True today, still true tomorrow
Actually, true four years ago, still true today. Maymay commented this morning on a post I wrote in 2007 about not wanting kink as a gift. At the time I was writing as a bottom (and as I later discovered thanks to a wonderful workshop by Midori, a dominant masochist but that’s besides the point). I was looking for a way to express what’s missing from my kink when it’s served as an accommodation by a vanilla partner. You can read the earlier post for those details, but what I feel more prepared to add to the conversation than I did four years ago is how valuable positive feedback is to me as a top coming from my submissive partner.
As I was writing this I had the thought of “well duh positive feedback from my bottom is important, it’s called consent why am I even writing this.” So perhaps I should dig a little deeper. When I first approached this post it was with the idea of what holds true for bottoming holds true for topping and that’s kind of cool. What I’m realizing now is that what holds true for bottoming* is necessary but not enough for topping.
As a bottom it’s important for me that my partner enjoys topping me and isn’t just doing that as a favor. As a top, I find this to be a mandatory starting point. What comes next is, well, enthusiasm? Desire perhaps? Expressed desire more accurately. I described it recently as follows: Think of me as a vampire or a police officer – I can not come across the threshold without invitation, but once inside I can do mean, horrible things to you at will. My submissive partner has to invite me to dominate them – unless and until they do, I will relate to them the same way I would relate to any other person.
So what does an invitation look like?
It looks like please and thank you: There is nothing that turns me on more than a partner asking me to hurt them unless it’s a partner thanking me for hurting them. Why? Because I “get off on a bit of violence” as one of my more proper lovers described it. I like to hurt people to their edge, I know in some abstract way that they enjoy it, I have safewords to make sure I never cross that edge, but if you’ve ever seen someone ride the edge of pleasure and pain you know that it can be hard to tell in the moment if they love you or hate you for it. Saying please is an invitation; it reminds me that I am not just doing this willy nilly on my own whim but I am doing this because you want me to do this to and for you. It helps me not feel like I should defect and join the Chinese police**, and it helps you get the hurt you’re after. (Sorry for the switch to second person there folks, typical immigrant mistake, and one I make when I’m thinking about sex because a lot of this writing is so personal.) Saying thank you, now that is just plain fucking hot. It brings in all those lushes things I love about making other people’s fantasies come true and lets me know I’m doing just that.
It looks like good communication: When I was 19 I took a boy home who wanted me to hit him with my belt. He was very sweet, and he was very good at telling me what he wanted. The only problem is, he told me the what but not the how. He not only wanted to be hit with a belt, he wanted a punishment scene; to be hit because he had been bad. Not unreasonable of course, except that my own kinks are all about having someone earn the beating they’re going to get or at the very least ask nicely for it. This is an invitation without follow through not because he didn’t want the same thing as I did, but because he didn’t really tell me all the details. We were young and didn’t know better, but it’s still like inviting someone to a party and forgetting to mention you actually plan to spend the whole night getting stoned on the back porch – it’s kind of hit or miss and it leaves me feeling mismatched.
I’m sure an invitation can look like so many other things, but those are the biggest ones for me. So why is it all so important? Because my scenes are better when they are collaborative, and my sex is better when it comes from the right context. A lot of people get off on overpowering their submissive partners. I don’t. I get off on the beauty of seeing someone voluntarily drop to their knees, and so for me there is nothing more uniquely satisfying than topping someone who really, deeply wants to be topped.
* Clearly what holds true for either topping or bottoming varies from person to person and this post reflects my perspective. YMMV.
** “I’m defecting to the Chinese police” was my safeword in a scene I did with a good friend of mine several years ago. It was an interrogation roleplay scene with a masochist, and I knew she might be able to take more than I could comfortably and safely dole out so we found a way to signal above the scene frequency.