many of the readers believe that fifty shades trilogy by E L James is a step back in the progress women are making( a book alone can do that?yes, maybe.but a draft-like manuscript like that?hyperbole.)so many of the writers on the net world write that it is a classic text for reference for domestic abuse and how a man behaves in it.on one hand i am glad people are talking more about the need to identify and recognizing abusers in the vicinity of personal space , but on the other hand i am not sure i am alright with putting the label on a character who is a complex tangle of abused, traumatized, manipulating and manipulated.i am no expert, just a reader and a student, so it is always possible i might say things people disagree with or i might say things which i should have known better but i still try to say it with my utmost sincerity and respect.
some of the points i mention are to be taken within the context of the trilogy with the present release of alternate perspective book( Grey)
it is usually the first indicators of a relationship which is turning it’s road in a unhealthy direction.the abuser usually tries to manipulate the victim to cut off ties from their peers and emotional support base, usually in gradual manner.they tend to lash out with verbal abuse, then physical abuse if they do not comply.
in fifty shades people see christian giving Anastasia an NDA to sign which legally stops her from talking.but then is it stopping her from talking about their relationship? i don’t think so.christian (and his lawyer) are obviously trying to contain the fact the relationship he had until Ana are not relationship per se but an arrangement of highly unconventional and definitely unorthodox sexual relationships.what would happen if anyone leaked this out?to the delight of gossip mongering and 19th century backward mentality media? people do not respond to unconventional well in first glance and especially a business man with a history with an older women.this is the arrangement Christian first tried Ana to mold herself into but it evolved into something more intimate.that is why when Ana asks what to do with the NDA in book 2 , christian straight up says “tear it up”.
Anastasia indeed talks with her friends and family about her relationship.she talks with her mom and a little with her step-father Ray and even her bestie Kate too(which Christian objects to because she is dating his nose-butting brother Eliot. convoluted, ugh!).she even told her the exact nature of her relationship off page in book 3!
so this is where the minefield lies.control is something Christian Grey uses a means to assure himself that he had left his past behind.his detailed contract is written in such a way that the women adhering to it within the time limit ( three day weekend for three months minimum) will never do anything which remotely triggers his childhood trauma.his food lists to stop him from worrying they are not hungry and his mode of transport for them so they are not dead on road( oh god! talk about overreaction)
when Anastasia refuses to comply with food rules and sleep rules, what does christian do?he grumbles but accepts.he puts his foot down on the car part but eventually he has to accept it back when Ana returns it.
his uses of his BDSM contract to cope with his trauma of childhood.which is not a healthy outlook to his relationships he had but on the letter of it ,all his relationship were sane, safe and consensual.including the one with Anastasia. he lapses a handful of times during the course of the story in his controlling behavior of Ana which comes in the category of “power over”(Patricia Evans ) i,e:when he gave her hickeys(she was unaware) and cuff-marks(aware) for disobeying his wishes to not go topless on beach on her honeymoon.he did had a sound logic for his wishes(paparazzi) and Anastasia understood but he still goes ahead and does it to feel “in control” ,for which he then promptly feels guilty and remorse within 24 hours( because he knows he was wrong and feels confused because if he had done it in past with other submissive they would not have questioned ).oh! and Anastasia was angry with him for it, just to inform those who will find this situation for blaming Ana(again )
this is something Anastasia feels quite often, especially in book 1, around christian.this feeling has sometimes stopped her saying what she wanted at that time but not at a later time though 😛
joking aside, intimidation is one way abusers maintain control in the relationship.
however, i never read her musing on feeling vulnerable by Christian’s strength. there is one time i.e: when christian cave-man carries her to his boathouse after he is mad. that Ana did not inform him about her trip to Georgia. so he carries her off so she does not trip.on.her.high heels.yes, the banal of all banal reasons, to prevent her fall on unpaved grassy lands. lol! oh, and one another when he calls Ana’s bluff when she does not go to his apartment( a lunatic is gunning after her but she does not know and idiot christian just expect her to follow him apparently.) that one is an example of man-handling not physical intimidation.
also, christian also gets “mad” when Ana clamps her legs under the dinner table at his parents’s but what is his reaction?
[christian]“You said no.”
[Ana]“What?” No to what?
“At the dinner table, with your legs.” Oh… that’s what this is all about.
“But we were at your parents’ dining table.” I stare up at him, completely bewildered.
“No one’s ever said no to me before. And it’s so – hot.”
“You’re mad and turned on because I said no?” I breathe, astonished.
“I’m mad because you never mentioned Georgia to me. I’m mad because you went drinking with that guy who tried to seduce you when you were drunk and who left you when you were ill with an almost complete stranger. What kind of friend does that? And I’m mad and aroused because you closed your legs on me”……..
.. “All mine. Do you understand?” He eases his finger in and out as he gazes down at me, gauging my reaction, his eyes burning. “Yes, yours,” I breathe as my desire, hot and heavy, surges through my bloodstream
apparently Ana finds this sexual dominance arousing.however sexist the idea of “mine” being is, being turned on by it is the character’s prerogative and nobody’s business but nobody will debate about the sexism of it now, will they?oh no! women have to be the victim!*rolls eyes*
true love offers freedom.it does not cage you.does not constrain you. it might sound flattering in some exceptional context but it does just sound controlling and is a sexist idea rooted in patriarchy.
people say that christian tries to keep Anastasia all to himself and does not allow her much freedom during courtship and marriage.he feels jealous of any male attention she gets.you know, while i am doing this blog i have a copy of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologue My Last Duchess ( do check it out, it is like silence of the lamb but in a short poetic form)
christian has so many negative self image of himself that when for the first time he has feelings for someone, he immediately sees any male attention as a threat to his affections for Ana. i am not excusing jealousy as an acceptable behavior.it is natural to feel jealous now and then when you are in a relationship.but they way you react is a different matter whatsoever.christian just keeps pointing to Ana that there are plenty of guys who want to his place(which she does not believe) but he is not angry at her or blaming her for it.far from it, he just uses this to point out that Anastasia is a desirable women(which she does not pay attention to)
“You have no idea how attractive you are, do you?”
I flush. Why’s he going on about this?
“All those boys pursuing you—that isn’t enough of a clue?”
“Boys? What boys?”
“You want the list?” Christian frowns. “The photographer, he’s crazy about you, that boy in the hardware store, your roommate’s older brother. Your boss,” he adds bitterly.
“Oh, Christian, that’s just not true.”
“Trust me. They want you. They want what’s mine.” He pulls me against him, and I lift my arms to his shoulders, my hands in his hair, regarding him with amusement. “Mine,” he repeats, his eyes glowing possessively. “Yes, yours.” I reassure him, smiling. He looks mollified,
when he asserts that she is “his” he basically wants her to assert that she desires him and wants to be with him just as much he does.if it would have been otherwise then he couldn’t have given a damn about anyone in “competition”.this is an authorial choice which shows how cripplingly insecure and self-hating he is behind the self-assured and intimidating facade he presents to the world.
“Narcissists live within the confines of their egocentric world; other humans function as props for the narcissist’s performance.”-Dorothy McCoy
christian is a person who cannot stand the idea anyone suffering hunger.he cannot stand the idea even his one-arm-distanced submissive to be unsafe.but he is not a text book definition narcissist when you look at him.he avoids intimacy with his previous submissive as means to prevent them from physical intimacy which will involve touching him.now you would say, that is narcissistic, but he has a phobia.A PHOBIA!. he cannot abide it before and further discouraged it by making them avoid eye contact and giving separate sleeping space because of his NIGHT TERRORS( again a not healthy idea especially if you obfuscate truth about these issues by the name of rules) .every critic i came across just blots these humongous health issues and takes them out of context, which is quite sad.
when he meets and negotiates his relationship with Ana, he does stipulate these measures too, but thanks to authoritarian inventions, christian finds he does find sharing bed space for sleep soothing and even loves it when she maintains eye contact.however, phobia is not going away like magic now will it? it takes almost the whole trilogy to overcome this issue .
LACK OF CONSENT
let me clear.the book is advocating consent. the relationship on the whole is consensual too. Anastasia is aware every step of the way in what she wants even if she has reservations about the BDSM aspect :
“I want us to work, but I am terrified of the depth of feeling I have for you and the dark path you’re leading me down. What you are offering is erotic and sexy, and I’m curious, but I’m also scared you’ll hurt me– physically and emotionally”-ANASTASIA fifty shades of grey
“I am annoyed that as soon as you put some distance between us, you communicate openly and honestly with me. Why can’t you do that when we’re together?”
“As your Dom, I would expect you to accept whatever I spend on you with no argument. Incidentally, tell your mother too.”
“I apologize for frightening you. I find the thought of instilling fear in you abhorrent. Do you really think I’d let you travel in the hold? I offered you my private jet for heaven’s sake.” “you are the one with all the power. Not I. In the boathouse you said no. I can’t touch you if you say no – that’s why we have an agreement – what you will and won’t do. If we try things and you don’t like them, we can revise the agreement. It’s up to you – not me. “
this is the crux of the struggle Anastasia has from within.she likes what christian is offering but as she is new to anything related to sexuality( hence, insecure) and was not into BDSM , she has reservation about the confusing line those rules imply and where does it apply sexually and otherwise.by the time book 3 rolls around even that issue is resolved.she trusts him and knows he won’t hurt her in any way.
there are certain places where lack of consent is disturbing though,
a) when christian sleeps beside Ana when she was stupefied after getting drunk in book 1.
b) removing her old car without asking her.not cool.not cool at all.
c) applying moratorium on spending at her company so she cannot go with her sleazy boss jack out of town for symposium( although it is a sound decision money-wise and safety wise.it should have rang an alarm bell when Ana got the history that jack’s previous PA don’t retain jobs for more than three months max.!)
d) oh! buying the company she works for.oh my god! his reasoning “to keep you safe”!!(personal issues gone haywire!!!!!although he never interferes with her career intentionally but still it never goes away that he has a lot of control of her career)
i mean he could just hire extra guards and body guards.oh wait! he did that too*rolls yes*
e) and he kept photographic evidence of his previous submissives as an insurance against exposure( they knew he is taking their photos , just not the fact that he is using it for other than leisure purpose)
he is a stalker through and through.he even stalks her after she broke up with him to check if she is okay and also contemplated suicide by suffocation in the same chapter(which just makes me sad and question his mental state.)
the only consolation is that this trope is not just ignored in the narrative and Anastasia straight up tells him to check out more shrinks for his “stalker tendencies”.she has this to say for it.no helping it but at least she knows it is not right:
“One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker. And for all that, I have spent the night in his hotel suite, and I feel safe. Protected. He cares enough to come and rescue me from some mistakenly perceived danger”
“[christian]“I tracked your cell phone Anastasia.”
Oh, of course he did. How is that possible? Is it legal? Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that’s still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind. “
all in all i would suggest that christian is complicated but he is not a full blown abuser.he is secretive, condescending, sexist even but abusive? i am not sold on that idea.the idea that Anastasia is with him because she thinks her “love will change him” trope is really not paying attention to the text.she left him when he could not agree with her, when his and her interests diverged and was willing to do so again .it is only when christian agrees to open up, try it differently, a new approach to their lifestyle and relationship that she comes back and sticks with him with patience because he tries and succeeds for most part to his promises.he is genuinely sorry and feels abhorrence when he faces a real distressed Anastasia who does not like extreme aspects of BDSM. it is imperative that people talk more about what is a healthy relationship and what is not and i am so glad people are talking more about it however, i am not okay with people judging a whole slew of readers who enjoy these books for their own reason or using it’s out of context texts to condemn the author or the fans.
this is my first time serious attempt at blogging and i know i am not an expert in many things but i will try to listen and improve if there are scope for change .whether it is in the idea or theme or just basic premise or a definition of the article i am writing about.