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July 30, 2012

The ESC Reads 50 Shades of Grey: Chapter 8

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers. But, of course, that's kind of the point.

We decided to tackle the Fifty Shades of Grey series one book at a time and give everyone chapter-by-chapter summaries and critique. We're going to read Fifty Shades of Grey... so you don't have to.

Chapter 8

First off, we have to apologize for taking so long to post this one. This chapter was really painful for us. Also, we apologize in advance if this ends up being really long or we go off on some random tangents. We're working through a lot of feelings.

We've decided to forgo the usual format for this chapter review. One, because it just seems easier to critique the sex in the order in which it happened, and it'll hopefully make more sense for you guys that way. And two, because there was just so much to critique and it was kind of hard to differentiate between the "plot holes" and the "worst writing" because honestly, it's all blurring together in chapter 8. Or maybe that's just the tears in our eyes...

Summary: Christian continues to freak out over the fact that Ana is a virgin. He decides that they need to have sex, to get it over with, so he can start "training" her and then hopefully get her to sign his contract. She agrees and they prepare to have sex. Or you know, "make love", something he never ever does (except for when he does, apparently). He gives her her very first orgasm ever just by playing with her boobs (a possible, but unlikely scenario) and then he fucks her... hard. They both climax at the same time (because that always happens) and then about two seconds later he's ready to go again and they have sex doggy-style and again climax at the same time. So realistic. She falls asleep and wakes up to find him gone - he's in the other room playing piano. He tells her she needs her rest, so he follows her back to bed. She tries to reach out and touch him and he stops her, and instead makes her get in bed and spoons her until she drifts back off to sleep.

Sexiness factor (scale of 1-10): Um, buy a vowel? It's getting harder and harder for us to come up with a number for each chapter. There is some stuff that could possibly maybe be considered somewhat sexy, but it gets hard to remember any of it when it's so far overshadowed by all of the unsexy, offensive, and/or irritating stuff. We actually had a long conversation about what number to use for this chapter, and then we realized that we were having a long conversation about what number to use for this chapter. So we had to stop and go out for ice cream.

Criticism and Analysis:
“I don’t understand why you didn’t tell me,” he castigates me.
“The subject never came up. I’m not in the habit of revealing my sexual status to everyone I meet. I mean, we hardly know each other.” I’m staring at my hands. Why am I feeling guilty? Why is he so mad? I peek up at him.
For once Ana is actually making sense. They barely know each other, and even if for some reason she had decided that she did want to tell him that she was a virgin, she hasn't really had many opportunities. He shouldn't be mad and she shouldn't feel guilty, but we're sure that won't stop either of them.
I flush with pleasure. Christian Grey thinks I’m beautiful. I knot my fingers together, staring at them hard, trying to conceal my goofy grin. Perhaps he’s nearsighted, my subconscious has reared her somnambulant head. Where was she when I needed her?
Ugh. The subconscious is back. But "somnambulant" means sleep-walking, so we're really confused now. Her subconscious is asleep? It's clear that E L James doesn't know what "subconscious" actually means (otherwise Ana would not be aware of her subconscious thoughts, because that would make them conscious thoughts). But now her subconscious actually has its own level of consciousness where it can fall asleep and sleepwalk. We realize that we address the issue of her subconscious in every single chapter, but it's just THAT FUCKING ANNOYING. It's poor writing, it's lazy and it's just nonsensical.
“We’re going to rectify the situation right now.”
“What do you mean? What situation?”
“Your situation. Ana, I’m going to make love to you, now.”
“Oh.” The floor has fallen away. I’m a situation.
Can anyone think of any better way to refer to losing your virginity than "rectify the situation"? Not only is there no romance or seduction whatsoever, but he doesn't even ask her if she would like to make love. No, he tells her that it is going to happen, right now, because he wants it to happen and because he needs to get it out of the way so they can move on to more important things. No thought whatsoever to the fact that if she's waited 21 years to lose her virginity that maybe it might be kind of a big step for her. Nope, it's a "situation" that has to be rectified.

Now that's a situation that needs to be rectified.

“I thought you didn’t make love. I thought you fucked hard.” I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry. He gives me a wicked grin, the effects of which travel all the way down there.
We think it should be a rule that your book cannot be considered a totally hot erotica novel if it uses the euphemism "down there". And E L James uses it a lot.
“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.”
We were just wondering what could possibly be more romantic than "rectify the situation"... and E L James gave it to us: "it's a means to an end" totally ties with "start your training"! Swoon. (For the record, he does eventually ask her slightly more nicely if she even wants to have sex with him, and she does consent. But he's still a jerk.)
“Do you have any idea what I’m going to do to you?” he adds, caressing my chin.
Seeing as she's not just a virgin, but apparently the most inexperienced, naive, innocent, stupid virgin ever... let's guess that she probably doesn't have any idea of what he's actually going to do to her.
He steps out of his Converse shoes and reaches down and takes his socks off individually. Christian Grey’s feet… wow… what is it about naked feet?
What is it about naked feet? Nothing. There is nothing about naked feet. Of course, we're sure that his naked toes are just as sexy and electrifying as his long, slender fingers. We also don't understand why E L James felt the need to go into detail about Christian taking his shoes and socks off - it's not sexy and nobody cares - but since she did we'll call bullshit on the idea that Christian Grey would wear Converse.
“I assume you’re not on the pill.”
What! Shit.
“I didn’t think so.” He opens the top drawer of the chest and removes a packet of condoms.
Grammatically speaking, shouldn't there be a question mark after "What"? "What" is a question, no? Also, what is so shocking about him assuming she's not on the pill? And even if she was on the pill, they should still be using condoms because hello, they just met. Was she just going to have unprotected sex with him if he didn't bring it up? (Even after having gotten all uptight about Kate needing a "safe sex talk" a few chapters ago.)
His hands glide slowly down my backside to my thighs, removing my jeans as they go. I cannot look away. He stops and licks his lips, never breaking eye contact. He leans forward, running his nose up the apex between my thighs. I feel him. There.
Just when we were debating whether "apex between my thighs" was an improvement over "down there", she threw "I feel him there" in anyway. Never mind, no points awarded.
He lifts my foot by the heel and runs his thumbnail up my instep. It’s almost painful, but I feel the movement echoed in my groin. I gasp. Not taking his eyes off mine, again he runs his tongue along my instep and then his teeth. Shit. I groan… how can I feel this, there? I fall back on to the bed, moaning. I hear his soft chuckle. “Oh, Ana, what I could do to you,” he whispers.
At this point the 'down there/I feel it there' thing is already annoying us so much that we're almost wishing for an update on what Ana's inner goddess is up to. Also, it seems like ELJ is really into feet - not a judgment, just an observation.
“How do you make yourself come? I want to see.”
I shake my head.
“I don’t,” I mumble. He raises his eyebrows, astonished for a moment, and his eyes darken, and he shakes his head in disbelief.
Poor Ana. She doesn't even masturbate? She has never had an orgasm and she's thinking of signing a contract to become someone's submissive... giving in to everything that he wants... without even knowing what she wants or likes. We're having a hard time understanding how everyone finds this book so sexy and romantic. To us, it's just sad and creepy. To be clear, that's not a criticism of virgins or people who don't masturbate for whatever reasons - the only person we're taking issue with here is E L James.
“Keep still,” he murmurs, and then he leans down and kisses the inside of my thigh, trailing kisses up, over the thin lacy material of my panties, kissing me. Oh… I can’t keep still. How can I not move? I wriggle beneath him. “We’re going to have to work on keeping you still, baby.”
Why is he so obsessed with trying to keep her still? It's almost like he's a major control freak or something. But we are glad that E L James specified three times in one sentence that Christian is kissing Ana. Is he kissing her though? Is his apartment big?
My breasts swell, and my nipples harden under his steady gaze.
Her nipples harden under his gaze? Wow, he's good.
His lips close around my other nipple and when he tugs, I nearly convulse. “Let’s see if we can make you come like this,” he whispers, continuing his slow, sensual assault. My nipples bear the delicious brunt of his deft fingers and lips, setting alight every single nerve ending so that my whole body sings with the sweet agony. He just doesn’t stop.

“Oh… please,” I beg, and I pull my head back, my mouth open as I groan, my legs stiffening. Holy hell, what’s happening to me? “Let go, baby,” he murmurs. 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.
Everyone's very first orgasm happened just like this, right ladies? Two or three minutes of nipple stimulation and you're good to go.
He kneels up and pulls a condom onto his considerable length. Oh no… Will it? How?
“Don’t worry,” he breathes, his eyes on mine. “You expand too.”
Come fucking on. Sure, she's a virgin but hasn't she ever taken a sex ed class or read a health text book or talked about sex with friends or been on the Internet? Does she really not understand how the penis fits in there? Really? (And how exactly did he read her mind to know she was thinking that?) Also, if we're going to accept this ridiculous premise, then can E L James explain how Ana knows that he has "considerable length"? We are supposed to assume that this is the first penis she has ever seen in her entire life, right?
“Pull your knees up,” he orders softly, and I’m quick to obey. “I’m going to fuck you now, Miss Steele,” he murmurs as he positions the head of his erection at the entrance of my sex. “Hard,” he whispers, and he slams into me.
“Aargh!” I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity. He stills, gazing down at me, his eyes bright with ecstatic triumph.
What. The. Fuck. Honestly, that hurt us just reading that. What the hell is wrong with him? He knows she's a virgin, he knows she doesn't even masturbate... he has only given her minimal foreplay down there and he just slams into her like that? Has he never heard of being gentle? He couldn't slowly enter her a little bit at a time and let her acclimate to the feeling before he decides to fuck her "hard"? Also, this might be a minor detail, all things considered, but it's a little weird that he's continuing to be so formal and call her "Miss Steele" as he's literally ripping through her hymen. Ugh.
His mouth is open slightly, and his breathing is harsh. He groans. “You’re so tight. You okay?”
It's a little late for that observation and that question, Christian.
“Come for me, Ana,” he whispers breathlessly, and I unravel at his words, exploding around him as I climax and splinter into a million pieces underneath him. And as he comes, he calls out my name, thrusting hard, then stilling as he empties himself into me.
Again this is so strikingly similar to what happened when I lost my virginity.
Leaning down, he gently presses a kiss against my forehead then slowly pulls out of me.
“Ooh.” I wince at the unfamiliarity.
“Did I hurt you?” Christian asks as he lies down beside me propped on one elbow. He tucks a stray strand of my hair behind my ear. And I have to grin, widely.
You are asking me if you hurt me?”
“The irony is not lost on me,” he smiles sardonically.
So nice of Christian to suddenly act like he cares about this. What a dreamboat.
I stretch out beside him, feeling loose-limbed, my bones like jelly, but I’m relaxed, deeply relaxed. I grin at him. I can’t stop grinning. Now I know what all the fuss is about. Two orgasms… coming apart at the seams, like the spin cycle on a washing machine, wow.
A washing machine analogy? Careful, E L James, don't overwhelm us with too much sensuality here.

Okay, at this point we're basically commenting on every paragraph so we'll sum up a little. Christian keeps asking Ana if she's okay, and finally she decides that she wants to "do that again" so Christian (who is still creepily calling her "Miss Steele") turns her over and is ready to go only a few minutes later. Sorry, we call bullshit on this one too. The average refractory period for men (the "recovery phase" between having an orgasm and being able to achieve a new erection) is 30 minutes. And we bet that a lot of the women out there will say that this is a generous estimate. Oh, but we forgot, Christian is a special snowflake and this is an epic love story, so I guess we shouldn't point these things out.
I cannot move my head. I am pinioned beneath him, helpless.
“You are mine,” he whispers. “Only mine. Don’t forget it.”
“Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.”
This part is really annoying to us (as opposed to all the other really annoying parts we're already complained about). She hasn't signed any contract, she hasn't agreed to be "his", so why is he telling her "you are mine" and "only mine"? Fuck off, Christian. Just because you took her virginity doesn't mean that she's your property now.
“I want to fuck your mouth, Anastasia, and I will soon,” his voice is hoarse, raw, his breathing more disjointed.
Fuck my mouth!
Sorry, we just don't buy it that Christian Grey would talk like that. Or that anyone really does, for that matter. We've heard a lot of euphemisms for oral sex, but "fuck your mouth" just makes us roll our eyes. Informal poll: Do people really use this expression?
I’m enticingly ensnared by him, and he’s poised and ready to take me once more. “We’re going to go real slow this time, Anastasia,” he breathes.
That's what you should have done the first time, you fucking idiot.
My body convulses around him, and I come, loudly calling out a garbled version of his name into the mattress. Christian follows with two sharp thrusts, and he freezes, pouring himself into me as he finds his release.
Actually he's pouring himself into the condom, not into you, but okay... semantics. And we appreciate how ELJ continues to keep this really realistic and relatable by having them simultaneously orgasm again. (Yeah, we know, it's fiction and it doesn't have to be realistic. We just wish it was unrealistic in a more interesting and less annoying sort of a way.)

Okay, summing up again. Ana immediately falls fast asleep, probably because having your first three orgasms in 21 years all in the span of 30 minutes can be pretty exhausting. When she wakes up Christian isn't in bed with her, so she goes looking for him and finds him playing the piano.
He sits naked, his body bathed in the warm light cast by a solitary freestanding lamp beside the piano.   [...]
He finishes playing and puts his hands on his legs. I notice now that he’s wearing PJ pants.
So he's not naked, he's wearing pajama pants. Why would Ana assume that he was just hanging out playing a little naked piano? Who is he, Matthew McConaughey? And since he actually wasn't naked, why do we have to hear about it in the first place? It's not really important except that it's yet another nonsensical observation made by Ana, and another pointless detail that E L James mistakenly thinks we're all fascinated by.
We both glance down at the bed at the same time. There’s blood on the sheets – evidence of my lost virginity. I flush, embarrassed, pulling the duvet tighter around me. “Well, that’s going to give Mrs. Jones something to think about,” Christian mutters as he stands in front of me.
Let's hope Christian pays his housekeeper really well.

Conclusion: Lots of foreshadowing in this chapter! Christian says he likes brunettes, he doesn't like to take his shirt off, has trouble sleeping, and he doesn't let Ana touch him on his torso. And he likes incredibly sad music. Other than that, we don't have a lot more to say. We have been so traumatized by this chapter that we feel the need to cleanse it from our minds. So we're each going to take a long hot shower and then have a drink. Hell, maybe we'll just drink in the shower to save time.



J.F. said...

Re. your "does anyone actually say 'fuck your mouth'" question, my partner and I say that, particularly if we're both in the mood for some rougher oral sex. I find it really hot - except when Christian says it, and then it's just UGH because everything he says is UGH.


Maybe that's the problem lol.

Anonymous said...

People do use the phrase "fuck your mouth" but generally in the context of having a sexting/phone sex/etc. conversation. I agree... I will cringe the next time I hear it thinking that it was something that was suppose to come out of this dickwad's mouth.

elfinragdoll said...

Chiming in to confirm here, yes, "fuck your mouth" or "fuck your face" is something that people often say in the context of rough oral sex. In the right situation, I think it can be really damn hot, but obviously, Christian is not that situation. He needs to be rectified.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, this just makes me want to cry for womankind. How many women ran out and bought this, thinking they were getting some awesome kink, and the first sex scene is borderline rape?

Also, I know nothing about the whole BDSM "lifestyle," but even I know enough that it's not about owning someone. Christ, let someone tell me I'm his in any kind of commanding way and see how long I stay.

Can't wait until you get through the rest.

jilsao said...

My roomates say 'I'm gonna fuck your mouth" all the time. Of course they're playing HALO or Warcraft at the time... BDSM and PvP have the same dialogue right? ;-)

Magnificently Bruised said...

@jilsao You would be surprised how often those two worlds overlap.

The Mad Dame said...

Let me preface that I probably dislike this book as much as you, if not more. Being in the bdsm community and just simply being a, hopefully, intelligent woman, this book would rubbed me the wrong way at a lot of different points.

I enjoy reading your articles and I thought I would have a fun time reading your chapter by chapter review of 50 Shades, but good grief. I thought I was nitpicky, but you two take the cake. As bad as it is (even ignoring that its was a Twilight fanfic) you seem to go out of your way to bash this book. Its not even close to being fun anymore to read your reviews. This gives the feeling of being a bandwagon post as oppose to being smart but witty recap of the book.


Thanks to everyone for the "fuck your mouth" feedback! At least we're learning something thanks to this book.

Mad Dame - We freely admit that some of this stuff is nitpicky. (In fact, we often admit it in the post.) We're just pointing out the things in the book us that strike us as funny or irritating or offensive or whatever. We never expected that everyone would like these posts (or anything else we write for that matter), although many people do enjoy them. So if these posts aren't for you, that's totally okay with us. We'll keep writing them for the people who do like them.

TJ said...

Wow, I agree with you on so many of these points! Christian is creepy, a bad dom, and just a jerk of a human being.

@The Mad Dame: This was one of my favorite recaps! I don't even know how they managed to make it to the end of the chapter. I guess you could say it was nitpicky, but that seems like that's kind of the point. And in their defense they did say that they were breaking their usual format for this chapter because it was just THAT bad.

So continue the bashing! Please!!

andrea said...

i had a french boyfriend when i was eighteen and STOOPID who used to refer to fellatio as "fucking my mouth". don't know if i thought it was hot or not...but he certainly had his VIP card for cunnilingus so he could have called it "dick the shit out of my mouth" for all i cared after all TEH orgasms.

this trilogy certainly has its overuse of certain terms: apex of my thigh, coming undone, blah blah. but it's not supposed to be a fucking award winning book!

it's a modern day romance with a twist of kinky fuckery;)

actually, imma gonna read them all over again.

love the reviews...made me laugh out loud when i need it the most, so thank you.


larabee said...

I was a kid who read romance novels and thought I was wise to all the BS in them, but it was a very rude wakeup call to me that a partner simply touching me wouldn't make me instantly have an orgasm. The whole effortless orgasm thing really messed with me. I loath this and any book that makes it seem like a woman who is nervous or unsure will be overwhelmed by what's happening and magically flip into a frame of mind that leads to orgasm. I found this whole chapter extremely weird.

As for the converse, EL James REALLLLLLY wants us to believe that Christian is not just an overbearing, wealthy, "OLDER" 27 year old asshole, but that he's also got INDIE CRED. Hence the Kings of Leon and Converse sneakers. Because yeah, there's so much coherence in this character.

elodie said...

How in the hell is this a hot first time? (Or any time, but that it's the first time makes it worse.) It's just horrible. Vile. It makes me nauseous. It makes me sad to think that anyone's first time could be this awful.

30 minutes as a refractory period... mm... depends. My first boyfriend's was more like 5-10 minutes. And, well, let's put it this way, I've never been with a guy who didn't at least sometimes get it up again in 5-10 minutes.

Epiphora said...

I am so horrified by the descriptions of their sex. Mostly because I'm imagining all the naive people out there reading it and thinking that's what sex IS. Like, 3 orgasms, none of them clitoral, for someone who has never had an orgasm? THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.

To the commenter calling this post "nitpicky," the Evil Slut Clique has already gone over the overarching themes of the book that are disturbing and terrible. So now we're down to the details: the bad writing and the horrifying insinuations and inaccuracies. AND I LOVE IT.

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the party but I've been reading these chapter by chapter recaps and just nodding my head. I read the book, the whole book, (god, I don't know why) and it just hurt so bad. The writing is extremely lazy. It's like the first draft of something. I would never let any writing of mine go into the world with so much...repitition. Also, I'm glad you're doing the recap because these are thoughts I had while reading it, only yours are better articulated. Both characters are awful and annoying and not likeable. I would dare to say that Twilight was better written than this. Any female who thinks its romantic to have a stalker has never had one. There's absolutely nothing endearing about it. No matter how good looking. Or rich. Thank you for nitpicking.

Anonymous said...

A bit late to comment~ but psylocke921, BDSM encompasses a wide range of "activities," from a light spank here and there to 'owning' someone in a Master/slave relationship. This is of course ideal when the slave has some knowledge of and desire for submitting herself~

Anonymous said...

After this chapter it seems to me the author read far too many trashy historical romance novels. In that setting a younger, completely inexperienced, sheltered, naive and awkward heroine doesn't need any explanation. Even men showing interest in her don't make her low self-esteem surprising, she can have good reasons to doubt their sincerity (e.g. dowry or title or a very religious upbringing, plus a man who pursues her but refuses a relationship/marriage would only make her feel more worthless). Calling her Miss Steel even in bed isn't that unusual. Neither is being so incredibly anxious, because she just being alone with a man is scandalous; or being fascinated by his hands and fingers. Wondering how THAT will fit into her is a VERY common very annoying trope. Being angry that the heroine didn't tell him she's a virgin is also common, usually coming after he has sex with her or rapes her though (he's wouldn't seduce/rape an innocent woman, either because he's not a villain or because no matter what he's done he's still a gentleman and has to marry her now, so he feels completely justified in his anger; or he at least wouldn't be so rough). Other details that aren't important but just don't make sense here (she could know the little a bride might be told about her wedding night while still being very ignorant, and thinks it's her duty to tell her friend who might know absolutely nothing).

Reading too many books like that makes a bigger impact than you'd think, even if you think you know better, you still internalize a lot. It makes you think an abusive relationship is true romance and this is a disturbingly good description of a textbook abusive relationship.