Friday, April 15, 2016

For the Love of Tops

Samantha Cole in her piece "Sub to Dom” talks a bit about the pervasive favoritism in fiction for submissives and bottoms. So often, we get their histories, their perspectives, their worries, their fears, their joys, their highs. Their stories. While tops and Dominants are left less fleshed-out or even flat.

I think there are a few reasons for this. From the recent rash of first-person narratives—hard to delve deep with another character’s background and motivations when you’re literally stuck in your MC’s head—to the stats that say, across genders, most people prefer the submissive bottom role. It’s the role most of us are drawn to; of course our fiction is going to be too.

And, while it’s absolutely understandable how we got here, that does a definite disservice to Dom(me)s and tops, who have fascinating stories and face unique challenges and experiences that deserve to be told and explored with the same dedication and enthusiasm as their partners.

So, full-discloser: I too identify as a bottom (see here for more nuance, and for the necessity for that nuance, between terms). I’m a fan of sensation and being acted upon. And, at least in kink play, I know that I’m selfish as fuck. When playing with someone I trust and care about who also trusts and cares about me, there is nothing I love more than to be the object of their desire. To be the focus of their attention and action. For me, whatever the actual act, that is the best kind of sex.

But I’m also a fan of fair play. So, for those who want it, I’ll switch for them and do my best to step into the top role, even if it’s a less than natural fit for me. But, for a good partner, aren’t they worth the effort?

So that’s the perspective that I’m coming in with.

And, I gotta say, to all my lovely Dom(me)s and tops out there: Respect.

Nothing but deep and grateful respect for the effort and struggle it is to play a role that is so often minimized, misunderstood, misrepresented, and even demonized. On a regular basis. You so often go unseen, left in the shadows too many of us, kinky and vanilla alike, like to imagine you enveloped by. And, let me just say, I see you.

As Cole points out, there is so much training and knowledge and planning that goes into scenes to make them look and feel effortless. And we so very rarely see that. Because that’s the magic of scenes. It’s the fourth wall illusion that makes them work. And because we don’t see it we sometimes forget to acknowledge it. Particularly in fiction.

It’s why I try as much as I can to make my stories a 50/50 split narrative between my tops and bottoms. So we get an idea of what’s happening with each. It’s why, as Cole suggests, I try to tell stories about Dominants and tops learning their craft. Because, like everyone else in the world, no two tops are the same; why should their stories be treated as cookie-cutter copies? We all get into kink for different reasons. All our roads take distinctly different, kinky twists. We should be going down more of these paths and seeing where they take us. What they can show us.

Because, yeah, of course, while I believe tops and Dominants are born kinky, they weren’t born knowing the many skills and vast amounts of information needed to top. Of course, they, as Cole says, don’t “instantly know how to be one.” How could they? They, like the rest of us, are only human.

And, particularly given the world’s tendency to see them as less than—to see them as either monsters or myths—they deserve to be seen as treated like the people they are.

Read Samantha Cole’s full piece "Sub to Dom” here.

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