Why Brandon Acts Like Such a Jerk; or My Beef with Christian Grey

Over the last few months, I've received a bunch reviews on Legally Yours. Good or bad (and mostly good--thanks for those, by the way!), often one question comes up:

Why is Brandon such an asshole in the first part of the book?

-------SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN'T READ LEGALLY YOURS-----

Brandon's a dick at first. I get it. That scene in the office where he tells Skylar he wants to fuck her? Yeah, I pulled that trope right from how many popular romance heroes: Christian Grey, Jesse Ward, Gideon Cross, Hudson Pierce...don't they all have these weirdo, creepy moments where they make some kind of creepy indecent proposal toward the heroine?


Brandon has a moment like that with Skylar too. It's an uncomfortable scene. Frankly, it was uncomfortable to write. There's a lot of sexual tension, which clearly sparks when they make out. But he's also being an unmitigated asshole. Take a look:

“Mr. Sterling, why am I here? Somehow I don’t think it was just to enjoy a cup of tea or argue about shoes.”

He sat back into the couch again and rubbed a big hand over his face. “Haven’t I told you yet to call me by my first name?”

I shook my head. I would have remembered that.

"It's Brandon," he said as he propped his head up with one hand. "You should call me Brandon. Especially since I asked you up here because I'd really like to fuck you. Tonight, if that works." 

Ewwwwwwwww.

So...why does he do that? And, once it became clear that Brandon wasn't, in fact, the asshole he seemed like in the beginning, why did I choose to keep that whole part of the book?

The main reason is this: toxic masculinity.

Okay, let me back up to the beginning of this thought process.

See, I really, really hate Christian Grey.

I mean, look at that dude. What. An. Asshole.

Christian Grey: Emo Thumb Biter
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Still there?

Okay. In all honesty, I've probably read the Fifty Shades trilogy about five times. It's a fun read. It did a lot for the genre, it did a lot for my marriage (TMI, sorry), and it made a lot of people feel safer about exploring alternative sexual practices. I am here for all of that. That is super good.

Darcy and Rochester: The OG-CGs
But my issue with FSOG juggernaut is that it also further normalized a whole other level of toxic masculinity. Think about it. We live in a world where most men do not feel comfortable with their emotions, and that in turn fuels a whole bunch of abusive behaviors that people start to think are okay and even desirable. Christian Grey comes from a long line of sullen English dickheads (think Darcy, Heathcliff, Rochester, etc.) that emotionally manipulate women because they just can't get their shit together enough to say "Hey, I just want to be loved." And I am so, so over it.

Brandon's character evolution developed in response to that. I didn't start this book thinking he was going to be some alpha-billionaire, but that's what he ended up being. And as a character, he, like so many men in real life, is torn between the popular conception of how "real men" are supposed to act (sullen, distant, powerful, controlling, etc.) versus how his devotion for Skylar really makes him feel (vulnerable, kind, sensitive, loving).

To me, that's a realistic struggle, even when it takes place in a book that's pretty over the top. And so I decided to keep Brandon's shitty behavior, if only to allow him to build toward that "a-ha!" moment where he realizes it won't actually get him anywhere-–not with a women who's worth being with. I wanted to write a version of this trope that allowed the male figure to get beyond his own social conditioning without being "saved" by his lover.

So what do you think? Did I meet my goals there? What do you think about Brandon's character evolution?

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Comments

  1. I've watched the 2nd movie of Fifty shades more than ten times.and I'm really excited for the third part.thanks for sharing it with us.keep posting good post.

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