This chapter is exciting, because it includes the contract! Have you ever been reading a book and there’s a scene where the character is reading some boring legal document and so the author just kinda summarizes the important bits through the character’s eyes, and you were really disappointed that the author didn’t just print the entire document so you could have the pleasure of reading it all, in its entirety? No? Well, if you were, you won’t be disappointed here, because the next ten and one-third pages are the contract, in its entirety.
To be fair to James, this isn’t your normal boring legalese contract.
To be fair to the reader, it’s still pretty fucking boring. So, if you want to actually read it yourself, here’s a nice handy link. I’ll just ramble through the highlights.
It starts with their addresses, which don’t actually exist in real life. Personally, I think if you’re going to include an address in your story, it should be the address of a place that actually exists. If you’re not, then don’t.
So there’s some boring legalese, and then we start getting into creepy territory. Like, really, really, borderline Edward Cullen creepy. Man, what is it with me and bringing this back to Twilight?
8. If at any time the Dominant should fail to keep to the agreed terms, limitations, and safety procedures set out in this contract or agreed additionally under clause 3 above, the Submissive is entitled to terminate this contract forthwith and to leave the service of the Dominant without notice (page 166).
Uh….but what if…what if the Submissive wants to, uh…leave?
It gets worse:
13. The Dominant reserves the right to dismiss the Submissive from his service at any time and for any reason. The Submissive may request her release at any time, such request to be granted at the discretion of the Dominant subject only to the Submissive’s rights under clauses 2-5 and 8 above (page 167).
I’m finding it really hard to put my furious anger into words right now (I actually just flung this book against the wall), but, summing things up a little:
What. The. Fuck????
Okay. So let me get this straight. I’m not altogether against the idea of having a contract. Sure, it’s not legally binding, but at least it’s setting clear guidelines for both parties and laying out in explicit detail what is okay, what is not okay, and so on and so forth. For a naïve, recently devirginized girl getting into a BDSM relationship with a controlling, manipulative douchebag with issues the size of Mt. Rainier, that’s probably even more important.
This is a relationship. Sure, it’s mostly predicated on kinky sex, and in fact it probably is nothing but kinky sex, but it’s still a relationship. And, as this contract spells out, Edward Cullen – sorry, Christian Grey – sorry, the Dominant – can end the contract and walk away at any time, for any reason.
Yes: as long as Grey doesn’t break any of the terms of this contract, she’s stuck. So, let’s assume that he sticks to things in the contract. And Anastasia – having never experienced any of this before – agrees. And then a few weeks in, she decides that actually she doesn’t like being tied up and paddled and being forced to obey every one of Grey’s sexual demands (aside from the hard limits). She can’t leave.
Fuck it, what if Anastasia meets someone else and decides she wants to pursue a different relationship, like with a teenage werewolf?
You know what, fuck reasons. What if Anastasia just decides that she doesn’t want to do it anymore? You know, that absolute most basic of human rights of not being forced to stay in a relationship that you don’t want to be in? You know, being an autonomous agent with free will?
According to this contract, if Grey doesn’t decide to release her, she’s fucked. Literally and metaphorically.
That is very, very seriously fucked up.
Now, to be fair, this contract isn’t legally binding, and (in this book, at least, it’s not treated as legally binding. Jury is out on the sequels). However: agreements have power over people and they can be used by abusive and manipulative people in order to exert control over others. It doesn’t matter whether Anastasia has a wonderful time being tied up and fucked by a sparkly vampire, and it doesn’t matter if she never wants to leave. In fact, let’s range further and further into the land of what-if and say that Anastasia has a wonderful time, never has any doubts, loves following everything in this contract, and has a wonderful sexy times with Christian Grey that end in multiple explosive simultaneous orgasms, and there are never any negative repercussions for either party. Even if that were the case… we are still finding out what kind of person Christian Grey is. Christian Grey is a person who gives people contracts that try to restrict their basic human rights, and that makes him a fucking douchebag.
This contract is a horrible, horrible thing. And all it really needs is a simple clause:
Either the Dominant or Submissive is entitled to terminate this contract at any time, for any reason, immediately and without prior notice.
Fuck you, E L James.
And if you needed any further proof that Christian Grey is an evil and controlling man, that was it.
Anyway. Moving on. The contract is for three months, at which point they can renegotiate.
There’s some fun bits – like noting that Grey can’t loan Anastasia out to another Dominant, which seems kinda obvious, and that Anastasia can’t masturbate without permission, and must submit immediately to any sexual activities Grey wants. And she can’t touch Grey without his express permission. Here’s another fun one:
16 The Submissive shall not participate in activities or any sexual acts that either party deems to be unsafe (page 171).
So, for example, if Anastasia wanted to go and visit her werewolf friend that Grey is prejudiced against, he could use this clause to prevent her because he thinks that it’s “unsafe”. So really it’s another way for him to keep her from doing things he doesn’t want her doing. Classy.
There’s a bunch more things involving what she will allow to be inserted into which holes on her body, and so on and so forth. Eventually it ends and we get a “Holy fuck” from Anastasia which I’m starting to get tired of. There are other exclamations of surprise, James.
She’s upset and kind’ve angry and scoffs at different things and then begins rationalizing about certain things. So finally she decides not to think about it and to go to bed.
My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old (page 176).
Like a five-year-old interested in BDSM? Sorry, that image really failed for me.
The next morning a delivery man shows up with Anastasia’s hot shit new Macbook Pro from Apple, that’s not even in stores yet. 1.5 terabyte hard drive, 32 gigs of ram…it’s loaded. He asks what she’ll be using it for and chokes when she says email, which is kinda funny. After he leaves, she checks her email and there’s a message from Grey, naturally. Get used to this. There’s going to be a lot of email in this book.
So they shoot some email back and forth. Apparently Grey is at his computer and able to email back almost instantly, which makes me wonder why they don’t just use an IM program. But he asks her if she likes the computer and has any questions about the list of rules and she says she doesn’t really want the computer and she has no questions that are suitable for email and that about wraps things up.
Anastasia is giddy as a schoolgirl because a guy emailed her, OMG. She goes to work and has lunch with Jose and then comes home and CHECKS HER EMAIL. There’s an email asking her if she had a good day at work. She says yes, make sure to call him “sir” constantly, since that was one of the requirements in the contract. And surprise! He’s responding instantly. Good to know that the CEO of a huge billion-dollar company has lots of free time to sit in front of his computer and play email tag with college seniors.
Blah blah, he tells her to start researching, she asks how, because she’s an idiot, and he tells her to always start with Wikipedia and to enter ‘submissive’.
Half an hour later, I feel slightly queasy (page 186).
So do I, and I’ve only been reading 50 Shades of Grey.
I sit staring at the screen, and part of me, a very moist and integral part of me that I’ve only become acquainted with very recently, is seriously turned on. Oh my, some of this stuff is HOT (page 186).