A Play by Play Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey, Chapter Five

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL JamesSo we meet again, Christian Grey. I'm returning to Fifty Shades of Grey with a lot of mixed feelings. Most of them involve wondering if Richard will be able to save me from my ultimate demise, or if I'm going to need to rely on Wishful and Magic (new names required…) to assist me in overcoming the latest attack on my sanity.

In my review of Chapter Four, I blew my top over several things. I'm really trying not to hold high hopes for five–or any hopes for five. I've come to the grudging acceptance that I simply won't find good writing within the pages of this book.

I'm tempted to rename this series “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” as a reflection of the number of times I've hit my head against my desk. For sake of convenience, today I will be hitting my head against a stack of Moleskine journals lined up on the shelf beside me.

I have a cup of tea–this is my second cup of the day, actually–and I've just finished working on a scene of Storm Surge. Hopefully this is a better set up than yesterday, when I foolishly decided to start my day with reading this book.

I have plans to work on Blood Diamond after I'm done with this chapter–a reward for surviving this endeavor. I'm making an assumption I will survive.

Richard, Wishful, and Magic are watching me rather intently as I settle down to see if this book actually contains erotica.

This is my most serious review of this book so far. While there is some humor, there isn't much. Don't worry, I expect my sense of humor will be restored in time for Chapter Six. There's so much material available thanks to this story's terrible writing quality.

But, I felt it was important to cover the serious things in this chapter. They're, well, more important.

Warning: Trigger Subjects in High Quantity Present In This Review

Chapter Five

I have chosen… poorly.

It’s very quiet. The light is muted. I am comfortable and warm, in this bed.

I just wasted the past two minutes of my life dramatically reading the above line. It went something like this, by the time I was finished:

It's very quiet.

The light is muted.

I am comfortable and warm…

IN THIS BED.

Yep. Welcome to my brain space. Have a pleasant stay.

I'll try to take this a little more seriously now, promise.

Okay, that took me all of two sentences to turn me into a liar. Well shit. Following the above example text, our lady protagonist opens her eyes, feeling quite good about being in a place she does not recognize–and she's totally happy like that.

The delayed reaction takes a bit to kick in, but at this point, I've lost all hope.

If I woke up somewhere I did not expect, panic is the first thing to happen. By panic, I mean, leap out of bed with no regard for whether or not I have clothes on, squealing, and probably grabbing something like a sheet should I discover an unclothed state.

This typically means I fell asleep on the couch, and I had launched myself halfway across the den before realizing I had been reading a book and nodded off.

Way to go, Ana. You have bottomed out your self-preservation meter. I didn't think it could go any lower.

This woman should be a case study of everything not to do in order to survive.

Okay, so, to address something in the book that'll likely trigger folks. In this scene, after Ana throws up, and has been kneeling outside, probably in her own vomit, Christian Grey takes her back to his hotel room after she faints in his arms.

I'm going to point out some things here: First, one of Ana's friends tried to rape her in the previous chapter. There is now an established cause for concern–and a reason not to leave her with her so-called friends. Yes, Kate included.

Christian has no idea if they'll take care of her–or if she'll become a real victim of rape–a rape he had just spared her from.

So, he ends up taking off her jeans and socks (because who wants potential vomit in their bed?)

When Ana asks if they did anything, this is Christian's reply:

“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive,” he says dryly.

Ladies and gentleman, this is the exact opposite of abuse. It's respect for a woman's body when she has no conscious control and is beyond the point of decision making, which at that point, Ana is beyond.

I have no idea of the circumstances of later in the novel, so I won't comment there… but frankly, if all men were like Christian Grey in this specific situation, rape levels would be sufficiently lower.

Removal of the pants, in this situation, I do not classify as rape or abuse. I consider it a preservation of sheets. Sleeping in anything that may have even remotely come into contact with vomit sucks.

And he left her shirt as is proper. And the things beneath the shirt and jeans.

:quiet claps:

Oooh, oooh, I've seen this line from like every single rant about the abuse of Fifty Shades of Grey I've read. Trust me, it's a lot of them.

“Well, if you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday. You didn’t eat, you got drunk, you put yourself at risk.” He closes his eyes, dread etched on his lovely face, and he shudders slightly. When he opens his eyes, he glares at me. “I hate to think what could have happened to you.”

Christian Grey, in this same chapter, in this same scene, has stated, “I like my women sentient and receptive.”

While he's possessive–and in certain doses, totally a legitimate thing to desire in a fantasy (which this is)–he's alrady stated he wants consenting females.

That's the distinguishing point here: Consenting females. Consenting. To agree to.

Willing. Receptive.

Partnered together… it's pretty obvious to me that the lady about to get a spanking for having no self-preservation skills is in a consenting relationship.

This just doesn't hold water for me.

And frankly, she's so freaking helpless I hope that Christian can spank some self-preservation into her. How is she not dead?

This is the pursuing of a very common fantasy–one where the woman is cherished, protected–and yes, spanked when she does something pretty fucking stupid.

I stepped out in front of a porsche when drunk once. I scared the daylights out of my husband and his cousin. (I obviously did not get squished.)

If he had wanted to spank me for that, I would have allowed it–heaven knows I deserved it for nearly getting myself turned into a pancake. (But, here's the thing: Consenting.)

This is a fantasy. Maybe you would not consent to this, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with women or men being turned on by this sort of thing.

Are people reading this like they do the bible, picking and choosing the paragraphs that best suit their needs without keeping in mind the context of the scene these paragraphs are in?

And why aren't people complaining about every Harlequin novel ever? I mean, there's almost always a scene where the male hero ‘takes' the female despite her protestations and lamentations. Like Conan the Barbarian, except written for women.

Richard, Mommy needs a hug.

“If you’re looking for your jeans, I’ve sent them to the laundry.” His gaze is a dark obsidian. “They were spattered with your vomit.”

I called it. I totally called it. Eat that, book!

Just don't eat vomit, that's just yicky.

Unless you're into that, but hey, I won't judge–just don't do it around me, please?

Oh, hey, Ana is starting to have kinky thoughts. What do you know? There might be some erotica in this book after all…

I'm going to point out, at this point in time, that Ana is so unrealistic as to be laughable, and that this is so obviously playing to every fantasy ever that this book should not be taken seriously.

It should be taken as a steamy romp–a terribly written one, and thus far not at all arousing for me–but an indulgence. Something meant to tease at fantasies.

In the real world, after narrowly dodging a rape, most women are not going to react be being omg get in bed with me right now despite having only graduated from hand holding very, very recently.

were looking up at me – all kiss me, kiss me, Christian,” he pauses and shrugs slightly, “I felt I owed you an apology and a warning.” He runs his hand through his hair. “Anastasia, I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of man, I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You should steer clear from me.” He closes his eyes as if in defeat. “There’s something about you, though, and I’m finding it impossible to stay away. But I think you’ve figured that out already.”

I'm going to point this out right here: Christian Grey is the most honest man I've ever read about in this regards. He's driving around in a blunt mobile. This is playing to lots of fantasies, but you know what?

This is giving it straight up. Those who have suffered through abuse are very probably going to cry foul and manipulation. But, I'm going to say this in Christian Grey's favor.

I've had run ins with abusers, usually from the perspective of one of those fighting to help the abused escape…

… and not a single one of them has warned their victims of what is to come. Why, they're hearts and flowers kind of men, often portraying the perfect relationship, trapping their victims in satin, lace, sugar and spice and everything nice. This doesn't describe every abuser, but it's a stereotype for a reason.

Christian Grey is giving Ana the option to consent or not. It's her choice.

The girl is an idiot and has no sense of self preservation. I mean, she's stupid. She's a waste of air. I hate this woman with the burning passion of a thousand suns. She represents a lot about society I can't stand.

But, you know what? James does a very good job of hitting in and honing in on a lot of very, very common fantasies–especially among women. (I do not know enough about men's fantasies to make any judgement in that regard. I do not have the appropriate equipment.)

It's poorly written, yes–very much so. But it really touches down on common fantasies.

Think about it, there's a reason why Harlequin novels almost always include at least one scene where the man takes the woman–typically using some form of force or coercion to do it. These books are written for a very common fantasy interest among women.

Just because you may not approve of it doesn't mean it's not there. So long as it remains a fantasy (or consented to), what's the problem? The people who assume that a woman's inner fantasies match what she wants in the real life need to suffer my mental imagining of Scum Sucker's fate–gender appropriate.

Consent, folks. That's the name of the game. Consent.

In fantasies, consent is sometimes optional. That's why it's a fantasy.

In reality, it should be the case, always.

Okay, here we go! I made it to the end of the chapter!

Quick recap before I make some comments. The whole chapter takes place in Christian's bedroom in his hotel. He proposes to show her his little kinky world. She asks him to kiss her. Scene set up. He doesn't want to, not without educating her first. She's upset.

In the elevator (revisiting a few chapters ago when a couple was making out in the elevator) Christian then decides to take Ana up on her offer and kisses her. He's a bit rough…

… and she likes it.

She gave consent, yo, about the time she dared him to kiss her. Yeah, he picked the timing around the same time he said fuck the paperwork.

Kinda kinky. Not erotica yet, but definitely kinda kinky.

This is one horribly written book. This is really not my sort of erotica. I mean, yeah, dude, I've read it. This is about as far from good erotica as it gets. But, yeah–totally plays into some kinky fantasies.

And I'll be taking some notes for later–who knows, maybe I'll find something I do like. The husband probably will not mind some… research.

And I think that about covers this novel's popularity. It's kinky. It offers women (and men) ideas for their consenting relationships. It lets people delve deeper into their sexuality. Because it's so damned popular, already established norms in fantasies are just coming to the surface.

Fifty Shades of Grey isn't popular because it's bringing anything new to the table.

Fifty Shades of Grey is popular because it's saying it's okay to be aroused by these sort of things.

And it is. It really is.

If you've been abused, please avoid this book. This is not for you. This is not written for you. It's written for wo/men who want to imagine this sort of thing in their head in a safe zone–in their head.

It's written for wo/men who might want to bring this sort of thing into their consenting relationship.

The world can't be sterilized, and that includes fiction–and in that, I fully throw my support behind Fifty Shades of Grey.

Carry on, new readers of erotica. This is not the real life.

This is just fantasy.

I say enjoy. I haven't seen anything yet that constitutes as abuse in the context this book was meant to be taken.

Except for one thing: Scum Sucker's attempt at raping Ana. Because you know? Christian had it right.

If he hadn't come to her rescue, she would have been in his bed, and Ana had said no.

That's rape.

(And while rape fantasies are legitimate as a fantasy source, this is being written under the assumption that all readers understand that this does not condone rape in any stretch of the imagination. Whatever you want to fantasize about is your business, but it should stay a fantasy.)

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