Grey knows Kate’s father (if you recall, he only agreed to Kate interviewing him for the student paper as a favour to her father, which he wanted repaid at some point), so perhaps he knows (or at least thinks he knows) something of her family background, but how the HELL can he say that Kate and Ana have nothing in common, without having much more than Ana’s illegally gained bank details to go on?!  Christian Grey is engaged in some kind of bizarre reverse-snobbery, in which he dislikes the rich girl (despite being massively wealthy himself) and only wants the poor one (who he intends to lavish with expensive gifts, so… WTF?!).  Screw you, Grey.

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Ana blushes when Grey smiles at her and he wonders whether it’s only him who can make her do that.  Erm, no.  Ana spends her entire life blushing and stammering and biting her sodding lip.  But by all means, imagine only you can cause that reaction in her, or indeed anyone, you louche fucker.

Anyway, hands up if you were missing Possessive Creep Grey?!  You’re about to have a treat and a half then, because he’s about to meet José!

“This is José Rodriguez, our photographer,” Anastasia says, and her face lights up as she introduces him.

Shit.  Is this the boyfriend?

Rodriguez blooms under Ana’s sweet smile.

Are they fucking?

“Mr Grey.”  Rodriguez gives me a dark look as we shake hands.  It’s a warning.  He’s telling me to back off.  He likes her.  He likes her a lot.

Well, game on, kid.

Because, apparently, if this guy is Ana’s boyfriend, Grey is still going to steal her away with his magnificent penis, or something?  I don’t know, it’s just so tiring seeing a man with so few boundaries touted as a romantic hero…

As José turns on the studio lights and momentarily blinds Grey (nice job, dude), the internal monologue has Grey noticing that Ana always seems to stand in the background.  This causes him to think that a) that must be the basis of her friendship with Kate; she stands back and lets Kate take centre stage all the time and b) that Ana must be a “natural submissive.”

Yeah, so…  I know this one is poor research and diabolical writing more than anything else, but can we pur-lease stop with the whole “she is meek and shy, therefore perfect sub material” crap?  Because I’m 99.9% sure that there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

Anyway, Rapey McRapeFace makes another appearance, as Grey locks eyes with Ana during the photo session:

Our eyes meet; hers are honest and innocent and for a moment, I reconsider my plan.  But then she bites her lip and my breath catches in my throat.

Or, to paraphrase: “I was going to stop being such a major creep towards this clearly innocent woman I barely know, but then she did something that turned me on, so screw that.”

He continues:

Back down, Anastasia.  I will her to stop staring, and as if she can hear me, she’s the first to look away.

Good girl.

Ew.  With a side order of gross and some ick on the side.  But hey, Christian Grey can control minds, now.  He truly is the full package.

Once the photoshoot is over, Kate shakes Grey’s hand…

Followed by the photographer, who regards me with ill-concealed disapproval.  His antagonism makes me smile.

Oh, man…  You have no idea.

Christian Grey enjoys winding up a guy he just met, because said guy is good friends with the girl he has been sexualising for the past week, despite barely knowing her.  Where, oh where can I find me a man like this?!

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He’s in there, somewhere…

Grey asks Ana to walk with him and he openly admits that he’s trying to “put some distance between her and Rodriguez.”

Man, for a guy who’s so arrogant, he really is terribly insecure, isn’t he?!

He invites Ana for coffee and Ana replies that she has to drive everyone home.  This makes Grey yell for Taylor (literally) and Ana jumps.

I must make her nervous and I don’t know if this is good or bad.  And she can’t stop fidgeting.  Thinking of all the ways I could make her stop is distracting.

Thinking of all the ways I could murder you and ensure nobody ever finds the body is equally distracting, Christian.

Once Grey has asked Taylor to take Ana’s friends home, he asks her for coffee again and she hesitates:

Shit.  It’s a no.  I’m going to lose this deal.

Mmmm, I long for a man to treat me like a business deal.

Whilst Ana goes to swap cars with Kate (to save Taylor the trouble of driving anyone home), Christian wonders whether he could just blurt out “Would you like to be my submissive?” But resolves to take things one stage at a time.  Sure, dude, I mean you’ve already done the illegal background check and stalked the girl, now is the right time to slow things down and pretend you’re not an asshole.

Whilst Ana’s gone, Grey starts to panic that she might be kissing José goodbye and is relieved when she returns and “doesn’t look like she’s just been kissed.”

What was he expecting if she had?  Lipstick smeared around her ears and handprints on her butt?!

As they head off for coffee, Grey asks Ana about her friendship with Kate and notes that Ana is “clearly devoted.”  He inwardly hopes that Kate treats Ana with the same level of respect that Ana treats her with, which is weird, because he has literally no reason to suspect that Kate doesn’t, beyond his instant decision to hate her.

As Grey takes Ana’s hand, he’s genuinely annoyed that she’s not as nervous as he’d like her to be, which is, you know, totally healthy…

I take her hand, which is cool and not clammy as expected.  Perhaps I don’t affect her as much as I’d like.  The thought is disheartening.

Isn’t it annoying when your date doesn’t seem afraid of you?!

There’s a loved-up couple with Ana and Grey in the elevator and listening to their giggles, Grey admits to himself that he finds it “wholesome” and “charming.”  He thinks of Ana as being innocent, just like the giggling couple and he questions his motives, again.

I swear, EL James only put all these brief “oh, she’s too young/inexperienced” bits in to make it look like Christian wasn’t totally railroading this whole thing.  But he undoes his own doubts with comments about how much he wants her every single time, so they fall flatter than the levels of tension in this damn chapter.

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Christian is bemused by Ana asking for an English Breakfast tea with the bag out, because tea is so incredibly confusing?  I don’t know.  I stopped caring about three paragraphs ago.  As he queues up to order their drinks, this happens:

I have to wait in line while the two matronly women behind the counter exchange inane pleasantries with all their customers.  It’s frustrating and keeping me from my objective: Anastasia.

“Hey, handsome, what can I get you?” The older woman asks, with a twinkle in her eye.  It’s just a pretty face, sweetheart.

This guy is a narcissist.  Seriously, “hey, handsome” doesn’t have to mean the “matronly women” actually fancy him.  He’s literally just mentioned that they’re exchanging pleasantries with everyone.  But sure, Christian Grey is appealing to absolutely everyone who has a vagina.  At least, in his mind.

He orders Ana a blueberry muffin, despite the fact that she has told him she doesn’t want anything to eat.  Aaah, the creepy control over her eating habits has begun.  I missed those…

As the woman serving him continues to make polite small talk, Grey offers her one-word answers and inwardly tells her to “hurry the fuck up.”  He is such a dreamboat.

When the woman tells him to have a nice day, we get this additional reminder of how charming he is:

I manage a cordial response.  “Thank you.”

Oh, that must have been hard for you, Christian.  Have a sticker for your Good Boy chart.

Once he returns to their table, Grey watches Ana dunk her teabag in the hot water.

As she tells me she likes her tea weak and black, for a moment, I think she’s describing what she likes in a man.

Because you were dropped on your head as a baby?!  Seriously, who is this neurotic?

Dispensing with pleasantries, Grey then dives straight into:

“Is he your boyfriend?”

No, Christian.  It’s a cup of tea.

Grey clarifies that he’s talking about José and Ana laughs.

She laughs.  At me.

At me!

I don’t want to shock you, Christian, but I laugh at you all the time.  Because you’re ludicrous and awful and it’s my last remaining coping mechanism.  I laugh and then I face-plant whatever’s nearby

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Ana explains that José is more like family to her.  Grey asks her whether Paul from work is her boyfriend and Ana starts getting defensive, reminding him that she told him the previous day that Paul was just a friend.  He tells her that she seems nervous around men and Ana admits that she finds him intimidating.  Just as in the original book, Grey replies:

“You should find me intimidating.”

SPOILER: As I was typing that, I accidentally wrote “you should find me irritating,” which makes much more sense.

Ana enquires as to whether he always asks such personal questions and he responds by asking if he’s offended her.  When she says no, he carries on with his interrogation, avoiding her own questions to him.

“Tell me about your parents.”

She rolls her eyes and I have to fight the compulsion to scold her.

Well, fight it hard, asshole.  You’re not in any kind of relationship and she can do whatever she damn well wants.

He admits, as she answers his questions:

Of course, I knew all this from Welch’s background check, but it’s important to hear it from her.

THEN ASK HER IN THE FIRST PLACE, LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!

When Ana tells him that her father died when she was a baby, Grey internally tells us that:

For a moment, I’m catapulted into my nightmares, looking at a prostrate body on a grimy floor.

Look, I’m not going to mock his childhood trauma.  But lines like this seem to be just casually thrown in to excuse Grey’s hideous behaviour and therefore they don’t elicit much, if any sympathy from me.

He can apparently tell that Raymond Steele has been a good father to Ana, just from her “clear and bright” tone of voice when she says she doesn’t remember her birth father.  This guy has some superhuman powers going on.

As Ana hesitates with her answers and keeps them brief, Christian tells her that she’s not giving much away.  When she counters that neither is he, he reminds her that she has already interviewed him.

Christian discovers that Ana’s mother is an incurable romantic and inwardly hopes that Ana isn’t the same; remember guys, we have to shoehorn the “no romance” thing into each chapter several times, or EL James will worry that we might not “get” that Christian’s not looking for lurve.

Of course, when Ana continues trying to ask questions of Grey, he doesn’t like it very much:

“Tell me about your parents,” she demands, in an attempt to divert the conversation from her family.  I don’t like talking about mine, so I give her the bare details.

Seriously, screw this guy.  He wants all the information he can get on her (including information she isn’t aware he has), but he gets tetchy when she asks him the same things he’s been asking her?!  YUCK.

The conversation moves to travel and Ana says she’d love to visit England.  Christian asks her why and as an English person, I’m annoyed, because everyone should come, it’s bloody lovely, tally ho and crumpets and tea, what, what!

“It’s the home of Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy.  I’d love to see the places that inspired those people to write such wonderful books.”  It’s obvious this is her first love.

Books.

She said as much in Clayton’s, yesterday.  That means I’m competing with Darcy, Rochester and Angel Clare: impossible romantic heroes.  Here’s the proof I needed.  She’s an incurable romantic, like her mother – and this isn’t going to work.  To add insult to injury, she looks at her watch.  She’s done.

I’ve blown this deal.

Why, oh why doesn’t this book end here, then?!

Christian realises that the last twenty minutes have been “…enjoyable” (wow, calm yourself, Grey) and gives her his most dazzling smile, “guaranteed to disarm.”  So, he’s given up on the whole thing, but… He hasn’t?  I’m so freaking confused right now.

“Do you always wear jeans?” I ask.

“Mostly,” she says, and it’s two strikes against her: incurable romantic who only wears jeans… I like my women in skirts.  I like them accessible.

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Grey, you are a sexual predator and I hope someone cuts your penis off with a rusty spoon.

Seriously.  “I like them accessible”????!!!!  FUCK YOU.

This guy genuinely believes he should have the right to a woman’s body at all times and I’m supposed to flip my lid over him?!  No, thanks.  The guy needs locking up.

Oh, and you know how EL James hasn’t hammered us over the head with the “no romance” crap for, ooh, at least two paragraphs?

Do you have a girlfriend?”  She asks, out of the blue, and it’s the third strike.  I’m out of this fledgling deal.  She wants romance, and I can’t offer that.

Just, as an aside, because I’m getting rage-headache from the abuse-stuff, can I just confirm that EL James uses a comma before almost every “and” she writes and it’s starting to do my also-a-published-author head in.  Yes, there’s such a thing as an Oxford comma, but this woman is OBSESSED with them.  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Anyway, then we have the moment where Ana steps out in front of a cyclist and Grey saves her and he could “fall into her gaze and never return” and she smells of an apple orchard, apparently.  For a guy who doesn’t do romance, his PoV is frequently narrated by a hormonal boy writing sixth form poetry.  As Ana stares at him, he realises her eyes are fixated on his mouth.

Shit.  She wants me to kiss her.

And I want to.  Just once.  Her lips are parted, ready, waiting.  Her mouth felt welcoming beneath my thumb.

No. No. No.  Don’t do this, Grey.

She’s not the girl for you.

She wants hearts and flowers and you don’t do that shit.

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I close my eyes to blot her out and fight the temptation, and when I open them again, my decision is made.

“Anastasia,” I whisper, “you should steer clear of me.  I’m not the man for you.”

The little V forms between her brows and I think she’s stopped breathing.

Ladies who are rejected by Christian Love God Grey will all immediately DIE.  That’s just how it works.

Ana is clearly disappointed by Grey’s rebuff, but she politely thanks him for saving her from the cyclist.  Ever the over-dramatic man-child, Grey tells the reader:

I want to tell her that I’m saving her from me…  

Except you’re not saving her from you, because we all know you’ll carry on pursuing her, because you’re an obsessive creep.

He tells us that he feels regret as he tries and fails to stammer an apology and Ana snaps: “What, Christian?!” before she thanks him for the photoshoot and storms back across the street.

The chapter ends on a little more of that fabulous sixth form poetry:

She disappears into the building, leaving in her wake a trace of regret, the memory of her beautiful, blue eyes, and the scent of an apple orchard in the fall.

You know what they say: an apple a day keeps the abusive bastard away…

And I’m off to bed to read literally anything but more of this.  Stay tuned for chapter four, coming when I’ve mentally prepared myself for it…

 

 

 

Grey: Chapter 3 (Sunday May 15 2011)_

Grey: Chapter Two (Saturday May 14th 2011)

Guys, guys, guys.  You know how the last chapter ended with Grey demanding a background check on the girl he literally only just met and spent an entire interview purposefully intimidating and mocking?  Well, this one actually begins with him reading the newly acquired information he has on her.  By including this, EL James has shot herself in the foot (well, okay, she did that the second she wrote any of this from Grey’s perspective), because it shows just how creepy and invasive the background check really is.  We discover Ana’s address, phone number, social security number, bank details (including how much she has in her account – $683.16, in case you were wondering), her SAT score, her current occupation, place of work, what she’s studying at college and the addresses and phone numbers of not only her dead father, but of her mother, too, and we also get a list of her mother’s husbands, plus wedding/divorce dates.  Oh and it tells us that there’s no info on her sexual orientation, religious beliefs or political views and that there is nothing to indicate that she is in a relationship, at present.

HE HAS NO RIGHT TO ANY OF THIS.  MOST OF THIS HAS TO HAVE BEEN ILLEGALLY GAINED AND ANYONE WHO IS NOT A PSYCHO WOULD NEVER DREAM OF OBTAINING THIS LEVEL OF INFO ABOUT SOMEONE THEY ONLY JUST MET.

Sorry.  I just… Need a minute.

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Aaaaand relax.

Immediately after reading his newly procured copy of The Stalker’s Guide To Ana, Grey’s internal monologue reminds us that he’s a lousy person, only concerned with his own wants and needs:

I cannot get the damned woman out of my mind and it’s seriously beginning to piss me off.

Oh, be still my beating heart!  Isn’t that what we all long for, ladies?!  A guy who’s irritated by his attraction to us?!

Of course, then the creep-factor is upped significantly by Grey telling the reader where he is.  We know this from reading the original book, but for the benefit of the uninitiated, he’s sitting in his car, outside Ana’s workplace.  Yep, he’s stalked her.

I knew it would lead to this.  All week…I knew I’d have to see her again.  I’d known it since she uttered my name in the elevator.  I’d tried to resist.  I’d waited five days, five tedious days, to see if I forget about her.

And I don’t do waiting.  I hate waiting… For anything.

Yeah, I’m red-lettering the crap out of that last bit, Christian.  Because we all know you’re every bit as rape-y as that makes you sound.

Also, notice how Christian’s decision to obtain private information about Ana without her consent, and to use that information to stalk her to her workplace, is somehow her fault, rather than his.  Apparently she was supposed to have known he “needed” to see her again and just… I don’t know, shown up?!

He thinks about how he’s never pursued a woman before and wonders whether Ana would be a good submissive.  I don’t know Grey, but you’re a sodding awful excuse for a Dom.  Does that help?!

He goes on to “snort” at the idea that she might be gay (the background check had no information on her sexual orientation), but to admit that he’s sitting outside her workplace because she doesn’t have a boyfriend.  As though the lack of one means she will automatically want him.

I hate this guy.

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Grey even admits in his internal monologue that he’s hiding this behaviour from his therapist, Dr Flynn (so the fans who insist that his even having a therapist is somehow evidence of his willingness to change can go and play in traffic until I’ve calmed down):

I haven’t mentioned her to Flynn, and I’m glad, because now I’m behaving like a stalker.  Perhaps I should let him know.  No.  I don’t need him hounding me about his latest solution-based therapy shit.  I just need a distraction.  And right now, the only distraction I want is the one working as a salesclerk in a hardware store.

You’ve come all this way.  Let’s see if Miss Steele is as appealing as you remember.

Showtime, Grey.

I knew I shouldn’t have eaten before I started this recap…

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Also, I have really bad emetophobia, so the fact I even used that gif is testimony to how much I needed something that accurately depicts how SICK this book is making me feel.

Let’s just back the abuse-train up for a second and point out that Grey knows that he’s stalking Ana.  He knows that it’s wrong and that his therapist would discourage his behaviour.  BUT HE DOES NOT CARE, BECAUSE HE WANTS ANA, REGARDLESS.

This is the guy we’re supposed to swoon over?  I’d rather blend my ovaries into a smoothie, thanks.

Immediately after entering the store, we get another peek at Grey the potential rapist, as he gleefully explains that he’s going to buy things to use in a BDSM scene with Ana, without having any idea of whether or not she would be even remotely interested.

I mainly shop online for my needs, but while I’m here, maybe I’ll stock up on a few items: velcro, split rings… Yeah.  I’ll find the delectable Miss Steele and have some fun.

And you know, just in case that wasn’t enough to convince you that this guy literally does not give a toss about consent, once he sees Ana behind the checkout desk, eating a bagel for lunch, his “cock twitches” (I find that mildly hilarious and I don’t know what that says about me) and we get this:

My body’s reaction is irritating.  Maybe this will stop if I fetter, fuck and flog her…  Not necessarily in that order.  Yeah.  That’s what I need.

And never mind what she needs, because this guy is the most important penis-owner in the whole, wide world.

I found the first Fifty Shades book so triggering that I could only read detailed chapter-by-chapter recaps of the second and third, and that was when the story was told through Ana’s rose-tinted glasses.  I can only be hugely honest and say that right now, I will need one HELL of a Crazy Ex Girlfriend binge-session to recover from the nausea and horrific memories this is causing.  I’ll be fine (because I actually attended my therapy sessions and dealt with my trauma, unlike a certain asshole from this novel), but HOLY BALLS.  This is HORRIBLE and EL James, if you ever read this: you are a truly terrible person for writing this and expecting people to think Grey is anything other than a despicable, hateful little man-child.

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Nobody can prove that gif was aimed at EL James, okay?!

Anyway, on with the laughable attempt at a “story,” as Ana spots Grey…

She pins me with a discerning stare – shocked, I think – and I don’t know if this is a good response or a bad response.

“Miss Steele.  What a pleasant surprise.”

“Mr Grey,” she says, breathy and flustered.  Ah, good response.

Okay, hands up who sometimes sounds breathy and flustered when they’re having a bad response to something?!

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But of course, Grey believes himself to be King of The Freaking World, so naturally, he assumes Ana must be flustered because she’s so immensely attracted to him.  Okay, we know she is, but Grey has very little beyond “breathiness” to base that opinion on and it just further proves that this is a guy who would take every little thing as a sign of interest, to ensure he got what he wanted.  Ew.  So much ew.

He lies that he just happened to be in the area and his internal monologue talks about how beautiful Ana is and what a great body she has.

Her lips are still parted in surprise and I have to resist the urge to tip her chin up and close her mouth.  I’ve flown all the way from Seattle just to see you, and the way you look right now, it was really worth the journey.

“Definitely” would have worked better than “really,” there, EL.  Just from one writer to another.  If you want another tip, writing a male hero who’s not a grade A piece of sh!t is also something you might want to try, sometime.

Ana gives him a “fake smile that (he’s) sure she reserves for customers” and for some reason, this causes him to think “game on.”  He starts getting his serial killer BDSM supplies, all the while thinking about how he’d like to use them on her.  Her voice wavers and she blushes as she leads him to the electrical aisle to find cable ties, causing Grey to notice that she’s “affected by” him.

She’s not gay, then.  I smirk.

I seriously wish she was.  I’d rather read her and Kate getting it on.  Or her and Leila.  Or her and basically anyone else.

Could she be a submissive?  She probably knows nothing of the lifestyle – my lifestyle – but I very much want to introduce her to it.  You are getting way ahead of yourself on this deal, Grey.

Remember how we’ve criticised Grey for treating Ana like a business deal, before?  He’s just essentially admitted that that’s how he sees her.  Does anyone need smelling salts, or shall we just all stay swooning on the floor?!

“Are you in Portland on business?”  She asks, interrupting my thoughts.  Her voice is high; she’s feigning disinterest.  It makes me want to laugh.  Women rarely make me laugh.

Because you are a misogynist, Grey.  And really?  You only laugh when you think a woman is feigning disinterest?  Can I recommend some female comedians you might like to check out?!

Apparently her face falls when Grey tells her that he’s visiting the WSU farming division in Vancouver (a lie, obviously) and he claims to “feel like a shit.”

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If you need to go, Grey, please do.

Okay, I’m sorry, I’m just desperately looking for humour, right now…

Ana makes a quip about Grey’s “feed-the-world” plan and he thinks:

Is she laughing at me?  Oh, I’d love to put a stop to that if she is.

Red, because let’s be honest, at this point, Ana is not his submissive and he has no right to stop her doing anything, using any means.

Grey ponders inviting Ana out for dinner, which his internal monologue tells us is something he thinks of as “intriguing,” seeing as he never usually takes a “prospect” out on dates.  Dreamy.

He engages in small talk:

“Have you worked here long?”  Of course, I already know the answer.  Unlike some people, I do my research.”

Yeah, erm, about that…. Normal people just ask and wait for the answer.  But sure, try to pass your creepy, invasive background checks off as something that makes you superior, Grey.

EDIT: During this section, Grey asks Ana what her interests are and she replies “books,” explaining that she’s especially into British classic literature.  This, Grey tells us, is not good, because he assumes that means Ana is into hearts and flowers, which he doesn’t do.  I forgot to mention this in my original recap and earlier, I suddenly realised I really ought to have, seeing as it’s going to become a fairly major plot point, when he send her first editions as a gift.

He continues making her fetch all the things she thinks he’s going to use for DIY, all the while checking out her body and making crude references to what he really wants to do with the stuff he’s going to buy.  It’s supposed to create sexual tension, but it kind of just makes me want to puke, because I’m reading this with the full knowledge that BDSM is not something Ana is remotely confident about and that some of what he wants to do will actively upset her.

They eventually set up the idea of a photoshoot to go along with the interview Kate is writing up and Grey hands Ana his card, telling her to call him before 10am, tomorrow.

And if she doesn’t, I’ll head on back to Seattle and forget all about this stupid venture.

DON’T CALL HIM, ANA!  PLEASE!

But before any photoshoots or 10am calls can take place, we meet Ana’s workmate Paul.  And this happens:

We both turn as a young man dressed in casual designer gear appears at the far end of the aisle.  His eyes are all over Miss Anastasia Steele.  Who the hell is this prick?!

In case you’d forgotten, Ana is not Grey’s girlfriend.  She is still very little more than a stranger to him.  Petty jealousy is one thing, but it gets worse…

She walks towards him and the asshole engulfs her in a gorilla-like hug.  My blood runs cold.  It’s a primal response.

Get your fucking paws off her.

I fist my hands and am only slightly mollified when she doesn’t return his hug.

This is NOT romantic.  It’s not cute, or sad to see “poor ickle Christian” feel like he can’t get his one twu wuv, because some other guy is in the way.  It’s possessive and vile.

I almost wonder whether EL James – for once in her life – read back her own work and realised that Grey comes across as a total bastard here, because Grey’s internal monologue briefly backtracks, telling himself not to bother; this guy must be Ana’s boyfriend.  He contemplates leaving, but then decides that because Ana touches Paul’s arm, rather than his hand, it means she’s not interested in him.

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Of course, Grey’s backtrack lasts all of about three paragraphs, before he’s back to labelling Paul an “asshole” in his internal monologue, purely because Paul’s a man Ana knows better than she knows him.  Indeed, when Paul realises who he is and asks if he’s the Christian Grey, Grey’s internal response is:

Yeah, that’s me, you prick.

And then he casually goes back to pondering whether the girl ringing up his secret-BDSM stuff would ever agree to be his submissive.  Because Grey’s moods swing faster than anything else ever discovered by mankind.

He does his hormonal teenage boy act, whilst Ana puts his items through the till, wondering whether he’ll ever see her again (oh, come on Grey, you’re a stalker, of course you will – through her window, whilst she sleeps!) and eventually tells her he’s glad that she did the interview with him rather than Kate.

Then, he leaves the store and doesn’t look back over his shoulder at Ana, because he’s showing restraint apparently (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA FOREVER), but can’t resist checking his rearview mirror to see if he gets a last glance of her:

She’s not in the window, staring out at me.

It’s disappointing.

Oh, boo-hoo, babycakes.

Alas, this is the chapter that NEVER ENDS, so rather than that being a neat end to his stalker field trip, we get to see him call Taylor to arrange a room at The Heathman, send his work over and have Charlie Tango moved.  Because this book isn’t just abuse-apology!  It’s also REALLY boring!

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Five hours after he left her workplace, Grey has still not received a call from Ana, which is unusual, what with him being the most important man on the planet and everything.  He’s getting impatient:

I’m annoyed at her for not phoning, but mostly, I’m angry with myself.  I’m a fool for being here.  What a waste of time its been, chasing this woman.  When have I ever chased a woman?

If it helps you feel better, Christian, I’m angry at you, too.  I feel like EL is really trying to make us feel sorry for Grey in these sections, but it’s not working, because he’s coming across as such an utterly spoilt, over-dramatic brat.

Although we do get a fabulous bit of melodramatic comedy, when Grey tells the reader he’s able to work in peace in his hotel room, then says:

PEACE?  I haven’t known peace since Miss Steele fell into my office.

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Sadly, before we can get any further comedy gold out of poor Christian’s woes, his phone rings with a “vaguely familiar” number.  SPOILER: It’s vaguely familiar because he had a gross background check done on the person calling.

My face erupts in a shit-eating grin.

Add that to the list of sentences I literally never want to read again, please…

Grey can hear Ana’s breath hitch on the phone and of course, this allows him to tell for sure that he’s affecting her the same way she’s affecting him.

As a side-note, every time EL James uses “affecting” this way, I read it as “infecting,” which is appropriate, since this whole franchise is a disease.

Any hope of poor, troubled Christian merely being glad the girl he likes has called him evaporates instantly, once he knows he’ll be seeing her the next day:

“Um – we’d like to go ahead with the photoshoot for the article.  Tomorrow, if that’s okay.  Where would be convenient for you, Sir?”

In my room.  Just me and you.  And the cable ties.

Yeah, you’re getting red ink for that one, too, Grey.  Because whilst it’s normal to maybe fantasise about someone you fancy, you’re doing it incessantly about this person, despite the fact that you’ve wondered throughout this entire chapter, whether or not she would even be open to BDSM.  And more importantly, she is still not yours and she’s trying to organise a photoshoot as professionally as she can.  You are reducing her to a sex object, having tracked her down to her workplace and shown up unexpectedly, gotten possessive over her when you have no right to do so and wallowed in self-pity just because she didn’t stand in the freaking window, pining after you as you drove off.  So quit being a sleazy PoS.

Once he hangs up the phone, Grey confirms to the reader yet again, that he views Ana as something he wishes to acquire, rather than as a person, by asking himself:

How the hell am I going to close this deal?

And that is where the chapter ends and I am finally released into the wild, to weep furiously over the thought that anyone, anywhere, finds this jerk remotely attractive.

I just can’t wait for chapter three…

 

Grey: Chapter Two (Saturday May 14th 2011)

“Grey”: Chapter One (Monday, May 9, 2011)

Grey

If you’ve been online today, you may have heard the news that EL James is releasing yet another book next month.  Darker is the sequel to Grey, and will re-tell the events of Fifty Shades Darker from Christian Grey’s viewpoint (in case you thought she’d come up with literally anything original… Nope).

Here at Fifty Shades Is Abuse HQ, we believe in knowing what we’re criticising.  That’s why we’ve read all three of the original Fifty Shades novels.  But I’ll level with you: I could never finish Grey.  I tried (oh, how I tried), but when you’re a survivor of abuse, it’s just ever so slightly distasteful to read a novel in which an author is writing as an abuser, but explaining away and excusing his behaviour on every page.  It was horrible.  So, I stopped.

But with Darker just around the corner, I realised that I was going to have to climb back onto that horse.  So, today, I have the dubious honour of starting the Grey chapter-by-chapter recaps.  Because if we’re going to continue to debate these books with fans, then we really ought to have studied them in full.  That includes the money-grabbing re-telling of the story from Christian’s point of view.

Before I get into the first recap, I’ll just set out a couple of things.  For the interest of clarity, all text from Grey will be in italics in this blog.  If any of the actual text from the source material happens to be in italics, I’ll put it in bold.  Especially abusive moments will be typed in red.

It also stands to reason that every single one of these posts comes with a trigger warning.

Okay.  I can’t put this off any longer, can I?!  Time to dive in…

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Monday, May 9 2011

I have three cars.

Spoiler!  This isn’t adult Grey, boasting about his wealth!  Nope, this is poor ickle boy Christian.  Because we couldn’t possibly start a book from his viewpoint, without immediately presenting him as the sad, tragic child, given that he uses his childhood as an excuse for the way he abuses people…

In this highly dramatic, eventful opening (which, if you hadn’t guessed, was a dream), we discover that the green car is his favourite, but it gets stuck under the sofa and his mother doesn’t retrieve it for him.  What a cow.  She calls him “Maggot,” which is, I don’t know, totally out of character, given that the other memories we’re presented with in the first three books paint Christian’s mother as an addict who does her best for her son, despite her own problems; making him a birthday cake and trying to take care of him.

Mommy stays on the couch, staring at the wall.  Mommy.  My car.  She doesn’t hear me.  Mommy.  I pull her hand and she lies back and closes her eyes.  Not now, Maggot.  Not now, she says.  My green car stays under the couch… I can never reach it.  My green car is lost.  Lost.  And I can never play with it again.

I…  I’m moved to tears.  It’s okay, Christian.  Abuse whoever you need to.  You must avenge this horror.

Okay, seriously, I feel for any child who suffers any kind of abuse.  I don’t want to trivialise it and sound as though I genuinely don’t give a toss about a child whose mother is apparently ignoring her young son, possibly due to being high on drugs.  But one of the biggest problems I have with the entire Fifty Shades franchise, is that it sets up Christian as this poor, damaged boy who grew into a man who can’t help but abuse others.  That’s just utter crap.  It’s an insult to the millions of people who experience abuse as a child and who don’t go on to become abusive adults, themselves.  So, whilst fans of the original trilogy will have read this opening and thought “aw, poor baby Christian,” my sentiments are more: “aw, appalling writer attempts to justify abusive adult character by portraying him as a sad, neglected child.”  It rankles.

Anyway, moving on…

Christian wakes up from his dream and briefly wonders what it was all about.

Dismissing it, like I do most mornings, I climb out of bed and find some newly laundered sweats in my walk-in closet.

See, that’s the problem.  EL James probably hopes that casually tossing “like I do most mornings” in at this point will make the reader realise that poor Christian is tormented by these dreadful dreams every single night, but he bravely carries on with his day, anyway.  But if you’ve read the first three books, you know that Christian Grey is an arrogant sod who, despite having a therapist, chooses to blame others for his problems/behaviour and fails to ever really look within himself or question his own behaiour.  That line, therefore, just reminds me that we’re dealing with someone who could analyse himself and his inner thoughts and perhaps become a better person as a result, but who resolutely chooses not to do so.

Christian, being the heart-stopping beefcake that he is, heads straight to his treadmill as he ponders the day ahead.  He thinks about calling Elena (Mrs Robinson) to arrange dinner later that week and he also contemplates being challenged by his personal trainer, Claude Bastille.

Next thing we know, he’s actually finished that training session with Claude and is in his office.  Claude suggests they play golf later in the week and Grey’s arrogance resurfaces again (does it ever go away?!):

Bastille grins with easy arrogance, knowing that his victory on the golf course is assured.

I scowl at him as he turns and leaves.  His parting words rub salt into my wounds because, despite my heroic efforts during our workout today, my personal trainer has kicked my ass.  

HEROIC?!  Waaaay to think too much of yourself, Grey.  Also, Claude?  Good job on the ass kicking.  Give him one from me.

Speaking of heroism, Grey informs the reader that the only things that interests him right now are the two freighters of cargo he’s decided to send to Sudan.  So, he’s a hero in and out of his personal training sessions.  Swoon.

But before Christian can focus on his cargo, he has a pesky interview to get over with.  He internally moans about Katherine Kavanagh (Ana’s roommate, Kate) who is supposed to be coming to interview him, continuing the “Christian Grey Hates Kate” theme that we loved so very much in the first three books.  But of course, it’s not Kate who arrives at his office…

A commotion at the door brings me to my feet as a whirl of long, chestnut hair, pale limbs and brown boots dives headfirst into my office.  Repressing my natural annoyance at such clumsiness, I hurry over to the girl who has landed on her hands and knees on the floor.

ANA HAS ARRIVED!  WAVE YOUR FLAGS, EVERYONE!

Side note: Clumsiness is occasionally annoying, if, for example, someone has knocked over your drink, or bumped into you and caused you to fall.  But “natural annoyance” at clumsiness in general just makes Grey seem like an asshole.  Which he is, so… Great job with your characterisation, EL!

When Grey looks into Ana’s eyes, he feels “exposed,” as though she can see straight through him.  He feels uncomfortable, so he dismisses the thought immediately.

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Aaand, now I wish I was recapping Crazy Ex Girlfriend instead.  Or just watching it.  Or listening to the songs from it.  Or…

Fiiiine, I’ll carry on recapping this disaster.

Seconds after having met Ana, Grey wonders what her skin would look like if it was made pink with a cane.  It would look… Pink, I imagine.  But way to make yourself look like an even bigger creep, dude, particularly because he then insists internally that Ana is much too young.  Um… Isn’t she 21?  And Grey’s 27?  That’s hardly the age gap to end all age gaps.

Ana “gapes” at Christian and his internal monologue is just desperate to beat us over the head with his arrogance:

She gapes at me and I resist rolling my eyes.  Yeah, yeah baby.  It’s just a face and it’s only skin deep.

Yep – the inside of him is gross, Ana.  At least he recognises as much.

He deliberately calls her “Miss Kavanagh,” despite the fact that his assistant has already told him by this point that it’s “Miss Anastasia Steele” who’s coming to do the interview.  Why?  Because he’s a dick, that’s why.  His demeanour throughout this section is of someone mocking the person they’re talking to, rather than that of someone genuinely enthralled by a beautiful woman he’s considering any kind of relationship with.

A bashful, bookish type, eh?  She looks it: poorly dressed, her slight frame hidden beneath a shapeless sweater, an A-line brown skirt and utilitarian boots.  Does she have any sense of style at all?  She looks nervously around my office – everywhere but at me, I note, with amused irony.

I really love it when the first thing the “romantic hero” in the book does is essentially bitch about how bad the heroine looks.  It’s exactly what I go for, when I’m reading erotica or romance.

Excuse me, I just rolled my eyes so hard, I think one of them got sucked into my nose.

These early scenes (the whole chapter, in fact) read like a cat playing with a mouse.  Obviously, this is supposed to set up the dynamic of their relationship, but frankly, it leaves me utterly cold.  Particularly as he goes on to think of her as meek and unassertive, submissive.  So, this woman he thinks is physically beautiful (although he slags off her outfit, by this point he’s internally raved over her delicate profile, slender figure and powder-blue eyes) is also someone he appears to think of as weak.  And this makes him think she’d be a great submissive.  Which, just… Ew.

Ana continues her clumsiness which, just in case we’d forgotten, Grey reminds us would usually irritate the hell out of him, but Ana is just so gosh darn special, he thinks it’s funny and charming and I’m starting to wonder whether he’s seeing little cartoon forest animals following her around, too.  But before long, his thoughts go straight back to sex:

As she fumbles and grows more flustered, it occurs to me that I could refine her motor skills with the aid of a riding crop.  Adeptly used, it can bring even the most skittish to heel.

Look, we’ve all met a stranger and thought PHWOAR, but Grey’s internal monologue is really skeeving me out, at this point.  It’s just endless sexualisation of a girl he has literally just met.  Coupled with how he’s purposefully intimidating/mocking her, it’s just really grim.  He goes on to think about how sexy her mouth is and never mind how Ana might feel, I feel uncomfortable just reading this rubbish.

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Grey continues to mock her, until Ana gives him a major case of sad-eyes and he feels an unfamiliar twinge of guilt.  Because, what we really want in a romantic hero, is a dude who normally doesn’t give a toss about who he upsets, right ladies?!

Of course, Ana doesn’t appear to have done much research on him, so Christian is immediately less interested.  Because arrogant, did I mention he’s arrogant?!  In fact, as soon as he decides she’s not as clued up as he expects her to be, he thinks:

Let’s make her squirm.

My knickers have exploded with lust at the thought of this dickhead God of love.

He becomes internally enraged when Ana suggests his business success might be down to luck and the conversation takes a turn from there:

“You sound like a control freak,” she says, and she’s perfectly serious.

What the hell?  Maybe she can see through me.

‘Control’ is my middle name, sweetheart.

I glare at her, hoping to intimidate her.  “Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele.”  And I’d like to exercise it over you, right here, right now.

Sooooo…  Is he threatening to rape her or beat her, there?  Because it really could be either.

His internal annoyance at her continues to grow, until she appears impressed at his “immense power” over his employees.  He explains that if he gave up his business, twenty thousand people would struggle to pay their mortgages within a month.

Her mouth pops open.  That’s more like it.  Suck it up, baby.  I feel my equilibrium returning.

Christian Grey can only feel calm and in control when people are openly impressed by him.  What a sad little man-child he is.

He realises that she knows he’s annoyed and the thought pleases him.  He continues to picture her in his playroom and, when she asks him what he does to “chill out” when he’s not working, his internal thought is, amongst other things such as sailing and flying, bringing “attractive little brunettes” to heel.  I can’t help thinking he’d come across as less of a potential murderer if he maybe joined a choir, or dabbled in pottery.  Because right now, his mind really seems as though it has one track and one track alone: ME LIKES KINKY SEX.  It’s hard to be interested in this guy when he’s solidly coming across as a lecherous moron, unable to hold a conversation for longer than three seconds before he has to start mentally flogging the person he’s talking to.

Ana asks him why he invests so heavily in manufacturing and after he explains, she tells him that it sounds like it’s his heart talking rather than his business head.  This leads to my first laugh-out-loud moment:

Heart?  Me?  Oh no, baby.

My heart was savaged beyond recognition a long time ago.

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Oh my.  I wrote better crap than that when I was a hormonal fifteen year old.

Anyway, Creepstian Grey continues to imagine Ana in various sexual poses as she attempts to carry on with the interview and honestly, I’m glad I had that laugh, because this is just cringeworthy.  He’s constantly mentally undressing her and picturing doing sexual things to her and it’s not remotely arousing to read, because as of this moment, the shy, awkward girl he’s sexualising has given him no consent and very little sign – beyond blushing – that she’s interested in him.  He’s coming across as the kind of guy who sits on park benches, wearing nothing but a rain coat.  I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I don’t get my jollies picturing myself being leered over by that guy.

Just to throw us off the creepy scent, however, Grey notices that Ana’s clothes aren’t as snazzy as his designer togs and thinks that he could “take care” of her.  We’re supposed to find this adorable, but a) the thought surprises him, so it’s just further evidence that he usually doesn’t care about anyone and b) in this version of the story, we know nothing of Ana.  And more importantly, neither does he.  Why is he insinuating that she needs to be taken care of, just because her clothes aren’t as expensive as his?!

I mean, because he’s a douche, obviously, but I figured I’d ask, anyway.

Carrying on with the interview, Ana asks whether being adopted shaped the person he is.

What does this have to do with the price of oil?  What a ridiculous question.  If I’d stayed with the crack whore, I’d probably be dead.  I blow her off with a non-answer, trying to keep my voice level, but she pushes me, demanding to know how old I was when I was adopted.

Shut her down, Grey!

Okay, brace yourselves, guys, we’re getting to a vile bit.  We know from the original book that when Ana asks if Christian is gay, he doesn’t seem exactly pleased, but in this one…  Things are about to get grim.  She asks if he’s gay and…

What the hell!

I cannot believe she’s said that out loud!  Ironically, the question my own family will not ask.  How dare she!  I have a sudden urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her over my knee, spank her, and then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied behind her back.  That would answer her ridiculous question.  I take a deep, calming breath.  To my vindictive delight, she seems mortified by her own question.

Rape.  Dragging someone out of their seat and fucking them in anger, without consent?  That’s rape.  It might be considered an inappropriate question, but his reaction is far worse.  I can remember reading this the first time I attempted to get through Grey and that moment that was the first of many that caused me to give up.  It’s said that EL James wrote Grey partly to explain his behaviour (and excuse it), in order for us to sympathise more with him, since we’d understand him better.  But in that moment?  I understand him perfectly well.  And he has zero sympathy from me.

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Still, despite his mood yoyo-ing from angry to aroused and back again in less than the time it takes me to scream into a pillow over this rubbish, Christian is soon back to thinking how attractive Ana is and he cancels his next meeting, in order to spend more time with her.

He decides it’s his turn to interview her and hey!  Who was missing the HUGE levels of arrogance?!  Well, it’s your lucky day, because THEY’RE BACK!

“I want to know about you.  I think that’s only fair.”  As I lean back and press my fingers to my lips, her eyes flick to my mouth and she swallows.  Oh yes – the usual effect.  And it is gratifying to know she isn’t completely oblivious to my charms.

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I AM, GREY.

At this point, I am already convinced that Ana can never love this man as much as he loves himself.

Still, Grey tries to encourage Ana to stay longer and when she says she has a long drive home, he’s internally annoyed that he can’t forbid her to drive in the rain.  He thinks about how he doesn’t want her to go, but I’m still thinking about the fact that she’s a stranger to him and he’s already fantasising about being able to control everything she does.  It’s killing my lady-boner, I must say.

The interview is officially over and Ana is leaving:

“Thank you for the interview, Mr Grey.”

“The pleasure’s been all mine,” I respond – truthfully.  I haven’t been this fascinated by anyone for a while.  The thought is unsettling.  She stands and I extend my hand, eager to touch her.

“Until we meet again, Miss Steele.”  My voice is low as she places her hand in mine.  Yes, I want to flog and fuck this girl in my playroom.  Have her bound and wanting… needing me, trusting me.  I swallow.

It ain’t going to happen, Grey.

We all know it is, but I find it really uncomfortable that he is so intent on sexualising this person he just met.  Like I said, we all do it to some degree, when we meet a stranger we find attractive, but to this extent?  It’s gross.

And the worst bit?  He’s vile about women who find him attractive!  He refers to his assistant Olivia as “annoying – mooning over me, all the time.”   If you feel that way when someone does it to you, asshole, maybe don’t to it to this student you’ve just met and whose shy awkwardness you’ve spent ages discussing in your own head!  But we know he wants Ana to be made uncomfortable.  He says so himself.  He admits that he wants to intimidate her.  And in doing so, he comes across as a grade A creep.

Ana flinches at his touch, as Christian helps her into her jacket.  He’s thrilled that she’s “affected” by him, but let’s be really honest: some guy has been deliberately snappy, intimidating and mocking towards her whilst she’s been trying to interview him and he’s probably not exactly hidden the fact that he’s been mentally undressing her at the same time.  I would flinch at his touch, too.  Out of revulsion.  We can’t forget that at this point, Christian doesn’t really know whether Ana is romantically or sexually interested in him.  She blushes throughout their time together, but she is clearly awkward and nervous – not necessarily enamoured.  And yet, these tiny little signs – the flinch at his touch, her mouth popping open when she looks at him and so on – are all slipped in here so that we, the reader, think it’s perfectly acceptable when Grey starts to stalk her shortly after this point.  Yes, we know she is interested, because we’ve read the story from her perspective, but in this book, we’re going solely on what Christian knows.  And he only has a few little reactions to suggest that Ana wants to be with him in any kind of physical sense.  The fact is, he’s decided he wants her and he’s going to have her, regardless.

This is made evident by his oh-so-romantic gesture right at the end of this chapter:

“Welch, I need a background check.”

Yep, those are the words the first chapter ends on.  Our “hero,” having just met this clumsy, nervous, awkward young woman, has decided that fantasising about raping her isn’t enough; he wants a background check on her, so he can invade her privacy in every way.

Swoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Grey”: Chapter One (Monday, May 9, 2011)

Fifty Shades Freed: The Trailer

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We open on what appears to be a wedding dress, suspended from a chandelier.  Because that just screams “romance,” rather than “creepy psychological thriller, right, guys?!

We hear the impossibly dull sexy tones of Christian Grey, saying his wedding vows in a voice-over, as we watch he and Ana dressing for the wedding.  He promises to “trust and respect you” and I nearly give myself a hernia laughing, because GOOD LORD, this cretin hasn’t ever respected anyone in his life, least of all his hapless bride!  I mean, this is the dude who bruises his newly-wedded wife’s body on honeymoon, without consent.  “Respect” is a word I doubt he can even spell, let alone act upon.

He goes on to promise to keep her “safe.”  Yeah, if you really wanted her safe, sweet-cheeks, maybe you’d consider letting her get a hundred thousand miles away from you?  Just a thought.  After all, Christian Grey is the guy who returns home early from a business trip, because Ana has gone on a night out with a friend, without permission.  Never mind the fact that her being out of the apartment meant she wasn’t home when Jack Hyde broke in.  Grey is more concerned about Ana disobeying his precious “rules.”  Keep her safe?!  You’re fooling nobody, you arrogant control-freak.

He tells her: “All that I have is now yours.”  And she looks ecstatic.

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Try to contain that joy, Ana.

Of course, the biggest thing of Christian Grey’s that Ana will have, once the wedding is over, is his surname.  Which she doesn’t want, but which he sulks about and insists upon and eventually manipulates her into taking.  YAY, THERE’S THAT RESPECT HE PROMISED!

We discover that – shock, horror – this film is yet again scheduled for a Valentine’s Day release (because nothing says “true love” more than non-consent and psychological abuse!) and then we cut to Ana staring out of a car window at Grey’s private jet.  She gasps: “You OWN this?!”  To which Grey responds:

“WE own this.”

Such swoon.  Many romance.  Wow.  That totally makes up for all the abuse.  Damnit, I should have had my ex buy me a plane.

Anyway, Ana looks way more impressed by said private jet than she was by actually marrying Grey in the first place:

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Possibly because she could escape in it.

Then this happens and I think I might vomit:

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It’s okay.  I’m good.

After briefly perving over her new husband’s physique on a beach, Ana discovers a gun in his office and looks about as happy as I do when I discover that there’s no chocolate in the house:

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Let’s be very serious about this for a second: if you’ve just married someone and you don’t know they have a potentially lethal weapon casually stashed away, that could be a bit of an issue.  Particularly when the person you’ve married is someone who has threatened to “find you” wherever you run should you leave, and who has threatened, stalked and controlled you since day one of your relationship.

But then again, Ana knows very little about Grey at all.  He rushes her into a serious relationship (despite initially “warning” her not to get involved with him), hurries her into moving in and getting engaged and now they’re married and she knows almost nothing important about him, because he insists on being all vague and mysterious.  We’re supposed to find this sexy, but in reality, it’s just manipulative and controlling.  A healthy relationship is about having the trust to be mutually open with one another.  Grey quizzes Ana about herself and her life, but he’s evasive whenever she tries to do the same to him.

Ana, the ink’s probably not even dry on the marriage certificate.  Just run to that private jet, girl…

But, just in case the viewer asks questions about the validity of this relationship at this point, the trailer gives us some steamy, steamy sex scenes, to remind us that that is what this couple are really together for.  Yay.

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Is… Is he sniffing her under boob?!

The sexy, sexy boob-sniffing is interrupted by gunshots and Ana is kidnapped by Jack Hyde.  You know, the guy who doesn’t take no for an answer, treats women like property and blames his bad behaviour on his terrible childhood.  So, nothing like Grey…

And that, my friends, is a wrap.  Yep, it ends on a cliffhanger, presumedly so we can all get incredibly excited for the full trailer, which is released in November.

I can hardly wait…

 

 

 

Fifty Shades Freed: The Trailer

Protestors will descend on the Fifty Shades Darker premiere

PRESS RELEASE – Tuesday 31 January 2017

Protestors will be descending upon the Fifty Shades Darker film premiere in London on 9th February 2017.  This is the second film based on the books by EL James and continues the story of Anastasia Steele’s relationship with billionaire Christian Grey.  The film is being released for Valentine’s Day, framing Fifty Shades Darker as a romantic story.  However, the aptly named film betrays that this franchise is much darker than kinky sex.  The plotline for Fifty Shades Darker provides Christian Grey’s backstory; a drug addicted “crackwhore” mother whose boyfriend tortured Christian Grey as a toddler and an adult woman who groomed teenage Christian Grey for sex.  This is revealed to be the motivation for Christian Grey’s desire to sexually dominate women.  He seeks out women who look like his mother in order to sexually punish them.

Practitioners of BDSM (bondage, domination, sado-masochism) and domestic abuse prevention experts have joined forces to raise their concerns about the messages the books and films portray through the Fifty Shades is Domestic Abuse Campaign.

The campaign was founded in 2012 by domestic abuse prevention expert Natalie Collins, she says “Fifty Shades is more than just a fiction series, it is a social phenomenon.  Its success evidences society-wide ignorance about abusive behaviour, normalises abusers and perpetuates damaging stereotypes about BDSM sexualities.  As the recent Women’s Marches demonstrate, gender equality continues to be an unachievable goal, whilst powerful, abusive men gain greater power.  Fifty Shades Darker is further normalising abuse and we are seeking to peacefully protest its messages and educate people about abusive behaviour.”

The campaign is co-run by Emma Tofi, who read Fifty Shades whilst going through counselling following her own experiences of being subjected to abuse.  She says, “I had believed the hype about Fifty Shades being a love story and thought it might rekindle my broken faith in romance.  As I read the books, I was horrified to find myself reading about an abuser exactly like my ex-partner, and he was being repackaged as ‘sexy and romantic’.  Only by discovering the Fifty Shades is Domestic Abuse campaign did I begin to realise that I was not alone in being triggered by the books.  This realisation strengthened my resolve to speak out against the dangerous abuse myths perpetuated by Fifty Shades and to begin educating others on the reality of abusers.”

The Fifty Shades is Domestic Abuse campaign will be using the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse in protesting at the premiere and on social media, encouraging protestors to do take photographs of themselves blindfolded, emphasising that the Fifty Shades series has, unfortunately, blurred the lines between abuse and romance, meaning many simply cannot see the abuse it contains.  Alongside this, the campaign is encouraging people to boycott the film and instead donate £5 to UK domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid.  This can be done via their website or by texting FREE to 70500. 

The campaign will be holding a pre-protest meeting at O’Neills on Wardour Street, Soho, at 3:30pm, before heading to the Fifty Shades Darker premiere itself.  They welcome anyone who wishes to protest against the glorification of abuse, or the dangerously inaccurate portrayal of BDSM featured in the film.

/Ends

For more information contact:

Natalie Collins, Campaign Founder: befreeuk@gmail.com | 07928 031580.

Emma Tofi, Campaign Social Media Manager: mrsmanics@hotmail.com

Website: www.50shadesisdomesticabuse.webs.com.  Twitter: @50shadesabuse.

Protestors will descend on the Fifty Shades Darker premiere

Fifty Shades Darker: Launching Our Online Protest Campaign!

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On Thursday 9th February, Fifty Shades Darker, the second movie in the Fifty Shades franchise, will premiere in London.  Just as we did with the Fifty Shades of Grey premiere, we will be heading to London to protest the launch of a film that conflates abusive behaviour in all forms (emotional, psychological, sexual, physical and financial) with the notion of “romance.”

We would love as many of you as possible to join us in London.  The details are here:

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Our last protest was very successful, garnering a lot of media attention and enabling us to reach a wider audience, as we seek to shatter the many abuse myths perpetuated within EL James’ novels (and the subsequent films).  So, we are excited to be protesting again and we look forward to sharing the event with many of our wonderful supporters.  If you can make it to London, please do email Natalie to confirm your attendance.  Everyone is welcome; the more the merrier!

However, we also know that we are fortunate enough to have supporters all over the world, many thousands of whom can’t be there at the protest in person, but would like to be involved.  So, Natalie and I have put our heads together and come up with a plan…

DON’T BE BLIND TO ABUSE!

Our campaign motto for the Fifty Shades Darker premiere protest is “Don’t Be Blind To Abuse.”  We chose this phrase, because so many people now see the relationship depicted in the Fifty Shades franchise as loving and romantic, that the line between love and abuse has been blurred.  An enormous number of fans are either genuinely unable to see Christian’s abusive behaviour for what it is, or are completely unwilling to accept it as such, despite having heard evidence from domestic abuse experts, members of the BDSM community and abuse survivors alike.  So, in the days leading up to the premiere, we will be using the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse on our Twitter page and we encourage all of you to do the same, across all social media.

Then, on the day of the premiere itself (Thursday 9th February), we’re asking you all to take the hashtag a step further…

We want to see social media flooded with photos of people with their eyes covered, posted using the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse.  You can be wearing an eye mask, a tie over your eyes, black tape, cover your eyes with your hands, or even just have your eyes closed.  Once you’ve taken your photo, upload it to social media (with a brief comment of why you felt the need to get involved, if you’d like), then add the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse and post it for the world to see!  Our goal is to swamp social media with these pictures, to counter any news of the premiere that will be taking place.

The image of people “blinding” themselves to the abuse in Fifty Shades has, we think, the potential to be exceptionally powerful.  The more of you that get involved, the wider the protest can reach.  We don’t want our protest of the Fifty Shades Darker premiere to haoppen only in London; by getting everyone involved like this, we can make it worldwide.

The beauty of the #dontbeblindtoabuse idea is that it makes it easier for people to post their photos without appearing too recognisable in them.  This is also a fantastically simple way to get involved with protesting the latest Fifty Shades film release, from the comfort of your own home!

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So, on February 9th, grab your camera, get on Twitter (or Facebook, or Tumblr or any other social media site!) and join in!  Let’s see if we can get the hashtag trending…

We are also asking our supporters to text the word FREE to 70500, to donate £5 to Women’s Aid UK, rather than paying to see the film.  We ask our international followers to choose a domestic abuse charity closer to home, if they are able to make a donation.  After all, it is these charities who help the real-life Anastasias of the world.

There is still plenty of time to get in touch with Natalie, if you are able to make it to the London premiere protest itself.  If not, grab that camera and get involved right from the comfort of your own home!

As always, thanks so much for your continued support.  We will always keep speaking out against romanticised abuse, but knowing we have so many amazing people standing beside us – literally and metaphorically – makes it so much easier.  We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Emma & Natalie

#dontbeblindtoabuse

 

Fifty Shades Darker: Launching Our Online Protest Campaign!