Friday, April 6, 2012

Frisky Friday - BDSM "Topping from the Bottom"


"Topping from the Bottom" or "Bratty submissives"

I have a character in one of my books who has suffered through some very bad experiences several years before the story begins, which make it difficult for her to give up total control.  It's not that she doesn't want to submit to her Dom, in her heart she does, but she's afraid, so she resists (sometimes subtly, sometimes defiantly).  So, she has been accused, and with good cause, of "topping from the bottom."  My fault, as the author, was that I didn't make it clear to the reader that this is an issue she and her Dom will need to work on.  So, to help me determine how I should have her Dom react more realistically to her misbehavior, I decided to grab my mouse and troll the Internet to see what others have to say about this "activity."


From the Ask Janus web site: The term “topping from the bottom,” sometimes called “topping from below,” refers to a submissive/bottom’s attempt to exert control in a consensual power exchange dynamic in which that individual has ostensibly surrendered their control.  This behavior is generally non-negotiated, manipulative, self-centered behavior and tends to be frowned upon.

There are many ways a submissive can do this from downright belligerence and refusal simply because that's not what she wants to do, or using a more subtle means during a scene of asking whether it wouldn't be better if….  In either case, the submissive is attempting to control or manipulate the activities of the top or Dom, which is viewed as "topping from the bottom."

Though the definition sounds simple, the varied reactions I'm finding makes the activity itself as anything but.  One article I read "5 Ways to Recognize Topping from the Bottom" on Submissive Guide gives a list of things a sub might do that could be considered topping from the bottom.  The advice was well meant, but not necessarily well received.  Some of her readers were appreciative, while others were outraged by her suggestion that one size fits all.  It wasn't so much the differing opinions that caught my attention as the vitriol within them.  This is obviously a hot touch point for some and, as listed above, is generally frowned upon by the community.

Most BDSM practitioners agree that each couple and situation is unique, except in this regard.  Submissives can get downright nasty with one of their own whom they consider to be topping from the bottom.  Some go so far as to insist that a submissive who resists her Dom in any way isn't really submissive.

Both Fetlife.com and Taken in Hand have many articles on the subject and the opinions vary from "Why are you even in a D/s relationship if you aren't willing to submit?" to "A strong man is not threatened by a strong woman."  Some even argue that a woman does not have to be submissive to a dominant man when the Dom actually prefers a more feisty lady over a submissive one.  I guess the point is "each to his/her own."  Outside of illegal activities, none of us has the right to dictate how another couple chooses to interact.

However, none of this changes the fact that I still need to change my story, I just thought it was interesting enough to share.

For some differing opinions on the topic, check out the following links:


4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for linking to Painful Ecstasy. Yes, it's a thorny issue and a contentious one. For me (and maybe only me), topping from the bottom is so forbidden that it would break the bond I have with my Dom. We don't respect subs who do this and don't understand Doms who allow it to happen. That's our perspective and people who are more egalitarian than we are would certainly differ. It wouldn't be the first time! :) A fine article. Good luck with your manuscript.

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  2. Very interesting and thank you for the resources.

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  3. Very interesting piece. From my reading of the takeninhand.com site they frown on those who call subs on their behavior when they're topping from the bottom. Then again they claim the women on their site don't claim to be subs…while there's post after post gushing about men being in control. Huh?

    Rob

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    1. Rob, thanks for commenting. In D/s Topping from the Bottom is really frowned upon by most lifestylers. I wrote the article in reaction to Verity Ant's piece and her frank opinion on the behavior. I can't say I disagree with her, but my opinion is far less intolerant.

      From what I've seen, Takeninhand is a DD (Domestic Discipline) site. In DD the husband is the HOH (Head of Household) and he rules the roost. Their wives are not submissives and yet they are expected to obey. For them, Topping from the Bottom would equate to a show of disrespect, which is a punishable offense in DD.

      Some DD couples do venture into BDSM and D/s, but they see it more as an exception rather than the rule. My problem stems from BDSM having a stated attitude of laissez faire (let each to his own be) and yet showing little to no tolerance for couples who enjoy having the submissive act out or display bratty behavior. I guess it's a matter of perspective. If I were a Dom (or a Domme) I probably wouldn't tolerate bratty behavior, but a display of it wouldn't mean the end of our relationship. Not if I cared at all for my submissive. Some Doms feel very differently about that.

      Thanks again for the drop-by. It's an interesting discussion with a variety of opinions.

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