Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Top and bottom

In a BDSM relationship the partner who has the active role in a session or in the entire relationship is described as the "top," a role that often involves inflicting pain, degradation or subjugation. The partner referred to as the "bottom" submits voluntarily to the actions of the top.

Although the top is usually also the dominant partner and the bottom the submissive partner, it is not inevitably so. In some cases the top follows instructions from the bottom according to the bottom's desires and in a way the bottom expressly requires. This is sometimes called "service topping." If the bondage/discipline aspect of BDSM involves a top actively performing a skill while a bottom willingly submits, then the dominance/submission aspect here is reversed from what is typically expected.

In contrast, a dominant top controls their submissive bottom partner, sometimes by using physical or psychological techniques, although consent is always established first. This power relationship is so common, "bottom" and "submissive" are sometimes used interchangeably in the BDSM community.

A similar distinction also may apply to bottoms. At one end of the spectrum are those who are indifferent to, or even reject physical stimulation. At the other end of the spectrum are bottoms that enjoy discipline and erotic humiliation but are not willing to be subordinate to the person who applies it. The bottom is frequently the partner who specifies the basic conditions of the session and gives instructions, directly or indirectly, in the negotiation, while the top often respects this guidance.

Other bottoms often called "brats" try to incur punishment from their tops by provoking them or "misbehaving." Nevertheless a small, very puristic "school"exists within the BDSM community, which regards such "topping from the bottom" as rude or even incompatible with the standards of BDSM relations.
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