Chapter Eleven

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.

HOWEVER.

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.

Anastasia can’t.

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’.

She does.

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).

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Comment

  1. Kira on 20 August 2012, 06:28 said:

    Jesus. I can’t really even try to see this as a relationship with BDSM. Everything about it is just an abusive relationship.
    I almost feel physical pain when I see people saying they enjoyed the books.

  2. OrganicLead on 20 August 2012, 07:53 said:

    If I didn’t know better I would think this would be one of those Reefer Madness style cautionary tales about the dangers of BDSM.

    Also the references to the main character being a child (Pigtails? Jumping like a 5 year old? The Popsicle thing?) is kind of giving me the creeps in yet another direction. It may not be intentional, but thinking about 5 year olds having any connection to sex, metaphor or otherwise is gross as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Puppet on 20 August 2012, 08:06 said:

    I can’t believe this book actually got published and did well financially. I can’t wait for 50 Shades of Gray fanfictions to start showing up on bookshelves everywhere.

  4. swenson on 20 August 2012, 08:28 said:

    Fnabjkjkerjsdkggh.

    The contract thing does get dropped in later books, but it really doesn’t make it much better. Like you say, it shows exactly the kind of person Christian Grey is—domineering, with absolutely no concern for anybody else.

    Now, I’m hardly an expert in typical BDSM relationships, but I was under the impression it’s a mutual thing. Everybody involved agrees to be involved, and they agree to be involved only so far as they want to be. That’s the “consensual” part of “safe, sane, and consensual”, isn’t it? A contract like that seems completely beyond that limit. Honestly, I don’t even mind the “can’t do stuff the Dom thinks is unsafe” line so long as there’s still a line in there saying “everyone involved can leave whenever they feel like, for whatever reason they feel like” or at least “renegotiation of the contract can happen at any given time if anybody decides they’re not comfortable with part of it”.

    @OrganicLead – that is an excellent—and incredibly disturbing—point. Not only is it trivializing What’s-her-face’s opinions by making her sound immature (honestly, I read the book and I can’t even remember her name… Ana?), but it’s doing that in connection with sex. How much more disturbing can you get?

    Wait, don’t answer that.

  5. Taku on 20 August 2012, 08:33 said:

    I…

    I can’t. I simply can’t.

    I have lost the ability to can.

    I can’t even can’t – not allowed in the contract.

    I don’t know where this person did their research, but that’s the sort of thing you would only find in maybe 1% of the BDSM community. Far too hardcore even for the testicular-hangliding crowd. And WTF is this about the sub not being able to leave? That’s one of the core principles of the entire thing: Safe, Sane, and Consensual. :jazzhands: Without the last thing, it’s just rape and abuse.

    And don’t even START with the child comparisons. SO not touching that.

  6. ThaArmada on 20 August 2012, 12:53 said:

    This is all infuriating. The 5-year old is crossing the line though. And this is going to be a movie.

    Ah well, at least there’s a good chance that Bret Easton Ellis will be doing the screenplay.

  7. AvidAbey on 20 August 2012, 14:38 said:

    Good stuff. I really felt your righteous anger—and holy fuck (Myah!) did I share in it.

    A lot of this sounds like someone who’s never been in the kind of relationship she’s describing, or has only just touched the surface, trying to imagine what it’s really like and failing to consider the full ramifications. Maybe I’m being over-charitable because that’s all so horrifying. Well, frankly, it doesn’t make it much less horrifying.

    As for the five-year old thing, it’s good to call out and I’m happy you did, but that’s not very shocking or specific to James. The infantilization and simultaneous sexualization of women is a definite undercurrent to our culture (calling your sweetheart ‘baby’, a woman calling her boyfriend ‘daddy’, and those are the two least innocuous examples). It’s awful, almost certainly sexist and gross, but James is just indicative of these larger attitudes. So while I’m not arguing against calling that out when it’s seen, there’s no use pretending it’s one of this book’s special heinous crimes.

    “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.”

    I don’t understand this complaint. What if they’re at a fictional place, or live in a fictional place, why should a real address be given? Should they only use real emails or real phone numbers or real IM screennames?

  8. Tim on 20 August 2012, 15:38 said:

    It’s awful, almost certainly sexist and gross, but James is just indicative of these larger attitudes.

    There is a very big difference between using an affectionate diminutive like “baby” and declaring yourself to have an inner five-year-old who wants a damn good boning.

    I don’t understand this complaint. What if they’re at a fictional place, or live in a fictional place, why should a real address be given? Should they only use real emails or real phone numbers or real IM screennames?

    Because the book is set in reality. Now obviously there’s 555 phone numbers so people don’t accidentally call real places looking for your characters, but it’s not exactly difficult to find a real location to put your character and just give it a too-high or skipped house number. As a counterpoint, why set your book in the real world if you’re not actually going to set it somewhere real?

  9. Rachel on 20 August 2012, 16:52 said:

    Wait a second.

    I’m going to ignore all of the creepy pedophiliac vibes and the fact that Grey can back out of the contract that Anastasia is bound (no pun intended) to, because others have covered them better than I could.

    Why oh why would Christian Grey tell Anastasia to do some research AFTER she signed the contract? Is it more evidence of his controlling nature, or did the author just write this scene out of sequence? And if he thought she wouldn’t like what she read, why would he tell her to Wiki it at all? Why wouldn’t he just let her find out for herself?

    brain explodes

  10. swenson on 20 August 2012, 18:37 said:

    @Rachel – she didn’t actually sign the contract yet, he just gave it to her to look it over. Still, I find it weird that both of them seem so totally on board with this when Ana has no idea what she’s getting into at all.

  11. Prince O' Tea on 20 August 2012, 19:24 said:

    I always thought the “inner goddess” sounded like a hyperactive five year old, but at least James spells it out for me here. Doesn’t make her any less obnoxious though.

  12. Rachel on 20 August 2012, 19:33 said:

    swenson: Ah, I see. Because everyone knows nothing gets the inner goddess more excited than a contract.

  13. Tim on 20 August 2012, 19:57 said:

    Perhaps her inner goddess is a very minor divine filing clerk who mostly enjoys alphabetising her encyclopedic collection of photographs of bridges.

  14. Prince O' Tea on 20 August 2012, 19:58 said:

    Wait until you meet the Subconscious and find out there are not one but two obnoxious assholes living in Anastasia’s head.

  15. Rachel on 20 August 2012, 20:22 said:

    Perhaps her inner goddess is a very minor divine filing clerk who mostly enjoys alphabetising her encyclopedic collection of photographs of bridges.

    In that case, Grey had better not show her his alphabetized CD collection. Inner Goddess might lose her little mind. (I wonder if James is trying to create a new porn subgenre where people get turned on by the Dewey Decimal System?)

    Wait until you meet the Subconscious and find out there are not one but two obnoxious assholes living in Anastasia’s head.

    Oh, great. Are we going to meet Ego and Superego, too? What turns THEM on, hmm? Organized filing cabinets?

  16. Tim on 20 August 2012, 20:51 said:

    “He’s soooo dreamy! Oh my god! My id says he’s boring, my ego couldn’t give a shit and my superego just took one. But my inner goddess (which sometimes means my vagina but not this time) wants to jump his bones, so let’s go!”

  17. Rachel on 20 August 2012, 21:00 said:

    “Oh, but my Id says no, and my conscience and frontal lobe have formed a campaign to picket my choice, and my common sense is upset because my inner goddess has so much say in my decisions….oh, well. Christian Grey, here I come!”

  18. AvidAbey on 20 August 2012, 21:26 said:

    There is a very big difference between using an affectionate diminutive like “baby” and declaring yourself to have an inner five-year-old who wants a damn good boning.

    Ah, I never said there no difference.

    I made the point that they both stem from the same pervasive cultural attitudes. You seem to have made the mistake of thinking that I am equating the two; they are not equivalent. But treating either of them like they’re surprising, or come out of left field, is naive.

    When it’s unthinkable for women talking like little girls to do nothing to men, or where schoolgirl dress is non-sexualized, or when Madonna releases a music video with infantilizing images that aren’t sexualized (as she did in the ’90s, I believe), then we can pretend that James has reached into a place that our society isn’t already knee-deep in.

    Because the book is set in reality. Now obviously there’s 555 phone numbers so people don’t accidentally call real places looking for your characters, but it’s not exactly difficult to find a real location to put your character and just give it a too-high or skipped house number. As a counterpoint, why set your book in the real world if you’re not actually going to set it somewhere real?

    What a strange argument. A too-high house number is still a fictional place that is not real.

    As a counterpoint, why set your book in the real world if you’re not actually going to make the main character someone who’s real? It’s fiction, I suppose in this case you want stories in the real world to achieve verisimilitude, but just because you made up a street, a person, or a whole damn town, doesn’t mean that you somehow can’t live up to that.

  19. Tim on 21 August 2012, 04:36 said:

    When it’s unthinkable for women talking like little girls to do nothing to men, or where schoolgirl dress is non-sexualized, or when Madonna releases a music video with infantilizing images that aren’t sexualized (as she did in the ’90s, I believe), then we can pretend that James has reached into a place that our society isn’t already knee-deep in.

    When I can’t recognise it as going beyond the usual places society goes then you can pretend it’s in some way normal. You might as well say I can’t get offended at the “she’s mine” logic of an abusive man who murders his ex after she finally works up the courage to leave him because it was society’s fault. The individual always has the choice to not be a huge fuckup.

    What a strange argument. A too-high house number is still a fictional place that is not real.

    But less so than an entire address. You have to put this in context; it’s part of a greater issue that James does no research whatsoever into what American society is like and either bullshits everything or assumes it’s like in England.

    As a counter-counterpoint; why feature her exact address at all when it’s neither important to the story nor real to show you’ve done your research?

  20. OrganicLead on 21 August 2012, 08:25 said:

    @AvidAbey – I know you’re trying to bring up the fact that this isn’t an issue solely found in this book, but by bring up the fact it’s a societal “norm” you’re kind of subtly validating it. That logic changing the blame from the author herself to external factors.

    …why feature her exact address at all when it’s neither important to the story nor real to show you’ve done your research?

    Well, I can see the place getting flooded by curious people wanting to see it and people sending letters to this address for the sake of amusement. I wish I could say I was being too paranoid, but look at the case of the phone number 867-5309. While people are using it to their advantage now, it was allegedly a pain to work with over the years. I’m almost certain James wasn’t trying to go for this, but it is one reason not to feature an actual address in your book.

  21. Tim on 21 August 2012, 11:20 said:

    Yeah, but it’s one thing to make a prank call; you’d have to be pretty weird to start with to make a pilgrimage to the supposed home of a fictional character. For phone numbers there’s the generally recognised “555” code in the US where you know that it’s both fake and something the author did deliberately; with this you can’t tell if it’s deliberate or the more likely case that James couldn’t be bothered. And if she couldn’t be bothered, why not just show the contract as a form-letter and have them fill in their addresses when they sign it so you don’t have to include it? Better yet, why not not have a chapter of interminable self-contradicting legalese at all?

  22. Epke on 21 August 2012, 11:24 said:

    You know, Christian Grey is very similar to Dorian Gray… aside from the name, I mean. Both are beautiful on the outside, but absolutely rotten and borderline psychotic on the inside, wealthy, puts up a façade to the outside world but only let a few select people in on who they really are… Needless to say, Wilde’s Gray is much better.

    And to make this really uncomfortable, does anyone else think about Paul Bernardo when reading this book? I mean, there’s just something about the pigtails, the it’s-not-f*cked-up-because-he’s-attractive-even-if-he-beats-me and the control Christian exerts over Anastasia that makes me think about it.

  23. AvidAbey on 21 August 2012, 14:12 said:

    @AvidAbey – I know you’re trying to bring up the fact that this isn’t an issue solely found in this book, but by bring up the fact it’s a societal “norm” you’re kind of subtly validating it. That logic changing the blame from the author herself to external factors.

    No. These are not external factors; they are factors intrinsic to almost every person, unless they are confronted. James voiced them more clearly than usual and people have been forced to confront these intrinsic factors.

    So we get the usual response, which is refusing to contextualize James’ execrable ideas and values as a part of something larger, which is also wrong. This makes her work the act of a fringe lunatic or idiot who can be mocked, demonized, and finally forgotten. In fact, by doing this, you distract from the fact that this book and its popularity are symptoms of those intrinsic factors.

    Now, they are also problems in and of themselves; a fact that I’ve never denied, have agreed with, and seems to be ignored.

    And, to finally answer your point in full: A serious wrong, and the individual responsibility for this wrong, cannot be validated (subtly or otherwise) simply because I point out that this wrong is part of a wider milieu. That thinking would lead us to conclude that feminist scholarship is subtly validating the misogynistic behaviors of many men because they point to a cultural patriarchy as the root of the problem.

    …why feature her exact address at all when it’s neither important to the story nor real to show you’ve done your research?

    “To show you’ve done your research” is not even a good reason. It’s an appallingly bad reason. It should only be a real address if it’s relevant to the story somehow.

    Anyway—if she’s going to put a whole contract in this book the people in it would have addresses. They might as well be fake, because there’s point in them being real, or fake, or anything. Even if their addresses were important to the story, I can’t see any convincing reason for them to be real.

    Better yet, why not not have a chapter of interminable self-contradicting legalese at all?

    You see, that’s the valid complaint. Complaining that the bullshit legalese included addresses that were fake (for shame! Didn’t even use Google Maps for no gain at all!) is the weird bit.

  24. Minoan Ferret on 21 August 2012, 14:47 said:

    you’d have to be pretty weird to start with to make a pilgrimage to the supposed home of a fictional character.

    Like to Baker Street?

  25. Fireshark on 21 August 2012, 14:56 said:

    you’d have to be pretty weird to start with to make a pilgrimage to the supposed home of a fictional character.

    Didn’t the IRL Forks get a huge bump in tourism?

  26. Tim on 21 August 2012, 16:18 said:

    “To show you’ve done your research” is not even a good reason. It’s an appallingly bad reason.

    And yet the men’s doorstop novel genre exists more or less entirely for that purpose. Now pardon me, I need to describe exactly what’s going on between my keyboard and my computer to pad this out to thirty pages.

  27. AvidAbey on 21 August 2012, 18:00 said:

    And yet the men’s doorstop novel genre exists more or less entirely for that purpose. Now pardon me, I need to describe exactly what’s going on between my keyboard and my computer to pad this out to thirty pages.

    I accept my rebuke, and admit that I’ve read a few of those in my time. Clancy, I willna be tricked again!

  28. VikingBoyBilly on 22 August 2012, 07:59 said:

    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.

    Because James is 59, so nobody in this universe knows what IMing is.

  29. Tim on 22 August 2012, 10:19 said:

    As for the five-year old thing, it’s good to call out and I’m happy you did, but that’s not very shocking or specific to James. The infantilization and simultaneous sexualization of women is a definite undercurrent to our culture (calling your sweetheart ‘baby’, a woman calling her boyfriend ‘daddy’, and those are the two least innocuous examples).

    Also, going back to this, not really; social conservatives in particular are dead set on this being creepy and incorrect because young girls are held as a symbol of sexual purity. This is why the socially conservative right wing finds things like Bratz dolls just as creepy as the women’s rights movement, and probably why those who commit crimes against female children are often singled out as targets of violence in hypermasculine prison environments*.

    Now granted, creating a scenario where there is little to no functional difference between your attitude towards a young human girl and a kitten is not itself ideal, but this attitude views the explicitly commercially-driven sexualisation of young girls as entirely negative and transgressive, and not in line with patricarchial ideals since it’s allowing the corruption of idealised innocence. It warps the ideal image of father figure if the child is a sexual creature, after all.

    So no, it’s not necessarily in line with even traditional patriarchy to talk about anal fisting and your inner five-year-old girl.

    *Though one could argue that this is a case of rejecting one’s own unacted-upon feelings by transferring them to one who does act upon them and punishing them, I guess, much as in right-wing media rapists are almost always the subject of exceptionally brutal retribution. Almost all men admit to having rape fantasies, so the “death of the rapist” is a method of transferring those desires to a vile figure (and the rapist is almost always a cowardly, ugly or otherwise physically vile figure) and punishing them to demonstrate rejection. Much like the left-wing “good white man” fantasies like Avatar punish stock colonial figures to demonstrate their creator’s rejection of colonial attitudes, for that matter.

  30. Nate Winchester on 22 August 2012, 11:00 said:

    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.

    Neither was this:

    And they still made it entertaining.

    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.

    Ok, to be fair, I think that may be a legal issue. And… well can you imagine it if your home address got featured in a huge, popular book series? I think we should give the author a pass on this. It’s just good courtesy (besides legality) to not give proper addresses unless it’s like a monument or business (the latter would probably be very grateful for an increase in foot traffic).

    Either the Dominant or Submissive is entitled to terminate this contract at any time, for any reason, immediately and without prior notice.

    Again, just on a technical level, but what would then make it a contract? To quote wikipedia:
    A contract is an agreement entered into voluntarily by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing, though contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be ‘damages’ or compensation of money.
    If people could just violate it at will, that’s not a contract, but just like… a promise or agreement. It’s certainly not a contract.

    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.

    But again, to be fair (damn, how did I get to play devil’s advocate so much this time? shoot me!), Ana could use that clause too. Grey wants her to do… anything? She can declare it “unsafe”. It could lead to some very lulzy situations if Ana was a bit smarter and more clever.

    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.

    Considering that the first name of the male character is “Christian” and what the overall theme of this book is, perhaps James is going for a pun?

    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.


    ×8 billion

    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.

    Yeah, unlike those of us who sit around commenting on II… oh wait.

    Jesus. I can’t really even try to see this as a relationship with BDSM. Everything about it is just an abusive relationship.
    I almost feel physical pain when I see people saying they enjoyed the books.

    ANOTHER pun? Let’s all stop with the puns!

    So while I’m not arguing against calling that out when it’s seen, there’s no use pretending it’s one of this book’s special heinous crimes.

    To be fair, I think the article writer is engaging in this trope.

  31. Nate Winchester on 22 August 2012, 11:02 said:

    Didn’t the IRL Forks get a huge bump in tourism?

    Yep.

  32. Tim on 22 August 2012, 11:28 said:

    Ok, to be fair, I think that may be a legal issue.

    Well, like I said, you could just have it start with blank boxes as if it hasn’t been filled in, or even have her say that the first part was their addresses rather than slap the entire document in there; you don’t have to have the address. It reminds me of fantasy authors thinking they need to draw a map despite having no knowledge of geography, so every fantasy land ends up looking like India with the Himalayas extended to cover the entire border because they can’t be bothered to figure out what’s past them.

    If people could just violate it at will, that’s not a contract, but just like… a promise or agreement. It’s certainly not a contract.

    I’m fairly sure it isn’t a contract anyway since it doesn’t create a legal obligation (in fact I’m fairly sure attempting to enforce any term in it would get Grey laughed out of court). While from what I can tell cod-legalise contracts aren’t that uncommon in BDSM, if you’re not going to play at locking the sub to you with a contract then what’s the point? Grey’s one seems explicitly designed to make him look like a nice thoughtful guy because it’s so riddled with get-out clauses it’s basically useless, but it just makes him look like a contrary idiot.

  33. Nate Winchester on 22 August 2012, 11:35 said:

    Well, like I said, you could just have it start with blank boxes as if it hasn’t been filled in, or even have her say that the first part was their addresses rather than slap the entire document in there; you don’t have to have the address. It reminds me of fantasy authors thinking they need to draw a map despite having no knowledge of geography, so every fantasy land ends up looking like India with the Himalayas extended to cover the entire border because they can’t be bothered to figure out what’s past them.

    Excellent point and not a bad idea. There’s several ways to deal with it at any rate.

    I’m fairly sure it isn’t a contract anyway since it doesn’t create a legal obligation (in fact I’m fairly sure attempting to enforce any term in it would get Grey laughed out of court). While from what I can tell cod-legalise contracts aren’t that uncommon in BDSM, if you’re not going to play at locking the sub to you with a contract then what’s the point? Grey’s one seems explicitly designed to make him look like a nice thoughtful guy because it’s so riddled with get-out clauses it’s basically useless, but it just makes him look like a contrary idiot.

    Well partially true. There’s a contract as a legal document and contracts as a concept. Indeed, there is some arguments that courts arose in the first place as a way to settle contracts (meaning agreements existed first, then legal structures grew around them).

    But that’s rather philosophical (on technical vs ideal etc), at any rate, we both agree on this, and that the book sux. ;-)

  34. AvidAbey on 22 August 2012, 14:22 said:

    Also, going back to this, not really; social conservatives in particular are dead set on this being creepy and incorrect because young girls are held as a symbol of sexual purity. This is why the socially conservative right wing finds things like Bratz dolls just as creepy as the women’s rights movement, and probably why those who commit crimes against female children are often singled out as targets of violence in hypermasculine prison environments*.

    I’m not talking Toddlers with Tiaras or Bratz here, which is the opposite of infantilization of women; that’s the sexualization of toddlers, making them, effectively, into smaller and smaller versions of the sexualized objects that already plaster Maxim, etc.

    And I’m not sure how social conservatives work into this; I never mentioned social progressives as the great force fighting against this. Neither the social conservatives nor the social progressives really change the fact that women are, more often than not, simple sexual objects. The social conservatives probably contribute to it more since they’re treating young girls as objects anyway, but oh well.

    Now, as part of this, women are infantilized specifically because of the patriarchal ideas you note surrounding sexual purity. Sexual purity as an object is fetishized into a desirable quantity—again, the opposite of Toddlers with Tiaras or Bratz here, where maturity is transposed on young girls and seen as sexy. I’m talking about immaturity being laid over women and that is then sexualized.

    Infantilization also functions to defuse uncertainties around shifting gender power dynamics, of course—similar to the immobilizing corsets of the Victorian period (which was an absolute tempest of changing sexual politics). As women gain more power/influence, powerless women become more valued or “sexier” because they are non-threatening. Which is partly why social conservatives uphold young girls as good or better—because they are sexually pure (and dependent), and not corrupted as a sexually and physically mature woman is (who we can presume is probably also more independent).

  35. Tim on 22 August 2012, 14:56 said:

    Yeah, but the issue here is that we have the “inner five year old” being excited by a sex contract, so it can be read (fairly easily) as creepy sexualising of a child (albeit an imaginary one) rather than infantilising the adult. Let’s face it, infantilising the heroine of this story any further than her outward behaviour does is basically impossible anyway.

  36. Fireshark on 22 August 2012, 14:57 said:

    Oh for…

    Does this have anything to do with the spork?

  37. AvidAbey on 22 August 2012, 15:06 said:

    True, but I did read it as further infantilizing the protagonist, reducing her to a five-year old rather than raising a five-year old up (or, dragging a five-year old down) to that level. It seemed like part of the clear and repugnant pattern James has going.

    Anyway, I do see what you mean. This book is creepy on a multitude of levels.

  38. Prince O' Tea on 22 August 2012, 15:29 said:

    “My inner goddess is smearing her own excrement on the walls.
    “My inner goddess just made herself sick because I said she couldn’t have any cake if she didn’t eat her own vegetables.”
    “My inner goddess is currently trying to molest a travel pillow.”
    “My inner goddess is rocking back and forth and trying to adjust her tinfoil hat.”

  39. swenson on 22 August 2012, 16:59 said:

    @Fireshark – no, but I still have to say…

    the immobilizing corsets of the Victorian period

    MYTHBUSTINTIEM:

    While it’s true that tightlacing first became popular in the Victorian era (the 1840s to 1850s is when the trend began), it was hardly ubiquitous. Poor and working women didn’t typically tightlace for the obvious reason that they needed greater freedom of movement, and by the 1870s, it was falling out of fashion anyway as doctors began to claim all sorts of ailments were a result of too-tight lacing. (in reality, tightlacing doesn’t do that much physically; if it does, you’re FAR overdoing it)

    It is also true that in a corset, you can’t bend at the waist very easily. But a well-fitted corset—even if it’s a Victorian-style one, and even if it’s tightly laced—should still allow the wearer to walk, sit, and even run without difficulty. They make the wearer look skinnier by moving fat around, basically, not by actually deforming your skeleton. And even in the mid-1800s, they weren’t typically tightened to the point of making the wearer feel sick or in pain.

    Honestly, the most uncomfortable corsets were probably the long line corsets of 1908-1914, but they were never all that popular, and then World War I came along and nobody wore corsets at all after that.

    Besides, to say that Victorian-era corsets had anything at all to do with the patriarchy is pretty much just wrong. It was a fashion thing. Prior to that era, big shoulders and skirts on dresses were in style. When they went out of style, to keep the narrow waist/hourglass look, a tighter corset was necessary. You could argue it was all the patriarchy wanting women to have hourglass figures in the first place, though, I suppose.

    NOW YOU KNOW.

  40. AvidAbey on 22 August 2012, 20:30 said:

    While it’s true that tightlacing first became popular in the Victorian era (the 1840s to 1850s is when the trend began), it was hardly ubiquitous. Poor and working women didn’t typically tightlace for the obvious reason that they needed greater freedom of movement, and by the 1870s, it was falling out of fashion anyway as doctors began to claim all sorts of ailments were a result of too-tight lacing. (in reality, tightlacing doesn’t do that much physically; if it does, you’re FAR overdoing it)

    This strikes me as knowledge that someone who has worn corsets would have. If I had to hazard a guess, I would think that someone you know, or you, has worn them and is now reacting against misconceptions about their relationship with corsets, and not the historical relationship.

    I’m most likely wrong though, so here’s my real reply:

    Of course corsets weren’t ubiquitous. Foot-binding in China was not ubiquitous; in both countries lower-class women were not the target. This is mostly because wage slaves in garment factories were not at any risk of emancipating themselves, not until after they moved into the traditionally male work areas during WWI. Suffragettes and others were mostly middle- to upper-class; these are the women that wore corsets because that was what women’s fashion was reacting to.

    Whether corsets were or weren’t immobilizing, I was merely operating on what I’d read in passing—I haven’t researched the issue thoroughly, although you make it sound as if there might be some controversy. Needless to say, not every woman would have worn an immobilizing corset even if she did wear corsets, because it varied by individual.

    All the same, their meaning is fairly obvious; meant to shape, control form, and restrict (if not immobilize). About as clear-cut as foot-binding, really. (As clear-cut as any cultural issue can be).

    Besides, to say that Victorian-era corsets had anything at all to do with the patriarchy is pretty much just wrong. It was a fashion thing.

    That’s interesting, because I’ve heard that fashion sometimes is affected and altered by wider sociocultural issues. You might want to take that one up with modern scholarship (especially the women’s studies professors focused on women’s fashion).

    NOW YOU KNOW.

    Hm. Fireshark was wrong—the discussion Tim and I were having was directly relevant to this spork. It let me see the work in a new light, and our discussion was illuminating. This argument, however, is not relevant at all, and I won’t be discussing it any more than this refutation.

  41. swenson on 23 August 2012, 10:26 said:

    This argument, however, is not relevant at all

    True enough. You just happened to trigger a minor pet peeve of mine, as the image of these ludicrously tight and unhealthy corsets is a very common misconception.

  42. Kyllorac on 23 August 2012, 10:54 said:

    I just can’t resist commenting on the corsets.

    Corsets were originally designed as a form of support. You know how well-endowed women often mention how their back hurts them? Yeah. The function of a corset was to redistribute the weight of one’s bosoms so that the strain of carrying them around all the time wasn’t as damaging to one’s spine. Even though the shapes and styles of corsets changed over the centuries, the basic function remained, up until the development of brassieres, which allow for greater freedom of movement at the cost of support.

    So corsets as a construct of the patriarchy to control women just doesn’t fly.

    /end tangent

  43. Nate Winchester on 23 August 2012, 15:08 said:

    I for one, have no problems with this discussion of corsets.

    Though I don’t feel like swenson’s point is quite coming across clearly enough. Perhaps some colored diagrams appropriately labeled would help with the visualization. Maybe some animated gifs or videos?

  44. swenson on 23 August 2012, 16:15 said:

    Oh you.

  45. Nate Winchester on 23 August 2012, 17:37 said:

  46. Prince O' Tea on 24 August 2012, 10:16 said: