Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Chapter Five: Part One

Chapter Five - Part One

Ana wakes up in a bed in Christian Grey’s massive hotel suite. She gets some flashbacks from the night before and notices that Christian has left her some orange juice and some painkillers on the bedside table. I thought this was quite a sweet gesture, but Ana calls him a control freak and doesn’t seem to be too pleased. A crazed stalker with a standard Murder Kit in the boot of his car tracked her phone and followed her across the state because she said she was drunk, but it's the orange juice that makes her mad? That bastard, trying to cure her hangover. What a tool.

Christian walks in and he’s all sweaty because he’s been working out, and he’s wearing pants that hang from his hips again. Is he one of these men who wear their trousers halfway down their backside so you can see their underwear? That isn’t hot. Pull your pants up, Christian. “I feel like a two-year-old,” Ana contemplates. “If I close my eyes then I’m not really here.” Honestly, Ana, we don’t need any more proof of your complete incapability of rational thought or action. Also interesting to note that E. L. James compares Ana to a child a lot. Weird.

Ana wonders how she got there, and Christian confirms that he brought her to his apartment and undressed her, down to her t-shirt, knickers and socks while she was unconscious. Weird. Creepy. Unacceptable. If this is your boyfriend or long-term friend bringing you home when you’re drunk, you might be able to deal with the fact that he stripped you down while you were in a drunken stupor, but not a man you’re meeting for the fifth time this morning. I’m no prude, but this is just very, very fast, and there are real issues with consent that go totally ignored.

I am briefly cheered by the fact that Ana is now annoyed about the phone tracking. Christian tells her that phone tracking technology is available over the internet. He’s right, it is, but the person whose phone is being tracked must agree to the tracking. It can’t be done without their consent. It is not okay to track people’s phones, not unless you’re an officer of the law or a member of the FBI, and you’re in the middle of an investigation of some sort (and no offence to E. L. James, but I don’t think her narrative prowess extends to Christian being some sort of secret agent).

Christian says that if he hadn’t tracked her phone, she would have ended up in Jose’s bed. Well, no. There is a third option here, and that involves Ana going to find Kate and going home safely, like most girls do after a night out. Again, the author’s idea that all women are damsels in distress who must be rescued is patently evident (and sad).  

This is where I start to lose the tenuous grip I had on my sanity before I started this book. Christian gets mad, literally scolding Ana and telling her it was completely irresponsible to get drunk without eating a proper meal, because he hates to think what could have happened to her. “If you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday,” he says. 

I just can’t get on board with this, and as much as I have torn her to pieces in previous posts, I am utterly on Ana’s side. As a twenty-two year old woman, she has the right to go out and drink as much alcohol as she likes, whilst eating as little food as she likes. If she wants to go out and chug absinthe all night long on an empty stomach, Christian Grey should have absolutely no bearing on that choice. His egomaniacal tendencies come right to the fore here, and he somehow manages to make the situation all about him, as though she should have considered his feelings before she went out and did what normal young women do when they reach a milestone in their life. How inconsiderate of you, Ana.

“He’s not a dark knight at all, but a white knight in shining, dazzling armor – a classic romantic hero – Sir Gawain or Lancelot,” swoons Ana, after Christian goes to take a shower. She thinks all the stalker stuff is bold and brave and honourable. Urgh.

“He’s probably not celibate,” she continues. Hahahahaha! You think?! “But he’s not made a pass at me, unlike Paul or Jose. I don’t understand. You’ve slept in his bed all night, Ana, and he’s not touched you. You do the math.” 

Right, because those are the only two options. If a man doesn’t make a pass at you, that means he just has to be celibate. The most worrying thing about this is that she is completely objectifying herself. She sees herself as a sexual object for these men, and if they don’t want her for sex, they don’t want her at all. I am sad. Sad for this literary construct and sad for the women who will read it and long for this kind of relationship.

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