Warnings: The Fifty Shades series is extremely sexually explicit and involves BDSM. Because of that, and because they are not exactly well-researched or high-quality literature, I will mention things such as abuse, rape, rape culture, male dominance, sexism, relationship violence, and consensual BDSM. Also, the books began as Twilight fanfic, so I will be mentioning Twilight (which is a major squick for a lot of people just by itself). This post contains a lot of mentions of oral sex. And also Mark Driscoll.
Oh, come on. You knew I would eventually bring it around to Pastor Mark, right?
Remember the time Mark Driscoll said that wives should suck their husbands off in the morning? I’ll bet this chapter would be his favorite (if Ana and Christian were properly married, good little Reformed Christians, that is). Thankfully, according to Pastor Mark, oral sex is commanded in the Bible, since Song of Solomon is actually yet another list of rules for us to follow. Makes sense that “Thou shalt commit blow jobs” is on the list, right? And of course, it needs to be in the text of the Bible in order to be acceptable; God forbid we should perform any sex acts that don’t specifically appear in the Christian Owner’s Manual™.
Still, here we have Ana doing for Christian what Pastor Mark agrees is a great way to wake up (though they reserve it for after brekky). I wonder if he would approve of doing it in the tub, since that’s not in Scripture. I have no doubt that he would heartily endorse Ana’s obvious enjoyment of her first experience, though. Both Pastor Mark and E. L. James seem to have the same assumption that the mere thought of giving head will make even a first-timer pant with lust. (Not saying that it shouldn’t, or couldn’t, just that someone with no experience isn’t necessarily going to feel that way.)
Anyway, the chapter reeks of the awful writing found in the entire rest of the book. This particular scene is characterized by its glaring lack of attention to proper details. I think, as in the previous chapter, the author is going for “hot smut.” The idea is that it’s not important whether all the body parts function strictly the way they do in real life, or whether Ana yells like a pirate, or whether she sticks his schlong in her mouth without rinsing off the damn soap first. We’re supposed to suspend our disbelief for the sake of feeling aroused by the graphic descriptions of sex.
I’m not buying it.
A common complaint about sex scenes is that no one wants realism. No one really wants to read about people pausing to put on a condom or cleaning up after the act, and no one is interested in the messier, more awkward aspects of actual sex. That’s likely to be true; I wouldn’t know. I don’t discuss smutty novels with my friends on a regular basis, so I’m not sure what they do or don’t like. What I do know is that the opposite is certainly true: Ana and Christian’s almost-but-not-quite coherent bedroom antics are just as unreadable.
Fifty Shades sucks, blows, and bites, and not in a good way. I’m not bothered by the fact that even losing her virginity is a lot smoother for Ana than for us regular people. What bothers me is that it’s just so over-the-top badly written that it moves from sensual fantasy into just plain ridiculous. If this is supposed to get me hot, it’s not working. I’m not even blushing anymore. I’m just left feeling kind of confused.
I’m pretty liberal, so I honestly don’t have much of a problem with Christians reading erotica. In fact, well-written sensuality can lead to greater intimacy in a relationship. With the right element of realism, the fantasy can move off the pages and into the bedroom, especially with couples who are willing to experiment. I also think that erotica aimed at women can be empowering, because for a long time it was denied that women even had sex drives or the ability to have orgasms (yep, it’s true). But smut of the Fifty Shades variety (or the Mark Driscoll variety) is so unhealthy and unrealistic that it does more harm than good.
Also, a tip: Bathtub sex is not practical, but if you’re going to go down on your man in the tub, at least make sure he’s not covered in suds.