Saturday, December 28, 2013

50 Shades of Smartass: Chapter 8

Well, I was going to take the week off from this... and then I saw that we're finally getting to the sex.

And it is... it is really fucking boring.

I guess I expected it would be hilariously bad and stupidly funny. But no. No, it's just really boring and dull. There's not even much to make fun of, because it's like watching paint dry, and pretty much exactly that funny to talk about.

But first: back to raging asshole Christian, totally angry that the girl he's known for, like, a week never explained to him that she's a virgin before. And, of course, somehow she feels guilty. This doesn't bode well. Then she's just getting all goofy inside because he thinks she's beautiful, and then he's getting over the top angry, demanding to know how she could possibly still be a virgin at the age of 21, as if that's really a rare thing. Ana being a virgin at 21--anyone being a virgin at 21--is totally believable. What isn't believable is how little she actually understands about how sex works. We'll get there.

She's worried that he's going to send her away, and he even gives her the chance to leave if this is too much for her, but she really just loves and craves approval and attention too much to leave now. She's a special snowflake; one of those girls who is uncomfortable with attention because she doesn't know how to handle it, and yet seeks it out constantly because she wants the validation. (Again, Tumblr experience talking.) She admits to us that she doesn't want to leave. And I don't think he really intends on letting her, anyway, since as she's supposed to be deciding, he's bombarding her with more of his idiot comments about how he wants to bite her lip and how distracting she is and then he says "We're going to rectify this situation right now."

The situation of her virginity.

It's not an experience. It's a situation. An obstacle for him that he needs to rectify so he can prepare her to be used as a tool in the near future.

Then we get this from him: "I want our arrangement to work, but you really need to have some idea what you’re getting yourself into. We can start your training tonight – with the basics. This doesn’t mean I’ve come over all hearts and flowers, it’s a means to an end, but one that I want, and hopefully you do too."

I love that little afterthought: Oh, er, hopefully you do, too, but I don't really care that much, after all, I'm trying to get you to sign your consent and autonomy away. But it's okay, because she's totally internalized that stereotype so many novels keep pushing about how abuse and entitlement are actually romance. (On a side note, please, please, please do not tell your young daughters that when boys push and hit them on the playground that it means the boys like them.) She doesn't realize that none of this is actually about her, it's just... well: the key line in all that is "it's a means to an end." So romantic.

Her response? "I flush... oh my... wishes do come true."

I've used this phrase so much it's lost all meaning, but I will never say it about anything else ever again: this is the worst-written piece of shit I've ever read in my life.

So, Ana has to be de-virginized before she can be his slave, and she gives her consent... and remember, if she signs the contract--and she's already told us that she will--this is going to be the last moment where her consent ever matters.

This is all so wrong.

And what makes this especially pathetic is that Ana makes literally everything Christian does romantic. She romanticizes every inhuman, abusive thing that's wrong with him. Actually, in her eyes, there's nothing wrong with him. She refers to him again as a "monster" because he likes to torture women, but she doesn't internalize that in a way that actually matters. She's just a little nervous because her [classic British literature] romantic fantasy is getting rougher than she wanted, but she's still going to go with it no matter what.

So, anyway, they go into his bedroom, where she describes his bed, which is somehow both "ultra-modern" and a four-poster, which are two things that don't exist in the same place. An ultra-modern four-poster? Jeez, what's his decorating style? Tudor Art Deco? You don't know. You don't know anything about anything.

"Finally, after all this time, I'm going to do it, with none other than Christian Grey."

Finally? I thought you said you never wanted to have sex before.

He takes off his shirt and shoes and it takes forever, because she's working up to it, and Christian's so super hot, you guys, holy hell, he is so damn hot, like we get it, alright. And he's all "Do you have any idea how much I want you" and "Do you have any idea what I'm going to do to you" and ugh, can we just get to this, please?

Let's gloss over some of this next stupidity. The sex really is just super-boring "insert tab D into slot V" kind of functional sex, written by a woman who clearly doesn't like to think about healthy sex too much and looked up a bunch of chaste online descriptions to use. It doesn't read like anything a normal person has ever felt about sex ever in their lives. It's about as exciting as watching a dog hump a cardboard box.

So, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll intersperse some of my general reactions to what's happening.

"The muscles inside the deepest, darkest part of me clench in the most delicious fashion. The pain is so sweet and sharp I want to close my eyes, but I'm hypnotized by his eyes staring into mine."

Pain? In your pelvic muscles? If you've got pain in your pelvis, you should not be engaging in sex, you should be consulting a medical professional.

"'I like brunettes,' he murmurs, and both his hands are in my hair, grasping each side of my head."

Who gives a shit? Why would you even say that during sex?

"Seeing him on his knees in front of me, feeling his mouth on me, it's so unexpected, and hot."

Like, in what way? I can't believe I'm asking this, but could you be more descriptive about what this person is actually feeling? First-person narrative's a lot harder to get right than you thought, isn't it?

"'You smell so good,' he murmurs, and closes his eyes, a look of pure pleasure on my face, and I practically convulse."

They don't even have all of their clothes off yet, by the way.

"'You're very beautiful, Anastasia Steele. I can't wait to be inside you.' Holy shit. His words. He's so seductive."

She has no idea how to describe the sensations involved in having sex, nor the feelings it elicits. I don't understand how you bored housewives are getting off to this, because it's the worst pathetic attempt at writing sex. It's like it's written as one of those Doge memes. Such sex. So seductive. Much tingle.

She's approaching this whole thing like it's all naughty and titillating, but it's so perfunctory.

Then she says she's never masturbated, never even touched herself "there"before. He wants to watch her, and she doesn't even understand what he means by it because the concept of masturbation is wholly alien to her. Bullshit.


And then he's just all over her breasts. Paragraph after paragraph of playing with her nipples, because EL James is still working herself up to having to use words other than "there" or "deep inside in my most secret places" to discuss the vagina, and that's scary, so we spend paragraphs on her sensitive nipples.

She's so magical that she can apparently come just from having her never-before-touched-apparently-never-even-by-her-or-a-doctor-or-something nipples paid attention to. Which, you know, some women can, but it's pretty rare, and it's really only there so James doesn't have to discuss things like insertion or, you know, SEX. She's timid and trying to delay it by getting lost in the arousal, but it's just... it's so boring, you guys. It's so goddamn boring.

"His teeth close round my nipple, and his thumb and finger pull hard, and I fall apart in his hands, my body convulsing and shattering into a thousand pieces. He kisses me, deeply, his tongue in my mouth absorbing my cries."

Well, that's her orgasm, then. Her first ever, apparently. She doesn't really get much time to enjoy it, because he's babbling about how responsive she is and how he can't wait to control her and she's thinking things like "Holy cow" and how he's touching her. Can you guess where? "There."

"His hand moves down my waist, to my hips, and then cups me intimately..."

Can someone explain to me what the platonic way to cup someone's crotch is? I'm asking for a friend.

"He kneels up and pulls a condom onto his considerable length. Oh no... Will it? How?"

Don't you have the internet, dummy? You're a 21 year-old in the 21st century. A college fucking graduate.

"'Don't worry,' he breathes, his eyes on mine. 'You expand, too.'"

Her childlike naivete is doing whatever the opposite of turning me on is. Frankly, my penis has crawled inside of my lower intestine and I'm retroactively apologetic and filled with shame towards every woman who's ever had sex with me.

Also, he keeps calling her "baby" over and over again, and it's really gross. I just want it to stop. When he does it, it feels condescending and icky.

"I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity."


"And as he comes, he calls out my name, thrusting hard, then stilling as he empties into me."

Make this stop.

"Two orgasms… coming apart at the seams, like the spin cycle on a washing machine, wow."

Every time I think James has hit her worst metaphor, she keeps going.

"''You are mine,' he whispers. 'Only mine. Don’t forget it.'" Except she isn't, because she hasn't signed that contract yet, although admittedly that's probably just a formality by now. She describes his power trip as "heady," "seductive," and "intoxicating." Yeah, stripping you of your consent is so erotic. Hey, Robin Thicke wrote some lyrics about that and threw them over a Marvin Gaye track and it was literally the most popular song of 2013, so I guess... Wow, think about that. Think about the popularity of "Blurred Lines" and 50 Shades of Grey and think about what it is society is telling us about its collective sexual maturity.

"'See how you taste,' he breathes against my ear. 'Suck me, baby.' His thumb presses on my tongue, and my mouth closes around him, sucking wildly. I taste the saltiness on his thumb and the faint metallic tang of blood. Holy fuck. This is wrong, but holy hell is it erotic."

That's wrong? That's nothing. If you think that's really naughty and weird and dark, you are not cut out to be the submissive in a BDSM relationship. You just aren't. (It's also not really that erotic, either, but whatever.)

The blood is from her losing her virginity. Can we stop perpetuating that, writers of terrible fanfiction? Not all women bleed when they lose their virginity. Lots of women break their hymens before they even have sex, anyway, just from physical activities like sports, strenuous exercise, or, hell, falling on the playground. What I'm saying is, when you lose your virginity, even if it does bleed, it's generally not like the gory animal slaughter that's described here. You'd think Christian was going to have to throw out his mattress. I despise this fanfiction cliche. You can tell who knows nothing about sex, because the authors think that a hymen breaking is like the hotel hallway in The Shining and when men come they shoot directly into a woman's womb. You know nothing about anatomy. Add that to the long list of things you don't know anything about, EL James.

Then he starts thrusting into her again, saying things like "I want you sore, baby." And then it finally gets hilarious.

"'You. Are. So. Sweet,' he murmurs between each thrust. 'I. Want. You. So. Much.'


"'You. Are. Mine. Come for me, baby,' he growls."

Are you... are you really happy with that?

Am I supposed to be picturing William Shatner here?

Alright, well, then he's "spent," and then Ana falls asleep for a while, and then things get even more pathetic. She wakes up, and he's not there. Where does she find him? If you answered "Sitting at the piano in the dark, lit only by a solitary light, playing a melancholy Bach melody," then congratulations and I'm sorry, but you know your romance novel cliches. She's transfixed by his playing, seeing him as this sad, lonely figure, despondent and childlike in the darkness. She really thinks she's having this Gothic romance happen to her, instead of just being quasi-raped by a total creep who wants her to give up her free will so he can use her like a sex toy. Yeah, you are just having the best life.

He orders her to go back to bed (again, author's word, "order"), and they go back to their bloody sheets together. She reaches out to touch his chest, and he practically jumps back and puts on a shirt, because of his sexy, highly erotic terror of intimacy. Oddly, if nothing else, I feel like this should be the biggest red flag in this whole chapter. It just shows you exactly how things are going to go. Let's forget the sex, which was pretty forgettable, anyway. Let's just look at what's actually happened versus what Ana thinks has happened.

She thinks she's caught Christian in a vulnerable moment and gotten a glimpse into his beautiful, tortured soul.

In actuality, she's caught him in a sullen, despondent moment, and he's responded to being caught that way by flinching at her attempt to create an intimate bond between them.

Did you not read the contract, you idiot? He doesn't want a girlfriend.

Instead of reassessing all of this, she's merely touched by how sad he is.

Oh, jeez... you think you're in Beauty and the Beast, don't you?

Well, you're not.


Roger Owen Green said...

Having no experience how written porn should be, nevertheless I appreciate your dissection of how it should NOT be.

Kelly Sedinger said...

I am now both horrified and utterly transfixed by the idea of William Shatner porn.

Lynette said...

I have a master's degree in music. I wrote an historical fiction novel about the alleged affair between Mozart and his favorite soprano, Nancy Storace, and my sex scenes are hot.

By the way, Bach never composed any "melancholy melodies".

SK Waller said...

You, sir, have gained a new follower this morning. (I found you via Byzantium's Shores.)

Bob Rutledge said...

OMG, your photos accompanying are perfection.

Soldier on, my good man!

Carl said...

THIS is why I bought you the book. It's still an unforgivable act on my part, but this is EXACTLY what i was hoping for.