Thursday, July 12, 2012

50 Shades of Grey Chapter 7, in which we get closer to the banging.


So I just want to take a second to say "thanks and I love you" to all of you guys in the comments. You guys = awesome <3.

Alright, let's do this biznatch. I'm going to give you guys just a huge cut and paste info dump of Grey's sex chambers, because I think you all want to see this, and if not, well, too bad, I want you to see this. Share in my suffering, readers. Share in it.

The first thing I notice is the smell; leather, wood, polish with a faint citrus scent. It’s very pleasant, and the lighting is soft, subtle. In fact, I can’t see the source, but it’s around the cornice in the room, emitting an ambient glow. The walls and ceiling are a deep, dark bur­gundy, giving a womb-like effect to the spacious room, and the floor is old, old varnished wood. There is a large wooden cross like an X fastened to the wall facing the door. It’s made of high-polished mahogany, and there are restraining cuffs on each corner. Above it is an expansive iron grid suspended from the ceiling, eight-foot square at least, and from it hang all manner of ropes, chains, and glinting shackles. By the door, two long, polished, ornately carved poles, like spindles from a banister but longer, hang like curtain rods across the wall. From them swing a startling assortment of paddles, whips, riding crops, and funny-looking feathery implements.
Beside the door stands a substantial mahogany chest of drawers, each drawer slim as if designed to contain specimens in a crusty old museum. I wonder briefly what the drawers actually do hold. Do I want to know? In the far corner is an oxblood leather padded bench, and fixed to the wall beside it is a wooden, polished rack that looks like a pool or billiard cue holder, but on closer inspection, it holds canes of varying lengths and widths. There’s a stout six-foot-long table in the opposite corner – polished wood with intricately carved legs – and two matching stools underneath.But what dominates the room is a bed. It’s bigger than king-size, an ornately carved rococo four-poster with a flat top. It looks late nineteenth century. Under the canopy, I can see more gleaming chains and cuffs. There is no bedding... just a mattress covered in red leather and red satin cushions piled at one end.
At the foot of the bed, set apart a few feet, is a large oxblood chesterfield couch, just stuck in the middle of the room facing the bed. An odd arrangement… to have a couch facing the bed, and I smile to myself – I’ve picked on the couch as odd, when really it’s the most mundane piece of furniture in the room. I glance up and stare at the ceiling. There are karabiners all over the ceiling at odd intervals. I vaguely wonder what they’re for. Weirdly, all the wood, dark walls, moody lighting, and oxblood leather makes the room kind of soft and romantic… I know it’s anything but, this is Christian’s version of soft and romantic.

The cross is the part that freaks me out, personally*. “Hey baby, wanna play Jesus?” Also why is the bed covered in leather? That just sounds all sorts of uncomfortable. Especially on a hot day, or after you sweat, which you're likely to do while having sex. So Ana, who is rightfully stunned and shocked, is just sort of wandering around the room investigating what the double crap is going on? Grey is following her all anxious and is all “SAY SOMETHING!” and I'm fighting the urge to just copy and paste the whole exchange here. Just, HERE THIS IS CHAPTER SEVEN ENJOY FUCKERS! But that's cheating.

He likes to hurt women. The thought depresses me.
You’re a sadist?”
I’m a Dominant.” His eyes are a scorching gray, intense.
What does that mean?” I whisper.
It means I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things.”
I frown at him as I try to assimilate this idea.
Why would I do that?”
To please me,” he whispers as he cocks his head to one side, and I see a ghost of a smile.
My first impressions of BDSM from the few people who HAVE sat down and had an actual conversation with me were that this is not AT ALL how it works. I then hit the internet, and this is a thing, though it seems really uncommon, and it is considered rather extreme. It's tricky to be able to say "They are doing BDSM wrong" because BDSM is very much all about "anything goes!". Usually it seems to be that this stuff is sex/play** specific, and outside of the bedroom, the relationship is usually fairly “normal”. There's not a lot of “Call me mistress” in the grocery store. Which is why you down know that Robert and Susan from down the street are into it.So, I suppose I should say this here. I do NOT want to put anyone's kinks down, I don't. I am a strong believer in "So long as it's consensual and safe, to each their own" which it seems is the mantra of the BDSM community too. However, the point of this series I'm running is to snark, and while I'm not going to get into great depth about the inherent problems some of the sex will have (or will try not to unless properly HILARIOUS to do so), I WILL get into how MESSED the relationship is, because seriously. Wow.

In very simple terms, I want you to want to please me,” he says softly. His voice is hypnotic.
How do I do that?” My mouth is dry, and I wish I had more wine. Okay, I understand the pleasing bit, but I am puzzled by the soft-boudoir-Elizabethan-torture set up. Do I want to know the answer?
I have rules, and I want you to comply with them. They are for your benefit and for my pleasure. If you follow these rules to my satisfaction, I shall reward you. If you don’t, I shall punish you, and you will learn,” he whispers. I glance at the rack of canes as he says this.

Again, research says that this is a thing. It is common for couples to have "rules" but, again, they (usually) pertain to play, not... Everything. The relationships still aim to be based on respect and consent. There is also a whole thing about RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) which... Well, I guess this JUST passes as Ana WILL be giving consent before the egg beater, but she doesn't know what she's getting into. I don't think this mess WOULD pass muster among the community, and there are more than a few members who have spoken out against it.

It’s about gaining your trust and your respect, so you’ll let me exert my will over you. I will gain a great deal of pleasure, joy, even in your submission. The more you submit, the greater my joy – it’s a very simple equation.”
Okay, and what do I get out of this?”
He shrugs and looks almost apologetic.
Me,” he says simply.

Want to know what is never ever a fair trade? Submitting yourself entirely to another person and letting them control you because they get kicks out of it and will give you a boyfriend in return. No, really, not okay. There is a difference between “dominance” and “abuse” if your Dom is flogging you about having bought whole wheat instead of multi-grain, which I get the feeling Grey would, then they're doing it wrong. If there is anyone into BDSM reading this taking issue, please, share your thoughts in the comments, and if you're not comfortable with that, e-mail me. clevernamepending@gmail.com. I'd love to hear your take on this. As I said, there seems to be a strong theme of "anything goes" with the community, but this shit be fucked. 

Kate had said he was dangerous, she was so right. How did she know? He’s danger­ous to my health, because I know I’m going to say yes. And part of me doesn’t want to. Part of me wants to run screaming from this room and all it represents. I am so out of my depth here.

See? Black magic glamor.

This will be your room. You can decorate it how you like, have whatever you like in here.”
My room? You’re expecting me to move in?” I can’t hide the horror in my voice.
Not full time. Just say, Friday evening through Sunday. We have to talk about all that, negotiate. If you want to do this,” he adds, his voice quiet and hesitant.
I’ll sleep here?”
Yes.”
Not with you.”
No. I told you, I don’t sleep with anyone, except you, when you’re stupefied with drink.” His eyes are reprimanding.

WHAT THE FUCKING SHIT?! Seriously?!!? She's going to be LIVING in Seattle. Why not just chip in for her gas to get from her place to yours?

My mouth presses in a hard line. This is what I cannot reconcile. Kind, caring Chris­tian, who rescues me from inebriation and holds me gently while I’m throwing up into the azaleas, and the monster who possesses whips and chains in a special room.

Okay, show of hands, who else thinks this sounds a LOT like an abused woman trying to justify things? The whole Charming Prince/Horrible Monster sits uncomfortable with me, it might not mean to, but it draws parallels of abuse, not of kink to me. Anyways, they go to the kitchen where he pulls out some cheese and grapes and bread and is insisting that she eat and urges her to ask questions. I'm hoping she comes out with “So, is this all because of some messed up stuff that happened in your childhood before you got adopted?”.

And if I don’t want to do this?”
That’s fine,” he says carefully.
But we won’t have any sort of relationship?” I ask.
No.”
Why?”
This is the only sort of relationship I’m interesting in.”
Why?”
He shrugs.
It’s the way I am.”
How did you become this way?”
Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese? Mrs. Jones – my housekeeper – has left this for supper.” He takes some large, white plates from a cupboard and places one in front of me.
We’re talking about cheese… Holy crap.

EL James, we need to talk about you splitting your actions and dialogue up like you do. Why is “He shrugs.” not in with his answer? I'm sorry, I just keep noticing this and it's kind of driving me nuts, and this is coming from someone who will NEVER be any good at spelling and grammar. If I'm being bothered, how did your editors not shit bricks over this? Anyways, moving on. Yeah, Ana, I know I cracked the joke about asking him if he was traumatized in his childhood, but really? 

Still, credit where credit is due, Grey is being frank, honest, and straightforward with Ana. There will be paperwork about what is and isn't okay by her, and what is and isn't okay by him (which again, this is something that actually happens, so no problem there. Contracts are pretty commonplace in the community.) but their “relationship” is being set up as one as well. That's right, there will be paperwork regarding their relationship outside of the bedroom and... It's fucked. Grey wants to win her trust and respect so she will submit to him. This is in the text. This book is supposed to be trashy wish fulfillment and fantasy. I can get behind the BDSM stuff, honest, even if it isn't my thing, I can get the appeal of being totally helpless as someone you trust has their sexy way with you. I GET that. What I don't get is them taking it further. With her having a “room” in his place (just on weekends) and him wanting her submission outside of the bedroom... Do enough modern everyday women really want someone to run their lives for them? I suppose the fantasy is more about the “I just wish someone would handle all the BS in my life for me” than “I want to be a child forever and not be trusted to make my own choices or be my own person and simply conform to what a man wants.” or at least I am desperately hoping that is the case.

Also, Ana, why are you so shocked about the cheese thing? It's actually a fairly reasonable jump here. So Ana asks some of the standard questions. What are the rules? I'll tell you later. Is it hard to find girls who are into this? No. Why me? Because he's drawn to her like a moth to the flame (no, that's in the text). How long have you been into this for? Aaages. Will you hurt me? “I will punish you and it will hurt” <- NOT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP EVEN WITH BDSM IN THE MIX. Grey has also been flogged, if you were wondering.

And then he drags her to the study to show her the rules and BOY are they doozys. Firefox wanted to change that to donkeys, by the way. Thought you should know.

RULES
Obedience:
The Submissive will obey any instructions given by the Dominant immediately without hesitation or reservation and in an expeditious manner. The Submissive will agree to any sexual activity deemed fit and pleasurable by the Dominant excepting those activities which are outlined in hard limits (Appendix 2). She will do so eagerly and without hesitation.
That's right, no safe word here. Just a list of “NO.” She isn't allowed to not be in the mood, which a Sub SHOULD be, and she can't say “Enough”. Some people say that the sub is often the one in control, because ultimately the power is theirs, though there ARE some branches of the community where the scene is the Sub doesn't get to say "Okay enough of that shit." and that's part of the play, too, but I get the impression that's more rare, as the dangers are a lot higher and so you'd need to REALLY trust your Dom, and that is some high level shit. Not "Intro to BDSM" shit.
Sleep:
The Submissive will ensure she achieves a minimum of seven hours sleep a night when she is not with the Dominant.
Food:
The Submissive will eat regularly to maintain her health and wellbeing from a prescribed list of foods (Appendix 4). The Submissive will not snack between meals, with the excep­tion of fruit.
Clothes:
During the Term, the Submissive will wear clothing only approved by the Dominant. The Dominant will provide a clothing budget for the Submissive, which the Submissive shall utilize. The Dominant shall accompany the Submissive to purchase clothing on an ad hoc basis. If the Dominant so requires, the Submissive shall during the Term any adornments the Dominant shall require, in the presence of the Dominant and any other time the Domi­nant deems fit.
Exercise:
The Dominant shall provide the Submissive with a personal trainer four times a week in hour-long sessions at times to be mutually agreed between the personal trainer and the Sub­missive. The personal trainer will report to the Dominant on the Submissive’s progress.
Personal Hygiene/Beauty:The Submissive will keep herself clean and shaved and/or waxed at all times. The Sub­missive will visit a beauty salon of the Dominant’s choosing at times to be decided by the Dominant, and undergo whatever treatments the Dominant sees fit.
That's right, she has to look a certain way. She was worried about not fitting in before because she wasn't blond? Well, that's fine, she will be soon when he demands it! Wants her to get collagen injections? To the salon! Sweet Jesus this shit is terrifying. I was trying to rationalize the fantasy before, but nope. I can't even fathom this shit.
Personal Safety:
The Submissive will not drink to excess, smoke, take recreational drugs, or put herself in any unnecessary danger.
The Sub is also not to drink caffeine, walk anywhere after dark, or open jars. Hanging out in bars and not drinking to check out a band is strictly forbidden unless the Sub has a signed permission slip (see extra BS appendix 3C)
Personal Qualities:
The Submissive will not enter into any sexual relations with anyone other than the Domi­nant. The Submissive will conduct herself in a respectful and modest manner at all times. She must recognize that her behavior is a direct reflection on the Dominant. She shall be held accountable for any misdeeds, wrongdoings, and misbehavior committed when not in the presence of the Dominant.
Failure to comply with any of the above will result in immediate punishment, the nature of which shall be determined by the Dominant.
Oh. My. God. What the I don't even. Okay, just finished my drink- Oh I'm sorry, did you think I was joking about writing these without a drink in me first? No. That's happening. Pray for my liver readers. It will need it. Right, so drink did not make this any less awful.
So this whole thing is supposed to be into kinky weird alternative relationships, but it actually reads to me a lot like old school very religious couples that fall into “Women obey their husbands and Fathers” behavior, which actually makes this all even creepier. Also, immediate punishment? What, she caves and grabs a single chocolate bar and he's allowed to take her over the corner store counter and spank her right then and there?
So they negotiate things (3 times a week for working out, and she only has to wear the clothes he's making her buy when he's with her) and he once again is all “Sure you don't want to intern at my company?” DUDE NO BAD IDEA. Ahem. She basically says that and then we get the hard rules.
Hard Limits
No acts involving fire play
No acts involving urination or defecation and the products thereof
No acts involving needles, knives, piercing, or blood
No acts involving gynecological medical instruments
No acts involving children or animals
No acts that will leave any permanent marks on the skin
No acts involving breath control
Ana is all “Really? These are things that need to be written down?” and that sort of concerns her further. I'm a little disappointed to see gynecological medical instruments, needles/knifes, and fire play are all on this list. The only person who's gone into great detail about BDSM relationships with me went into a fair bit of detail about knives. I'd have known what was going on if you did that Grey! No, you had to rob me of any hope of being able to call you on your BS with authority. I see how it is. So, basically this part is making it all safe and accessible to the Moms out there. No, no, they won't be doing any of the REALLY weird stuff (though is anal out if he doesn't want anything to do with poop? I mean, when it comes to anal, shit happens after all). Grey asks if there's anything she wants to add, and Ana, being a virgin in every sense of the word really doesn't know.
Well… I’ve not had sex before, so I don’t know.” My voice is small. I peek up at him, and he’s staring at me, mouth-open, frozen, and pale - really pale.
Never?” he whispers. I shake my head.
You’re a virgin?” he breathes. I nod, flushing again. He closes his eyes and looks to be counting to ten. When he opens them again, he’s angry, glaring at me.
Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” he growls.

Oh, Grey, you classy, classy bastard you. With that, we end this chapter, and I go to end my bottle! As always, thoughts, comments, and drink recipes welcome. I'm still into my jolly rancher vodka (watermelon). I mix it with cream soda. It tastes like happy. If anyone wants to know, jolly rancher vodka is stupid easy to make. Take container. Put in jolly ranchers (all of the same flavour, dhur) and add vodka. Let sit for a few hours shaking periodically. Chill, enjoy. Also, seriously, if there is anyone who's part of the BDSM community out there reading this, please step forward and let me know how really wrong (or maybe accurate, my sources could be off) this shit is. 


*It's an Allen's Cross which is a real thing.  
 ** BDSM is not strictly sexual. A lot of BDSM events don't allow sex there, simply just the "play" aspect of it (floggings/whipping/etc) and some Subs and Doms are sexually and/or romantically monogamous, but are allowed to play with many.

25 comments:

  1. Eri,can you adjust the text size? It is tiny and I can barely read it.

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    1. I knew I was forgetting something about this post when I was editing! Sorry about that. All fixed now. It's a weird quirk from copy pasting from open office to blogger, is messes with the size of the text.

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  2. Heh. Reminded of the scene in Making Money by Terry Pratchett, in which a closet of sex toys is opened and everything is non-described in such a way that you don't know exactly what's in there but you know it's hilarious.

    I see the rules being there so future chapters can include guilt-free shopping trips in which Grey buys her clothes and sparklies she secretly loves but could never afford, and possibly they have sex in a dressing room. What you might even call shopping porn. Also spa porn. There's worse things you could do in a feel-good book for women than have your heroine forced into some lavishly described shopping, pampering, and maybe gourmet meals.

    Of course looked at from a real life perspective rather than a writing perspective... yes, that is indeed creepy as all get out.

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  3. It's like the BDSM version of this McSweeney's column.

    I can hear your mind whirring: “Was it the mojitos last night or did he say something about a free gym membership?” Of course I did. I want you to feel great and look great. After all, you’re my girlfriend. Look in the pocket on the left side of this packet and you’ll see your new platinum membership to Prune, an elite gym with only 25 members.

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  4. You've mentioned 'egg-beater' a few times, and I've got to say that every time you do I get terribly confused trying to imagine what the hell someone could do with one that could be classified anywhere near erotic. The crank and interlocking spinning parts.... I just can't figure it out!

    Unless... do people use the terms 'whisk' and 'eggbeater' interchangeably, like the two completely different things I call spatulas? If that's the case, I suddenly get what you meant.

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    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOXlGob1lyc

      Starts at 35 seconds in. NSFW, but hilarious. This is where it got into my head from and it makes me giggle.

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  5. If this is a standard contract for Grey, he's not gay. I noticed it kept using the pronoun She for the submissive.

    It's sad cause otherwise Ana coulda totally signed on the line for Dominant and been like: "ha, you're MY bitch now! Let's go shopping. Oh, and you need to dye your hair."

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    1. If I resort to writing alternate scenes to help me get through this book I may steal that idea.

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  6. There is just too much detail in this book. She details everything in the room, and then tells us how to feel about her feelings about what's in the room. "I see a cross, and a leather bed and handcuffs and whips and chains and canes and a couch, and the couch is weird and it's funny that I think it's the weird thing in the room. LOL with me!" I know nothing about BDSM contracts, but I'd be willing to wager that very few, if any of them, contain a section on dressing, eating habits, and exercise routines. Although I will admit that I kind of want a free personal trainer and unlimited shopping budget, just without all the kinky stuff and weird controlling guy attached. A girl can dream. :)

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    1. Step 1: Find a super old rich dude.
      Step 2: Marry said super old rich dude.
      Step 3: ???
      Step 4: PROFIT!!!

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  7. “So, is this all because of some messed up stuff that happened in your childhood before you got adopted?”.

    That was just a joke, right? He's not actually going to be the ten gazillionth character who's only into BDSM because he had a bad childhood, right? No author would be that predictable and cliched and out of touch with the community they're writing about and ... oh wait, I forgot. My bad.

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  8. Anonymous - No AUTHOR would be that predictable. However, EL James isn't an author. Or correction. She isn't a WRITER. She' just some woman who wrote some thing and some people liked it and she thought, "hey, this could be a thing!" and once that happened it became more about, "let's see what the fuss is about" rather than, "hey, this is GOOD everyone should read it." So no, an author/writer wouldn't be that predictable. To answer your question.

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  9. So I think Grey sounds like a patriarchal douche masquerading as a Dom.It's one thing to want control in the bedroom, which I get but to dictate someone's entire life like a puppet? That's the big flashing neon sign to gtfo. To second anonymous,it is so annoying that she's going with"of course he must be messed up to be into BDSM".This is like the people who say boys turn gay when they don't spend time with their dads. Also nice reaction there to her virginity.

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    1. I dunno. I lurk a bit at the Savage Love blog, and one of the women there is in a dominant/submissive relationship, and she talks about things like loading the dishwasher the way he wants. And she's said that some of the things most people consider dealbreakers in a relationship (cheating, lying about smoking) are more ok than most people would find them because their relationship is structured with a deliberate power imbalance. (Or at least, that's what I interpreted from the "I swore to obey him for the rest of our lives, so I will, as long as he's not causing me or the children actual harm.) So I don't know how impossible it is to find someone who wants to have their entire life dictated. But - it's different when it's something both partners want and when it's something one partner reluctantly goes along with.

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  10. Is anyone else throwing up big red flags just by the description of the room? Presumably, Ana has never seen the specific types of these items before in her life, yet she is able to describe them in very specific detail. Is she moonlighting somewhere that has people as rich as Christian Grey and similar tastes in furniture and fashion?

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    1. It doesn't make sense that she would refer to them as "restraining cuffs" instead of just cuffs if she isn't supposed to know what they're for.

      It looks late nineteenth century.

      HOW DOES SHE KNOW THIS?

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    2. She doesn't. If the bed really is Rococo, it would be eighteenth century. Granted, she's an English major, not an Art History major, so she may not know that.

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  11. Again, so glad I am NOT reading this shit. The real one I mean, not this delightful little corner :)

    It got terrifying, yes. It's not sneding the message that the author thinks she is. I don't see anything kinky or even sexy about it. The male elad is not likeable and Ana, oh well, she has a stamp on her forehead saying "Virgin with lady boners, sex-slave me" argh. Dont't even get me started on the rules. Like seriously.

    And the descriptions are way too over the top, don't always make sense and are often wrong.

    I don't have anything against BDSM, I get that it's kinky for some people (I've read the Sleeping Beauty Anne Rice books, heck, I own those) but this story is about Control. An abusive SOB who wants a virginized slave. (Granted, she agrees, but still, so wrong....)

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  12. It's a St. Andrew's Cross.

    Yes, contracts are standard.

    This reads more like a slave contract to me, personally. A lot of people DO keep things in the bedroom, but some also "play" outside of it. Things like telling the submissive/slave what to wear to dinner, chores they have to do, etc.

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  13. so Erika I have been diligently going through your older posts trying to get through them without crying and choking on my own spit but am having a seriously hard time, so for that I thank you. I have to tell you that my husband first read these books mid-last year when he got a Nook for his birthday, and I just read them about 2 months ago because he got me a Nook as well for Christmas and wtf they were already bought so free books right? I didn't quite get the hype as well when I was reading it, and I am quite disturbed to find based on internet searches that I am indeed the target demographic for this book (termed loosely) series due solely to my age and marital status. I weep for my demographic. Fortunately, I also weep because your commentary is just plain hilarious and makes me google even more snark about this crap so I can assure myself that I am not the only person that doesn't think this writing is just plain awful and pine that I will just never get that time back in my life. Ever.

    Also, as an aside, I just had the most unbelievable laughing fit over 50shadesofcraptasticgrey facebook page. There is this one photo that has an alternate set of "Rules" that is just to die for. If you haven't seen it, do take a look. I needed 5 tissues to sop the tears from laughing so hard. https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/481655_459036124153313_426883382_n.jpg

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  14. Yeah, I'm a year late. Loving these write ups. I really wanted to know what happened in the book, because I am fascinated by bdsm in popular culture and have a feminist theory background. But I couldn't bare to read it (not because of my objections to the content, but because of the awful prose). I got as far as her first description of Grey. This blog is exactly what I was looking for. Anyway, I can fill in some information about bdsm contracts.

    This kind of full-life contract is a real thing that some people do, although it isn't very common. People only do it *if* they are in a very serious long term relationship where they have already built lots of trust and *If* they are both experienced and knowledgeable kinksters. It is at least as serious as getting married. What it is not is first date activity.

    But an even bigger error here, I think, is the "hard limits." Hard limits are things the submissive does not want to do. The dom cannot make the list of hard limits for the sub. They aren't just things that are too hardcore in a general way. They are things the sub personally dislikes so much they override the pleasure of serving. And they are very individual. For example, some subs have a hard limit against any kind of gag (because they hate the experience of having their breathing restricted). This is a perfectly legitimate hard limit, even though gagging is, on average, a fairly common and relatively softcore bdsm activity. They are crucial for consent in this kind of contract, and finalizing the list would involve lengthy and serious thought by both parties. Maybe Ana cannot tolerate the pain of caning (which is intense) and maybe she really likes urine play (which is pretty common), but Grey would never know because he didn't fucking ask her.

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  15. God blessa youse -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL


    wiseabove.blogspot.com

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  16. Thoroughly amused by the snarky write-ups! And red satin cushions (*shudder*) in a burgundy room - the only excuse is that he's colour-blind...

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