A fine man and fantastic uncle once said, “with great power comes great responsibility,” a lesson I am learning only too well as this site becomes more popular and I start to have more and more people asking me when the next chapter review will be up. Well, calm down, you jackals! In my defense, this past half week was fairly busy for me, as I was standing up in a friend’s wedding. And I know this damn book must be getting to me, because I couldn’t help but wonder during the exchange of vows why they weren’t including any specifications on who will be the Dominant and who will be the Submissive, or exactly how hard is too hard when it comes to rough sex. Sure, it was a Catholic wedding, and maybe that would have been a shock to some in attendance. But, c’mon, we’re living in a Fifty Shades world – time to get with the program!
Maybe that will be the one good thing to come out of all this Fifty Shades nonsense – perhaps it will be the kick in the pants our still all-too-puritanical American society needs to finally start cultivating a greater understanding and acceptance of kinky and deviant sexual desires. After all, this is a book that describes sexual practices that would make a hooker blush, and yet it it popular enough to be on display even in our local Costco’s…
And even stores as supposedly wholesome as Target, where just the other day I came across the entire Fifty Shades trilogy, proudly displayed as the #1 bestsellers in their book department.
So yes, maybe the book’s success is the sign of a new era for America, one more sexually free and open, not afraid to discuss graphic sexuality and tough questions about gender roles and equality between the sexes.
Or, more likely, it’s just more proof that lots of people are dumb and like crappy books.
And speaking of crap – chapter eleven! Though, in this case, I almost hesitate to even call it a “chapter.” I mean, I know it is a chapter eleven, thanks to such clues as it being labeled as such, and coming in between chapters ten and twelve. But there’s not a whole lot here – the majority of the chapter consists of the full-text of Christian’s Submissive contract, which Ana finally reads at the beginning of the chapter, and a supposedly cute e-mail exchange between Christian and Ana, which we get to read in all it’s glory (including Subject headings and Time Sent statuses!!).
The contract is the most noteworthy part of chapter eleven, and I’ll dive into its specifics a little. But let me first point out how ridiculously long and – quite frankly – thorough it is. You sort of expect a brief summary of the ideas in it, but instead James spends numerous pages actually presenting the whole thing, complete with appendixes, clauses and sub-clauses, and realistically legal text like:
Adherence to the above warranties, agreements and undertakings (and any additional limits and safety procedures agreed under clause 3 above) are fundamental to this contract. Any breach shall render it void with immediate effect and each party agrees to be fully responsible to the other for the consequence of any breach.
This brings to mind three possibilities, all or none of which might be true (though I’m betting at least numbers 2 and 3 are):
- James really did her research for this book, and found actual contracts that real-life Dominants and Submissives have drawn up and signed.
- James really went overboard in thinking about what sort of contract she would like to sign in her sweaty fantasies about Edward Cullen/Robert Pattinson.
- James was really confident that her readers would be so turned on by this book that they would want to explore their own Dominant/Submissive relationships, and she was helping them by providing a fully drawn-out contract that they can copy and adhere to.
This last one seems very likely to me, and really, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has already happened numerous times since the book’s release. As popular as these damn books are, there’s no way some of the readers haven’t decided to get frisky and give this whole arrangement a go themselves. Heck, your mom has probably read this book, and her and your dad are probably already “working” under this contract as you read this. Think about that for a second…
Alright, that was terrible, I agree. I apologize.
Anyway, on to the contract itself, which contains several interesting tidbits worth noting. Namely:
- It gives both Christian and Ana’s full, actual addresses, which will certainly come in handy when those Fifty Shades of Grey bus tours inevitably get going (be careful what you touch on that bus, or at least bring a lot of hand sanitizer).
- It requires that both parties confirm they “suffer from no sexual, serious, infectious or life-threatening illnesses including but not limited to HIV, Herpes and Hepatitis.” That’s probably a good clause to have, and I’m glad Christian is all about safety first, but it also unfortunately eliminates my hope for a Fifty Shades/The Hot Zone crossover (“Ebola has never been sexier!”).
- It ensures that “The Dominant shall not loan his Submissive to another Dominant.” That’s good to know. Submissives are human beings too, after all, not collectibles to be traded around with others, like pogs – though they do get slammed just as much. HEY-YO!! Pog humor!!
- “The Dominant may restrain, handcuff, or bind the submissive at any time during the Allotted Times,” and “The Submissive shall accept whippings, flogging, spankings, caning, paddling or any other discipline the Dominant should decide to administer.” That sounds kind of crappy for the Submissive, but looking on the bright side she only has to “make herself available to the Dominant from Friday evenings through to Sunday afternoons each week during the term.” And let’s face it, none of the best TV shows are on Friday or Saturday evening, so at least this won’t be messing with that schedule. I mean, she won’t missing Mad Men or anything.
Interestingly enough, despite all the depraved and potentially painful things the contract states Ana will have to do, one of the parts that most bothers her is clause 15.22 of the “Service Provisions” section, which states “The Submissive shall not look directly into the eyes of the Dominant except when specifically instructed to do so.”
I can’t look him in the eye. How weird is that? The only way I ever have any chance to see what he’s thinking. Actually, who am I kidding? I never know what he’s thinking, but I like looking into his eyes. He has beautiful eyes – captivating, intelligent, deep and dark, dark with dominant secrets. I recall his burning smoky gaze and press my thighs together, squirming.
Uhh…putting aside the awkwardness 0f someone getting wet while reading a legal document (perhaps a first, but probably not), I think Ana needs to relax on this particular point. Something tells me that when she’s nursing her bleeding butt cheeks following her umpteenth flogging, she might not be as concerned with looking into those “deep and dark” eyes.
My favorite part of the contract is the last section, Appendix 3. Here Ana is allowed to answer such important questions as “Is swallowing semen acceptable to the Submissive” (well, we already know the answer to that one), and:
Which of the following sexual acts are acceptable to the Submissive?
- Vaginal intercourse
- Vaginal fisting
- Anal intercourse
- Anal fisting
Is the use of sex toys acceptable to the Submissive?
- Butt Plugs
Alright, I’ve made fun of this contract, but really, that wouldn’t be a bad questionnaire to just go ahead and hand out on a first date. I like to know where I stand, you know?
Needless to say, all of this information is a bit much for Ana to take in at once. To her credit, she does have some legitimate concerns about the contract, both in regards to the pain and humiliation she will have to suffer and what it means in terms of Christian’s mental well-being. But her “inner goddess,” horny bitch that she is, tries to convince her to ignore those concerns.
My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old. Please, let’s do this…otherwise we’ll end up alone with lots of cats and your classic novels to keep you company.
Well, I don’t want to tell this “inner goddess” her business, but I happen to think there’s a middle ground somewhere in there between “crazy cat lady” and “forcibly violated with butt plugs over the weekend.” But I’m not a girl, so maybe I don’t know.
After a night of contemplation regarding the contract, Ana is awoken by Kate with news that a package has arrived for her. It’s a brand new MacBook Pro, from Christian. And if Steve Jobs wasn’t dead, I’m sure he would really appreciate the extra advertisement. The laptop even comes complete with her own new e-mail address, which of course Christian immediately puts to use by messaging her and asking her if she has any questions about the contract. “I have many questions,” she answers, “but not suitable for e-mail.” When he responds “laters, baby,” Ana immediately forgives all the weird pervy stuff.
I shut the computer down, grinning like an idiot. How can I resist playful Christian?…He e-mailed me. I’m like a small, giddy child. And all the contract angst fades.
Note to self: playful e-mails = girls let you do whatever you want to them.
The only other noteworthy event in the chapter is Ana’s coffee-date with José, but if you were expecting a dramatic encounter between two former friends torn apart, well, you’re reading the wrong book, sister. Just like the scene with Christian’s mother, this too is given short shrift, as Ana instantly forgives him for his drunken come-on.
José is punctual. He comes bounding into the shop like a gamboling dark-eyed puppy.
“Ana,” he smiles his dazzling toothy all-Hispanic-American smile, and I can’t be angry with him anymore.
And that’s pretty much it. I suppose it’s nice of Ana to let bygones be bygones, and perhaps it’s even a tad realistic (we often forgive our friends faster than we should), but in terms of compelling storytelling, it’s a bit of a letdown. Still, something tells me we haven’t seen the last of the Christian-Ana-José triangle (cue dramatic cliffhanger music).
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go print off some copies of this contract, for…umm…research. Yeah, research. That’s the ticket.